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Thursday, February 2, 2017

CGC Comics Pressed: Good and Bad Results!


Recently, Ed and I discussed a video he was working on that dealt with his adventures and experiences with comic pressing. We both thought it would great since the topic and practice has become part of the comic collecting and comic investing hobby.

It's a pretty remarkable video, and Ed details a lot of information about what to look for or what comics or defects aren't good candidates. This can be applied to both comics already slabbed and those that are raw and yet to be ever been slabbed.

Like the title says, this video details both his good and bad results.





In part of our collaboration, I volunteered to be a sort of a devil's advocate concerning this topic but I decided to further the video's concepts with some value aspects to watch out for.

I've done comic pressing once. A comic I have had the lower corner of the spine bent which formed a crease that didn't break color but ran through the entire comic like shown in the image banner of this post. Pressing got that bend out of the entire book like Ed's example of how he had a bend that ran through half of his book.

That's my only experience when it comes to pressing comics, and I do view it as more of a comic investing tool than a comic collecting tool. That's just me, though, and I must note that I am conservative in my expectations of getting a higher grade whether sending a raw copy to get graded for the first time or cracking open a good candidate to get pressed and regraded

My realistic hope is getting two grades higher than the original. Anything above that will be astonishing to me, but I definitely do not expect that to happen all the time like Ed points out in his video.

Like Ed mentioned, having a comic come back just one grade lower after this process can be quite a bit loss in value in a comic investing aspect. The video points out that pressing doesn't always assure you a better grade if you cracked a non-pressed copy out of it's slab to get treated and then re-graded. You do have a chance of it coming back lower than what you originally had.

Since Ed's examples were only a grade lower, I will use the same type of scenario. I'm going to talk about some slabbed candidates where you're not hoping for the grade to come back lower, but finding candidates where the loss isn't huge or detrimental.

Of course, if it comes back four grades higher that's great, and that's just common sense. If the risk costs you a loss of hundreds of dollars from just getting a mere grade lower then that is a different story. 

For some, a grade higher from a 7.5 to an 8.0 or even 9.0 doesn't mean you'll increase the value or by much. There are key issues that are selling around the same prices for a 9.0 or 9.2 or even 9.4, and in some cases, the next lower grade may be selling for more than the next higher one at a particular time.

As an example, let's say I have a CGC 9.0 New Mutants #98. I've inspected it and see some finger indentures and creases and some bends that don't break color and can be pressed out. Furthermore, the cover and back cover has some slight dirt that dry cleaning can get out.

New Mutants #98 GoCollect stats
It would be great to have it come back a 9.4 right? Sure, but value-wise, not really or at least currently. Here's a look at GoCollect's eBay average 3 month trend for 9.0s to 9.4s.

From the $200 range to the $240 range to the $270 range? If you take into account all the costs it takes to get pressed and then regraded, the gain in value is pretty minimal if any at all depending what it comes back as. Of course, a 9.0 turned into a 9.6 would be well worth it, but I'm not realistically calculating it.

When investing in comics and using additional services like pressing and cleaning, I always advocate checking the prices to see if the process is even worth it. For example, if I decided to crack open my Amazing Spider-Man #129 CGC 8.0 to get pressed and cleaned, I'd look at what CGC 8.5s are selling at. 

I do not mean what what they are currently listed at. I mean what they are selling for on ole eBay. So, currently, there's about almost a $200 difference between an 8.0 and 8.5 concerning the 1st Punisher.

Amazing Spider-Man #129 GoCollect stats
If I think my 8.0 CGC comic has the potential of coming back a 9.0 for ASM #129, then it can be worth it since it is almost around a $600 increase in value on average minus the cost of the entire process to press and regrade the comic. Of course, and on the flip side, what happens if that particular key issue at an 8.0 comes back a grade lower like a 7.5?

How damaging of value would that be? I urge you to check first. If both 7.5s and 8.0s are selling around the same price, then why not take the chance?

On the other hand, is the value around $50 lower and is it worth it? Depends. That greatly depends.

Concerning the GoCollect stats above, I did check eBay's sold page to see if GoCollect was missing the most recent sale and there is one CGC 7.5 that sold on the 29th of January for $800.  You can click the link to see for yourself. This brings the average to $716 and some change.

But let's say I believe I can get $750 for it in case it gets regraded the next grade lower from 8.0. After all, the most recent 7.5 sold for $800, so I'll put some doubt in there and just say $750.

An 8.0 usually sells around but closer to $800 and sometimes $30 to $40 above that mark, so they are pretty close in value

It's not a huge drop. Okay, so I somewhat lost $50, right? No, I lost $50 plus the amount it cost for pressing, shipping there and back (possibly, well get to that), and then the cost of getting it regraded plus shipping there and back to me.

Unfortunately an ASM #129 is one year before the cut off date of 1975 for Modern-Tier over at CGC. So, I have one choice and that's Standard since the maximum value limit is $1,000.

 
If I were to go Standard and had that once 8.0 come back a 7.5, the cost of pressing, regrading and shipping would still be around or possibly over $50 bucks, so I could lose close to $100 including the drop in grade and value.

Note: I do have a Premium Membership at CGC which gives ya a $150 credit. I will get more into this later.

If you're more visual, I created a representational chart to help out a bit of what I'm talking about.

Okay, so for the chart, I used Hero Restoration Fast Track Tier at $25, but I could've used the Standard Tier at $15 or the Quick Path for $10 bucks. Fast Track does have a faster turn around time, so that's an individual choice.

Quick Path takes 1 month and Standard is 2 months. I recommend not going Fast Track.

Be patient. You want a thorough job done. Not a rushed job. I just used it for this example.

The cost for pressing with Hero Restoration does factor in the $5 fee to crack open my original 8.0 as well as shipping and return shipping. Once again, those two costs can be circumvented and we'll get into that later in the post.

The $48 dollar cost is the CGC fee, and although the Standard Tier fee is $60, there is a way to get that cheaper through a Premium Membership, and I will explain that bit in the "Variables" section of this post. 

So, according to the chart, the risk might be worth trying to crack open that Amazing Spider-Man #129 CGC 8.0 to get pressed and resubmit if the copy had not been pressed prior. This is even if the comic possibly ends up coming back a grade lower at 7.5. 

I think I can risk $50 as long as the gain is in the positive and not too low, but then again, $100 + $50 is $150.

If the comic comes back 2 grades lower, I just may be in the red if CGC 7.0 copies are not selling above the $650 range for the comic in question. If the comic fizzles in demand and values drop lower, I've definitely lost out.

Of course, when we're pressing, we are never shooting for a lower grade. Mentioning all this jargon is just measuring what if it came back a lower grade. An 8.5 or 9.0 would be what I'm realistically shooting for, and, of course, I'd be even more thrilled with a 9.2 or higher after pressing.

Variables



Now, there's other little odds and ends to take into consideration when looking at that chart. I call these other things variables, and my variables don't necessarily reflect yours whatsoever. We will get into that in this section.

Alright, let's look at some of these other variables that could make your decision different than mine.

Market Place 


There are different market places that have their own results in terms of sales. You know, you often read about this place made a record sale of such-and-such and that site made a record sale.

So on that note, there are other places to sell as well like ComicLink, mycomicshop, and ComicConnect that will wipe out the Pay Pal fee usually associated with eBay. ComicConnect just charges a 10% consignment fee and so does ComicLink.

Of course, if you make an in-person sale, you can wipe out the consignment fee or eBay final value & Pay Pal fees all together if the sale were by cash, and that will mean a higher return or gain. So, there are odds and ends not represented on the chart that can be taken into consideration.

Furthermore, you might not even desire to sell your comic or comics and maybe plan to pass them off to an offspring or whatever. I always keep in mind consignment fees when factoring in stuff, but you obviously don't have to if you never plan to sell them or for a long time. 

Sales Tax


Another thing is sales tax. Some states have 'em and some states don't, and those that do have 'em have different rates and different stipulations.

I live in California and it doesn't matter whether I buy online or buy in a store in my area. By law, I'm required to pay Sales or Use Tax for purchases and report it, so for me, I do have to factor in sales tax to the total cost of my investment. That does bring the total return down.

Shipping Prices


Location, location, location. Ever hear of that when it comes to commercial real estate?

Well, it does count when it comes to shipping prices depending on how far or close you are to a pressing or grading service. If you're outside of the U.S., the shipping charge alone will most likely be intimidating.
 
Then there's whether you decide to tack on extra shipping insurance which could raise or lower the over-all gain or loss. Even more so if your comic is worth more or in the thousands.

Furthermore, you have to take into account of all the shipping to and return shipping. Ed, has told me that CFP Comics and Services hand delivers the books he presses for you to the CGC office, so you save on some shipping costs.

Hell, if you're a local in that area and deliver your comics to CFP, have it hand delivered to CGC and be able to pick them up from CGC, you do save quite a bit on shipping costs. Lucky you in that area!

I should note that I was a bit conservative on shipping prices to the pressing service and then to CGC. You can have the pressing service ship the comics for you to whatever grading service, but with some of them, you have to give them your card information.

If you are uncomfortable with that, you have to suck up the cost of shipping to the pressing company, return shipping from pressing, and then you shipping it to CGC. So there is that extra variable to think about as well. Once again, CFP is in the area and can hand deliver your submissions, knocking off return shipping from his company and plus shipping to CGC.

In that case, and if you're a Premium Member, I don't see why not you just can't give 'em your CGC account number. After all, if you do this after your membership renews, you have $150 credit in your account and you're credit card on file.

Also, I did not factor in whether I charged the buyer for shipping in the eBay selling costs and fees or if I provided free shipping for eBay. If you decide to provide free shipping, that's another cost that will lower your gain. 

What if you know how to do it yourself and have the machine? You can cut on shipping costs and pressing fees as well. 


Services


There's also the variable of whichever pressing service you use and what tier the comic falls into for both pressing and regrading. For the example, I used CGC and Hero Restoration in that ASM #129 chart above.

There are different services like CBCS and PGX for grading, and CBCS and PGX may be a cheaper option depending. However, some key issues or some at certain grades still don't sell on par with CGC graded comics, so you may have to consider value loss concerning that as well.

For pressing, there's CCS but their prices for my particular example is too costly.  




Other pressing services like Joe over at CFP Comics and Services have different tier prices as well. For instance, he does not charge extra for cracking open the case before pressing and includes dry cleaning at only $15 bucks for the tier that my ASM #129 falls into.

CFP Comics & Services Pressing Fees




There's also the variable of whether you know how or are willing to crack open the slabbed case yourself, and what if you are in the area of a pressing company? There is a comic dealer in my area that does pressing, and I could easily give it to him at a comic con or his own shop and pick it up as well, knocking off shipping or return shipping.

Hero Restoration cracks open a case for a $5 fee, and since I don't have the steadiest of hands and am nervous about possibly ruining my more valuable comics, I'll pay a little extra for them to do it if I somehow didn't know CFP existed. Some can confidently do it themselves and save extra dough which isn't a bad thing either.


Hero Restoration Pressing fees


Adding to the services variables, there are different prices to the services like mentioned before. This variable can even change the price for you or me even if we both have CGC Premium Memberships.

As I've mentioned before on this site, a CGC Premium Membership use to give me 4 free Standard submission coupons. All I had to pay was for membership and then return shipping cost.

Now, as most of us know, CGC did away with the 4 free Standard coupons and they now give you $150 credit. Some like this and some don't.

I don't really care for it much, even if they did lower the minimum year to 1975 for Modern-Tier. I mostly have Silver Age and early Bronze Age comics so it doesn't help me much, and I have to shift things around when submitting.

So with $150 credit, I can send in multiple comics based on their tier in one shot. I can do it this way shown in the model below.

  1. 2 Bronze Age comics pre-1975 using Standard = $120
  2. 1 comic under Modern Tier = $18
  3. CGC handling fee = $5 x 2 = $10
  4. CGC UPS Shipping Option = $13 1st book $2 each additional: $17

So total cost for CGC is $165 - $150 credit = $15 extra I have to pay.

Now, don't get fooled here. That $15 is tacked onto the Premium Membership price you paid for, not the $150 credit.

I kept renewing my membership back when it was only $129, so I'm still grandfathered into that price even when they changed the membership price to $149. You might of gotten membership during the $149 price hike so your numbers might be completely different.

Then again, they could start charging me $149 this year when my membership renews, so my numbers might change as well. We will see about that when my membership renews this April.  

Okay, so I paid $129 for membership which got me a $150 credit, and I had to pay $15 extra that the $150 credit didn't cover.

So, I tack on that extra $15 to $129 and get $144. Divide that by 3 comics and I paid $48 per book to get graded if I chop off the nickels and dimes.

Of course, I could also do it this way in the model below as well:

  1. 1 Bronze Age Standard Tier pre-1975: $60
  2. 3 Modern Age Tier: $54
  3. CGC Handling Fee: $5 x 2 is $10 (2 different Tiers)
  4. CGC UPS or Fed Ex Shipping option: $19
  5. Total CGC Cost:  $143

That way, I wouldn't have much extra to pay. After all, a $150 credit is a $150 credit.

So, that route would be $129 divided by 4 and thus $32.25 per book I got graded. I think I'll go that route if I had three comics within the Modern Tier dates and values that are worth grading.

In going CBCS's route, I would have to pay $58 to get only this single comic graded using their their Quickstream service. The other options were even more expensive, and I am not sure if they give you any coupons or a significant credit

If they do, it's a mistake not to advertise this, so I think they don't. I believe CBCS is falling short of competing with CGC membership benefits in terms of price, and I am disappointed in them as a potential rival to CGC.

CBCS Grading Fees
  
Okay, let's be fair. Let's say I did get charged $149 for the Premium Membership renewal over at CGC and used the 2nd CGC Submission model. $149 divided by 4 comics is $37.25. Hmmm...$37 vs. $58? Still not a real hard choice there.


These costs and variables do change things around if you're thinking of cracking open a slab and sending in a comic that was not previously pressed to get pressed. 

Just the market place you intend on using can change a return or loss. In this chart, I once again used the example of Amazing Spider-Man #129 regraded lower, but with different services.

So the first two bars represent my submission to CGC using the 2 Bronze Age and 1 Modern Tier model, in which the cost of grading 3 comics with that $150 credit would be 48 per book. Remember, I only paid $129 for Premium membership and the charge that the $150 credit did not cover was $15 bucks.

The first bar is if I planned on using ComicConnect as a selling venue. 10% would be $75, but I added the cost of shipping the comic to them. As mentioned before, I chose to be a bit risky in not tacking on extra insurance.

I don't recommend that for more valuable books, but for this example I chose to be stingy. The two bars to the left is if I plan on holding onto the comic or maybe I sold the comic in-person to a local collector and received cash.

Either way, I theoretically went around the consignment or eBay final value and Pay Pal fees. The last bar represents the 4 comic CGC submission model, using the lower cost of CFP and having the company deliver it locally to CGC without extra return shipping.

Of course, the green segment is the gain and the various red colors are cost. No selling fee as well, and I may have kept the comic or sold it at a comic con or sold in-person via cash payment. 

Factoring eventual consignment or auction fees is optional. I am a fan and want to hold onto to my 1st Punisher, but I ldo like to factor in those selling fees so I somewhat have a marker if my ASM #129 is continually on a downtrend and may decide to sell it.

Original Purchase Cost   


Alright, another important cost factor is what you purchased the original slab for, right? Of course, it is.

Amazing Spider-Man #129 GoCollect stats
I got mine for $450 obviously, but what if you got a 7.5 for $750 recently? No not the same regraded copy that came back a lower grade but another one that also happens to have never been pressed.

Once again, time to look up current prices. Changes the whole thing around, doesn't it?

Only a $50 gain if pressing raised that 7.5 to a 8.0 grade. If it came back a realistic 8.5, it's around a $250 gain, but there's more risk if it only comes back an 8.0 grade.

If it came back a 7.0, that isn't a huge drop, but you did buy it for $750. The book's selling value would have to increase not only the cost of pressing and regrading but well beyond whatever selling fees are tacked onto that if you have no choice but to sell online.

In short, I believe you should figure out the potential value decrease as well as potential increase when thinking about opening a case to get a comic pressed that hasn't been before. This post was just to show if it's even worth doing so from a value standpoint, and there may not even be an increase of current value or by much.

On a positive note, if the comic's average sales (value) went up, the return would be higher depending on how much and whatever variables are particular to you or your location. Of course, another factor would be current value decreases to determine total gain, and this average does fluctuate from month to month and year to year like most investments do.

Gaining the exact value on what it costs to get pressed and then regraded isn't really worth it unless you are certain that book is primed to go up. To clarify, if the entire pressing and regrading costs $115 for a particular comic and the next grade's average value sells on average for $115 more, you basically come out even. 

What would be the point of that? Extra work? $12 or $20 gain after cost is factored isn't really worth it in my opinion either for this particular example, but your case maybe different depending on the variables for your situation.

It should be common sense that an increase in value of a couple hundred to maybe a couple thousand between grades would definitely be worth the risk, but you have to calculate the risk after knowing what to look for in determining a comic that's slabbed hasn't been pressed and to what degree. Ed's video covers what he looks for in determining this and what defects pressed out made a difference or not

Alright, here's my attempt at playing devil's advocate, and it will be short since this post is already pretty long.

A negative that pressing has on the industry and isn't really being discussed is the validity of any graded census over time. As slabbed copies are being cracked open more and more and getting regraded, would the CGC Census even be worth looking at in trying to gauge rarity for possible comic investments?

How many of these copies are getting regraded and adding more numbers in the census to higher grades? Also, which ones are getting graded lower and adding more numbers to those grades?

I mean, I've heard stories of CBCS grading harder, so some cracked open those and got them regraded at CGC. There will be a long-term effect on the census when it comes to pressed comics that are regraded, and I have no doubt that some of the grades and their census numbers have already been askew by a portion of resubmitted copies.

Furthermore, some comic dealers or sellers note whether they pressed their comics beforehand. I can pretty much already assume that the comics I get from the dealer that I know of who provides pressing services are already pressed.

There is sort of an unwritten rule in the community that if you sell a slabbed comic that you knowingly had pressed, you're suppose to say so. Then again, who knows if you bought it from someone who might of pressed it?

For example, if I bought a raw copy from that dealer who provides pressing and had it graded, should I say it's pressed when selling even if I'm 100% not so sure he did?

Some defects are pretty easy to spot in determining whether a comic's been pressed or not. Hero Restoration has some example pics of the defects that he's been able to press out. I highly suggest you visit the site and take a look at them for more reference if you're interested that is.   


Once again, Ed and I thought this would be a fun and informative joint. Ed created a highly informative and detailed video showcasing his knowledge and experience with pressing.

I like toying with numbers on the comic investing side, and I truly think you should play with the math when trying your hand at this particular slabbed and pressing game to add value for a particular comic investment. The numbers I got may be very different from yours depending on variables particular to you, and I am quite conservative in my expectations when it comes to regrading

However, some don't press to try and get more added value, and they just do it to have a nicer looking copy. Whatever your reasons may be, the video is a great help in what to look for as well debunking some myths out there. 

Thanks for the time put in for that video and collaborating with me, Ed. It was fun and looking forward to the next video you do. 






2 comments:

  1. Oh man, that's science! You should get a no-prize for that. Me? I' m still trying to figure out which second class villain appearance I should get. On the left side of the ring we have Justin Hammer (Iron Man 120), and on the right side we see into the eyes of the Super Adaptoid (Tales of Suspense 82). Who should win in that bout?

    Ace

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  2. hey. nice job. i've been going through the same exercise myself lately about some graded books i have and if it's worth breaking the case to have them pressed and re-graded. the numbers are similar on some. others, i have a definite case to break and re-submit.

    you also have to consider how good the pressing/cleaning is going to be. some guys are better at than others. also, the cost involved in pressing/cleaning. the company associated with CGC are going to be very expensive, but they are good. local guys if you have one can press relatively inexpensively.

    couple of comments on CBCS. their grading is much more accurate. they have graders that are professionals. i have seen some CGC books graded as 9.4's and 9.6's that had serious spine creases that would never have been graded more than 8.0s

    look at this Cerebus #1 (http://www.comicconnect.com/bookDetail.php?id=522829). this is a complete disgrace. 6 spine creases that break colour, and 3 are HUGE. bottom left corner and top right corner not square. this is a 9.4 grade ??

    i've seen a similar Werewolf by Night #32, with larger creases on the spine than those, 2 large ones, graded at 9.6

    finally, the CGC cases need to be replaced every 7-10 years. at least the older ones. remember the paper they put inside? the new cases maybe not. not sure. i don't have any info there yet.

    i know the CBCS cases never have to be replaced.

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