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CardShark Content - Vasiliy Maksimovich Koryabin (8/1/2005)

[Editor's note: This article does not represent the business practices or opinions of Cardshark. All ideas in this article are solely the writer's. If you have a problem with a Cardshark seller, refer to our customer service area.]

It has always annoyed me that when buying/trading cards over the internet, I never (well, almost never) received the cards in the condition I wanted. Many times had I anticipated to receive NM (Near Mint) cards, instead getting nothing but FN (Fine) or EX (Excellent). Eventually I started thinking that maybe I was the one who was wrong, that what I perceived as FN/EX was in fact NM, so I went on Google and searched up 3 of the most popular MT:G (Magic The: Gathering) condition guides - the Londes Guide, the TrollAndToad Guide and the Blackborder Guide - to see what was up. Here is what they had to say about cards in the NM condition:

Londes - ´´Near Mint (NM) - Basically nothing wrong, it might have a few white specs, maybe a tiny bit of wear on the edges, but very minor amounts, if any. ´´

TrollAndToad - ´´Near Mint:
General: A Near Mint card should look Mint but on closer inspection will have a minor flaw either on an edge, a corner, or its surface. A Near Mint card is allowed to have a few small dings or a small chip.
Corners: The corners on a Near Mint card should be crisp but one or two may have a small flaw such as a small ding.
Centering: A Near Mint card should be well centered.
Edges: The edges on a Near Mint card should be crisp, however they typically may have a small ding or two.
Surface: The surface of a Near Mint card should be very fresh looking but may have a tiny scratch.
Type of Card typically in this category: Any unplayed card straight from a pack that might have some flaws associated with handling of the card. .´´

Blackborder - ´´Near Mint: This card is indistinguishable from a mint card unless you look extremely carefully. It has only very minor wear, which is often undetectable except by the experienced. This condition is so close to mint that many sites, including Blackborder, group the two conditions together and treat them the same. ´´

After reading this, I understood that the problem here is that neither of the guides gives a definition of ´´very minor´´. To, sort-of test my theory, I went ahead and read on to see if whatever wear defines EX can under any blood-alcohol level constitute as ´´very minor´´.

Londes - ´´Excellent (EX) - These cards will have some wear on them. They can have wear on the edges, and corners, but they will have very little/no whitening in the center of the card. They won't have any creases, bends, or water damage. ´´

TrollAndToad - ´´Excellent:
General: An Excellent card should be free of major flaws but will show signs of having been played. Its edges will begin to whiten, its corners will start to round and it probably has light scratches or scuffs on its surface.
Corners: The card may have been played enough that the corners just start to round, or get dirty. The corners will probably be slightly white from shuffling or playing.
Centering: The card may be off centered but the card face should be completely on the card.
Edges: The edges will show signs of having been played or will have major chips or dings. The edges will be slightly white around most of the card, front and back.
Surface: The surface will probably have light scratches or small scuffs.
Type of card typically in this category: A well played card.´´

Blackborder - ´´ Excellent | Sometimes called ´´Very Fine´´. This card has wear that can be seen by the untrained eye, but only a very small amount. Slight edge wear and/or minor scratches may be present, but damage is only really noticeable on close inspection. ´´

Aha! All three of the guides define an EX card as one with ´´some´´, ´´very small amount´´ or one that ´´shows signs of´´ wear. Even a sober person, not very carefully using the Blackborder guide may confuse (to his advantage) a card with ´´very minor´´ wear and a card with ´´very small amount of´´ wear. Knowing the problem, I knew that if thought hard enough, I could figure out a way to get rid of it, and that's what I did. This is what I came up with:

A) Always ask for scans of the cards you are buying/trading for. If the seller/trader say something like: ´´I don't have access to a scanner´´ I advise not to buy from/trade with them, because they are probably a ripper and don't want you to see what they are about to send you (fyi: you can get access to a scanner at any library for 15 cents)

B) If the seller/trader has a high amount of references (good references), always agree on a single condition guide which has photographic examples of card conditions.

C) If the seller/trader has a low amount of references (good references) always ask them to send first and see for yourself (if they don't want to, see A)

I believe that if the aforementioned ways of mis-grading protection are followed, you will never end up like me - getting trash instead of treasure.

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