Friday, February 21, 2014

Are There Flaws in the Graded Card Scale Due to Printing Technology?

Disclosure
The information contained in this article is the result of being contacted by a seasoned commercial printer. His knowledge of the printing practices of trading cards from the 1950's-1980's has caused him concerns with regards to how cards are graded. As a result of this first hand experience with the printing and cutting process, it brings into question the methods and scale used by grading companies when establishing a trading card's final grade, particularly those from the aforementioned era. Below is a re-written version, for clarity, based on the several emails he sent me. 

Introduction
It's no secret that collectors, dealers, and auction houses spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, and perhaps more, every year, on grading services. This practice has become an important part of the hobby because it has helped to eliminate the personal bias regarding condition that used to be so common between collectors and dealers. However, are the current grading scales fair? Do they take into account the technology in the actual printing and more importantly, cutting, of trading cards? With sometimes thousands of dollars riding on the difference between a card receiving an 8 grade compared to a 10, an understanding of printing technology would seem essential in determining a cards grade. So why aren't these factors incorporated into the grading scale? Here is a closer look at some individual characteristics of how trading cards are printed and cut and how grading companies erroneously miscalculate these factors into the grading equation.