HOW MUCH TO GRADE BASEBALL CARDS

Grading baseball cards is a process used to determine the condition and quality of a card on a standardized scale. This helps collectors understand the value and investment potential of their cards. There are a few major companies that specialize in professionally grading cards, with PSA and BGS being the most prominent.

To get a card graded, collectors first need to carefully package the card in a rigid holder to prevent damage during shipping. They then submit the card to the grading company along with a fee, which usually ranges from $10-20 per card depending on turnaround time and service level. The card is then analyzed by an experienced grader based on several condition factors.

For vintage cards from the 1950s-1980s, the most important factor is the state of the corners. Even minor bends or rounded edges can significantly downgrade a card. Graders will inspect each corner under a strong light with a loupe or microscope. Perfectly sharp corners receive the highest marks, while even slight flaws negatively impact the grade. The edges are also thoroughly examined for nicks, bends, chipping or whitening that comes from the card rubbing against other cards over time.

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For the front of the card, graders assess surface quality and centering. Any scratches, stains, discoloration or other defects on the picture side lower the grade. Centering refers to how perfectly centered the image is within the white borders – cards with images noticeably off center will grade lower. The back surface is also analyzed for scratches, discoloration, signs of improper storage etc. that could compromise the grade.

Once grading is complete, the card is assigned a specific numerical grade on the famous 1-10 BGS/PSA scale. A pristine “gem mint” card with no flaws would earn a perfect 10 grade. As condition deteriorates, scores decrease in half-point increments down to perhaps a 5 for a card still in decent shape or a 1 for a badly worn card. Each grade point makes a big difference in value.

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Along with the grade, slabs will include details like the card year, set and identifying serial numbers to deter counterfeiting. Top grades fetch big money – a rare mint condition vintage card could sell for tens of thousands depending on player, rarity and statistics like mint copies known. Even common cards can gain significant value from strong grades versus raw/loose counterparts.

Proper storage is important to maintain high grades over time. Some collectors will resubmit valuable cards for regrading after several decades to ensure no decline in grade due to aging. Collectors can check official population reports to see how many other copies of each specific player/card are known to exist in equal or higher grades. This rarity also factors greatly into the price.

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While grading generates expert opinions to help establish market value, grading standards have changed over the decades as inspection tools improved. Older opinion grades may not directly correlate to modern numeric scales. Human error is still possible – while rare, reputable companies have been known to assign incorrect grades sometimes missed by multiple examiners. This makes ungraded vintage cards an attractive option for collectors who enjoy searching for valuable finds.

Encapsulating cards in professional slabs assigns clear condition ratings that are recognized worldwide by serious collectors. The added authentication and documentation significantly boosts both prices and overall collectability. Grading gives clarity and consistency for buyers, sellers and long term investors in the constantly evolving baseball memorabilia market. While not cheap or quick, the enhanced marketability makes the cost worthwhile for truly exceptional vintage cards worth thousands or more.

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