There exists a few grades of pins. Everyone’s criteria for what makes an A Grade (Standard) versus a B Grade (Second) is different, but these are mine. I use this grading scale to determine which of my pins is considered a Standard Grade (A Grade), A- Grade, or a Seconds Grade (B Grade).
I inspect my pins in either natural sunlight or a well-lit room and hold them at a little closer than arm’s length.
A Grade/Standard Grade
Pins are handmade items and can vary from unit to unit. Very few pins are perfect, but these are close. These are pins that have some very minor faults to them. Some of these minor faults include…
- tiny, not noticeable air bubbles
- very minor enamel under fill
- some light imperfections in the metal plating
- light surface scuffing or light scratches on the enamel or metal
- light or very small nicks on the enamel or metal
- some small areas of plating imperfections on sides of pin
- minor/faint dust in enamel
- encased posts with slight wiggle
- plating imperfections on the back of pin
These pins have slightly more minor faults than the Standard/A Grades but not significant to be a Seconds/B Grade.
These are sold at a slight discount and is still a great addition to your collection if you’re not too picky on flaws.
B Grade/Seconds Grade
These pins have noticeable flaws, some more minor or major than others. Some of the flaws that would qualify a pin as a B grade include…
- noticeable or multiple areas of under filled enamel
- moderately scuffed enamel or metal
- multiple points of imperfections on the metal plating
- multiple air bubbles in the enamel
- missing metal lines
- missing enamel on a small portion of the pin
- noticeable off-set screen printing
- areas of low glitter
- one unfilled area of enamel
- enamel staining on sides or back of pin
- overfilled enamel that floods some metal lines
- some missing plating on duochrome pins
- large amounts of glitter in areas where there shouldn’t be
- noticeable amounts of dust on enamel
- small gouges or marks on enamel
- encased posts that have significant sway
- large areas of imperfection of the metal on the sides of the pin
- large areas of plating missing on back of pin
A seconds grade pin might not be as nice as a Standard Grade, but it is still highly wearable and can make a good additional to a collection if the imperfections noted above are not bothersome to a collector.