When evaluating a cover, the condition of the stamp is a secondary factor. The most important factors are how intact the cover itself is, the condition of the paper, the attractiveness of the handwriting on the front, and the clarity of the postal markings.
The relevant factors are thus:
1. Intactness of the cover - 0-25 points:
- 25 points - The cover is completely intact. If it is an envelope, the backflap will be complete, with no missing pieces. It will also be its full original length, as indicated by the fact that the backflap will be centered and not skewed to one side. If it is a folded letter, the letter will be its full original size
- 10 points - The backflap may have one or two pieces missing, but will be at least 75% intact. Folded letters can be reduced by 1-2 mm from their original size. The back is fully intact.
- 5 points - More than 25% of the backflap is missing. The back is fully intact.
- 0 points - The backflap is entirely missing, but the remainder of the back is intact.
2. Freshness of the paper as seen from the front - 0-25 points:
- 25 points - The paper is completely fresh and free of any aging, as if it could have been sent yesterday. If it is a coloured paper, it will be completely free of any of the fading that comes with age, being bright an fresh. Folded letters will not show any discolouration or fading along the fold lines.
- 20 points - The paper is fresh, but lacks the brightess of a 25 point cover above. There will be no staining, and no fading of coloured paper, although some very mild aging may be apparent. Folded letters will not show any discolouration or fading along the fold lines.
- 15 points - The paper is clearly aged, but is not stained. Coloured papers may have some very light fading inasmuch as the colour is uneven, but is not obviously faded. Folded letters may show some mild discolouration or fading along the fold lines.
- 10 points - The paper has some obvious toning, or mild foxing or staining in two or three small spots that are smaller than a pencil eraser. Coloured papers will have obvious fading or discolouration around the edges, or in two or three spots that are no larger than a pencil eraser. Folded letters will show some deep discolouration or fading along the fold lines.
- 5 points - The paper is heavily toned, with no obvious stains, or if the paper is coloured, it is obviously faded or discoloured on both the edges, and the body of the cover. Alternatively, there is obvious staining, although the paper is not heavily toned, and the staining is present in more than three spots, or in one or two large spots that are more than 5 mm wide. Folded letters will show some deep discolouration or fading along the fold lines.
- 0 points - The paper is heavily toned and contains several obvious stains, or is not toned, but contains 3 or more large stains that are more than 5 mm wide. Coloured papers are heavily faded in several spots, or otherwise discoloured, or are only lightly faded, but heavily stained as above. Folded letters will show deep discolouration or fading along most or all of the fold lines.
3. Freshness of the paper as seen from the back - 0-10 points:
- Same descriptions as above, except without reference to the fold lines and except that each description is awarded 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 0 points respectively.
3. Condition of the paper and edges - 0-15 points:
- 15 points - The edges are crisp and completely free of wrinkles, tears and fraying. The body of the cover is crisp and free of wrinkles, creases, holes and file folds. Letters will be completely free of tears and splitting along fold lines.
- 10 points - The edges are not crisp, and may show slight fraying. There may also be some small corner creases and wrinkles on the edges. However, there will be no file folds, no holes and no tears. Letters will not have tears or splitting along folds.
- 5 points - The edges show extensive fraying, and wrinkling. There may be an obvious file fold, or one or two small edge tears no more than 2 mm long. Letters may have one or two small tears that are less than 5 mm long, or there may be some mild splitting along one or more of the fold lines. There may be a small pinhole or staple hole.
- 0 points - The edges show extensive fraying and creasing, or multiple edge tears, but not both. Alternatively, there may be a file fold and pinhole, staple hole or minor edge tear. Generally any two paper faults in combination drop the score on this attribute to 0.
4. Appearance of the handwriting - 0-5 points:
- 5 points - The handwriting is clear, legible and written in an especially attractive hand.
- 4 points - The handwriting is clear and legible, but lacks the decorative style that would give it a score of 5.
- 3 points - The handwriting is clear, but not completely legible.
- 2 points - The handwriting is neither entirely clear or legible
- 0 point - The handwriting is not at all legible, or has been obliterated.
5. Clarity of postal markings - 0-15 points:
- 15 points - The postal markings are fully legible and crisp. There is no ink bleeding.
- 12 points - The postal markings are fully legible and crisp, but there is some mild bleeding of the cancellation ink into the remainder of the cover.
- 10 points- The postal markings are clear and legible, but are not crisp. There is no bleeding of the cancelation ink.
- 8 points - As above, but there is some mild ink bleeding.
- 5 points - The postal markings are legible, but are not entirely clear. Alternatively, the markings may be legible and clear, but weak and incomplete. There may be considerable bleeding of the cancellation ink.
- 0 points - The postal markings are unclear, incomplete or illegible, adding nothing to the cover, from an aesthetic point of view.
6. Condition of the Stamp(s) - 0-5 points:
- 5 points - The stamp(s) grade(s) 95 or higher on average
- 4 points - The stamp(s) grades (s) 85-94 on average
- 3 points - The stamp(s) grade(s) 75-84 on average
- 2 points - The stamp(s) grade(s) 65-74 on average
- 1 point - The stamp(s) grade(s) 55-64 on average
- 0 points - The stamp(s) grade(s) less than 55 on average
It should be noted that the following serious faults reduce the grade of a cover item as follows:
- Cover is a front only, back is missing - 50 points.
- Cover is reduced from its original width by more than 5 mm - 40 points.
Less serious faults reduce the grade of items as follows:
- Cover is reduced in size by less than 5 mm - 30 points.
- Cover has three paper faults simultaneously - 10 points.
- Cover has four or more paper faults simultaneously - 20 points.