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The first step in getting your baseball cards graded by PSA is to decide which cards you want to submit. PSA charges a fee per card, so you’ll want to carefully select your best and most valuable cards. Make sure the cards are in excellent condition without any creases, folds, or discoloration to maximize the chances of receiving a high grade. PSA uses a 1-10 grading scale so aim to only submit cards you think could receive an 8 or higher.

Once you’ve selected the cards, you’ll need to register for a PSA account on their website at PSAcard.com. During the registration process, you’ll provide your contact information and payment method. PSA accepts credit cards, checks, wire transfers, and PayPal as payment options. You’ll also choose whether you want express or regular submission turnaround times which impact the cost.

With your account set up, you’ll need to properly prepare each card for submission. PSA requires cards to be shipped in rigid submission holders called “slabs” to protect them during shipping and grading. You have the option to purchase empty slabs directly from PSA in packages of 25 or 50. The basic slab costs around $3 each. Alternatively, you can find empty slabs for sale individually from hobby shops and card dealers online.

To insert a card into the slab, first handle it by the edges only without touching the surface. Slide the card centering it into the plastic window of the slab. Apply pressure around the edges to secure it without risking damage. Double check that it’s snugly in place and centered before sealing. PSA recommends putting the cards in slabs outside of top loaders or magnetic holders for a flattening effect during the grading process.

Once all your cards are safely secured in slabs, it’s time to package them for shipping to PSA. You’ll need to print shipping labels from your PSA account that include your customer ID number. Wrap each individual slab in a layer of bubble wrap for protection and group them together inside a rigid cardboard box. Surround the slabs with plenty of padding like bubble wrap, packing peanuts or air bags to prevent them from bouncing around during transit.

On the customs forms, be sure to accurately specify the contents as “Trading Cards for Grading” and mark the correct total value based on the submission cost. Once complete, you can ship your items to PSA using your chosen carrier like USPS, FedEx or UPS with tracking. Be aware that international shipping may have additional clearance delays.

Once received, PSA will carefully inspect each card and grade it based on several factors like centering, corners, edges and surface condition. They guarantee turnaround times ranging from 30 days for regular service to just a week for express depending on the volume of submissions. You’ll receive an email notification when grading is finished.

PSA will then securely repackage your now-slabbed and graded cards to ship back to you. As the verified owner, you’ll be able to access high resolution photos and full grading details for each card through your PSA account online. From there you can decide to hold or sell the cards, enjoying any premium the new grading may bring in the trading card marketplace.

With proper care and shipping practices, you too can reliably have your baseball card collection certified and slabbed by the largest third party authentication company in the hobby. Following the steps above will help your cards safely navigate the grading process to maximize their protection and potential value long into the future. With a bit of patience, your personalized PSA-graded cards can become highly collectible assets.


Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) – PSA is widely considered the gold standard for trading card authentication and grading. They have graded over 50 million cards and are the largest and most well-known third party grading service. Some key things to know about sending to PSA:

Pricing – PSA offers several service levels from basic to express. Basic can take 4-6 months and costs $12-20 per card depending on turnaround time desired. Express services are more expensive but cards can be returned in as little as 2-3 weeks.

Grading Scale – PSA uses a 1-10 scale to grade cards, with 10 being perfect gem mint condition. They are very strict graders and it can be difficult to achieve grades of 9 or 10, even for cards in amazing condition.

Submission Process – You can either send cards individually in magnetic submission holders or in bulk order submission forms depending on how many cards you are sending. Proper packaging and paperwork must be included.

Wait Times – Basic service level estimated wait times are currently 4-6 months due to high demand during the pandemic. Express services have shorter 2-3 week turnaround times but are more costly.

Reputation – PSA is the gold standard for a reason. Their certified graded slabs increase the value and liquidity of your cards tremendously and are widely trusted in the hobby. Certified PSA/DNA cards hold their value best over time.

Beckett Grading Services (BGS) – BGS is the other major player alongside PSA. Some things to note about BGS:

Grading Scale – BGS uses a similar 1-10 scale but also adds + qualifiers. So a 9.5 BGS Black Label card is the highest grade possible.

Slab Design – BGS slabs have a black and yellow design that is highly recognizable in the hobby. Many collectors prefer this design aesthetic.

Turnaround Times – BGS claims average return times of 3-6 months currently, though many report longer waits due to high demand during the pandemic. They also offer express tier services.

Submission Process – Same as PSA with magnetic holders or submission forms. Proper packaging and paperwork required.

Modern Pop Reports – BGS provides accessible population reports for modern cards graded, which many find valuable. PSA population data is not as transparent.

Both PSA and BGS guarantee their certified graded slabs greatly increase the value and liquidity of your cards. As long as it’s a recognized third party grader, the authentication and grade restore confidence in the condition and legitimacy of the card.

Some other reputable but smaller third party graders include SGC (Sportscard Guarantee Company), HGA (Hidden Gems Authentication), and BVG (Baseball Card Exchange). But PSA and BGS remain the heavyweights of the industry due to their size and brand recognition worldwide.

When choosing which company to use, consider the expected return time, your budget, slab/grade preference, and what is most important for the cards you plan to submit. Also inquire about special bulk submission deals and membership options that can save you money on fees in the long run.

Proper packaging and paperwork completes are key for any submission. Cards must be in perfect holders without bends, creases or edge issues. Value your cards, protect your investment, and only submit to proven, established graders with strict quality control guidelines. Their expert certification will drastically increase collectability and future desirability of those special cards in your collection. Let me know if any part of the process needs further explanation after reading this overview on the top card grading options available.


The first step to sending baseball cards for grading is to carefully evaluate which cards you want to submit. Make sure the cards are in excellent condition with no creases, folds, or edges that are worn. Grading companies like PSA, SGC, BGS will meticulously examine every detail of the card and any flaws will significantly decrease its grade. It’s best to submit your absolute highest quality vintage and modern rookie cards with the potential to receive the coveted PSA 10 or BGS Black Label grade.

Once you’ve selected the cards, you’ll need to purchase grading submission service levels from the company. Most major companies offer different tiers depending on turnaround times and number of cards submitted. For example, PSA offers Economy at $10 per card with a 3 month return time, Express at $30 per card for 2-3 weeks, and Ultra Modern at $50 per card for just 1 week. Carefully consider your budget and patience for return time. Order submission supplies like card holders/slabs through the company as well.

Properly preparing the cards is critical. Handle them only from the edges and tops to avoid fingerprints or oils touching the surface. Gently wipe down the front and back with a microfiber cloth if any debris is visible. Fit each card snugly into the rigid plastic or magnetic submission holder without bends or creases. Fully complete the online submission form accurately listing the card details, estimated grade, and service level for each. Assign a unique PSA identification number to every card.

Package the completed submission forms, payment, and cards securely following the grading company’s instructions. PSA requires cards shipped between rigid boards surrounded by at least 1/2 inch of cardboard on all sides within a box. SGC prefers cards shipped in a rigid holder within an envelope. Always insure shipments through priority mail with tracking. Consider signature confirmation for more expensive submissions. Keep documentation of the declared value for insurance purposes if ever needed.

Once received, the grading process takes time depending on the service level. Experiencedgraders carefully examine each aspect like centering, corners, edges, and surfaces with specialized lighting and magnification tools. They assign raw grades which are then quality checked and sometimes revised by additional vetted graders. The final assigned grade and encapsulation into a protective holder occurs. Cards are then shipped back along with a detailed report of the grades.

Upon return, carefully open boxes and shipments to retrieve the freshly graded cards. Take note of grade assignments, always holding the card by the protective plastic holder and never touching the surface. Quickly review grades for accuracy and report discrepancies to the company if any mistakes are noticed. Properly store graded cards in a cool, dry place away from direct light to preserve their grade over the long term. Consider submitting especially high grade cards for potential regrading down the road if signs of softening are noticed after several years.

Sending valuable baseball cards to professional third party grading companies provides authenticated verification of condition, increases collectibility and value of top cards. With care taken in submission prep and shipping, along with patience during the grading process, collectors can confidently showcase and potentially profit from slabs housing the finest vintage and modern gem condition cards. Grading is highly recommended for especially exceptional specimens to maximize preservation and future enjoyment.


Grading baseball cards is a complex issue with reasonable arguments on both sides. Let’s take an in-depth look at the various factors involved in determining if getting cards professionally graded is a worthwhile endeavor.

One of the main potential benefits of grading cards is that it can significantly increase their monetary value. By encapsulating a card in a tamper-proof holder and assigning it a numerical grade from the major third-party grading companies like PSA, BGS, or SGC, collectors and investors are assured of the card’s authenticity and condition. A higher grade usually translates to a higher price, as a mint condition card fresh from the pack will demand a premium over one that is worn or damaged. According to industry studies, on average a card that receives one of the top three grades from PSA, for example, a 9, 8, or 7, can see its value increase anywhere from 2-10 times compared to an raw, ungraded card in similar condition.

The grading process itself comes with costs that need to be recouped to make it worthwhile. Major grading companies charge a fee per card that ranges from $10-30 depending on turnaround times and service levels selected. Submission fees to send in a larger group of cards can run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars. When the raw value of a card is low to begin with, spending 10-20% or more of that value just to crack it out of its protective sleeve and put it through authentication may not yield a sufficient return, especially considering the time it takes. There is also the risk that a card expected to grade higher ends up disappointing, lowering its overall value.

Another factor adding complexity is the question of whether grading is even necessary to maximize a card’s sales price to begin with. For high-dollar vintage cards, rare rookies, and iconic pieces, a grade usually provides significant validation that is important to discerning buyers. But for more common parallels, subsets, and modern issues, an accurately assessed raw card sold between knowledgeable collectors may fetch close to what a PSA 9 in the same condition would sell for when factoring in grading costs. Much depends on the overall scarcity, condition, and demand level for that particular card. Some experts argue grading is overdone today and that its usage should be more selective.

Sentiment also comes into play for collectors. While a grade provides a benchmark for value, it removes some subjectivity and fun out of simply admiring and handling raw cards from their storage boxes and binders. Encapsulation is essentially permanent and makes it impossible to fully appreciate subtle nuances in centering, edges, andsurface without cracking the case open – something most grading services strongly discourage as it risks damaging the grade. Some long-time collectors prefer keeping favorite childhood cards raw as a link to memories and history despite any monetary impact.

On balance, whether grading baseball cards is worth it depends greatly on the individual card, its market, and collector’s objectives. For high-end vintage stars and investments, grades deliver clear value. But on common cards, sentimental pieces, and situations where raw condition can be confidently assessed, the monetary benefit may not outweigh costs. As with any financial speculation, doing thorough research, understanding risks, and having realistic return expectations is prudent before deciding to grade. Overall it’s a complex issue with reasonable points on both sides of the debate.

While baseball card grading does provide authentication and increase value for many pieces, it’s an expensive service that isn’t uniformly beneficial. A savvy collector evaluates each card separately considering its individual merit, scarcity, condition, and their goals before deciding whether expenditure on grading makes financial and personal sense or if displaying and enjoying raw cards is a better strategy. In today’s diversified market, both graded and raw segments continue to prosper, showing there is no single right answer and both have their place. An informed approach weighing these diverse perspectives is optimal for collectors truly interested in maximizing enjoyment from their sports card collections over time.


One of the most well-known and reputable grading companies is Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). They have been in business since 1991 and were one of the original pioneers that helped start the modern collectibles authentication and grading industry. PSA uses a numeric 1-10 scale to grade cards based on criteria like centering, corners, edges and surface defects. They have an in-house team of expert graders and a detailed guidelines and standards manual to promote consistency in grades between graders. Graded cards from PSA receive sturdy plastic slabs with a unique alphanumeric identifier to help prevent submisions from being tampered with. PSA also authenticates signatures to help combat potentially forged autographed cards from entering the market. Their strong reputation and brand recognition has helped set the industry standard and establish the resale value of PSA graded cards. The large volume of submissions can sometimes result in lengthy wait times.

Beckett Grading Services (BGS) is another highly-trusted name in the industry. Founded in 1992, they grade on a similar scale from 1-10 but assign qualitative labels instead of just the numeric score. For example, a 9 could receive a “Mint” label. Like PSA, they securely slab and authenticate cards but also offer more mid-tier affordable grading options. All slabs display the date of submission which provides additional history vs generic slabs from some other companies. BGS also pioneered pedigree labels that trace a card’s full journey through multiple submissions over time which some collectors value for provenance and extended documentation. They may be viewed as slightly more subjective and inconsistent in grading standards than PSA by some in the hobby.

Another large operation is Sportscard Guaranty (SGC). Established in 2000, they aim for more affordable services than PSA or BGS. SGC uses numeric scores from 1-8 and grades tend to be a half point lower on average than their competitors. Their slabs feature bright colorful labels designed to stand out while still encapsulating and protecting the card securely. One advantage is usually faster turnaround times for bulk submissions versus larger companies that are backlogged with work. This can appeal to collectors looking to move lower-grade cards or evaluate collections in a timely manner. Some question their ability to accurately authenticate autographs, and their grades may not carry as high resale values as top rivals.

There are also many smaller, regional grading companies that cater to niches. For example, AutoPro authenticates signed memorabilia and offers service targeted towards autograph collectors. Hobby Factory Grading grades unlicensed sports and non-sport cards in more affordable economy slabs marketed towards the startup collector. Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) provides authentication and encapsulation for vintage tobacco cards and similar non-sports cards. All serve their purpose but lack the brand recognition and established standards of the market leaders. Independent third party grading helps validate condition, screens for counterfeits, and provides impartial assessment – but all companies are fallible and reputation counts considerably.

In summary, PSA, BGS and SGC remain the dominant third-party authentication and grading service providers for the baseball card hobby. Collectors must consider factors like turnaround time, cost, reputation, desirable holders or labels, and effect on resale values to choose the best fit. Even experienced collectors can disagree on relative strengths between these top three options. Meanwhile many smaller operations serve important niche roles for specialized collectors within the industry. Authentication and grading adds objective analysis that builds collector confidence when want to buy, sell or invest in high-value vintage card assets.


Cleaning baseball cards properly prior to submitting them for professional grading is an important part of the grading process. Grading services will deduct points from the overall grade if a card shows any dirt, fingerprints, or other debris. Here are the recommended cleaning steps to take to get your cards as clean as possible before submitting them for grading:

Start by gently brushing off any loose dirt, dust, or debris from the surface of the card with a very soft brush. An artists brush or makeup brush works well for this. Brush very gently in one direction from the top of the card downwards being careful not to scratch the surface. Clean the front and back of the card this way. You want to remove any loose particles that could negatively affect the grade.

For stuck-on dirt or stains, you’ll need to very carefully wipe the surface with a soft microfiber cloth. First, test the cloth on a less valuable card to ensure it does not scratch. Dampen the cloth very slightly with distilled water, just enough to be moist but not dripping. Gently wipe the surface of the card with very light pressure from the top down. Work in small circular motions and change areas of the cloth frequently so you’re not moving dirt around. Repeat with a dry area of the cloth to wipe away any remaining moisture. Take your time and work slowly, inspecting the results under good lighting as you go.

For stubborn smudges or fingerprints on the high-gloss areas, you can try using a special collectibles eraser. Ink and Con Clean is a popular brand made specifically for cleaning collectibles without scratching. Gently rub the eraser over problem areas, changing sides frequently, until the smudge is removed. Go very lightly and check your progress often to avoid over-rubbing. As with the microfiber cloth method, finish with a dry wipe.

Fingerprints can deposit oils onto the surface of cards over time. For removing stubborn fingerprints, you may need to use a specialty cleaner. Green Gobbler Degreaser is a gentle formula safe for collectibles. Apply a small amount to a cotton ball or Q-tip and gently rub the soiled area. Wipe immediately with a dry microfiber cloth to remove any residue. Check that the print is fully removed before moving to another spot.

After cleaning the fronts and backs, check carefully under bright lighting for any remaining dirt or debris. Use a magnifying glass or loupe to inspect edges and corners where debris can hide. Gently brush or wipe as needed, being very cautious of any print near edges that could rub. Cleaning preserves the integrity and value of a card’s surface and guarantees the best possible final grade.

Once cleaning is complete, allow the freshly cleaned cards to fully air dry before touching or handling them. Even residual moisture from clean microfiber cloths could potentially leave marks if the cards are stacked before fully drying. Lay the cards flat, front-side up, spaced apart on a clean, lint-free surface like a table or workspace. Allow at least 24 hours for complete drying time.

Double check for any remaining moisture before storing or submitting the cards. A lint-free cloth can gently polish the surfaces one last time if needed. Then the cards are ready to carefully sleeve and submit to the grading company. Cleaning properly eliminates uncertainty over potential deductions and gives the cards the best shot at achieving the highest true grade based solely on condition. Getting the cards as pristine as possible through thorough cleaning is a vital part of the grading process.

Taking the time for a meticulous multi-step clean prepares cards optimally for professional third-party grading. Grading services have high standards, and taking cleaning seriously shows respect for the grading process and the condition of the collectible. Following these cleaning recommendations should yield great results and satisfaction when the fresh numeric grade is revealed in the new holder. Proper cleaning gives collectors confidence that the grade accurately represents each card’s true state of preservation.


The modern third-party grading of baseball cards began in the 1980s when the sharp rise in card values led collectors to seek assurances of a card’s condition and quality. Early graders included companies like PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator) and SGC (Sportscard Guarantee Corporation) who worked to codify grading scales and standards.

Today, the two dominant graders are PSA and BGS (Beckett Grading Services). Both companies employ large teams of experienced graders who visually inspect every aspect of a card under high-intensity lighting and magnification. Factors considered include centering (how perfectly centered designs/logos are on the card), corners (shape and rounding), edges (wear and whitening), surface (scratches, stains, damage) and general eye appeal.

Graders assign raw numerical scores in half-point increments from 1-10 for each of the main categories like centering, corners and edges based on written standards and photographic guides. For example, a flawless gem mint card might score 10s across the board while a heavily worn card could score 3s or lower. Raw scores are then combined algorithmically into an overall numerical grade.

At PSA, the highest grade is Gem Mint 10, followed by Mint 9, Near Mint-Mint 8, Very Good 7, Good 6, Fair 5 and so on down to Poor 1. BGS uses a similar scale of Gem Mint 10 to Poor 1 but also has qualifiers like Gem Mint “black label” 10 and standard “white label” 10. Either way, the highest attainable grade is the coveted PSA 10 or BGS Gem Mint 10, signifying a true flawless specimen.

After grading, the qualified third-party holders like PSA and BGS house the assigned card in tamper-proof plastic cases along with the numerical grade clearly printed on a label. This independent certification and grading gives buyers confidence they know exactly what condition they’re getting without having to be a visual grading expert themselves. It provides standardization that aids pricing.

The grade naturally has a huge influence on a card’s perceived value, with higher grades exponentially more precious and expensive due to their statistical rarity. A PSA 10 Mike Trout rookie card could sell for thousands or even tens of thousands compared to a few hundred for a lower graded version in worn shape. Top vintage stars like Mickey Mantle in high grades can break records priced into the millions.

Over time, grading standards have evolved as experienced graders handle millions of cards. Early slabbed cards from the 1980s and 90s may have slightly inflated grades compared to today. Re-casing services allow re-evaluation under current criteria. Many vintage cards were never formally graded, leaving questions unless re-checked today under modern best practices.

Third-party grading by experienced experts provides standardized, certified assessment of a baseball card’s condition and quality through detailed visual inspections and numerical grading scales. While not perfect, it establishes high confidence for buyers and offers structure to the competitive sports card marketplace by quantifying condition rarity. The grade heavily influences a card’s investment merit and dollar value.


The grading of baseball cards is done to determine the card’s condition and quality. This affects the card’s value, with higher grades commanding a premium price. There are three main professional grading companies that are widely recognized in the hobby – PSA, BGS (Beckett Grading Services), and SGC (Sportscard Guarantee Company). Each company has their own rigorous grading standards and procedures to determine a card’s grade in a uniform and consistent manner.

The grading scale most commonly used is the traditional 1-10 scale. A grade of 1 would represent a card in very poor condition, likely damaged and flawed. A grade of 10, on the other hand, would be for a pristine card inabsolute mint condition, completely flawless and preserved. Most common consumer grade cards will fall somewhere in the 3-8 range. Grades of 9 and above are very difficult to achieve and indicate an exceptionally well-preserved specimen.

Within each numerical grade, graders may also assign sub-grades from 1-9.9 to provide further granularity about a card’s attributes. For example, a grade of PSA 8.5 would break down as an overall grade of 8 but with above average sub-grades of 8.5. Sub-grades evaluate different factors like the card’s corners, edges, surface and centering. Receiving high sub-grades in the 9 range within a grade shows the positive qualities of that particular aspect.

Different grading scales are used between the major companies despite using the same 1-10 system. PSA is considered the strictest and hardest to achieve high grades from. They grade cards based purely on their physical condition attributes. BGS incorporates some subjective criteria like eye appeal into the grades as well. SGC is viewed as a more accessible alternative, with reports of slightly higher average grades awarded. Regardless, all are respected and each company’s population report data shows consistency in application of their standards.

The actual grading process involves rigorous inspection under special lighting and magnification equipment by experienced graders. They scrutinize every aspect of the card front and back for any flaws, defects, or imperfections and compare it to pristine examples. HD images and descriptions document the exact condition. For example, centering is measured precisely to determine if borders are equal and borders are examined under high power microscopes. Surface quality, corners and edges receive the same treatment.

After grading, the encased slabs protect the assigned grade like a sealed record of authenticity. Tamper-evident holograms and other security features are applied. Quality control checks the work and resubmission services exist for second opinions. Population reports show the number of examples receiving each numerical grade, allowing analysis of rarity. This transparency has cemented third-party grading as the authentic standard in the hobby where raw ungraded cards are viewed skeptically without the grade verification.

The assigned grade heavily influences a card’s value in the marketplace. Demand is high for top-rated examples like PSA 10 gems, and they often shatter records in big auction sales. Even fractional differences in grade can equate to hundreds or thousands of dollars price discrepancy. Low-grade coins and cards are usually only valuable to collectors looking for affordable examples to complete sets. In some cases extremely well-known vintage stars in any grade retain value based on nostalgia and historical significance alone.

Third-party grading by the major companies brings standardization, quality assurance and transparency to the collecting community. The numerical grading scale quantifies a visual assessment of condition into assigned designations widely understood to determine a baseball card’s investment quality and where it stands in the population hierarchy of surviving examples. Card grading guides collectors towards seeking top grades for max value returns on rare specimens or more attainable mid-range grades to enjoy and complete sets affordably.


The first step in properly cleaning baseball cards for grading is to gather your necessary supplies. You will need rubber gloves, various soft-bristle toothbrushes (both regular and button brush styles work well), spray bottles filled with distilled water, cotton swabs or cotton balls, smooth paper towels or microfiber cloths, a magnifying glass or loupe, and optional tools like soft plastic erasers or gum erasers for stubborn dirt or stains.

Next, you’ll want to carefully examine each card under the magnifying glass or loupe to identify any dirt, dust, fingerprints, or other debris on the surface. Pay close attention to the high points like borders, logos, and signatures/autographs. Make a mental note of any problem areas you’ll need to focus cleaning on. Then isolate each card in its own workspace to avoid mixing them up.

With rubber gloves on to avoid adding oils from your fingers, moisten the soft-bristle toothbrush with distilled water using the spray bottle. Gently brush away any loose dirt working from the high points to the low points in circular motions. Avoid applying too much pressure which could potentially damage the card surface. Frequently rinse the bristles in clean water as you clean. For stubborn areas, use a cotton swab or ball dipped in water to gently work at the debris.

Once the basic surface dirt and dust is lifted, examine the card again under magnification to check for remaining marks. This is where optional tools like soft plastic or gum erasers can carefully eliminate any remaining dirt or stains by gently rubbing and rinsing. Be extremely careful with erasers as they can also damage surfaces if applied with too much force or abrasion.

Now it’s time for the final cleaning and rinsing stage. Lightly mist the entire surface of the card with distilled water using the spray bottle. Then gently wipe away the loosened dirt and water droplets with a smooth paper towel or microfiber cloth. Work in a circular pattern applying very light pressure. Frequently change out sections of the towel to avoid redepositing dirt.

When the towel comes away completely clean, it’s time for a final inspection under bright, directed light with magnification. Check for any tiny flecks of debris left behind in crevices that may have been overlooked. If needed, repeat targeted cleaning and rinsing of problematic spots. Otherwise, the card is clean and ready for air drying.

Lay the freshly cleaned cards flat on a clean, lint-free surface such as a glass tabletop. Avoid stacking to prevent moisture from being trapped between surfaces. Allow at least 24 hours to fully dry depending on the environment’s temperature and humidity levels. Once fully dry with no moisture spots or residue remaining, the cards are ready to be submitted for grading in protective sleeves or cases.

Proper cleaning with the right supplies and technique is essential for cards being professionally graded to achieve the highest grade possible. Taking your time to carefully examine, isolate and target debris with the gentlest effective methods will maximize presentation and preserve surfaces for long-term enjoyment. With practice, you’ll be able to get great results for even the most difficult vintage or antique cards.


Whether or not a baseball card is worth grading depends on several factors related to the card itself and the current baseball card market. The grading process involves professionally authenticating and encapsulating a card in a plastic holder while also assigning it a numerical grade based on its condition and appearance. This grade can significantly impact the card’s value.

The higher the anticipated grade, the more likely a card will be worth submitting for professional grading. Modern cards in pristine mint condition straight out of the pack have the best chance at grades of Mint 9 or Mint 10, which see big premiums in value. Even well-centered and sharp vintage cards from the 1950s-1980s that appear to be in the Excellent-Mint range may be worth a submission. Top rookie cards, especially from the late 1980s rookie booms, also typically gain value from professional grading if the condition warrants it.

autograph cards present additional issues to consider. Swatches or memorabilia pieces can add value but also increase risk of damage. Authenticity is also a heightened concern for signed cards not redeemed from official issuers. Overall condition still matters greatly, as low-grade autographed cards may sell for just a small premium over a raw card.

Key factors that indicate whether a card is a grading candidate include:

Year/era of issue: Older vintage cards from the 1950s-1970s in top condition have the most upside, as mint examples are extremely rare. 1980s-90s issues need very sharp corners and surfaces to emerge as true gems. Modern cards must essentially look pack fresh.

Notoriety of player: Rookie cards or iconic plays/players with strong collector followings are most likely to recoup grading costs, especially for all-time greats. Lesser players may not create grading demand.

Scarcity of issue: Rare parallel or serial numbered cards from small print runs have collector appeal. Common base cards require virtual perfecition to gain strong interest at auction.

Collector grade expectations: Consult population reports to get a sense of the number of grades for that card. Strong odds of earning one of the top two grades (Mint 9 or Mint 10) increase profit potential.

Value expectations: High-value vintage cards over $1,000 raw or modern rookies over $500 are most likely to experience sufficient grade-related appreciation to justify expenses. But there are no hard rules.

Issue defects: Offset printing, centering issues or production flaws on older cards make top numerical grades very hard to attain and sometimes not worthwhile.

Personal attachment or sentiment: Unique personal collection pieces may not make strict financial sense to grade but provide enjoyment.

Turnaround time concerns: Be aware of current company backlogs, as timely listings optimize sales windows in a dynamic market. Express services require more funds.

Autograph/relic cards: Higher potential value but authenticity/damage risks. BGS Authenticated holder provides peace of mind for signed items.

Baseball cards from renowned players pre-1980 in excellent+ condition or high-value modern rookie cards that appear to merit one of the top PSA or BGS grades have the strongest probability of a financially positive grading experience based on projected post-grade appreciation. But sentimental cards or pieces with pressing time concerns may also merit consideration. An understanding of population reports and marketplace trends informs the decision. With diligent card selection, the costs can pay for themselves multiple times over at auction.