I have completed a major revision to this site, adding examples for each decade that illustrate what I consider to be each of the 4 main grading categories: fair, good, very good, and excellent.
Not pictured is the "mint" category as there is little room for confusion for this grade. Mint is perfect, period. Not almost perfect, not "mint for its age" and definitely not just unissued. An unissued plate can be any condition, and I will note that it is unissued in the plate's description. You may also see variations on the above grading scheme, such as near mint (nm), very good minus (vg-), etc. I use these when a plate falls between 2 grading categories. Furthermore, any abnormal problems, such as extra holes, torn corners or boltholes, or clipped ends will be mentioned separately in my listings.
The main purpose of this site is to give people interested in my plates an idea of how I grade. If you are interested in purchasing or trading for any of my plates, I would prefer to email you a photo of the actual plate so you know exectly what you are getting. I also receive many emails asking me if I would be interested in purchasing or trading for a plate. For those who are unable to send a digital photo or scan of their plate, I have set up this site so you can match up your plate as close as possible to one of the examples on this page.
The text desciptions of each grade seen below are the descriptions approved by ALPCA. FAIR
Moderate to severe fading or discoloration, damaged corners, torn bolt holes, light to moderate rust on numbers and background, heavy rust on edges and bolt holes. May have large nail holes or dents that cannot be easily repaired. For porcelains, in addition to the above: Up to 20% porcelain missing. Seals may be missing.
This plate is fair due to the discoloration of the white background and the significant amount of surface rust.
This plate is fair due to the significant amount of surface rust.
This plate is fair due to the discoloration of the white background.
This plate is fair due to the vertical band of lost paint on the right side and the paint damage on the lower edge.
This plate is fair due to the discoloration of the yellow-orange background and the significant amount of surface rust.
This plate is fair due to the spots in the reflectorized white background. The fact that many DC plates of this era have these spots does not affect the grading.
This plate is fair due to the fading of the green paint and the severe scraping along the lower edge.
This plate is fair due to the large number of scrapes and scuffs. GOOD
General slight rust, some fading or discoloration, but still acceptable for display. Small but inconspicuous holes or dents acceptable. For porcelains, in addition to the above: May have up to 3% background chipped, but no more than 2% foreground. Minor retouching.
This plate is good due to the damage in the upper right-hand corner affecting the state name.
This plate is good due to the light surface rust, and the areas of lost black paint on some of the numbers.
This plate is good due to the discoloration of the green paint on the right side of the plate.
This plate is good due to the numerous scrapes along the border, the burn mark at the top center, and the slight paint loss on a couple of the digits.
This plate is good due to the many rock dings and other small scrapes. The low number is irrelevant in assigning a grade.
This plate is good due to the discoloration of the white background, especially in the upper right-hand corner and above the dash.
This plate is good due to the multitude of light scratches on the background, as well as the severals nicks on the green paint.
Although it is probably hard to see in the photo, this plate is good due to the graying of the background in the lower left-hand corner.
May show minor discoloration, few scratches. Very slight rust on edges acceptable. For porcelains, in addition to the above: Less than 2% background chipped and less than 1% foreground chipped. No single chip larger than one square inch. No retouching.
This plate is very good due to the slight scuffing on the background in places and the minor wear on the yellow paint. The colors are very even and strong.
This plate is very good due to the slight scuffing on the plate. The colors are otherwise very strong and the plate still have good gloss.
This plate is very good due to the small chips in the black paint and a few flaws in the orange background, most notably above the "6" and "2".
This plate is very good due to the slight scuffing and bug residue on the background paint.
This plate would be excellent except for the paint loss at the very upper right-hand corner and the small extra hole above the first "5".
This plate is very good due to the slight discoloration in some spots, especially on the last "6" and in the white background at the top of the plate.
This plate is very good due only to the slight edge damage and the minor heat bubbling along the bottom border.
This plate is very good due only to the scuff above the month sticker and the very minor fading on some areas of the blue characters.
May show bolt marks, very slight scratches confined to area near bolt holes or corners, but no rust or discoloration. For porcelains, in addition to the above: Less than one square inch total chipping around bolt holes, corners, and edges only.
This plate is excellent due to the very even color, extremely high gloss and little scuffing or scratching.
This unissued plate is excellent due only to the slight storage rust along the very outer edges and the small amount of surface rust on the right side.
This plate is excellent due to the fact that it was used (lower bolthole marks) and the small paint chip in the lower right-hand corner.
This plate is excellent due to the faint bolthole markings and the slight scuffing on the white paint.
Although the photo does not show it, this plate has been used and has very minor scuffing in places on the background.
This plate is excellent due only to the bolthole markings at the top holes.
Although unissued, this plate has sustained just a few scuffs and nicks from storage over the years.