Graded cards are considered to be the gold standard in trading card collector circles. Grading your cards is the only way to ensure best market value. Why? Let your pals at Back to the Past explain!
Trading Cards Are Fragile, Graded Cards Are Not
Trading cards, particularly older ones, are not printed on the highest quality cardboard. That means they are very susceptible to minor damages like blunted corners, edge chipping, and even paper separation. More modern cards have a glossy finish that, just like glossy paint on a wall, will highlight even the smallest flaws like indents or scratches.
What that means for the collector is that it can be difficult to keep a high-grade card in that high grade. This is particularly problematic if a card is being shipped, as is common with online purchases at auction or on eBay. While the plastic encapsulation of cards by grading companies isn’t indestructible, it is strong enough to protect the card from the average stresses of storage and transportation.
Graded Cards Remove Subjectivity
Did you know that one of the factors trading cards are graded on is centeredness? That is to say, graders look at how well centered the art is on the card. Graders measure the margins on all sides and, if those margins aren’t equal, points are deducted. A collector could have a card in pristine physical condition that’s not gem mint because it was printed off-center. Off-center printing does have an impact on the value of the card, but it can sometimes be tough to spot with the naked eye.
Graded cards remove the buyer and seller’s naked eyes from the equation. A neutral third party has done the measurement and inspection. Is that a faint scratch or a trick of the light? Someone not party to the transaction has figured that out for you. It gives both buyer and seller an agreed upon set of facts on which to base their negotiations.
When Grading Isn’t Worth It
Grading and encapsulating a card is a service provided by for-profit companies which means it costs money. That cost comes out of your bottom line if and when you choose to sell the card. The vast majority of cards, like the vast majority of any type of collectible, aren’t worth grading.
What do we mean? Well, here’s a hypothetical: you’ve got a card in what you deem Mint condition. Ungraded, you can expect to sell it for $15. Graded, you expect it to sell for $30. If the cost of grading it is $20, you would literally lose money on the process. Always make sure that the return on investment is worth the cost!
Consult The Experts
So when is it the right idea to grade a card? That varies wildly from set to set, even from card to card. That’s why we encourage folks trying to figure things out talk to us – we’re experts with decades of experience handling trading cards (and toys and comics and coins and…)! And if you have a question on this, or any other collectibles topic, ask us below or on social media @B2Pcollect.