MEARS exclusive jersey grading and authentication criteria

MEARS evaluates game-used jerseys based on a 1-10 grading scale. Points are assigned for attributes such as manufacturer characteristics including tagging, lettering, numbering, size, patches, materials, style, and more. Points are also awarded or subtracted for characteristics such as provenance, wear, and use. Further detailed evaluation criteria for each grade are listed below:

Jersey’s dating from 1987 and earlier: Upon examination of features including uniqueness of jersey, manufactures characteristics, and name changes, and taking into consideration the difficulty of obtaining a professional model jersey, the examined jersey may be determined to be authentic despite the lack of accompanying team or player provenance. A jersey meeting all of these criteria has the potential of receiving the highest grade of A10.

A10 Manufactures characteristics of the jersey have been compared to known authentic examples and exactly match tagging, lettering, numbering, size, patches and/or memorial bands, materials, style, buttons, zipper, etc. Each piece is also evaluated on the degree of evident use and wear, which must be consistent with that of the player, sport, position, field of play, and duration of use. No negative traits can be found to receive this grade. The jersey must be complete, unaltered, all original, and show optimal wear while remaining in the same condition as last worn by player.

A9 The examined jersey must have the same traits as the A10 with respect to overall characteristics and wear. The jersey is awarded the A9 grade when it exhibits a minor flaw that does not warrant more than a full point deduction. No reasonable doubt can exist as to whether or not the player wore the jersey during the proposed time frame in order to receive this grade.

A1 – A8: This grade reflects a cumulative evaluation resulting from documented subtractions of 2 full points or more. All reasons for subtraction will diagramed and noted by the defined point scale.

Post-1987 Jersey’s: The highest grade a post-1987 jersey can obtain without team or player documentation, or verifiable provenance, or a combination of known distinct player specific traits is an A5.

A10 Manufactures characteristics of the jersey have been compared to known authentic examples and match in tagging, lettering, numbering, size, patches or memorial bands, materials, style, buttons, zipper, etc. Each piece is also evaluated on the degree of evident use and wear, which must be consistent with that of the player, sport, position, field of play, and duration of use. No negative traits, incorrect manufacturers specifications, or use characteristics can be present to be awarded this grade. The Player, team, or event provenance was provided at the time of inspection and fully supports the attributions and player wear.

A9 Manufacturers characteristics of the jersey have been compared to known authentic examples and match all criteria. This grade is awarded when the jersey has a minor flaw that does not warrant more than a full point deduction. No reasonable doubt can exist as to whether or not the player wore the jersey during the proposed time frame in order to receive this grade.

A6 thru A8: Manufacturers characteristics of the jersey have been compared to known authentic examples and match all criteria. In addition, if the jersey exhibits optimal use and wear, up to 3 additional points to the base grade of A5 may be awarded for these characteristics. Since Hall of Fame players and period superstars are most susceptible to forgery, the A6 thru A8 grade is generally reserved for common players, utility players, coaches & managers.

A5 Manufactures characteristics of the jersey have been compared to known authentic examples and are consistent with respects to what would be expected to be seen in a game issued jersey. Each piece is also evaluated on the degree of evident use and wear, which must be consistent with that of the player, sport, position, field of play, and duration of use. The degree of wear will be measured from minimal to heavy and the jersey cannot exhibit negative, missing, or incorrect manufacturers traits or use characteristics. When team or player provenance is lacking, wear can be measured, but not attributed directly to examined player. Without reasonable and verifiable provenance for post-1987 Hall of Fame or period star player jersey’s, the A5 designation may still be assigned if the jersey possesses qualities and physical characteristics of a Major League jersey that was manufactured for player use or as an extra for a team or player, or one that may have been made available for retail sale or promotion (while still containing the physical characteristics consistent with game issued jerseys). It should be noted that variances with respect to number/lettering placement, font, stitching, size, patch placement and other manufacturers characteristics may be present on MEARS A5 jerseys when compared to documented game used jerseys. A MEARS A5 jersey may still be assigned the grade without an accompanying photomatch or may exhibit variations when compared to an examined available image.

A1 thru A4 These grades are rarely assigned to a post-1987 jerseys since jerseys from this time period are infrequently recycled as replacement jerseys are so readily available. See full MEARS point criteria for factors, which can lower the final grade. When points are subtraction for jerseys from this time frame, reasons will be noted and included on the “Jersey Grading and Authenticating Official Worksheet.”

Degree of wear: With respect to grading, degree is independently measured by the staff of MEARS. Game wear is measured from light to heavy. Per the MEARS grading standards, the range of game wear may be determined from light to heavy, while still having the maximum points awarded to the jersey. A jersey may exhibit a light range of overall wear, but still be awarded the highest grade per the scale.

Criteria for Additional Points Awarded or Subtracted

Up to 3 points awarded for the following (post-1987 only):

  • Customized sleeves
  • Tailoring of side panels
  • Shortened tails
  • Added crotch pieces
  • Team repairs
  • Extra length
  • Other team customizations

(Please note that for the A5 grade designation, additional points are reflective of customizations only and do not serve as attribution of player wear.)

½ to 3 points subtracted for the following:

  • Cut Sleeves (-½)
  • Vintage patch replacement (-½)
  • Replaced buttons (-½)
  • Missing button (-½)
  • Tag outline present, but tag missing (does not effect authenticity) (-1)
  • Properly restored name on back (-1)
  • Missing name on back (original outline lettering still visible) (-1)
  • Non-functional or replaced zipper (-1)
  • Missing patch (-1)
  • Cut, trimmed, hemmed tails with tags present (unless customization documented from player) (-1)
  • Manufacturers tag missing and no outline present (-2)
  • Team number change (-2)
  • Professional number restoration with vintage number (-2)
  • Nameplate missing (-2)
  • Player identification tag missing (-3)
  • Number missing, but outline visible (-3)
  • Use by more than one player or worn more than one season by other player (-3)
  • Number restoration with modern replacement (-3)
  • Nameplate or name lettering restored (-3)
  • Restoration without exact match to original (-1-3)

½ to 5 points subtracted for the following (determined solely by authenticator):

  • Fading or staining (minor to abused)
  • Use is light (-2 to 4)
  • Legitimate use is questionable
  • Holes, tears, or moth holes (-½ to 4)
  • Missing team name or crest (-5)
  • Restoration: if restored with all original pieces, from another all original shirt (-2 to 5)
  • Excessive use evident
  • Shrinkage of jersey, lettering or numbering
  • Worn piping/braiding (- ½ to 2)
  • Toning/discoloration (- ½ to 2)
  • Team name replaced with Minor League logo (- 4)
  • Shirt cannot be attributed to any one player (- 2 to 4)
  • Use evaluation: Use not consistent for player, position, or event
  • Broken anchoring stitches on lettering or numbering

Additional points not listed above can be added or subtracted at the authenticator’s discretion. Reasons for additions or subtractions will be noted on the “Jersey Grading and Authenticating Official Worksheet.”

MEARS grading criteria is copy written and patent pending, copyright 2012. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.