A number of factors, including visual condition, rarity, album version and play quality, are graded to determine the value of record albums. Packaging such as the original album cover or sleeve in good to mint condition enhances the album's value. Most collectors rate album condition using the Goldmine Standard.
The most important factor in determining the value of an album is its condition. In the Goldmine Standard, the highest rating an album can receive is mint. A mint condition album is considered perfect, is still sealed or otherwise has never been played and has been barely handled. The highest rating possible for most collectible albums in circulation is near mint, meaning the album has no obvious signs of use or wear. A near mint condition album must include the original sleeve with very little to no damage and all of the original inserts in great condition.
Rarity is the next most important factor in determining a record's worth. A more common near-mint condition album may be worth less than a rarer album with a lesser condition rating. A number of album history databases exist online to aid in determining the rarity of an album. Discogs.com and MusicStack.com are two such websites hosting album information searchable by serial number.