CGC takes your book, inspects it for any signs of restoration, and also assigns a grade to it. They also put it in a hard plastic shell (usually called a slab by fans) and then you can handle the book without worrying that the value will plummet if you touch it, breathe on it or look at it funny.
There are a few reasons why you might want to get a book slabbed:
- The comic is very expensive and you want to sell it someday
- You don't want to risk having it decay or get damaged
- The comic is important to you on a personal level and you would like a cool showpiece.
Oh well, live and learn. Not every book will grade super-high.
Normally to unslab a book, you put a screwdriver in the seam and pop open the slab. The slab is designed to be brittle so that you can't easily tamper with it. When you pop the slab, usually the whole thing cracks up and looks like a smashed windshield.
Much to my surprise, I grabbed the slab, pulled on it, and came perfectly apart.
So now I had a mid-grade comic book worth about four dollars and a perfect CGC case. I wondered: has this happened to anyone else?
I would like to point out that I have absolutely no interest in ripping people off. However, what would stop a person from printing a new CGC blue strip along the top? Everyone these days has Photoshop. While the comic book is fused into the plastic (kind of like a vacuum seal in hard but bendy plastic), the blue strip actually isn't welded into the slab at all. It's just a piece of paper. So in theory, I could take the 7.0 and make it anything I wanted - how about a 9.8? How about a 9.9? Maybe I add in a "printing error" variant or something that some collectors go gaga over?
This book is worth only a few dollars, but here would be another idea. Let's say I have a low-end silver-age Fantastic Four. Maybe it's restored. So I get it slabbed, and it comes back at a 2.5 restored. Not great. So I bust open that slab, change the strip to a blue 9.4 and then use this Web of Spider-Man slab, with the hologram, and glue it back up? Now I have a silver-age Fantastic Four at a 9.4 or 9.6, and what was a $50 book is now on the market for $800 or $2000. Yikes!
I took some close up photos of the book in the slab, but it is important to note that the slab in these photos is already broken open. It looks (at least to a novice, or someone buying something on eBay with sub-par photos), that it is a perfectly acceptable slab.
I just stuck the slab back together.
With a bit of glue, I am pretty sure it would be "good as new" to an unsuspecting buyer...
Here's my opinion—if you are buying a slabbed book, especially an expensive one:
- Look at the actual comic book. A lot of collectors just pay attention to the slab. Look at the book! Does it really look like a 9.9? Or even a 9.4? Just because the slab says 9.8, that doesn't mean that you should not even glance to see if there is a big crease or a popped staple or something on the actual comic book.
- Check the slab. Does it look pristine? Are there any cracks? Is it possible that someone replaced the book inside?