Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Vintage Consignment- Part 3 (To Grade or Not to Grade)

There is a time and a place for everything and that includes card grading which can serve a specific purpose, particulalry with vintage and rookie cards. However, this, isn't one of them. As has been discussed on this blog and others, grading is a business, not a service, and not every card of value needs to be graded.

When it comes to the selling of vintage cards, (and when I use the term vintage, I am referring to cards prior to 1974) grading can be the difference between hundreds and even thousands of dollars. High-end set collectors who compete in the PSA Set Registry, for example, can turn a low series, common, into a highly coveted commodity, commanding top dollar.

The average or mean condition of the cards in this vintage lot range from VG to VG/EX. However, some of the cards including some key RC's have a chance of grading EX to EX/MT. When it comes to vintage grading, the only source I would even consider is PSA. And no, it's not because Beckett Sucks and their grading service creates all sorts of conflicts of interest, but I digress. Quite simply, PSA , more often than not, carries more weight in realized value on the secondary market when it comes to vintage cards.

A look at the grading standards utilized by PSA shows the following:

EX-MT 6: Excellent-Mint.
A PSA EX-MT 6 card may have visible surface wear or a printing defect which does not detract from its overall appeal. A very light scratch may be detected only upon close inspection. Corners may have slightly graduated fraying. Picture focus may be slightly out-of-register. Card may show some loss of original gloss, may have minor wax stain on reverse, may exhibit very slight notching on edges and may also show some off-whiteness on borders. Centering must be 80/20 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the reverse.

EX 5: Excellent.
Excellent On PSA EX-5 cards, very minor rounding of the corners is becoming evident. Surface wear or printing defects are more visible. There may be minor chipping on edges. Loss of original gloss will be more apparent. Focus of picture may be slightly out-of-register. Several light scratches may be visible upon close inspection, but do not detract from the appeal of the card. Card may show some off-whiteness of borders. Centering must be 85/15 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the back.

VG-EX 4: Very Good-Excellent.
A PSA VG-EX 4 card's corners may be slightly rounded. Surface wear is noticeable but modest. The card may have light scuffing or light scratches. Some original gloss will be retained. Borders may be slightly off-white. A light crease may be visible. Centering must be 85/15 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the back.

VG 3: Very Good.
A PSA VG 3 card reveals some rounding of the corners, though not extreme. Some surface wear will be apparent, along with possible light scuffing or light scratches. Focus may be somewhat off-register and edges may exhibit noticeable wear. Much, but not all, of the card's original gloss will be lost. Borders may be somewhat yellowed and/or discolored. A crease may be visible. Printing defects are possible. Slight stain may show on obverse and wax staining on reverse may be more prominent. Centering must be 90/10 or better on the front and back

Now, I have found several cards that I am debating on recommending the owner pony up the money for grading and here is an example . . .

A scan can only convey so much, and that is one of the precise reasons as a buyer, graded cards are so appealing. Because in all honesty, this card isn't in as good a condition as it appears in this picture. However, I do think that having it graded would increase it's selling price.
Referring back to the PSA standards and using a OC (off-center) qualifier, I would expect this card to receive a a grade of PSA 5 OC as under magnification I can see edge wear on the left side, slight fraying of corners, surface wear, but no creases.
At the end of the day though, grading is such a crap shoot on many levels. Not only due to the highly subjective nature of the grading process itself, but because of the fickle secondary market that seems based on timing. Take a look at recently completed auctions of this card to see what I mean. From a PSA 9 going for $3,450 on December 24th to a PSA 9 OC going for only $83.89 2 weeks ago.
Now this card won't come close to a "9", but a comparable example to this card might be that a PSA 6 sold for for $119 but non-graded cards, self described in the same condition (EX) sold in the $30 range.
With a $15 per card grading fee, AND 2 way S/H, you have to be pretty darn sure that your card will grade within a half point of what you think it will and in so doing will sell for more than that combined amount to make it worth the while.
So with all that said, with this particular card, what would YOU do?


Captain Canuck said...

that Staubach needs to be sent to my house, not PSA.

shoot me an email.

Sports Card Radio said...

"From a PSA 9 going for $3,450 on December 24th to a PSA 9 OC going for only $83.89 2 weeks ago."

Wow. That is really surprising. I guess if I thought it was going to get an OC then I would pass, or wait until I had a bunch of cards to send in to reduce the cost per grade.

K said...

If the card is likely to be OC (which reduces the value quite dramatically) and if you think it's only going to be a 5, I really don't know if it will be worth getting it graded. A PSA 8 OC sold for only $81, and the 9 OC for $83.89, so a 5 OC may only sell for $50 or less. That's my 2 cents worth.

dogfacedgremlin said...

Based on the scan...I wouldn't grade it. It is cut too crooked to garner anything higher than a 6 right out of the gate. Then, with the conditioning of the rest of the get the idea.

Rob- AKA "VOTC" said...

Dogface and Alex- Agreed. However, if raw cards in similar seem to be going for $28-$35 do you think grading it will bring enough to cover the grading AND more?

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