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Embroidered Patch Grading Guide - [DRAFT]

As a reseller of collectible space mission and crew patches, I am often left wondering how best describe the condition of a patch for resale. Comic books, stamps and sports cards have long established, industry standard grading systems in place to establish unequivocal grading values for those items. It does not appear that any of the collectible embroidered patch realms, such as law enforcement, fire or Boy Scouts of America, have established standards either. Research did find that a there were a few BSA patch grading agencies, but they were all were working from different standards. 

This is my proposal for a grading standard collectable embroidered patches. My interest is for space-related collectibles but these standards could apply equally to any other area of embroidered patch collecting. 


 

This is a draft of a proposed standard and public comment is encouraged.

 


 

Proposed Grades

Comic books and sports cards have a combined numeric (0-10 or 0-100) scale as well as an adjective-based scale that have numeric equivalency. 

Some examples are: Overstreet Comic Grading Guide and Sports Card Guarantee (SGC) Grading Guide

I believe the 0-100 scale is overkill. That granularity provides over 20 distinct grading values. 

The 0-10 Comic standard and 0-10 PSA sports card standard is more reasonable and less confusing to potential buyers and sellers alike.

If a seller wishes to use decimal values on the 0-10 scale, such as "8.5", they can, as long as they provide some evidence as to why that may be the case (most of the "9" criteria are satisfied, with one of the "8" variables met. I believe that most people will choose to use the adjective grading method to describe their patch. 

My goal of introducing an embroidered patch grading guide is to provide guidance for sellers to properly use terms like "good" or "excellent" in their resell/auction listings that communicate to the potential buyer the actual condition of those patches. 

Damaging Factors

Many considerations must be taken in to account with an embroidered patch and these defects will have an direct impact on the grading. 

  • Snags (front and back)
  • Stains (front and back)
  • Frayed edge
  • Loose tail
  • Fading
  • Edge warping (from being exposed to liquid)
  • Embroidery flaws (even a patch in the package can suffer from factory defects)
  • Centering
  • Cracking of plastic/iron on material
  • Disconnected anchor threads
  • Trueness - circular or rectangular
  • Embroidery alignment
  • Staple holes
  • Symmetry

 

DRAFT PROPOSED GRADES

10.0 - Pristine
9.0 - Mint (M)
8.0 - Near Mint/Mint (NM/M)
7.0 - Near Mint (NM)
6.0 - Excellent/Near Mint (E/NM)
5.0 - Excellent (E)
4.0 - Very Good/Excellent (VG/E)
3.0 - Very Good (VG)
2.0 - Good (G)
1.0 - Used/Poor (P)

 

Proposed 10 Point Grading Scale

This is a draft potential 10 point grading scale. 

For the sake of flow, I will describe the features in this order:

Front main area of patch, edging of patch, back of patch, quality of embroidery

10.0 - Pristine - Virtually perfect patch. No snags or stains, front or back.  Colors are true and unfaded. Edges are not frayed or display gaps or separation.  Tail is not loose. Embroidery detail is tight and perfectly aligned. Lies flat and stiff.  A patch in the original packaging does not imply pristine as there could be manufacturing defects evident such as mis-aligned embroidery or other flaws. 

9.0 - Mint (M) -  Nearly perfect in every way with only one of the following imperfections that keep it from the next higher grade: Light fuzzing of the embroidery, first signs of fuzziness (selvaged) or fraying (cut edge) on the edging. Embroidery is mis-aligned. Color is bright.

8.0 - Near Mint/Mint (NM-M) Nearly perfect with outstanding eye appeal. Embroidery bears only the slightest signs of fuzzing or snagging in a few places. Edging showing just the first signs of fuzzing. Lettering embroidery is tight.  Embroidery alignment is very tight.

7.0 - Near Mint (NM) - An excellent copy with outstanding eye appeal. Some snags and fuzziness on front. Stain free front, but not perfect embroidery, with only small signs of embroidery misalignment. Color is lightly faded or uneven. Edges are even with only small amounts of fraying (less than 10% of border). Tail may be lose but stays against back of patch, not outside of edge. If it has a cloth back, a few of of the anchor threads are disconnect.  Light stains can be found on back (such as tail glue discoloration). Patch lies flat, no rippling.

6.0 - Excellent/Near Mint (E-NM) - Would be Near Mint but it has one of the following imperfections: small, light stains on the front, light fading, fuzziness or fraying on less than 10% of the border, gaps in the selvaged edge, tail hangs free, some anchor threads have disconnected, evidence of adhesive on the back, patch warps slightly when laid flat.

5.0 - Excellent (E) - May have blemishes that do not detract from the overall appeal. Some very small, light stains on the front.  Even coloration across threads, with some light fading. Some fuzziness on less than 30% of the border, a few gaps could be found in the edging. Edges may be slightly upturned when laid on a flat surface. Embroidery misalignment is evident in some places. Jaggedness of lettering is visible upon close examination. Concentric border stitching can be slightly off. 

4.0 - Very Good/Excellent (VG-E) - Would be Excellent but it has one of the following imperfections: Noticeable fading of color, fuzziness or fraying on more than 30% of the border, multiple or large stains on the front or back, dark spots on the front, warping of the edges when laid flat. 

3.0 - Very Good (VG)  Surface wear is noticeable but modest. Some fuzzy snags in embroidered areas. Twill may have some brushed areas. Some fading and color variation may be present do to extended exposure to sunlight. May have evident holes from staples. Border fuzziness extends around more than 50% of the patch. Tail is loose. Back anchor threads are lose. Adhesive or glue stains may be present on back. Front has only modest light staining that do not detract from the overall appearance. Gaps in border stitching may be evident, particularly in corners. Borders may be slightly off center. Embroidery of details may be mis-aligned and text embroidery may be jaggy. Patch is still firm, not flexible. 

2.0 - Good (G)  Small stains on the front are dark and detract from the oval look of the patch. Snags evident on front, back and edges with loose threads. May be small sections missing thread (threadbare).  Holes or thread from being sewn to something may be present. Stains on front and back. Gaps in the edging may be uneven and some at least a 1mm in size. Fuzziness of more than 70% of the border. Patch has wear on edges and front surfaces of edging. Rippling of the border from exposure to water may be evident. Patch feels flexible, bends under its own weight. Bits of adhesive, glue, tape or paper may be found on the back. Removal of such adhesives have left damage to the back plastic or fabric. 

1.0 - Used - Large stains, large areas of missing thread (threadbare). Edge warping. Patch is uneven when laid on a flat surface. Patch is not true to original shape (oval if it once round, rhombic if once rectangular or square). Pointed edges are worn and curled. Has been attached to clothing that has been repeatedly washed. Large dark stains on the front and back. 

A proposed 6 point grade scale

This is a proposal for a 6 point grading scale if the granularity of the above is deemed to be to granular:

6.0 - Pristine - Virtually perfect patch. No snags or stains, front or back.  Colors are true and unfaded. Edges are not frayed or display gaps or separation.  Tail is not loose. Embroidery detail is tight and perfectly aligned. Lies flat and stiff.  A patch in the original packaging does not imply pristine as there could be manufacturing defects evident such as mis-aligned embroidery or other flaws. 

5.0 - Near Mint (NM) - Nearly perfect with outstanding eye appeal. Embroidery bears only the slightest signs of fuzzing or snagging in a few places. Edging showing just the first signs of fuzzing. Lettering embroidery is tight.  Embroidery alignment is very tight.

4.0 - Excellent (E) - An excellent copy with outstanding eye appeal. Stain free front, but not perfect embroidery, with only small signs of embroidery misalignment. Colors are bright and even. Edges are even with only small amounts of fraying (less than 10% of border). Tail may be lose but stays against back of patch, not outside of edge. If it has a cloth back, a few of of the anchor threads are disconnect.  All anchor threads on back are in place. Tail is in place. Light stains can be found on back (such as tail glue discoloration). Patch lies flat, no rippling.

3.0 - Very Good (VG) - May have blemishes that do not detract from the overall appeal. Some very small, light stains on the front.  Even coloration across threads, with some light fading. Some fuzziness on less than 30% of the border, a few gaps could be found in the edging. Edges may be slightly upturned when laid on a flat surface. Embroidery misalignment is evident in some places. Jaggedness of lettering is visible upon close examination. Concentric border stitching can be slightly off. 

2.0 - Good (G) Surface wear is noticeable but modest. Some fuzzy snags in embroidered areas. Twill may have some brushed areas. Some fading and color variation may be present do to extended exposure to sunlight. May have evident holes from staples. Border fuzziness extends around more than 50% of the patch. Tail is loose. Back anchor threads are lose. Adhesive or glue stains may be present on back. Front has only modest light staining that do not detract from the overall appearance. Gaps in border stitching may be evident, particularly in corners. Borders may be slightly off center. Embroidery of details may be mis-aligned and text embroidery may be jaggy. Patch is still firm, not flexible. 

1.0 - Fair (F)  Small stains on the front are dark and detract from the oval look of the patch. Snags evident on front, back and edges with loose threads. May be small sections missing thread (threadbare).  Holes or thread from being sewn to something may be present. Stains on front and back. Gaps in the edging may be uneven and some at least a 1mm in size. Fuzziness of more than 70% of the border. Patch has wear on edges and front surfaces of edging. Rippling of the border from exposure to water may be evident. Patch feels flexible, bends under its own weight. Bits of adhesive, glue, tape or paper may be found on the back. Removal of such adhesives have left damage to the back plastic or fabric. 

0.5 - Used - Large stains, large areas of missing thread (threadbare). Edge warping. Patch is uneven when laid on a flat surface. Patch is not true to original shape (oval if it once round, rhombic if once rectangular or square). Pointed edges are worn and curled. Has been attached to clothing that has been repeatedly washed. Large dark stains on the front and back. 

 

Discussion

 
Most vintage patches (earlier than the 1990's) that are sold as loose and have been stored loose, will fall in to the Good to Excellent range. A Pristine patch will be exceedingly rare, an example to be found in perhaps less than 5% of patches of similar vintage. 
 
Most of the transition grades (Very Good/Excellent, Excellent/Near Mint, Near Mint/Mint) typically indicate that all but one of the higher grade criteria are met. 
 
 
 
Attachment: 
AttachmentSize
PDF icon Grading Matrix.pdf78.98 KB

1 comments

harald.kraenzel's picture

Hence, we would take the grading matrix shown in the attached pdf file I would propose to go a step further for getting a more compact description:

If we call this grading matrix the SPDB-GM a seller could make a short key like

SPDB-GM=877577

or something like this. The seller could attach a link to the pdf file of the complete description and the buyer has the key and the pdf file which he can download.

Maybe this can help to get a general grading description.

Best wishes,
Harald Kraenzel