Freeing My PGX Graded Uncanny X-Men #207

Over the years I have read about both positive and negative experiences with grading companies. There is a consensus in the industry that grading companies are necessary and do serve their purpose a certain situations. Mainly I see it as a great way to get an unbiased 3rd eye view of ones’ comic. These services promise for a fee that the comic you submit will be reviewed by grading experts, encapsulated, protected with archival paper, sealed away, and then safely shipped back to you beautifully preserved for your everyday viewing pleasure. These companies also have helped create a standardization in grading levels. So as a consumer I can only imagine that these grading companies would strive to provide the best service and follow best practices when it comes to grading comics as a reputation is placed on the line after each transaction. If a grading company should ever tarnish its grading image by shady grading and business then that company probably would have a hard time dealing and/or surviving the eventual public backlash.

That being said PGX came into the market as a likely strong competitor to the well-known CGC grading company. However with all the controversy during PGX and grading practices during its infancy has left PGX in a position of 2nd best to CGC. I think the PGX holder is better than CGC but PGX is unable to command the same price as a similarly graded CGC comic. Why is that? Well, I’d like to fall back on the reputation suggestion as my answer. PGX has baggage and even through that baggage was created back in 2006, it still haunts the company’s image today. Say what you want but everyone falls back on the TMNT #1 first print YouTube video that is synonymous with PGX grading. Yes, I’ve heard issues with CGC but I honestly can’t refer to any specifics. I can however with PGX and therein lies PGX’s image.

I still consider myself an infant when it comes to comic book collecting. I’ve been collecting just under 6 years now. I’ve even submitted comics to CGC for grading. I also have learned to use CGC and PGX graded comics as a reference when in need of a reliable example when it comes to grading my own comics. I love everything about comics and yes I too love holding that acrylic holder in my hands. There’s something about that holder that makes you feel just a little giddy inside; could just be me though.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 First Printing Controversy

One such negative experience that has somewhat become a YouTube legend was the poor fellow that had submitted his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 First Printing to PGX for grading. Upon receiving the newly graded comic from PGX took it upon himself to video document the process of cracking and verifying that the book he sent in was actually the book he got back. As the audience we got a front row seat as this guy discovers it’s actually not the comic he submitted.

PGX Grading Controversy

I found an old site with pictures concerning the controversy around the restoration of PGX graded comics that had been submitted by Terrance Leder. The site contains a lot of dialog from PGX concerning mistakes that had been made prior to 2007 and was definitely worth a read if you are interested.

Here are some positive and negative stories concerning PGX.

Unwrapping Uncanny X-Men #207

I’ve always been a bit curious on how PGX grades and seals submitted comics and thought that if the opportunity ever presented itself that I would crack one open as a type of discovery mission and document what I find. I wanted to know whether there was archival paper placed in the proper designated areas and also see how well the newsprint held up whilst sealed in its protective case. Well that opportunity recently did present itself and I was able to snag a very cheap Bronze Age PGX graded comic off of eBay; graded 9, 2007.

I had two goals, the first was to find out whether PGX abided to their claims of prepping and preserving the graded comic. Second, I wanted to review the overall health of the comic, including front and back covers and the newsprint to see how it held up over its 7 year period (2007-2014). I’m thinking this could well be a topic that I revisit at some point in the near future concerning comics graded by CGC.

Uncanny X-Men #207 – Graded 1/2007
Here we have the front and back views of the comic already cracked and removed from the plastic acrylic case. As you can see the comic is completely sealed in the plastic insert along with the label and hologram.

PGX Front View (No Acrylic Case)

PGX Back View (No Acrylic Case)

Below I show the process of cutting away the PGX label section and exposing the sealed comic from the 2007 era atmosphere. It could quite possibly be emerging into an even more poluted environment, although I’d like to think that the Seattle area has better air quality than most cities.

PGX Label: In Process of Removal

PGX Label: Removed

I wanted to show how white the pages are still after 7 years of containment within the sealed PGX provided environment. As you can see the color is still vibrant as show in the left picture. There are not signs of degrading, staining, or browning/tanning from various sources like UV light and acidity levels in the newsprint.

Inside Front Cover

Inside Comic

This is a good view of the top and bottom edges of the comic where you can see sharp corners with no issues.

View: Top

View: Bottom

Same goes to the side views where where the corners are sharp. However you can see a couple very minute spine stresses on the binding edge.

View: Right Side

View: Binding/Left Side

Here is a view of the front and back covers and as you can see there are not stains present or issues with the whiteness level of the back cover. There are however a very few and very minor spine stresses seen from on front cover. They were present prior to freeing the comic from its imprisonment.

View: Front Cover

View: Back Cover

At first I noticed that the signiture Archival Paper was missing that should be located on the inside of the front and back covers. I then turned to the next page and found the piece of Archival Paper that PGX inserted prior to sealing. Notice how small the piece is, remember that.

Inside Front Cover

Inside Front Cover +1 Page

I performed the same check on the back cover and produced the same results. The Archival Paper was placed a page back from the back cover just like the front cover.

Inside Back Cover

Inside Back Cover +1 Page

Finally, after disassembling my PGX graded Uncanny X-Men #207 and showing the world an example of how PGX preserves and protects your comic from outside forces I now need to follow the same methodology of preserving this comic as best as I can. Below I place 2 pieces of Archival Paper, one on the inside front cover and one on the inside backcover. Notice how my Archival Paper actually fits the Bronze Age comic, unlike what PGX used.

Inside Front Cover: Archival Paper

Inside Back Cover: Archival Paper

For additional stability I place one BCW Extender inside the comic, usually in them middle where you can see the staples. Then I place in an E-Gerber Mylar-D 2mil bag with an E-Gerber Half-Back, taping the flap to the back thus sealing (as best as I can) the comic from outside forces that would be happy to degrade and destroy it.

Inside Middle: BCW Extender

Storage: E-Gerber Mylar-D & Half-Back

So all-in-all I had a fun time disassembling my incased Uncanny X-Men #207 comic from the PGX sealed holder and learned that grading is definitely in the eye of the beholder. I feel like the archival paper placed inside the front and back covers was somewhat inadequate for the newsprint. I say this because, and yes it’s hard to see, but the paper color near the bottom where the archival paper was not present seems to be a slightly darker color than where the archival paper was placed. It could just be a coincidence but just saying. Below I’ve listed 3 grading companies two of which are well known and a 3rd is a relative new comer CBCS. Started by CGC’s Ex-President promises lower prices, more transparency, and something I’ve wanted to see from CGC for some time now and that is grading notes for free!

Grading Services – as of 8/2014

  1. CBCS ComicsGrading Policy
  2. CGC ComicsGrading Policy
  3. PGX ComicsGrading Policy