AUTOMOBILE LICENSE PLATE COLLECTORS ASSOCIATION
APPROVED LICENSE PLATE GRADING SYSTEM
The following grading guide for license plates was assembled by Dave Hollins (#3847). This guide was published in the ALPCA Newsletter for comment from the membership and approved by the ALPCA Board of Directors.
Before any individual grading parameters are discussed, there is one point that must be made clear. That point is that all license plates, regardless of age or reputation of infirmity, must be graded using equal standards. This means that an excellent 1920 plate should be in the same condition as an excellent 1990 plate. Plates that are known to be rare with good paint intact must be graded equally with others which can be found more readily in much better condition. This principle must be observed in order to maintain a solid continuity from which all grades will emanate. Without such an inalterable foundation, grading will remain the result of the opinion or caprice of the seller, which will doom any grading system to failure.
Mint: Unused plate or one having no visible marks of usage, in original condition. No rust, fading, or deterioration of any kind. Often in the original envelope.
Excellent: 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 1 square inch total chipping around bolt holes, corners, and edges only.
Very Good: 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 1 square inch. No retouching.
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% of background chipped, but no more than 2% foreground chipped. Minor retouching.
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 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.
Poor: Normally a "filler" used until a better replacement can be found. May have complete rust, be painted over, and have large holes or missing portions.
Needs Repainting: Must be suitable for repainting. Solid and relatively flat. Surface rust only.
Repaint: Repainted. Exceptional or poor repaints should be specified.
Unused: This grade does not describe the condition of a plate. It should be used only in conjunction with one of the above grades.
For all grades, unusual or extraordinary defects should be mentioned separately. The grade assigned should describe the overall appearance of the plate. Any touch-up on porcelain plates should be specified.