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  • Grading

    Just wanted to get everyone's opinion on the effect of professional grading on the hobby, and whether it's been a welcome or an unwelcome addition.

    While I do understand, in theory, the merits of establishing a standard by which card condition is measured, I don't think that the previous standard was flawed. I'm a proponent of enacting change, but only when it's necessary. In other words, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Prior to the grading craze, collectors and dealers alike could easily determine a Mint card -- sharp corners, well-centered, no surface imperfections or stains on either side, clean, sharp edges. By all accounts, if it met these criteria, you were dealing with a Mint card. Any failure in any one of these categories rendered a card undeserving of Mint status, and its value dropped accordingly, down to Excellent, Very Good, and so on.

    The unfortunate consequence of a rigid grading system has been to actually de-value the cards of collectors who cannot or choose not to have their cards graded by an accredited grading company. If you try to sell Mint, but ungraded cards on the market today.....good luck, my friend. You needn't look any further than eBay to see that graded cards command significantly rates than do ungraded cards which may well be every bit as Mint as the slabbed cards.

    All in all, I see a professional grading system as an unwelcome, unnecessary hobby development. But I'm sure a few folks will dissent (and I hope they do). I'd enjoy hearing both sides of the argument.

    So, what do you think?

    {QUICK NOTE ON THE POLL -- When making your choice, assume that the graded card is a 9.0 or better -- in other words, MINT, without question.}

    For the exact same card, I would pay SIGNIFICANTLY MORE for a graded version over an ungraded one.
    For the exact same card, I would pay a SLIGHTLY HIGHER PRICE for a graded version over an ungraded one.
    For the exact same card, I WOULD NOT PAY ANY MORE for a graded version than for an ungraded one.
    I actually prefer collecting/dealing UNGRADED cards, and have no real desire to pursue graded cards.
    Last edited by Professor; 07-12-2004, 12:15 PM. Reason: Post script

  • #2
    Card collecting has always been a hobby, and nothing more, for me. It is more important for me to have the card in my possession than to even worry about the value of it. I am condition conscious, but not to the extent I need Mint everything and won't let anyone even look at my cards. If it's at least Good and I want it and it's cheap enough, I buy it. I have no intention of selling it. It's the "bargain" bin for me.

    I'm with you, Professor, that the rigid grading is a problem. It has indeed been one factor toward chasing a lot of people from the hobby. It's kind of a bad precedent. I don't know of any other collectibles industry that grades to the standards that sports cards are.
    Dave Bill Tom George Mark Bob Ernie Soupy Dick Alex Sparky
    Joe Gary MCA Emanuel Sonny Dave Earl Stan
    Jonathan Neil Roger Anthony Ray Thomas Art Don
    Gates Philip John Warrior Rik Casey Tony Horace
    Robin Bill Ernie JEDI


    • #3
      So who does buy graded cards?
      I understand "Mint" and all, but it seems that "mint" is not enough.
      I don't know that much about the numbered system, but it seems like cards are priced at a much higher value than "Mint value" if the cards are graded at a level that is "more than mint". Is my perception correct here?

      I wouldn't buy to sell. I would buy to keep. With that in mind, a card should look the way I WANT IT TO LOOK (for the price). If it does, SALE. If not, NO SALE. I don't need someone else to tell me what grade or number a card is. I've got eyes myself.


      • #4
        I pay more for uncirculated - graded cards. I have quite a few - but other than that I would have to say I don't follow the rigid grading system as a guide for purchasing.
        The Pinstripe Press


        • #5
          Give me a well-loved card anytime!


          • #6
            I have sent some cards off to be graded so I could sell them on EBAY. However, I don't buy graded cards. One thing that bothers me- I have a 1986 Fleer Jordan rookie in mint shape, and I refuse to mail it off to get graded- insured or not. Anyone else have that fear?
            WAR? Prove it!

            Trusted Traders: ttmman21, Dalkowski110, BoofBonser26, Kearns643, HudsonHarden, Extra Innings, MadHatter, Mike D., J.P., SShifflett


            • #7
              I think that grading cards is just another exaple of how card collecting has become what it is these days. A business proposition. I have always been just a collector and hobbyist, I have never really bought a card thinikng about its resale value so grade is not an issue for me. On the other hand, I do have many vintage cards that I would consider in very good to near mint condition, I have no intention of sending them to strangers in the mail to assign a grade to just so I can seel them for more on e bay. First of all, I am not about to send some of favorite and irreplacable baseball cards by US mail. I've lost everything from wedding invitations to tax refund checks by mail, let alone a Nolan Ryan rookie card. Also, and this may be just a conspiracy theory, I have heard rumors of shady graders substituting slightly inferior cards for originals that have been sent to them. It can be hard to tell once they are under that plastic. But in all, the real reason is that the only people I can imagine who are really intersted in this are dealers and investors. My 69 Reggie jackson is just as valuable to me in very good condition then would be a 9.0 graded one. I feel bad for kids today who have no recollection of card collecting except as a get rich quick scheme.


              • #8
                Frank, my sentiments exactly. Two other points to consider, in addition to the old switcheroo I might be misinformed here but, from what I understand, professional graders do not use gloves or any sort of prophylactic (for lack of a better word) when handling submitted cards. Secondly, since we're dealing after all with human beings and a certain degree of subjectivity, consider this: would a grader, perhaps a bit tired and cranky after a long day, bestow the same grade on a card 15 minutes before his day was done than he would shortly after he arrived at work that same morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed?

                I sincerely hope that enough collectors and dealers adopt our way of thinking in the near future to topple the grading industry altogether, and rid the hobby of it for good. (I feel like a prototypical comic book arch-villan as I type this. I'll even laugh maniacally. There.) After all, if enough folks simply abstain from having their cards graded, the practice will cease to exist. At which point, we can all go back to the tried-and-true, common sense standard of what a Mint card is, and what it is not.


                • #9
                  Professor I like your idea of boycotting the graders, count me in. You raise a very good point about the subjectivity of grading. The human factor has to be taken into account, no matter how much they try to standardize things. Also the value of getting cards graded varies depending on the card. Condition plays a very important role in the value of an older card because it is so rare to find a really old card in great shape. But I see many cards being graded that only a few years old. These cards look better out of the pack then many older cards could ever look no matter how well preserved. Yet I see Barry Bonds cards increase in "value" by over 5 times because they are graded gem mint instead of just mint or near mint. Unfortunately in order to get back to the days of common sense grading, we need to have card collectors and dealers who are knowledgable about cards enough to grade them by eyeball. Because the hobby is so infiltrated by speculators many of them lack these skills and rely more on the grading process to set these values.


                  • #10
                    Yes!!!! I thought I was going to be lone voice voting that way in this poll. It's nice to see I'm not alone in my distaste for this latest trend.


                    • #11
                      Devils Advocate

                      Although as a long time collector, I agree to purchasing cards that I like and not caring about grades such as Gem Mint and am leery of sending beloved cards through the post to be graded, I Totally agree with a more professional grading system. With the advent of online purchasing and everyone's eye and grading system different, the sealed graded system gives people purchasing these items a little more security. I could easily post a card as mint and not have it quite that high quality, leaving the buyer at a loss due to a "personal opinion" on the grade of a card. I think the current system is a little flawed and might go a little to deep with the grading, but it does have its benefits.


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