Unlike grading, rarity is a relative score that The Acaeum has
assigned to the items we cover. Items of rarity class 1 are not necessarily
lying around in piles; they are simply the least-rare, comparatively, of
the items profiled on this site. Take note that most D&D items produced
after the late 1980’s are NOT included here – and many are certainly more
common than even a class-1. Also, these scores will tend to fluctuate
over time, and should be used as a general guide only. The
Rares Index lists all items with a
rarity score of 4 or 5.
5: The super-rare (and/or unique)
items. These items come up for auction infrequently, if at all.
4: Very rare.
3: Uncommon, borderline-"rare".
2: Less common.
1: Routinely available in auctions.
Includes most D&D items published after 1980, with a few exceptions.
Condition is subjective, but we encourage prospective sellers to grade
their items harshly. Better for a buyer to be pleasantly surprised
by the condition. Note: On the Indexes, the presence of cellophane shrinkwrap
(SW) will multiply the estimated value for that item by three to ten times (!), dependent on
its overall condition.
Please also reference the How to Use This Site
section and The Acaeum FAQ for further clarification.
Special thanks to Paul Tremiti for these grading definitions and the
click thumbnails to enlarge
These items have no real value and have flaws that
render them completely undesirable and/or useless. Very large
pieces may be missing, the items may have fire damage, multiple
pages ripped out (and lost), the cover removed, etc. Except
for extremely valuable items, there is no collectible value to a
Poor item. The Acaeum does not assign Estimated Values to
the Poor condition.
Several large and significant flaws. Pages
may be detached, a module cover completely split, or the cover loose
from a staple-bound book. Large pieces may even be missing
from the cover or a page (perhaps as large as ¼ the surface area).
There may be significant water damage, extensive soiling, extremely
heavy creasing, large tears, etc. The item is still complete
(or mostly complete) and useable.
Shows heavy wear, but is still solid. A few
large flaws plus several smaller flaws may be present.
Conversely, Good items may have one or two major flaws: spine splits
up to half the length (typical of modules), several large and heavy
creases, a small amount of water damage, heavy writing, multiple
or large tears, a noticeable odor due to either “mustiness” or “smoke”,
significant staple rust & staining, etc. There may be several
pieces of tape on the item. On staple-bound books, the cover
can be separated from the staples (staple pulls), and on perfect-bound
books, some pages may be loose from the binding. A Good item
should be relatively solid and intact and still retain some basic
appeal to a collector.
Very Good (VG):
The “average wear” grade. Spines show stress
and may be slightly frayed or have minor tears. Module covers
can have “splits” as long as 2” (5cm). Corners are often rounded,
creased, or frayed, and edges may show similar wear. Other
common flaws are “color fading”, small stains, small tears, and
writing on interior pages (perhaps even some highlighting).
A slight warping and/or faint “musty odor” (usually from storage
in a basement) may also be allowed. Tape may have been used
to “repair” the item, but it should be (at most) one or two small
pieces. A Very Good item can simply be an accumulation of
several minor and moderate flaws or it may have very few minor flaws
and one major detractor (such as a fold that goes the entire length
of the cover, heavy rust on the staples, a page separated that was
not designed to be “detachable”, a large spine split, or writing
on the outer cover).
Many “high grade” items are actually in Fine condition. At
first glance, a Fine item may appear to be a higher grade, but on
closer inspection flaws can be clearly seen. There may be
several smalls creases or even one slightly larger (1” or 2cm) crease.
The top/bottom of the spine may show some abrasion, perhaps even
a small 1/8” (3mm) tear. Other possible flaws include: several
heavier spine stress lines (either vertical or horizontal), a “scuff”
to the surface that removes some of the color, rust to the staples
(though at least 75% should be rust free), a tiny tear or very small
piece missing from a corner (no more than 1/16” or 1 ½ mm), or a
few small stains. Though inserts / maps may be detached and
have some minor writing, they should still be intact (i.e. character
sheets should not be “cut out”). Often, Fine items simply
have an greater accumulation of lesser flaws.
Very Fine (VF):
A few light creases may be present at an edge/corner or on the inner
surface of the cover (such as when a “thumb” presses down on a module
cover and creates semi-circular stress lines). There should
be no folds or hard creases. Corners can have other wear such
as slight “rounding” or “abrasion”. On modules or staple-bound
items, the edge of the spine may have some slight abrasions to the
outer surface layer, though the spine itself it still strong and
intact (this is a sometimes common occurrence from the cover being
opened repeatedly). For perfect-bound accessories, light vertical
stress lines are more prominent (though not extensive). Staples
may have the slightest hint of rust, but should still be at least
90% rust free with no rust stains on the pages. Maps / inserts
may be detached -- there can be a few marks written on the these,
but they should still be minor and not extensive (no highlighting
or marker). Again, judgment must be used as each item is unique.
Perhaps two corners may have tiny 1/16” creases at the extreme tips
or there could be one very light ½” crease.
Near Mint (NM):
There may be a few light stress lines on the
spine, but otherwise the spine is strong and intact. Corners
are sharp, but can have a little bit of “bumping” or other very
minor wear. In general, no creases should be present, though
a slight “bend” that does not create a noticeable stress crease
may be allowed. The edges may have a few very tiny “bumps”
or “nicks”. A few light stress lines are acceptable on the
surface, but they should NOT break the color. Surface colors
should be bright with at most a few “color flecks” or some very
minimal “color fading” (as usually occurs along the spine).
Any spots of discoloration or staining would be extremely minor
(no more than a few pencil-tip sized dots). In addition, the
inside booklet should be complete with no marks, no rust on the
staples and all inserts/maps still attached. At most, a few
very light marks may be allowed – such as a pencil note next to
a creature’s stats or (possibly) and small price written in pencil
on the inside flyleaf (as from a used book store). Even though,
the above flaws are acceptable in Near Mint condition, an item should
not contain any more than a few such defects. An accumulation of
several of the above will likely drop the item down another grade.
Note: nearly all items described as "mint" in the marketplace
are in fact Near Mint. In keeping with this philosophy,
we do not offer Estimated Values for any grade higher than Near
A Mint item is perfect – the corners are sharp,
edges keen and the spine/binding tight. It looks not only
straight off the press, but is completely free of flaws. Mint
items are extremely rare, especially anything from the 1980’s or
earlier. This grade should be used exceedingly carefully –
odds are that even an item you might think is in Mint condition
actually will have some minor flaws on closer inspection.
The Acaeum does not offer Estimated Values on the Mint condition.
Shrinkwrapped (SW): Shrinkwrapping is not a grade, but an
enhancement to an item's condition. When denoting shrinkwrap, the
actual condition of the item should also be stated (i.e., "VG/SW").
Only valid if the item is sealed in the original shrinkwrap, from
the publishing company (post-publication shrinkwrapping by dealers or individuals,
for the purpose of raising the price of an item, is NOT an acceptable --
or ethical -- practice). If you know a copy has been re-shrinkwrapped,
say so. Assuming a "shrinkwrapped" item is Mint could be erroneous…
corners may have become dinged, creases may be present in the spine (from
bending), etc. These deviations from Mint status should be stated
as such. Minor tears in the shrinkwrap are not necessarily degrading
to the item’s value; after all, the shrinkwrap’s purpose for collectibility
is not necessarily protection (shrinkwrap is flimsy and tears easily), but
rather an assurance that the item has never been opened.
Mailing Covers (Dragon
Magazine / Polyhedron):
Dragon Magazine, from at least
issue #11 up (earliest
that has been verified), and issues of Polyhedron from
#13 up (the earliest
verified), were mailed to subscribers in paper mailing covers. Dragon
Magazine mailers were originally a grayish color (with a line drawing of
the Dragon #1
cover), then later switched to a plain brown wrapper; Polyhedron’s
were always plain white. Presence of this cover, in virtually
any condition, can raise the value of that issue. Early issues of
both these magazines may have mailing labels affixed to the rear covers.
While not necessarily affecting value, presence of a label should be stated.
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