HOW TO GRADE OLD BASEBALL CARDS

When it comes to properly grading old baseball cards, there are a few important things to keep in mind and follow through on. First and foremost, the condition and quality of the card itself is paramount. Older cards have had more time to be exposed to things that can wear them down, so taking a close look at certain aspects is necessary.

Some key areas grading services focus on include the centering, corners, edges and surface of the front of the card. Ideal centering means the image falls precisely in the middle from top to bottom and left to right. Sharp, cleanly cut corners that are not worn, rounded or damaged boost the grade. The edges along the entire perimeter of the card should be smooth and not nicked, bumped or eroded. And the surface needs to have good clarity with no creases, scratches or dimples marring the image or background.

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On the back of the card, graders pay close attention to the corners, edges and surface just like the front. The centering does not apply since there is no central image. Another consideration is the color and condition of the printing. Bold, bright colors that have not faded over time indicate a higher grade versus dull, faded prints. The card stock itself should also be in solid shape without bends, cracks or signs of moisture damage warping the material.

Once all of these visual elements are assessed, graders use a standardized numerical scale, most popularly the 1-10 point scale, to score the overall condition. On this scale, 10 is the perfect “gem mint” grade where the card looks freshly pack pulled with no defects noticeable even under magnification. A 1 grade means the card is in very rough shape, likely damaged beyond recognition as the original. Most commonly, tightly centered cards with crisp corners and edges in intact condition score 7s and 8s.

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In addition to a thorough examination of each card, the process of getting a baseball card professionally graded involves submitting it to a trusted, third party authentication and grading service. This brings consistency and objectivity to the assessment that an individual grading at home may lack. The top companies are Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), Beckett Authentication Services, Sportscard Guaranty (SGC) and Hockey Card Authentication (HCA). Each service has its own submission process and fee structure.

Once received, the card is analyzed by an experienced card authenticator. They will thoroughly inspect every aspect and assign a grade based on established standards. Once graded, the card is sealed in a tamper proof plastic holder labeled with the grade details for easy verification and resale. This grading paperwork and holder greatly enhances the value, as it provides a trusted certification

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To properly grade old baseball cards, it’s important to carefully examine key areas like centering, corners, edges and surfaces for defects. Using an established numerical scale like 1-10 provides consistency. Sending valuable cards to a professional third party service for authenticating and assigning an official grade gives collectors and sellers confidence in condition assessments. Following these steps results in fair and accurate grades that help determine appropriate pricing in the collectible marketplace.

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