AS there has been much discussion about what is MINT, and what isn't, when it comes to grading collectable GIFT CARDS;
we thought we here at lina-mallows should take a moment to explain our terminology.
While no grading system can likely define every situation;
we will always try to do our best
to fairly represent the condition of the cards you are buying.
MINT (MOST DESIRABLE- AS GOOD AS IT GETS)- NOT loaded*, NOT used, NOT registered.
Intact PIN covering. An original pristine card directly from
the manufacturer's box.
AS A CARD MUST BE ENCODED WITH ITS SERIAL NUMBER (and/or pre-loaded value*)- EVEN MINT CARDS MAY
HAVE SOME DEGREE OF FAINT SWIPE LINES VISIBLE-
THESE ARE NOT FROM USE- BUT INHERENT TO THE CARD'S PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION.
As a card that is "MINT" may still have faults they would be
listed next to this definition. i.e.: MINT- scuffed, MINT -
lightly scratched, MINT- PIN partially exposed (this is a big problem with 2002 Valentine's Day
Cards- and a few other issues.)
* In the case of cards- like ICHIRO- the original loaded value MUST remain intact.
NEAR MINT (MINT- THOUGH may be 'TECHNICALLY' USED)- A card that
has been loaded, and unloaded* by manually entering the number, not by
swiping- or the top of the card was covered during this process. Therefore,
no additional scratches from loading/unloading are added to the card's top surface- excepting
original production. Intact PIN covering, almost as good as a card
from an original box, however technically used.
As a card that is "NEAR MINT" may still have faults they
would be listed next to this definition. i.e.: NEAR MINT-
scuffed, NEAR MINT - lightly scratched, NEAR MINT- PIN
partially exposed (this is a big problem with 2002 Valentine's Day
Cards- and a few other issues)
* In the specific case of cards- like ICHIRO- the original Value would be removed.
However the card would remain intact, in its original plastic outer wrap.
NOTE- Some cards- most especially those issued through STARBUCKS' CORPORATE SALES may never have been made available (to the public) as a MINT card. Therefore the best card(s) obtainable will be NEAR MINT, with or without their original balance.
Gently Used (FOR MOST- GOOD ENOUGH TO COLLECT)- A card that
has been loaded, and unloaded (possibly several times),
exhibiting typical scratching- though very minimal, from this
process, as well as original surface scratches from card to
card contact having been on a store display. Intact or
mostly intact PIN covering. More likely just the usual odd small nick,
or hairline scratch is present, in the PIN coating.
When displayed, this card is virtually indistinguishable from a MINT card.
USED - The grade that likely cover the bulk of all existing cards.
A person takes a card from a display, hands it to a Barista, loads the cards,
and places it in the wallet/purse. The card is used a few times,
maybe reloaded, carried around for a while, and then retired in favour of a "prettier design",
at a later date. The earlier card is then set aside as a "collectable".
ABUSED / WORN (WHY BOTHER? UNLESS VERY RARE- TO BE USED AS A
FILLER UNTIL A BETTER ONE COMES ALONG)-
[A term we have yet to use as a seller]
A card that has been loaded, and
unloaded numerous times, exhibiting typical scratching-
likely considerable, from this process. A card likely
carried around for some time in someone's purse or wallet.
The PIN may or may not be partially, or fully exposed.
The card would show considerable surface abrasion,
scratches, or scuffing from contact with other cards or
objects. Serial number, and mag stripe may shows considerable signs of colour loss, or fading.
ANY ADDITIONAL faults- regardless of grade should be noted separately-
such as GRAFFITI (NON-Removable writing on the card)-
a problem with the newest issue of the Mother's Day Card.
Also the Original STICKER being removed- 6005-6006 Core Cards,
some SPRING 2002 cards, and now the Mother's Day 2005 Card,
some early STORE CREDIT Cards. A hole punched in the card,
or a hole from being pinned to a bulletin board should be noted.
A bend/crease in the card should also be noted.
Some faults will not be noticeable to everyone at first glance.
A bend in a card, when straightened would/may only be noticed by looking at the edge.
ERRORS & FREAKS (additional items will be added shortly)
Some STARBUCKS Cards do exhibit some degree of colour variation.
The Penguin & Dove issues of 2003 are a good example.
At this time, no one appears to care about these minor colour variations.
Upside down STARBUCKSCARD screenings, on the front, are also known.
These are a MAJOR variety, and are only known to exist for one single issue- the AUSTRALIA Bridge issue.
(STARBUCKS) RED Card is also known to exist with the text inverted on the card's front surface.
STARBUCKS cards do GENUINELY exist WITHOUT the STARBUCKSCARD overprint, on their front.
However, as it is extremely simple to remove the STARBUCKSCARD name (and other details), from many card issues-
This "ERROR" is not deemed worthy of paying any premium for;
as genuine "ERROR" cards are virtually indistinguishable from these "manufactured error cards".
Different variations for PIN coatings exist for the following issues:
CORE CANADA 6005 - Big Cup: SILVER, and BLACK wavy lines over SILVER
PIKE PLACE MARKET- GOLD, and BLACK wavy lines over GOLD
Pine Cones in Snow / Winter 2002: SILVER, and BLACK wavy lines over SILVER
Summer Bugs 2003- Small PIN numbers (6009 series prefix) & Large PIN numbers (6012 prefix)- PLEASE NOTE- It is not recommended to scratch the PIN coating off to check the size of the numbers underneath.)
Greek / Olympic Summer 2004: SILVER, and BLACK wavy lines over SILVER
Valentine's Day 2006 Lacy Heart: Two variations of BLACK wavy lines over SILVER
Summer 2006: Serial numbers appear in both dull, and bright silver/grey.
COMFY CHAIR CORE cards- SILVER, and every different variation
of the pattern of BLACK wavy lines over the SILVER are known.
(more will be added as they come to light)
FOR a STARBUCKS Gift Card issued in Canada and the United States, Australia, and Greece:
please call 1-800-STARBUC.
By following the prompts, one may easily ascertain whether a card has, or has not, had a balance,
and is therefore either is MINT- "not activated", or USED with, or without, a balance.
SPECIAL NOTE- ICHIRO and other Gift Cards issued ONLY as preloaded cards, must have their ORIGINAL balance, to still be still be considered as truly ''Mint''. Though we prefer to use ''NEAR MINT'' when the cards ARE NOT issued in an integral sealed package.
REGARDLESS of what some may say, it is our opinion that any card that has had an original preloaded balance,
when part or all of that balance has been removed, the card can never be described as "MINT".
©smla 2003. Border colour configuration
GRADING STANDARDS ©2005 Sir Mark L. Alter - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
REVISED 2009/04/10 SMLA Iwuiltm, Iwuiltm, Wtbwyomm! smla
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