Autograph Grading Scale
All characteristics of the signature are flawless. For all intent and purpose a
perfect signature. Qualities include but are not limited to: bold pen strokes, free
of skips, streaking or smears. The placement and the contrast of the signature off
the surface where it is signed needs to be optimal. Additionally the signature itself
must adhere to the expected norm for the specific signer in formation, slant and
A signature that appears virtually perfect aside from one single minor flaw. Characteristics
that could be considered minor flaws include: a line that is not fully opaque, slight
skipping in a line, poor contrast between the ink color and the surface it is signed
on or a tiny, non-obtrusive stray mark not associated with the signature.
A very beautiful signature. Features of a nearly mint autograph that might make
it NM/MT include a larger or more obtrusive skip in the autograph, a signature that
is slightly less bold or has exhibited slight fading. In some cases there are other
aesthetic issues that can garner a NM/MT grade. One of the main factors that could
drop what appears to be a Mint autograph to NM/MT would be placement of the signature
in an area that makes it harder to see or hurts the overall presentation.
An example of an autograph with great eye appeal but when you look closely with
your naked eye you can clearly see some minor flaws. There could be some fading,
bleeding or streaking of the ink. At least 70% of the signature needs to be considered
unaffected by the flaws that are evident. A barely noticeable smudge may be evident
where it may have a minute tic off a full line.
A very strong signature that could have some more significant fading, bleeding,
streaking of the ink or pen skips than the higher grades. There could be a very
light smear in up to 10% of the signature as well but no lines are missing or obliterated
by said smear.
A signature that shows age or wear but is still very legible even though it is not
as bold as higher grades. There could be smudging or bleeding evident but no lines
are obliterated. It is a clear autograph but the apparent detractions hurt the overall
appeal of the autograph.
Noticeable flaws to as much as 40% of the signature. Skipping, fading, bleeding
and smears can be obvious at first glance. There can be uneven fading as well. The
signature must be at least 60% legible and intact.
This signature could be much more noticeably faded. It needs to be 50% visible to
the naked eye. There can also be one or two lines obliterated by smudging. skipping,
fading or bleeding can be evident throughout the signature but it is still visible
Significant age and fading making an autograph that is only 25-30% visible to the
naked eye. Chipping or scraping from age or natural wear of the signature off of
the surface is evident. With the naked eye this signature may be difficult to see
but it is clear enough to conclude the authenticity. There can be major flaws that
hurt the signature.
A barely visible signature that can’t be readily seen without the use of magnification,
a blue light or a video spectral comparator. A virtually unrecognizable signature
to the naked eye.