Professional Grading

The world of card collecting was very simple to me when I started in 1988, there were packs, you bought them, and showed them to friends. Today, the hobby if far more complicated. Between selling, the technology of cards and the focus on condition, the 1988 version of me would hardly recognize it. One of the major topics in today’s hobby is professionally graded cards. This stemmed from counterfeit cards finding their way in the hobby and disagreements about what was mint especially when selling the cards.  Today the big companies seem to be PSA, SGC Beckett and GAI with other companies around as well.

In full discloser, I have a handful of graded cards, a 1972 and 1973 Topps Willie Mays,  a 1979 Topps Ozzie Smith, a 1983 Topps Ryne Sandberg and a 1983 Topps Wade Boggs all graded by PSA. I also have a 1941 Play Ball Carl Hubbell graded by SGC and a 1983 Donruss Julio Franco that is graded by Beckett.

I am not going to go so far as to say that grading is bad for the hobby, but there are some things I am not as positive about. After looking at getting some cards graded, I don’t like the cost and time involved in getting cards graded, which can be ten dollars a cards and take six weeks. I feel that this should be examined because I think it is a reason a lot of collectors never had them graded.

While I am not in a position to tell others how to spend their money, I think the difference in price between a PSA 8 and a PSA 10 card is silly. This leads to a group of registry collectors who spend more on a George Brett Rookie than I will on all of my cards this decade.

I also feel that professional grading does take some of the humanity of the cards, knowing they are in the case, never to see the light of day again unless you want to destroy the money you invested in getting the card graded. I know I am probably in the minority here, but I am more of a simple collector rather then an investor or flipper.

On the positive end, it is also nice to know that a card I am buying is authentic and there can be a set grading standard. I bought a card a few years ago that my friend said was mint, and it was nice, but I know full well it would not grade as mint. It might grade as Ex-MT, which can be a lot of money if I was in the market to sell it. For pre Topps era and higher cost cards, I would be more apt to go with graded and it takes care of authenticity issues. With everything being said, for me, grading is unimportant. I really do not see any noticeable difference between a 7 and a 10 which is funny because  as anyone on eBay would tell you, the price difference is immense. For me, a 5 is just as good as a 10 and a ton cheaper.

In all, professional grading helps the novice collector feel more confident in their collection, but at a price.



One Response to “Professional Grading”

  1. Chris S. Says:


    I’ll add a few comments here.

    First of all, I am a raw collector and have exactly ZERO graded cards in my collection. And the one (mid-grade) card that I received ended up being subjected to my pliers and a key, in order to put it in its rightful place in my binder.

    That said, I’m not anti-grading at all. I simply choose not to collect cards that are hermetically sealed. But if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I don’t place as high a priority on grading as others do.

    However, for those customers who are grading-conscious, TPG is a way to safeguard against trimming, restoring and other alterations. In the instance where a slight change in grade means a difference of hundreds or even thousands of dollars, it’s a effective way to get an agreement.

    It’s also an effective way to get authentic older cards like 1930s gum issues that have been widely reprinted. In some cases, those reprints were done in the 1960s and 70s and now exhibit honest wear themselves.That’s helpful if you haven’t yet learned some of the nuances to look for when identifying real cards from the fake ones.

    As a bonus, if you’re willing to look around, you can often find low- and mid-grade cards in slabs for less than the same card raw.

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