To Slab or Not to Slab: Pulps and CGC Grading

Posted by Matt McCauley on

To Slab or Not to Slab....that is the question! If you haven't heard yet, CGC  (Certified Guaranty Company) launched its pulp grading service in early 2024 after decades of grading comics and other collectibles. This leads to a common question for collectors, dealers, and it worth grading my pulp?

Benefits of CGC Certification

One of the main benefits of submitting your pulp magazines for CGC certification is the added protection that the slab provides. While many collectors take care storing their pulps in mylar and backing boards, the extra protection of the plastic slab does add an extra layer of safety The encapsulation helps to preserve the condition of the pulp, preventing any further damage or wear or use. This can be especially important for rare or valuable pulps that you want to keep in pristine condition.

Additionally, having a CGC grade assigned to your pulp can preserve its value and in some cases make it easier to sell or trade. For Universal grades (blue label, no restoration or conservation) you may see a price bump, especially in higher grades >7.0. CGC will also catch many instances of restoration and conservation which may not be as apparent when purchasing pulps online. 

Considerations Before Submitting

While CGC certification offers many benefits, there are also some considerations to keep in mind before submitting your pulps. One of the main factors to consider is the cost associated with the certification process. CGC charges a fee for their services, which can add up if you have a large collection of pulps to certify. Fees mirror vintage comic pricing, with costs ranging from $40 for Vintage tier (<$400 value) up to ~4% of FMV for pulps over $1,000 (min of $100). 

Not every pulp will appreciate in price substantially when slabbed! The early data shows that high grades (in the 7.0+, and especially 8.0+ grades) are seeing substantial premiums, but that is offset by more stagnant prices in the mid grades and drops in low grades. While that can create some buying opportunities, you should be careful to submit a pulp based on the assumption that slabbing alone will double its value. It won't, especially if it is a more common series like Famous Fantastic Mysteries where there has been a flood of submissions in mid-grade.

Final Thoughts

Slabbing and CGC have created quite a stir in the pulp market. There is a lot of chatter about slabbing preventing folks from reading their pulps, for example. My general take is 1) many pulps have been scanned into the Internet Archive to read in their original form thanks to great work from many collectors - if you see one missing you may even want to scan one yourself!, and 2) slabbing is a reversible process, so a buyer can always crack it out to read if you choose.

In the end, the decision to submit your pulp magazines for CGC certification is a personal one. It's important to weigh the benefits of added protection and increased value against the costs and the preferences of other collectors. Whether or not you choose to certify your pulps, the most important thing is to enjoy and appreciate your collection for what it is – a piece of history and a treasure trove of stories.

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