Collectable Radio Condition Grading Guide

One of the challenges with judging the value of a radio is trying to determine the condition of it. You may know the model, you may know the year, you may know the color, but to properly determine its value, you need to be able to judge it’s condition.

No problem, right? Well, there is a problem. That problem is that not everybody has the same standards. And it is not really anybody’s fault. The hobby never has adopted a standard. Coin collecting has a standard, MS65 down to Excellent to fair. Train collecting has a standard with criteria set for a rating of 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, ect. Heck, even baseball cards have a quality standard with PSA grading anything form Gem Mint 10 to PSA 7.

But when it comes to radios, the novice seller’s opinion can vary widely from the collector’s thoughts. How many sellers describe a radio as being “MINT” when actually it does not have any cracks or chips. And have you ever read a description stating that the radio “WORKS” only to find out later that the seller means that it just powers up and makes noise.

Here is my attempt to set a standard for grading radios. First of all, there needs to be two gradings: one for the cosmetics of a radio, and a second for the performance of the radio. This is because you may be considering purchasing a near perfect looking radio that does not play. What would you give that radio for an overall grade? I propose something like: Cosmetics: 9/10, Performance: 0/10.

I know, you are going to say that not everyone cares if the radio plays or not. That may be true, but for those who do care, it makes a difference. I have several customers that will not even consider a purchase unless the radio is in excellent working condition. And by working, I don’t mean that it makes noise. Therefore, there needs to be criteria for each level of cosmetics and performance. To make your purchases from me more meaningful, I use the following when grading my radios:


Criteria:  Gloss/wear, cracks/chips/dents, missing parts, damage to the chassis/battery box.

10 New and unused with no signs of use at all. “MINT” (rarely found)

9.5 Near-new condition with no detractors Original gloss with no scratches.  “Near mint” Basically unused and stored in collections.

9.0 Excellent – Only the slightest signs of use.  Some gloss present, but no detractors. This radio has been out of use and in storage for many years.

8.5 Very Good – Signs of normal wear, no gloss, but no damage like chips or cracks or dents.

8.0 Average used condition, most radios will fall into this rating.

7.5 Average used condition with a single area of damage (chip or crack).

7.0  Used with plenty of wear and a couple of areas of damage.

6.5 This radio is only valuable as a donor set to give some parts for repairing other radios.


Criteria: Volume strength, Tone/Clarity of Sound, Sensitivity to pick up distant stations and not just the local stuff.

Cosmetics Questions: Does it have gloss, wear, chips or cracks or dents, missing parts, damage inside?
Gloss Wear chip,crack,dent Missing parts Damage inside
10  New/Mint Y N N N N
9.5 Near mint Y N N N N
9 Excellent Y Slight N N N
8.5 Very Good N Normal N N N
8 Good N Normal N N N
7.5 Average N Heavy Y – 1 N N
7 Fair N Heavy Y 2+ N Y
6.5 Donor set N Bad Y 2+ Y Y
Performance Questions: Does it play loud, clearly, and does it pick up distant stations?
Volume Clarity Sensitivity
10 100% of new Clear Great DXR
9 90% of new Clear Pulls distant
8 Noticeable loss Some distortion Pulls local stations
7 Faint player Fuzzy sound Pulls 1 or 2 stations
6 Faint noise Distorted Only makes noise
0 Dead Dead No noise