ABUGames.com Detailed Magic the Gathering Cards Condition Guide
Here you will find one of the most extensive Magic Card Condition Guide on the net
(click on the card pictures below for a larger image)
Mint and Gem Mint (MINT / GEM MINT)
Usually only older magic cards such as Beta or Arabian Nights will be graded MINT or GEM MINT. A card rated MINT or GEM MINT is an unplayed perfect condition card. It will have that "fresh from the pack" look. The edges show absolutely no wear although often on older cards there will be slight deviations on the edges created when the card was cut. The corners will be sharp and may be slightly curled up created from when it was cut. MINT refers to condition so a small printing spot can be allowed. A GEM MINT card will also be perfectly centered and have no printing spots or anything that would possibly keep it from being a perfect card. Any card listed as MINT or GEM MINT condition should receive a 9 or greater if graded by a third party grading service like BGS or PSA.
This Reset is in GEM MINT condition. It is extreamly rare to find a perfectly centered card without any printing imperfections. GEM MINT cards have a very premium value.
This Psionic Blast is in MINT condition. About 1 in 25 rare unlimited cards have two horizontal lines across them, since it is so common it does not remove it from what we consider being MINT or even GEM MINT. Unfortunately these lines are considered a flaw to PSA or BGS and would lower their grade.
This Verduran Enchantress is MINT condition.
Near Mint to Mint (NM-M)
The bulk of the cards ABU sells are graded NM-M condition. These cards show basically no wear from shuffling. Most cards from the newest sets with a NM-M condition are straight from the pack. A NM-M may have a tiny edge nick and possible a tiny scratch or two but is otherwise unused.
This Glimpse the Unthinkable is an example of a normal NM-M condition card.
This Alpha Shivan Dragon is a good example of an older card that is a solid NM-M card.
Many would grade this Beta Nevinyrral's Disk as MINT but just a few tiny edge nics keep it a NM-M.
Slightly Played (SPLD)
As with MINT and GEM MINT, the Slightly Played condition grade is usually only used on older cards. Slightly Played cards will have a little edge wear from shuffling. The middle of the card will not have any whitening but may have a few small scratches.
This Mana Drain shows that the back of the card can keep a card from being graded NM-M. The front of this card is in rather nice condition but on the back edges there is some shuffle wear making it Slightly Played.
Again light edge wear makes the condition grade on this Arabian Nights Serendib Efreet Slightly Played
A Slightly Played Beta Sinkhole
When a card starts to show wear from shuffling it is a Played card. For most cards, ABU only uses NM-M and Played condition grades. Most of the cards graded as Played would fall into the Slightly Played grade if this was used on them. Played condition cards will usually have wear from shuffling on the edges and possibly in the middle of the card. A Played card may also have some surface scratches. Cards graded as Played will never have rips, creases, inked edges, or water damage. Cards that have been stamped from pro events are graded Played.
This Diabolic Edict is an average Played condition card
White bordered cards in Played condition like this 4th Edition Island Sanctuary often have some black spots built up on the white edges.These spots can often be removed with a slightly damp cloth.
This Antiquities Mishra's Workshop is an example of an expensive older card that is rated as Played condition. Note this card is on the lower end of what is graded as Played. It has significant whitening on the back but it is all from shuffling. It does not have any major problems like creases that would make it Poor.
Cards rated as Poor condition can have any amount of wear. The only guarantee with a Poor condition card is that you will be able to tell what the card is. Most often one obvious crease or rip will make a card Poor, but at times a card that is almost all white from shuffling will be graded as Poor.
This Poor condition Foil Odyssey Psychatog has some major creases.
A rip will always make a card Poor condition as can be seen on this Teeka's Dragon
This Revised Ivory Tower has had it's edges inked black with a marker making it Poor condition.