One of the most promising developments to hit the collectibles trade in the mid-1980s was established third-party grading. Coins were the very first collectible to experience third-party grading, and since that time third-party grading has impacted a plethora of different collecting categories for better or worse. Today, the overall sentiment toward third-party grading is positive, but to be fair, third-party grading is not without its fair share of critics. In my opinion, most of these collecting categories would be worse off without established and confident third-party grading services. I do, however, have a lot of issues with the amount of control and influence that major third-party grading companies (as well as auction houses) have on the collectible markets they serve, but I also acknowledge that the devil you know is usually much better than the devil you don't know. And in this particular case, the devil is in the details. Over the years almost every single prominent third-party grading company that is still in existence has made mistakes. Some of these mistakes are more forgivable than others. For instance, accidentally grading a counterfeit item as authentic is a forgivable offense assuming you make the issue right by compensating the buyer for their loss and learn from the issue going forward. Other grading companies have engaged in practices that are completely unethical like manipulating the secondary market to drum up the value of the items they grade. As such, any astute collector and investor operating in these markets is wise to raise an eyebrow of caution as to what some of these companies are doing. That said, thanks in part to how prominent third-party grading has become in certain collecting markets, it is easy to dismiss third-party grading and claim that the trade would be better off without it. For anyone who has this mindset, I urge you to use caution here. I collected comic books in the 1990s before the first premier comic book grading company, CGC (Comics Guaranty Company), opened its doors in 2001. CGC was the brainchild of the parent company who owns NGC (Numismatics Guaranty Company), a leading third-party grading company that encapsulated coins. CGC was put in place to help correct a marketplace of shady ethics and dark dealings.Back before CGC existed, comic book collectors were used to dealing with over-graded books being sold by unethical or even clueless dealers, and books that contained undisclosed restoration. This was apparent early on because when CGC first opened their doors collectors would lament rather disappointingly that they sent in their favorite key vintage comic to get graded and were expecting it to come back in near mint condition, only to discover that a lot of the books they owned that they thought were in near mint condition were barely qualifying as being in very fine condition at best, and some of these books had rather obvious signs of tampering and undisclosed restoration to boot. CGC helped revolutionize the overall comic book marketplace and one reason certain vintage comic books can be seen as 'investments' is due to the collector confidence they bring to the market. However, third-party grading is never perfect, and there are always unethical people attempting to find ways to manipulate the system for their own interests. Case in point, CGC is now dealing with a public scandal where it has been made public that someone found a way to crack open the grading holder and switch out a graded book with a lesser graded copy and reseal the holder. The would-be thief in this scenario would then be able to sell the book in the graded holder and still have the higher graded book he took out of the original holder. This is a developing story as I'm writing this, but CGC has recently released a statement on their website stating that they are looking into this issue very seriously and will make everything right, even hinting that they will financially compensate those affected. Unfortunately, certain individuals in the comic book collecting community are already claiming that it is because of third-party grading that this was allowed to happen, not understanding that it would be much worse without the advent of CGC operating in this marketplace. As someone who possesses a very valuable vintage comic book collection, my advice to the graded comic book community is to let CGC investigate this issue and simply continue to collect and invest in the comic books you love and cherish. The amount of graded comic books affected by this issue is most likely a very small fraction of books, especially considering that CGC has graded millions of comic books since 2001. Furthermore, the internet and mainly social media (i.e. YouTube and TikTok) where this story first broke, loves drama. Over the years there have been many scandals that have affected a multitude of high-profile collecting markets. Just look at what goes on in the high end art market that does not have the added benefit of third-party grading (side note: I encourage readers to watch the Netflix documentary titled, 'Made you Look: A True Story About Fake Art'). I understand that my views surrounding the issue of third-party grading may be controversial to some, but overall third-party grading has been a positive step in the right direction when you look at where a lot of these collecting markets have come from. To sum up my thoughts on this, please allow me to use a few more analogies to further prove my point: a candle in the dark is much better than nothing, even if you desire a flashlight instead. Third-party grading is how we got where certain individuals feel confident paying six or seven figures for a graded comic book. Going back to the proverbial dark ages that existed long before CGC is not ideal, nor is it an option at this point. Third-party grading may not be perfect, especially at times like these, but it is better than nothing, and I am confident CGC will handle this incident ethically and honestly and learn from it going forward. This is just my opinion, and yours may differ, but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. How's that for a final analogy? Shawn Surmick has been an avid collector since the age of 12. He currently resides in his hometown of Boyertown, Pa., and is a passionate collector of antiques and collectibles. His articles focus on various topics affecting the marketplace.