In business there is a motto that says, the key to any business is: location, location, location! The sports card business has a motto of its own that is equally important: condition, condition, condition! Did I mention it’s all about condition. It’s importance should never be brushed off nor ignored. When purchasing, selling, trading or handling, condition should always be at the forefront of our dealings.
Condition plays a big part in the grading/authentication process as well. Since they go together I’ve merged both of them into this list. There are multiple grading companies but I will make mention of the primary three in the industry today:
- BGS – Beckett Grading Service, is a sports card grading / authenticator. Popular for giving customers a report card of their findings.
- PSA – Professional Sports Authenticators, founded in 1991, PSA was the first widely accepted grading service and set the standard for the graded card market.
- SGC – Sportscard Guaranty Corporation, is another company that offers sports card grading / authentication. Popular for their beautiful black matted card holders.
- Grade – the three card companies referenced above all encapsulate your sports card or memorabilia and assign a “grade” to it, mainly on a scale of 1-10 or 10-100. The higher the grade the more desirable your card will be to collectors. The following is what they look for and so should we:
- Altered Stock – this term is used when the paper stock is altered in one or more of the following ways: trimming, re-coloring, restoring or enhancing the gloss.
- Centering – one of the most important factors in determining a cards grade or condition. A card’s centering is found by measuring the distance between the photo and the edge of the card from opposite sides. A card centered 50/50 top to bottom and 60/40 left to right is perfectly centered on the top and bottom borders and (for example) photo is shifted to the left causing 60% of the border to the right of the photo and 40% to the left.
- Chipping – a word that describes the condition of the edges of a card. Chipping is most noticeable in sets with colored borders, due to the contrast of the borders and the lighter cardboard stock below the thin layer of ink. Chipping may occur from aging, handling, or even dull blades at the production factory.
- Counterfeit – a bogus reproduction purposely manufactured to deceive buyers into believing they are purchasing the real thing. A fake or forgery.
- Crease – a bend or fold in a card. The mishandling of a card causes most creases. Creases are a key factor in determining a card’s grade and value.
- Ding – damage on the corner of a card. A ding is commonly caused by dropping or mishandling a card. A card with a ding is greatly devalued.
- Layering – a grading term that describes the wearing and separating of the layers of cardboard stock on the corners of the card.
- Marks – the card exhibits marks caused by pen, pencil, or some other type of ink.
- Miscut – a card that has little or no border, or even portions of another card.
- Out of Focus – a card that has a fuzzy picture or is poorly registered. This is a result of misalignment of sheets while running through various colors of printing plates.
- Print Defect – the card exhibits significant print flaws. The print can appear in the form of print dots, print snow, print lines, etc.
- Snow – also called “print snow,” this word is slang for the white, flaky print defects that are frequently found on sportscards.
- Stain – residue or a mark left on the surface of a sports collectible, usually as a result of contact with a foreign substance.
- Wax Stain – a stain on a card caused by the wax on the card wrapper. Wax stains on a card front can be removed, due to the coating on the card surface, while wax stains on the card reverse are permanent.
Can not stress enough the importance of condition. It affects eye appeal and value. There are many ways to protect your cards I recommend taking advantage of those resources.