We’ve built our case labels and scoring system to be straightforward and intuitive. We also recognize there are a lot of nuances and nomenclature that may not be obvious to everyone. Here we break down what everything means on our label. This includes explanations for our Label Guide, Final Grades & Scores, Card Qualifiers, Common Variants, and Common Foreign Languages.
- Card Name: The name of the actual card in the case. Names may be abbreviated for length on the label with an ellipses (...) - the complete card name can be found in the Digital Report. The Card Name is written out in Line 1 on the front of the label.
- Game Name: The name of the Trading Card Game the card belongs to (e.g. Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, etc). The Game Name is written out in Line 2 on the front of the label.
- Year: The year when the card was actually printed. The Year is written out in Line 3 on the front of the label.
- Set Name: The set to which the card belongs. The Set Code, an abbreviation of the Set Name, is written on Line 3; after the Year on the front of the label.
- Language: If the card is produced in a language other than English, the abbreviated language will be displayed in Line 3 on the front of the label. Ambr Grading uses abbreviations using the ISO 639 standard. See the Common Foreign Language list below for more details.
- Collector Number: The number of the card in series from the set in which it was produced. Card 11/300 for example will be displayed as “11”. The Collector Number does not apply to all cards and games, and will only be displayed on Line 4 on the front of the label if applicable.
- Card Variant: Some cards may be of a special variant such as Alternate Art (AA) or Borderless (BL). If the Card Variant is applicable to the card, it will be abbreviated in Line 4 on the front of the label. If no Card Variant applies to the card it will not be displayed. Scroll down for a full list of Card Variants and abbreviations.
- Surface Type: If a card has a special surface type, this denotes it. This may include Foil, Etched, Holofoil, or Reverse Holofoil cards. If present, it will be written out in Line 4 on the front of the label.
- Card Qualifier: These are special conditions or abnormalities that were produced on the card when it was manufactured, or afterwards under special conditions. Examples of Card Qualifiers include Mis-Cuts (MC) or Crimped (CP). These qualifiers typically do not have a negative effect on the grade of the card and are given special consideration. If a Card Qualifier applies it will be abbreviated on Line 4 on the front of the label. Scroll down for a complete list of Card Qualifiers which includes their explanations and abbreviations.
- Final Grade: This is the grade assigned to the card using a culmination of the 4 subgrades. Subgrades are taken for every card graded, but are not printed on the label. Subgrades can be found for all cards on the Digital Report. The Final Grade is printed in the top-right corner on the front of the label. See our section on grading for more information on grades and sub-grades
- Mint Score: This is the alphabetical score assigned to the card which correlates with the Final Grade. Scroll down for the table correlating Final Grades with Mint Scores. The Mint Score is displayed under the Final Grade on the front of the label.
- UID This is the Unique Identification (UID) number assigned to the card. The correlating barcode will display this UID when scanned with any common barcode reader and most smart phones. The UID is displayed on the top-left on the back of the label.
- QR Code: This contains the URL to the Digital Report which corresponds with the UID of the card. Using a common smartphone or QR Code reader will direct you to the Digital Report page on ambrgrading.com for this specific card. The QR Code is displayed on the top-right on the back of the label.
Final Grades & Scores
Final grades are the numeric score that a card receives after having 18 subgrades entered into the Ambr Grading algorithm. There are 4 primary sub-grades that are analyzed: Centering, Edges, Corners, and Surface; with each sub-grade having multiple points of examination. Sub-grades are not printed on the case label, but are always available in the Digital Report.
All cards also receive a Mint Score. Whereas graded cards can sometimes be described as having a “mint” correlating to the grade, we utilize a leter score that better represents the card’s condition and is less ambiguous. For example a card with a Final Grade of “9.0” will receive a Mint Score of “A-”.
|Final Grade||Mint Score||Mint Equivalent|
Final Grade Explanations
Any card submitted may be done so for Authentication Only. When this option is selected, the card is properly authenticated and encased with a complete label, but does not receive a Final Grade and correlating Mint Score.
This may also be given when less than 50% of a card remains or is readable. The card is real but is so heavily damaged or missing that only authenticity can be assessed, or catastrophic water damage that still allows the card to be authenticated. Cards that have been altered, even slightly, can only get a grade of AO. Selecting AO may also be beneficial if you know your card won't be receiving a high grade but you want it to be authenticated and encased.
- 10 (A+) - Pristine Perfect Immaculate Four tens, perfectly centered, perfect edges, perfect corners, and flawless surface. Exceedingly rare, even in ultra-modern cards. Even in brand new packs of fresh cards, centering is generally what prevents a card from having a perfect score. It is not uncommon to have cards come out of a pack with surface, corner and edge imperfections.
- 9.5 (A) May have one very minor flaw, print lines (manufacturer issue- very minor, unnoticeable straight on), Centering is off by 1mm or better, sharp corners.
- 9.0 (A-) Sharp corners, 1.5mm or better on one side for centering, light edge and corner touches visible under magnification, clean surface with few to no flaws, printer marks.
- 8.5 (B+) One grade can be as low as 7.5. May have slight corner touches and very slightly off-center. Starting at 8.5 and below, the number of factors leading to the final score can be made with increased variability.
- 8.0 (B) 2mm or better centering with a single 7 sub-score usually with one minor flaw, no sun bleaching or creases.
- 7.5 (B-) Generally, the card will be off by no more than 2mm in centering and, no more than 2-3 imperfections on the corners, slightly rough edges, or some surface defects.
- 7.0 (C+) As low as one subgrade of 6, 2-3mm total centering loss or better, slightly rough edges or corners, touches on tips, some surface defects.
- 6.5 (C) One ding on surface or edges may be present, no more than two flaws, moderate centering issues, chipping may be present along the edges, corners may show some wear.
- 6.0 (C-) 3mm centering variance or better, some flaws that can be seen without magnification, may include some staining on one side or yellowing/discoloration from play.
- 5.5 (D+) Minor staining, slightly fuzzy corners, some dings, chipping on edges present to the unaided eye.
- 5.0 (D) 2-3 Fuzzy and or rounded corners, some dings, and chipping, may be very off-center or better. Slight rounding, noticeable flaws, off white or degraded coloring.
- 4.0 (D-) Slight rounding, surface flaws, minor staining, major centering issues.
- 3.0 (F+) Major centering issues, short of a qualifier (miscut), rounded corners, one moderate, nonpenetrating crease, moderate wear along edges with obvious staining.
- 2.0 (F) The heavy crease that is not the full length or width of the card, surface damage, some non-signature writing that is on the back.
- 1.0 (X) - Damaged Multiple creases, catastrophic flaws, severe miscut, one minor pinhole, missing small amounts of paper, non-signature writing on the front of the card Major surface damage, missing paper, missing 1-49% of its print, multiple pinholes, Water damage less than 50% of the total card surface.
A “qualifier” is a note or indication that a card has an abnormal quality that is important to the collectability of a card but would otherwise affect its grade. These are typically unintentional errors that are produced at the factory, but oftentimes make the card desirable and unique.
A card is received that is so far off-center that it shows a second card on its surface. This would trigger the qualifier Mis-cut (MC) and the centering grade will be omitted from the final grade of the card.
Not all anomalies are considered for qualifiers. Ambr Grading makes determinations as to what is and what is not a qualifier. Other than cards with qualifiers or cards that have known anomalies, cards do not receive special consideration for their age, rarity, etc.
- MC - Mis-Cut
- NFC - Non-Factory Cut
- PE - Print Error
- CP - Crimped
- TE - Text Error
- BE - Backing Error
- FE - Foil Error
- AC - Altered Card
- SE - Stamping Error
- SS - Signed Card
- MQ - Multiple Qualifiers (more than Two)
- Miscuts (MC) - A Miscut is anything that alters the cut or the card from the norm. This can be caused by a factory issue or it can be cut post-production when an individual cuts a card from a sheet (called Non-Factory Cuts or NFCs). Miscuts include corners that are miscut from alignment issues, cards cut that show more than one card and so on. Only cards with clear indications that the card was mis-cut from the factory will receive an MC Qualifier.
- Print Error (PE) - A Print Error is when a card passes through printing twice, has a registration issue, is smudged, over bleed, dark printing, or is missing ink.
- Crimped (CM) - A wavy texture from the pack sealing process will be present on the card (usually on the top or the bottom). These are caused by cards moving into the sealing area when their pack is being pressed closed.
- Text Error (TE) - A text error is simply a card that has the wrong information printed onto it. Examples are usually with numbers (i.e. the wrong loyalty or no loyalty printed OR the text is correct but printed on the wrong frame/art).
- Backing Error (BE) - Backing errors are very rare but, on more than one occasion in magic history, magic cards have been printed with the wrong back. Most famously are the Wyvern, Pokémon, and Harry Potter backed cards.
- Foil Errors (FE) - Foil errors can be incorrect foiling or foil bleeds. This can manifest as lines of foil sheets that have ended or the incorrect or missing underprinting. Sometimes a foil sheet line will appear and it's only visible under light. This is common and not a misprint and will not get a qualifier.
- Altered Card (AC) - A card is considered "Altered" when someone takes action to change the condition or apperance of the card. Common examples include using a Sharpie marker to blacken black borders, or painting art over the original card. When a card has been altered Ambr Grading will Authenticate if possible (apply a Final Grade of AO) and Slab the card, but will not Grade it.
SE - Stamping Error -
A stamping error is when a prerelease or holo stamp is misaligned or in some cases missing entirely. Artist Proofs will not receive a Stamping Error Qualifier as they are not supposed to have a holo stamp.
- Holo Stamp Error - On the bottom of Rare, Mythic Rare and Promo Magic: the Gathering cards printed in 2015 and later there is a small oval “holo stamp.” This stamp is occasionally misplaced or an incorrect shape.
- Date Stamp Error - Magic: the Gathering card Promos that are used for Release, Prerelease, and other major events will often have a gold date stamp somewhere on the card. Occasionally this stamp is in the wrong place, or otherwise different from how it was intended.
- Gray Stamp Error - English Pokémon cards printed with the first edition stamp occasionally, and for various reasons will have a different “first edition” stamp. This is sometimes represented as a lighter color (hence gray) but sometimes it is darker, thicker, three-dimensional in appearance and so on. This qualifier encapsulates all of the first edition stamping errors.
- Missing Stamp Error - In the case where a card should have a stamp, no matter the type, but is missing said stamp, it will receive this subcategory of the Stamping Error qualifier.
- Signed Card (SS) - A card signed by an artist, designer, player, etc. We do not authenticate signatures, only apply qualifiers if they are signed. Ambr Grading does not have the staff, expertise, or ability to certify signatures.
- Multiple Qualifiers (MULTI) - If there are more than two qualifiers, “MULTI” will be printed on the case label. The list of all of the qualifiers will be found in the Digital Report.
Cards that have features from the manufacturer that are not part of the standard card design are referred to as Variants. Examples of these include Full Art (FA), Borderless (BL), and First Edition cards (1ST). This list applies to all potential variants listed by Ambr Grading, but does not apply to all games as some are unique to particular TCGs.
Variant Abbreviations :
- AA - Alternate Art
- FA - Full Art
- EA - Extended Art
- SC - Showcase
- BL - Borderless
- DS - Date Stamped
- TL - Textless
- 1ST - First Edition
- SL - Shadowless
- Alternate Art (AA) - Alternate Art is used when a card has one collector number but two or more different art representations. More recent cards generally have different collector numbers for different art but not always.
- Full Art (FA) - Full Art is characterized by a card having a different layout (usually no defining text boxes) but the same art as other versions of the card that spans from its top to bottom border.
- Extended Art (EA) - Extended Art cards will have the same art as their non-extended counterparts but with the art extending laterally beyond its normal parameters.
- Showcase (SC) - Showcase cards are cards with different, unique to their set, borders and or art.
- Borderless (BL) - Borderless cards do not have a defined border around the art of the card. They may or may not have the same art as the other versions of cards in the same set with the same name.
- Date Stamped (DS) - Cards from special events like Pre-Release, Release, or other time specific events may be stamped with a year or full date. Most commonly this appears in the bottom of the art box but it may appear elsewhere.
- Textless (TL) - Textless cards are similar to Full Art cards except they have no text within the cards art borders. Generally, the card's name and the set/artist information is all there is.
- First Edition (1ST) - To differentiate the cards from the 1st and unlimited versions of Pokémon cards, we have added a Variant called “1st” to acknowledge this difference.
- Shadowless (SL) - Some Pokémon cards were printed without an art box shadow. These cards are very rare and deserve acknowledgement.
Common Foreign Languages
Ambr Grading accepts all languages for Magic: the Gathering and Pokémon (not the original “Pocket Monster” cards).
We primarily use ISO 639 two-letter (639-1) languages codes on our labels and within the database. Any card printed in Japanese for example will be marked (JA) regardless of the game or set it came from (even though MTG may mark it as JP). Not all languages apply to all games. These languages include:
- JA - Japanese
- DE - German
- FR - French
- KR - Korean
- RU - Russian
- ES - Spanish
- ZHS - Chinese Simplified
- ZHT - Chinese Traditional
- IT - Italian
- PT - Portuguese
- NL - Dutch
- PL - Polish
- CS - Czech
- HU - Hungarian
- HE - Hebrew
- SA - Sanskrit
- PH - Phyrexian