In case some of you are not on Robert Edwards Auctions email list, here is the email I received yesterday. Personally, I think it is about time that a major hobby player took the first step in opening peoples eyes.
'In recent weeks we have received a number of consignments of graded cards that has motivated us to adopt a formal policy regarding altered professionally graded cards that we have not previously seen a need to articulate. The altering of cards is so widespread, and “card doctors” so brazen, that REA has actually been receiving cards submitted for auction to us that are the very same cards that have been sold by REA previously – in some cases just months earlier – and which, since purchase, have been significantly altered, reholdered, and now grade higher according to the grading label. In some cases a given card has changed hands and the new consignor was not even aware it was a seriously altered card. It is our policy that when we are aware of such a problem, and we ARE looking, we will be happy to auction the card in question - but insist on providing all information describing the alterations which have occurred to the card of which we are certain. So far, the potential consignors of such cards have elected to have these cards returned rather than have a proper description provided by REA. Last week we returned a $10,000 card. The consignor couldn’t believe it was the same card that we had just sold (in a lower grade and looking quite different) in a previous auction. Only after being provided with images of the card as it appeared when we previously sold it was the consignor finally convinced.
We’re not guessing here. We are talking about cards that we know for a fact are problems. The fact that we have to address situations such as this at all suggests a greater underlying problem than is generally recognized. And while it is bad enough that the altering of cards is an epidemic, it is particularly disturbing that some of the most sophisticated “work” on cards (including the previously mentioned $10,000 card) has actually been executed by employees of auction houses that also deal in cards. We have to ask ourselves “What is going on here?” Turning a blind eye to this issue, in our opinion, has far greater and more significant negative potential consequences than our calling attention to it and promoting discussion. We all know that there is a subjectivity to grading and that sometimes there is an honest difference of opinion regarding a grade, or sometimes even an honest mistake. We’re not talking about honest mistakes here. Active and sophisticated collectors, dealers, and auction houses know that this is a problem. They just don’t talk about it, except among themselves. In the end, the collector loses. We want to be clear that we think the major grading services do a valiant job and we can’t imagine what the landscape of the marketplace would look like without them. That doesn’t mean there are no problems. At the end of the day, we have this advice: “Buy the card, not the holder.”'
You have to presume that 99.9% of this type of fraud is limited to baseball memorabilia? Personally, I have almost given up buying raw hockey from the 60's because of too many PSA rejects for trimming, & recolouring....not to mention the sheet cut cards...
OK, I'm not sure that I completely understand what is going on here. I understand that raw cards are often trimmed, recolored, etc. but PSA is pretty good about catching this kind of thing. I used to buy raw cards to have them graded, but too many of them were returned due to this kind of problem.
Is REA saying that cards are altered and then put into a grading holder by an individual, or are they being regraded after being altered? I hate to sound stupid, but I'm not completley following what REA is saying.
I would hate to think that I couldn't even trust PSA graded cards. I have also stopped buying raw cards from the 50's nad 60's due to the abundance of altering, and I've stopped buying KSA cards. Are PSA cards still safe??
I think 'collector' grade PSA cards (5 and under) are pretty safe from PSA. I think it has been suggested that PSA has graded a number of sheet cut OPC cards but since I don't go after modern sets it hasn't really affected me. PSA has far and away graded the most prewar hockey cards and also they have the most active Registry on those cards. There are many threads about their grading consistancy and their condom holders but I don't think anyone is making big money selling altered 3s and 4s in prewar hockey.
Good evening, I have been following this forum for quite a while and love all the info. I also heard that Beckett was grading sheet cut cards from the 1960's in particular 1966/67. Just courious if anyone else had hear the same.
Earl - I believe the implication is that cards are being bought in holders - cracked out, fixed up, re-submitted and receiving higher grades. The example on NET54 is a 1933 Goudey Lajoie card. It started out a PSA 1 MK with a heavy crease and writing in pencil on the back. It than became an SGC 1.5, a GAI 3 and now a PSA 2. The idea that only high grade cards are being fixed up is probably not true. From my limited understanding it is far easier to make a VG card EX than an EXMT card NMMT.
How does this effect 1950's and 1960's hockey? As long as people can make money improving cards and getting them graded it will continue to happen. For the little amount of time grading companies spend on each card it is bound to happen.
Lyle - Beckett admittedly grades sheet cut cards from all years as long as they measure the correct size. While PSA claims they do not grade sheet cut cards, apparently they do not catch them all.
Thanks for the clarification. I wasn't aware of this situation. Personally, I can't imagine how the average collector will be able to protect themselves from this kind of thing. The scans we see on eBay aren't large enough or clear enough to detect most problems, and even once the card is in hand, I don't think that most of us will be able to discover any hidden flaws or alterations.
So what is the average collector supposed to do to protect himself?
Earl - my advise is don't spend much time worrying about auction house/grading company unethical collaboration and alterations unless you are buying high dollar rarities. I haven't seen a mid grade c56 or c55 or c57 altered and resubmitted by an auction house yet. I've sen plenty of undergraded and overgraded 3s and 4s but as they say - buy the card, not the holder...
As to Beckett I would always pay more for SGC or PSA vs Beckett - they have more conflicts of interest than your average politician....
I have only bought 1 Beckett Graded card in my life, and it was a card from the 1980's. I agree that Beckett too much of a conflict of interest. The worst part is when they list grade card prices in the Beckett magazine and they list a BGS 8 as being worth more than a PSA 8! BGS has done OK with newer cards, but vintage collectors don't seem to pay much attention to them.
Basically, if certain companies tried to do what Beckett does, they would be fined by the SEC!
I do have quite an extensive pre 1970's graded hockey card collection with most of the cards being PSA 8 and 9's. Also SCG and Beckett graded 8's and 9's do comprise of about 20% of my collection. Under a powerfull magnifine glass the SCG and Beckett cards have sharper corners and better centering than all of my PSA cards of the same grade.
I wander if SCG also grades sheet cut cards as well as it seems that PSA always commands more money for the same grade. At the Toronto show in May this year I made quite a few purchases on 60's graded 8's for certain sets and by far all the SCG cards I considered were far superior than the PSA cards but to keep the sets consistant with 3rd party grading I purchased all PSA graded cards.
I know you can cross over graded cards but the price has to be right to make it economically feasable.
Your right Earl, it is unnerving to think that a high graded vintage card could be doctored and there is know way of really knowing (or is there). On that note I'll say goodnight.