More Graded Card Auction Foolishness

I never understand why people put SO much of a premium on a graded 10 from whatever company that is out there, mainly because of the way the grading BUSINESS not service is set up. It’s a hodge podge of subjective standards and semantics that collectors put WAY too much value on. I have always said that as long as the process is done by humans and not machines, the grades should not be valued anywhere close to where they are. The main point of contention that I have is that I know the difference between an 8 and a 9.5 is pretty significant, but that is not the case for 9.5 to 10. It’s a matter of opinion, but once the slab is created and fixed on the card, its not opinion anymore.

Basically, the 10s out there will forever be what they were graded, mainly because no one is dumb enough to send it through again just to see if it will come back the same. Once the grade is there, its gospel, unless its an unsatisfactory grade. I mean, when there is a documented practice of collectors resubmitting cracked out cards for re-grading, you know the process isnt reliable, regardless of company reputation. However, that doesn’t stop someone from paying hundreds, if not tens of thousands extra for a 10 over a 9.5. Yes, who cares if the card doesn’t LOOK like it should be the grade it got, its still worth the number on the slab regardless. Right, Strasburg Superfractor?

This is a very good example that you may have heard about lately:

Here is what a Gretzky RC raw equivalent goes for.

Here is what a Gretzky RC PSA 9 goes for.

Here is what a Gretzky RC BGS 9 goes for.

The PSA 10 recently sold for $94,000, a difference of close to $90,000 for the extra point in grading. PSA is infamous for their business practices of helping out their favorite customers with grade bumps, and BGS the same. So, why would someone value the Gretzky PSA 10 at almost 1000x the price of a raw one? It doesn’t make sense when human emotion and bias is factored in. Plus, did you see that right edge? Wow, that is far from what I would expect on a GEM MT card.

Personally, I see the advantage of SELLING graded cards, but I refuse to collect graded cards. I think the slabs are atrocious and take the fun out of having the cards, and I cannot see how the grades are anything but a way to take your hard earned money without offering any type of reliable standard of service. Its not like there is a government body that regulates the standard by which the cards are graded. Beckett and PSA have no reason to offer a reliable standard as long as the top graded cards are never questioned. Plus, when Beckett actually sells cards they have graded themselves, its a complete conflict of interest. This is already in addition to the conflict of interest presented by offering a price guide of graded cards.

You saw what happened with the joke 9.5 given to the Strasburg Superfractor, and how it affected those who knew what was up. Same thing with the Aaron Rodgers SPA that was graded and sold by Beckett when the Packers won the Super Bowl. It’s a complete scam, and I hope more people start to realize why my opinion is as it is. I honestly believe there is no reason to get cards graded other than for selling them later.

24 thoughts on “More Graded Card Auction Foolishness

  1. I’m glad other collectors feel this way. I don’t even bother looking at “graded” cards, mostly because what am I going to do with that enormous slab? I want my cards in good condition, but my cards are for my enjoyment, not to try to impress my friends (most of whom don’t collect). I care about the card, not an enormous number on top of it.

    I realize based on the fact that graded cards are priced higher and sell higher that I may be in the minority, but I skip right over eBay auctions that are in those stupid cases.

  2. Just looking at that right edge and then seeing that it got a 10 grade just shows how much of a scam grading is. I wonder what Joe The Plumber would have gotten for a grade if that was his card and he sent it to PSA?
    Is that the 1st ever hockey card you have shown on your blog? 🙂
    Keep up the great work.

  3. I actually like PSA, but then again I collect a lot vintage baseball and their professionalism is second to none when grading cards from the 1970s or prior. It’s incredibly hard to get any baseball card from that time period graded an 8 or better through PSA, especially concerning cards from the 1950s and before. I’ve probably sent a few dozen vintage cards to them and received the grades that I expected. Got a few good and bad surprises. I’ve never sent cards to BGS because they’ve flooded the market and their holders are big and chunky.

  4. Worse yet is when the grader is also a consignment seller for the very items they grade (Beckett I am looking at you). Obviously the higher the grade, the higher the sale price, the higher the commission. I believe the Rodgers card you mention fell into this scenario. Ungraded before the Super Bowl, after the Super Bowl graded a 9.5 (IIRC it was a generous grade like the Strasburg) and sells for thousands more… Talk about the conflict of interest.

  5. I have a beckett graded 10 card with dinged corners and bad edges, I bought it just to show people how much they suck.

  6. Gellman, I couldn’t have said it better myself, and you know how much I loathe the card grading companies.

    That said, there is some utility to card grading, as long as you do not take the grades to be gospel. I’ve bought several cards from the 50’s in the PSA 5-7 range when I haven’t had any better options (i.e. decent looking ungraded examples were few and far between on Ebay), and been very happy with my purchases. However, I would never buy anything graded higher than that simply because the price premium being placed on minimal improvements in quality is way too high.

    In addition to the problem you mention in your post, I think another element of the problem is the fact that most companies use a 19-point grading scale, which leads to ridiculously fine distinctions between grades. When I first started collecting seriously in the eighties there were generally five grades (Poor, VG, EX, NM, and MINT). Then, tweener grades such as VG-EX, EX-MT, and NM-MINT started to appear, bringing the total up to roughly eight, which was already more than enough. Now, most grading companies have seven grades just for Near Mint and above (i.e. 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10), which is quite obviously overkill. Go back to a system with only 5-6 grades, and a lot of the problems go away.

  7. I loved how the Topps special on MLB network showed BGS as their example of a grading service. And to make it even worse, they showed a guy looking at a Strasburg autograph. Of course, it got a 9.5.
    Except for its value in a long distance transaction, grading is nothing but corporate sponsored corruption of a friendly, personal hobby that artificially inflates perceived values to many times what they should be. A perfect grade card should be worth no more than the highest raw value, period.
    The only graded cards I will ever consider buying are 100 year old tobacco cards that are otherwise susceptible to fraud.

  8. I hate graded cards, the only possible use I could see from grading cards is if they are vintage and you want to keep them in the best condition possible.

  9. I agree with you Max, I am 36, I started collecting and trading Baseball, Football, and Basketball Cards in 1989. At the time Upper Deck introduced themselves to the sports card world with, arguably, one of the most recognizable cards, Ken Griffey Jr UD Rookie Card #1. Also John Smoltz, Garry Sheffield, Randy Johnson, and Craig Biggio were part of that inagural set. I can remember how difficult it was to pull that damn UD Griffey Rookie. In 1989 it was near impossible, plus with a very minimal allowance I couldn’t exactly buy a lot of UD packs. I believe the MSRP was like $2.50-$3.00. 89 Donruss, and 89 Bowman were the other two brands that carried a Griffey RC. 89 Score, 89 Topps, and 89 Fleer introduced him in their updated sets they came out with.
    Anyway, my mom was aware of the card I so depserately needed and the price of a pack or two was a bit too much for a mother to fork over just on cards. Later that X-Mas in 1989 my mom had purchased the card from a shop in Seattle and hung it on the tree. Over the years I would check to see the price for this gem, Beckette, Tuff Stuff, etc etc. I was happy to see that it was listed at $150 in 1998. Just to find out, when I returned back to the Hobby in 2008, a 19 year absence, that Upper Deck was printing these 89 UD Griffey RC Cards like the Gov’t prints $20’s. Lately I have been checking on the 89 UD Griffey RC Card just too see that the 10’s and 9.5’s command more than a non-graded version. Is the turn around worth it? I mean you have to send it in to BGS, pay S&H to and from, shell out even more $$$ to get it graded, and pay $30-$50 bucks just to get it back within ten days?? PSA, is even worse, if you become a member to their selected group by paying a large yearly fee, you can send and they will grade. So I am sure if you are a platinum member 9.0’s, 9.5’s and 10’s will be given just to keep the customer happy. Same goes with BGS, sign-up, have your plastic ready for your monthly and or yearly dues and the same goes on over thier.
    I am not a member of niether, but I have kept that Griffery RC in a very safe and ideal environment to know that my card is an easy 9.5. I send it in to PSA/BGS as a first time customer, I take the risk of having it graded biasedly, get an 8 or 8.5, and then I am stuck with a slab with my card encased.
    In 89 I was a huge fan of the 1989 Score Football Set. The packs were cheap and for the first time Rookie Cards didn’t comeout a year later. Barry Sanders, Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders, Andre Rison, Steve Atwater, and Derrick Thomas. Also Michael Irving, Chris Carter, Thurman Thomas, Chris Chandler and Rod Woodson had played the year before but the 89 Score set recognizes them as their True Blue Rookie’s. But once again I am not going to take the risk of getting graded, it’s all BS!!!! Anybody, who is an avid collector can see and observe the sharpness of the edges and corners, the smoothness and a scratchless surface, and measuring the Centering is easy using simple computer applications.

  10. You could not have captured my thoughts any better. I love the way PSA releases “price guides” and loads the value of any card to their Gem-mint 10s. It’s such an obvious ploy to keep themselves relevant and make their services necessary. I’ve graded cards before, and purchased the same card as a 10 on ebay, only to find my lesser graded card actually looks better. I have graded cards before because I like the uniformity of having my cards all in slabs (for some reason, I actually like the slabs, I know, I know).. but I agree that card grading has made collecting ridiculous. The difference between a card graded 8 and graded 10 is completely impossible to detect. Truly, the only think graded cards give me from purchasing on ebay is piece of mind that they are not fake.

  11. Can you post or send me a pic of that BGS 10 that should really be a lower grade? I love seeing these.

  12. Some of you on here need to look at this in a positive light. I agree with buying cards raw. However most of the card hawks out there have cherry picked the 9.5-10’s out of the raw cards and had them graded already and turned a profit. On the other hand if you are a seller and can cherry pick and find cards in gem mint condition then grade it out and sell it for a profit. I just read on here that the Strasburg Superfractor went for 94k as opposed to 4k raw……seriously who here wouldnt want to make 90k by sending a card in to be graded? And who care about the cases. They do protect the card god forbid something was to happen. And the other nice thing is BGS and PSA will allow you to choose a minimum grade for your card. If I dont want the card slabbed unless its a 9.5 and they determine its a 9 then they will just send the card back in the orginal case. Thats the key because for example you can sell a 2005 Rodgers Exquisite for more raw then in a BGS 8.5. Ultimately it comes down to What will enhance the value of my card the most? Happy Hunting Everyone!!!

  13. You ppl are f@#!@#. grading is the best way to go. BVG/BGS is the best grading system out there. PSA is fine & same with SGC. Anything else forget it. Go ahead, keep buying raw cards. lol. Your cards will always stay in the same condition if its graded. Especially rookie cards. Everyone loves buying or getting rookie cards graded. You ppl are all fools who think grading is bs.

  14. As a buyer, having cards graded is pointless due to the obvious 3rd party nature/conflict of interest issue. I don’t want some random corporation telling me what my card is worth. I collected cards in the past because I liked the player or card, condition was important but secondary. As a seller, I can see the value, simply because of what grading has done to the hobby and brainwashed buyers into thinking that graded cards are the be all/end all. The same way a shot of espresso, 3 ounces of milk and a cup full of ice now goes for $4.05 at Starbucks. You have to realize what you are paying for. Ridiculous in the end.

  15. I agree… somewhat. The obvious chance that there is a conflict of interest in grading a card is ignorable only if you’re ingorant to human error/bias. Though not a sports card collector like my father, i have been collecting Magic: The Gathering for quite a few years, and any cards that I have with values over $150 I have slabbed. But i do it for a more personal reason. I don’t plan on selling them. They all together net over $20,000, and they go to my kids when I croak. So condition is paramount. Slabs are the BEST way to keep your cards as mint as possible. Slab them, put them in an air tight box. hide ’em somewhere safe and dark. Some I have on display behind a 100% UV protected frame. I could personally care less if PSA/BGS nets a better turn around, That will factor in on the day my children decide to sell them. I use BGS simply because with the inner sleeve, the wider crimping to avoid nicking the card, and UV protection mixed in with the plastic, Its the safest holder i’ve found. And slabs CAN be cracked open. It’s easy to just look around and say “how will it sell the highest?” If they sell better with PSA, enough to warrant a cross grading, then so be it. If they sell better raw, then the card is still as good a condition as it was slabbed. Bust it out and sell it.
    Who knows if any grading systems will hold ANY merit in the future. But the fact remains that the slabs keep cards safe and at the least prove their authenticity. And with collecting, isn’t safety what matters?

  16. I totally agree with your input on the grading a .5 difference is a matter of opinion and could reflect on how ones day is going as well or like you stated for there elite customers. But on this Gretzky 10 they graded that right on point, the right side is extra cut from the card printed next to it and that’s what they look for when giving cards gem mint grades cause it gives the card that fresh out of the pack or right off the cutting block feel. The 90,000 dollar price difference is ridiculous.

  17. I have to admit that I like the fact that the graded cards are encapsulated and therefore protected against any possible damage. That being said, I know FOR A FACT that the card grading companies play favorites with their “members”. I sent in 6 1979 Topps Wayne Gretzky rookie cards before I became “a member”, an incredibly expensive proposition. I owned every card from the day I opened them back in the winter of 1980, as I won a complete box on a bet with my dad over the Olympic hockey team. These are the following grades I received: 1-7, 1-6.5, 1-6, & 2-5’s plus one was graded as “altered” which, of course, it wasn’t.
    So, I signed up for a membership about 4 months later, I opened the slabs (this company’s was easy) and I resubmitted them. This is the grades of the same exact 6 cards: 2-8, 2-7, 1-6.5 & 1-6. IMAGINE THAT! I have seen cards with a 8-9 grade that look like garbage next to a 6. By the time you get to the 5 range, there is generally something that stands out, but anything higher seems to depend on too many factors to list and most of the issues have been mentioned by previous posts. One thing that I have to add that I may have missed in another post but is a must for all to know: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A 1979 WAYNE GRETZKY REPRINT!!! TOPPS HAS NEVER AUTHORIZED ANY REPRINTS OF THIS CARD AND EACH ONE IS A BLATANT COUNTERFEIT. AND I DIRECTLY BLAME eBAY FOR THE WHOLE GRADING BUSINESS. Unfortunately, there are other legitimate grading companies other than the BIG 3, but as long as the 3 have the industry by the short curlies, nobody else has a chance to break into it. That’s my 5 cents, anyway.

  18. To amend a comment I left on May 18, 2015 @ 12:20am:
    I did NOT mean to infer that all of the smaller grading companies are legit. Far from it. Some will overgrade, giving a card with an obvious flaw a high grade, more than likely to build up business. And some are outright shill companies, taking advantage of the current climate to make a buck. Now, the latest trend is to get an entire set graded. I wonder how this trend started?(wink,wink) Honestly, I can see getting, for example, a 1986 Fleer Jordan graded, if nothing more than to protect it. But who in their right mind is going to pay a fee to get commons graded when they are barely worth the paper they’re printed on? I have the complete 1979-80 Topps hockey set, which for a few factors, is one of the most desirable sets around. But even the secondary cards that give the set it’s value, I.e. Hull, Howe, Bossy, etc.
    the cost of grading is a break-even proposition. And what kind of binder would one need to display the 240 plus stickers? Time for a second man-cave! I remember when I would open a pack and find that one particular card I had been searching for. What a thrill!!! But nowadays, with all of the different sets & subsets, I have lost that joy. The steroid era in baseball that made the cards of that era essentially worthless didn’t help either, but I digress. I still get a bang out of thumbing through the binder of my beloved 79 Topps set because I put it together around the time of the “Miracle on Ice” and you can’t buy a feeling like that for all the money or 52 Topps Mantles in the world.

  19. Has anybody out there tried to corner the market on a particular graded card for example pop report for psa says the 10 8’s exsist for lets say 1958 topps mickey mantle, so you went out and tried to grab off ebay or anywhere all 10 of them?

  20. Corner the market? Hey Mr. Hunt, if I couldn’t buy one of the 10 8’s, I’d just buy a 7.

  21. My experience was different. I submitted 19 cards to B.G.S. I believe the grades were very fair, of the 19 cards I submitted, 3 got 8.5, 10 cards scored a 9 grade, and 6 cards scored a 9.5 gem mint. I pretty much knew what grades they were gonna receive before I sent them in. It was the first time I had ever submitted any cards to any grading company. In today’s day and age of super printers and counterfeits, I would never buy a high value card that wasn’t already graded. Just look at all the counterfeit Jordan rookies, Lemieux rookies, ect. Only a fool would buy those cards ungraded, and take the chance on spending hundreds or thousands on something fake.

  22. The main reason I buy graded cards on Ebay is because I’ve recently purchased raw 1971 Topps cards, had them graded by PSA, and these 5 cards were altered.
    I also purchased a raw 1965 Clemente that was “Miscut.” At least I wasn’t charged for the miscut card but was charged for the altered cards – $10 each.

    Banks – Trimmed
    Blyleven – recolored
    Yastrzemski – recolored
    Morgan – Recolored
    Clemente – Recolored – this one hurt because I paid $150 from lskssportscards which have very good feeback

  23. I collected cards from 1978 and sold them all in 2001. I was thinking of getting back into collecting but these prices for high graded rookie cards are ridiculous.

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