I have never got a card graded for a few reasons. First none of the grading companies I have looked at have a specific way to grade a card. I mean something that is measurable, they all seem to be based on opinions of "experts". How is an opinion measurable? I am a machinist by trade so If a print has a dimension I can measure that dimension and give an accurate, verifiable measurement not an opinion. If a grading company has a big customer are they going to poop in their cornflakes and give him or her a poor grade? It is subject to an opinion and the opinion can be skewed in favour of large customers. The next reason is the cost. I think it is scandalous what they charge to look at a card for about 90 seconds at best. The biggest part of the cost is the holder so how can they justify spending more then a few seconds on a card. Again it gets down to rushed opinions now. The final thing is the security.....how do collectors know that the card they sent to a grading company is the card they get back? Yes I know that if they screwed people around it could destroy their business, but do you really think that these companies have complete control of all their employees. How many cards are switched for lesser quality cards? My question is what do you think?
To ad to this topic, I have never spent a penny on grading a card for my personal collection but if i do decide to to "SELL" my single cards then i will grade them to get top dollar for my cards but for my complete sets i will leave them raw.
My top pick for the most cosistent grading company is SGC, i will use them if i sell my single cards.
PSA makes to many mistakes with wrong labels and are non consistant with there grades, it makes you wonder if they do this on purpose just to make more money when you send the card back for a re grade, i have heard so many stories from friends of mine sending cards into PSA and there is always 1 or 2 screw ups with the labelling or grade on there slabs.
Personally i could not care less if the card is graded a 7 or a 10 as you can pay 10 times more for the higher grade 10 that looks like a 7.
Just my 2 cents as i am a raw card collector.
All valid points Bill but methinks your views won't be shared by the majority here (I don't post much but I check in and read every once in awhile; this site is an awesome resource). I personally rely on grading companies for what I perceive to have been their original intent/purpose, namely as a way to ensure that what you are buying is authentic and, in cases where you are unable to personally view a card before purchasing it, of a reasonable quality. My collection is mostly PSA7 because I've found that this usually means a card in a condition that meets my personal requirement or preferences.
Beyond that I don't really understand the desire to acquire higher grade cards, the competitive aspect of it (no offense to anybody who does). I mean I do understand the concept of competitiveness but this particular manifestation of it always baffled me, given that high-grade collectors are essentially relying on the opinions of complete strangers applying largely undefined criteria; or maybe not undefined but un-quantifiable. I can see beating my chest because I have the best of something, but not because someone else I don't know (and whose opinion, if I did get to know them, I could very well discover I didn't respect) says I do.
I've submitted thousands of cards to PSA over the years. I am not a shareholder of the company, nor am I a cheerleader for them. I have never
had a card switched. I have agreed with the grades I've received 95% of the time or better.
The people who have bought cards off of me over the internet (some on this board) have never had a complaint about their PSA cards. You will however hear complaints from people who buy from big submitters like 4sc and other
top dealers who get bumps on grades because of the sheer volume they do with PSA.
If I didn't have PSA as a seller, then who would trust me over the internet ?
Do high quality scans always give you the best idea of a cards condition ?
Or does PSA or SGC give you a better idea ? I guess that is up to the buyer. But history has proven that many high end buyers stick with buying graded cards as opposed to non-graded. Then again, there are many high
end raw buyers, but they do not purchase until they can see the card in hand.
Back in the 80's and 90's you didn't need PSA, because everyone went to
shows and examined cards themselves. Once EBAY started up, then you needed
3rd party grading services.
And yes, there is something in the collectibles market, whether it be fine art, raw diamonds, or sportscards, that collectors want the best conditioned specimen they can find. It is a big part of the collecting world, and it
will never go away. Personally, I'd much rather have a genuine mint card that is perfectly centered, then an ex+ card that is off centered, and I think most others here feel that way also.
PSA makes thousands of mistakes. They're only human. But in my experience
with them, they have been a very good company in grading my cards.
The first time I heard about PSA, I thought it was a ridiculous idea. I bought raw cards on eBay all the time, but I can't say that I was always happy with the cards that came in the mail. Then I bought a raw Gretzky rookie, which looked great in the screw down holder. As time went by, more graded cards were showing up on eBay and I started getting interested. I finally joined PSA and sent some of my best cards off to PSA. Once my cards came back, it turned out that the Gretzky had been retouched on the corners. I had owned it for over a year at that point and there wasn't any kind of protection policy on eBay. I eventually found a buyer for the card who was willing to buy it with the retouched borders for about 20% of what I originally paid. That was very painful, and I started avoiding raw cards.
PSA isn't perfect and I'm not always satisfied with the grades I get from them, but when I buy a graded card I don't worry that it's a counterfeit or touched up. Also, if I sell a card I know that I can get my money back, or make a profit, if the card is graded.
It's a matter of opinion and I don't expect every other collector to follow my beliefs, just like I don't follow the collecting habits of every other collector either. By the way, third party grading has also become widely adopted by coin collectors.
They certainly do define their criteria but I agree with what Bill was saying about measure-ability. If you don't have any way to objectively quantify that number/grade then at a certain point it is going to come down to someone's opinion. I don't think it matters at the lower ranges because we would probably all come to a consensus on what constitutes a 3 versus a 5 or a 5 versus a 7. But I'm talking about laying out major money for a 10 instead of a 9 for the sole reason that some dude said it was a 10 and it's the only one; and not because it looks any different at all from the 9.
"they all seem to be based on opinions of "experts". How is an opinion measurable?"...
Very simple -
Some dude opinion made a Canadian Ice Dancing pair the Olympic Champions in 2010 (how was it measurable as not every triple lutz jump is exactly triple...it could be only 2.9 turns);
Some dude opinion wins an Academy Award for a movie which sucks in our opinion...
Why? Because those dudes are experts. No everything is measurable with numbers.
We have a few cards in our collection and want them to be a perfect. Cards graders grade 100 cards per day, every day, for years, and that makes them experts. Of course, they make mistakes (well, some dude still thinks that the American ice dancing pair should have won in Vancouver).
Of course, they grade big submitters' cards a bit better - nobody have cancelled a human factor or business relationships yet.
It all doesn't change anything. Grading is the best we have at the moment. You don't like it? Collect raw or come up with a better idea.
It's much easier to criticize someone than to create something new.
"PSA isn't perfect and I'm not always satisfied with the grades I get from them, but when I buy a graded card I don't worry that it's a counterfeit or touched up. Also, if I sell a card I know that I can get my money back, or make a profit, if the card is graded."
I agree Earl, I always considered that this must have been the original idea (the A is for Authenticator right ?) It is not a coincidence, IMO, that the rise in popularity of grading companies coincided with the ability to purchase cards in a virtual marketplace.
I just think it's interesting how it has evolved, how it really gave rise to this competitive aspect of collecting. Or maybe didn't give rise to it but certainly allowed it to become much more prevalent. It used to be that that aspect really only existed with respect to extremely old, rare cards. Someone would pay through the nose to own a card that very few other people had because there simply weren't very many of those cards in existence; now they are paying because a third party has decided that that is the case. It has become a means to create a sort of artificial rarity.
Thanks for the challenge Elmar. I will try and come up with a measureable, verifiable system to grade cards. You know the saying if there is a will there is a way. What would you or any other vintage collector like to see in a new grading system? I would think a card report that would include an actual score based on a written standard for all the criteria in a measuable verifiable easily understood format. It should be weighted toward the key aspects of card quality such as size, cornering and centering and clarity. Along with lesser variables that would all need to be measurable. give me all your ideas and I will start to develop something. Of course if I can't come up with something I will buckle under to the masses and go some of my cards graded.....
@Bill Smart (re: "What would you or any other vintage collector like to see in a new grading system?").
I think BVG is on the right track by assigning grades to important categories (centering, edges, categories, surface) as opposed to giving an overall grade.
- It gives me more insight as to WHY the overall grade is what it is
- I don't like how PSA gives one grade on the card without an explanation (perhaps in house they do grade by category, and keep it in an internal database, which they can reference with the serial number assigned by PSA, but I think the card owner has a right to know these things)
I have seen cards graded by PSA, BGS and others, where everything looks perfect, except there is one major flaw in 1 category (centering for example). I saw a 1982 Gretzky base card which was assigned a 9 (OC) ... "off centre". However, the "Off centering" in my eyes should disqualify it from being a 9... even though the surface was great, and had sharp corners, looking at that card, you know something was way off. It's not as if the centering was 60-40 ... it was clearly 80-20.
Here is what I would change:
After grading each category, a letter should accompany each card saying WHY it lost point in each category. I saw several cards graded by BGS where each category was 9.5. I would be pissed if I had that handed back to me with no explanation. If they go through such thorough analysis, the least they could do is send a (simple and short) letter stating the following:
.5 lost for centering since it was 55-45 and not 50-50
.5 lost for surface due to a small scratch viewed under our 10x magnifying glass in the upper right corner
.5 lost on the edges due to a nick on the top of the card (viewed under our magnifying glass)
So in a nutshell:
1. Assigning grades to categories like BGS does is a great idea (as well as an overall score)
2. Sending an accompanying letter with each card saying why points were lost (or why the value was assigned in the first place for vintage card with major tears, pin holes, gum stains, creases) would really put MORE trust in grading companies.
PS. For my vintage cards, I only collect PSA graded cards because I know they are authentic
Card grading is a very ppopular topic among collectors and we all have a different opinion.
My opinion is that getting cards graded by a reliable grading company gives the confirmation that the card is real, it gives a good idea of it's condition and lets you know of any hard to notice defect such as trimming, bleaching, recolored...
PSA is the #1 grading company to me. For high end and expensive cards,the top collectors are on the PSA registry and want the best cards possible. PSA is the company that sells for the highest price period. Also, if you decide to cross over from PSA to another grader, 99% of the time you will get the same grade or a better one. The opposite way is not true and could bring major surprises. Is especialy true for pre war cards and laser cut cards from factory sheets. Even some honest dealers will tell you that some cards won't cross over to PSA at the same grade.
For the qualifiers such as off center, marked... you just have to read the legend of the grading company. I think a 9 oc is a card that's mint but off centered, it reflects the facts and should roughly have the value of a 7.
I think the condition report with every card is not realistic, it would increase the grading fee a lot. Could be an option for high end cards if you decide to pay a premium.
The only perfect way to grade cards in a 100% objective way would be to develop a computer hardware that would do it all on its own without any human involved in the process...
For my vintage cards, I only collect PSA graded cards because like Earl said I know that I can always get my money back, or make a profit. PSA graded cards are an investment (if you pay a market price, of course). Period.
So Danny, don't use SGC if you sell your single cards. No matter how much you like that grading company, you'll lose money.
Back to Bill ("It should be weighted toward the key aspects of card quality such as size...")
Here is a trick. A card grader probably should know all sports, sets, cards in order to judge sizes because...let me give you an example. I had 4 1951 Sawchuks and 3 Howes in the past. All Sawchuks were larger than an average 1951 Parkhurst card, all Howes were smaller. I don't know why but things like that happen all the time, especially in pre-war cards.
The real problem for me is an Evidence of trimming. That's an opinion. Nobody knows what it is and that is horrible to waste grading money because someone thinks a card could be trimmed (not has been trimmed 100%). I have PSA graded card which returned as trimmed from GAI. I have PSA graded card which I submitted 3 times before it returned graded. I have a card which was graded by SGC but returned as trimmed from PSA. I have about 5-10 cards which I'm scared to submit because they look like they might be trimmed..So it'd be really beneficial to come up with an idea to determine trimming for sure.
Card grading is the way to go. Buying raw cards in the 1990s I found out that I had purchased some poor cards which I thought were decent. Once grading companies started up, I saw more vintage product out there than I had ever imagined in the 1990s. Go figure
Grading companies will more than likely give a proper assessment of the card. Beckett is strong for my current basketball singles. The card does not move around as much in their slabs. I used to send my raw cards to Beckett, 2003, but there was a problem with their shipping procedures to Canada. Brokerage fees/taxes by their shipping company irritated me to no end. I had not purchased anything in the United States. I just used the services of the grading company and was being charged tax for their actual value. I believe an individual in BC actually sued the shipping company about this. Did anyone hear the result?
PSA is definitely the way to go for hockey. I have opened enough slabbed PSA product to provide honest feedback. Id say they are 95% accurate with their grading. The other 5% may be due to accidents with the card falling or the last person to slab the card. The older wax pack cards do not seem to move around as much as the vending. Still the vending does not seem to get damaged that often by moving around so much. I am also not a shareholder. The only concern I have sometimes is that an off centered card may receive a grade of 9 or 10. I just dont bid on it then.