- 10 (Pristine) - Perfect card. No imperfections or damage to the naked eye and upon close inspection. Perfect card. No imperfections or damage to the naked eye and upon close inspection.
- 9 (Mint) - No printing imperfections or damage to the naked eye. Very minor printing imperfections or damage upon close inspection. Clean gloss with one or two scratches.
- 8 (Near Mint/Mint) - No printing imperfections or damage to the naked eye, but slight printing imperfections or damage upon close inspection. Solid gloss with very minor scratches.
- 7 (Near Mint) - Noticeable, but minor, imperfections or wear on the card. Solid gloss with very minor scratches.
- 6 (Excellent Mint) - Noticeable, but minor, imperfections or wear on the card. Mostly solid gloss with minor scratches.
- 5 (Excellent) - Noticeable imperfections or moderate wear on the card. Some gloss lost with minor scratches.
- 4 (Very Good/Excellent) - Noticeable imperfections or moderate wear on the card. Heavy gloss lost with very minor scuffing, and an extremely subtle tear.
- 3 (Very Good) - Heavy imperfections or heavy wear on the card. Almost no gloss. Minor scuffing or very minor tear.
- 2 (Good) - Severe imperfections or wear on the card. No gloss. Noticeable scuffing or tear.
- 1 (Poor) - Destructive imperfections or wear on the card. No gloss. Heavy scuffing, severe tear or heavy creases.
The benefits of card grading - include indisputable provenance of authenticity, no subjective condition assignments and an accountability system through an online database. All of these factors combine to, more often than not, increase the value of the card when compared to an ungraded card in equal or similar condition.
The Specifics of Card Grading Before submitting anything to a card grading company, there are a few things to be aware of to get the most out of your grading submission: knowing what cards to grade, what service to use, and the logistics involved in shipping and insurance.
Grading Companies - When it comes to choosing what service to use, it is best to do your research. Ask fellow collectors, dealers and your local hobby shop owner who they use and why. Currently, there are four reputable and well-used grading companies in the hobby:
- Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA),
- Beckett Grading Services (BGS),
- Sportscard Guaranty (SGC),
- International Sports Authentication (ISA).
- The number of cards submitted.
- The desired turnaround time to have your cards graded and returned.
- The value of the card.
- Whether a card containing an autograph is to be authenticated as well as graded.
- If the card is an oddball or oddly sized card.
It should be noted that each major grading company regularly appears at sports card and memorabilia shows throughout the year. At these events, they often provide onsite submissions and onsite card grading services. This can save a you a lot amount of money on shipping and insurance fees. It also provides the additional security of not releasing your cards into the possession of a third-party parcel carrier.
What to Grade - Choosing what cards to grade is a personal and subjective decision. But there are some guidelines to follow that will not only save you money, but also increase the value of your collection. For example, grading any one-of-one card makes little sense from a financial standpoint, although people continue to do so. The cost of having the card shipped, graded, insured and returned is unlikely to increase the worth of an already highly valued card enough to offset those costs. However, some collectors may like the added protection of a graded slab.
Submitting vintage cards for grading, in particular, makes for a solid investment. Player collectors, team collectors and set builders often target cards in a specific grade. Removing the subjectivity of self-assessment provides a foolproof way of making sure a card is actually in the condition the owner claims.
Even vintage commons can bring a strong return if submitted to a reputable card grading company. A mistake many collectors make with older cards is overlooking these commons. Many high-end set builders will often pay top-dollar for that graded NM or Mint back-up utility infielder's card simply to complete their collection of graded cards.
Modern prospect and rookie autographs are also highly desirable in high-grade condition. The obvious reason being that, if that player attains star status, their most popular rookie cards will always be those that are signed and in Mint condition.
How to Submit Cards for Grading - Before you send your cards in to be graded, you may need to pick up the following supplies:
Once the card grading submission form is completed, prepare your cards for shipping by putting each of them in a penny sleeve and then into a semi-rigid holder like those from the popular Card Saver series. Do not use top-loaders, snap tights or screw-downs. Most grading companies will return cards back to you ungraded if they are sent in this way.
Next, place all of the cards to be submitted in between two pieces of cardboard that are larger than the cards' holders. This will make sure they don't bend.
Secure the bundle with rubber bands. Be sure that the rubber bands are not too tight. They should be just tight enough to hold the cardboard pieces together and prevent the cards from falling out. Tight rubber bands could damage your cards.
Prepare the box for shipping by filling it partially with packing peanuts, bubble wrap or newspaper. Nestle the card bundle and fill the remaining portion of the box. Insert the completed submission form and payment. Use non-clear packaging tape to completely wrap the box, not just the box edges. From there, follow the specific submission instructions from the appropriate company. Keep a copy of your card grading submission form for your records.
This is the time to think of any additional services required, such as autograph authentication. Additionally, some card grading companies allow collectors to determine a minimum accepted grade. For example a collector may specify that if a card receives a grade lower than an 8, that it not be encapsulated. The collector is still charged the full price for having the card processed, graded and returned.
Some companies offer an actual card grading submission kit that comes with a submission form, fee schedule and materials for packaging your order. This is a great customer service gesture and can save collectors money. Check the company's website to see if they offer this.
Receiving Your Order - Once you receive your order, carefully examine it. Cross reference the contents to the packing slip and the copy of the original submission form. Verify that the cards have been cataloged properly by entering the number into the company's database to make sure that the grade on the label is connected to your card.
Source: cardoardconnection.com; wikipedia.com