Rare and pristine sports cards can be worth a lot of money, but it is not always clear how the value is calculated. The best way is to get your sports card graded by a professional grading service. This will help you to know which grade your card is in and how much this means it is worth. There are a few different grading services available that can help you learn more about your collection.
To help you understand how it works, here is everything you wanted to know about sports card grading systems.
The highest grade of sportscards is “gem mint” and then there are various classes going down to the worst grade of “poor”:
- Gem Mint
- Near Mint to Mint
- Near Mint
- Very Good
These classes are universal across the sports card grading industry. While the different grading companies have their own guidelines in how they judge a card, the final grades are pretty standardized. One thing to note is that age has no impact on a card’s grade. A hundred-year-old card in Mint condition has the same grade as a Mint condition card from last year. This obviously does not mean they will be worth the same, it just means they are in the same condition.
How are Grades Decided?
There are various factors that go into the final grade of a card. The biggest grading company, PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator), looks at centering, corners, surfaces, and edges, as well as other qualifying determiners. Your PSA Submission Service will be able to send your cards off so that a professional grader can take a detailed look and give your cards an accurate grade. Here is what they look for:
This is a very important factor in which grade a card is given. Some serious collectors will not even consider a card that isn’t perfectly centered. You can tell with the naked eye whether the centering is way off but it takes a professional grader to notice any minor off-centering. PSA takes a measurement of the distance between the border and each of the four edges of the card. If the distance is the same each time then the centering is Gem Mint.
- Corners and Edges
The most valuable cards with the highest grades need all their corners to be perfectly sharp and the edges perfectly straight and without damage. This is standard for all the grading systems, and as with perfect centering, is not possible to see with the naked eye. Professional graders look at the corners and edges under a microscope with any observed imperfections knocking your card down the scale.
While many collectors will not think about a card’s surface, it is very important for grading purposes. Scratched cards or surfaces with stains or fingerprints will never achieve the top ratings. Other issues may have always been there such as printing defects, or out-of-focus pictures.
For some people, collecting sports cards is all about enjoying your favorite cards and being on the lookout for that rare missing card for their collection. For other people, however, building a collection that is worth a lot of money adds extra excitement. Make sure that you have your cards professionally graded so that you can get a better idea of what they may be worth.