Grading Information

What is Grading?

Grading is the process by which you send in a card to an independent, unbiased company verifies the condition of the card and validates the authenticity of the card. Essentially you send your card into a major card grading company and they tell you its condition and if the card is real or not. During this process they will look at specific criteria to determine the condition. In the end they assign the card a numerical grade based on its condition and then encapsulate the card in a hard, visual appealing plastic case which protects the card and displays the grade.

Why Grade?

The primary reason why you grade a card is to verify its condition. Card condition is one of the primary reasons a card can go up or down in value. If an independent, unbiased grading company can verify a cards condition, then its value may very well increase.

The second reason to grade a card is for authenticity. While occasionally a fake card can be graded, having an independent company verify a card is real can increase its value.

The third reason to grade a card is to protect it. Typically once a card is graded, the grading company will encapulate it in a plastic case, typically called a slab. This slab offers great protection for the card and can protect its condition.

The fourth and final reason to grade a card is because you like how it looks. A card slab can add an attractive display element to any card. Not only is the plastic case attractive but the label showing the grade can also be attractive. If you like the look of a particular label, get the card graded!

Grading Criteria

There are four major categories that determine a cards condition:

▪ One: The Surface. The quality of the flat surface of the card. Any blemishes, water marks, dents, scratches or folds all decrease the surface score.

▪ Two: Corners. The corners of the card should be crisp and sharp. They should not be dinged or in any way damaged. Sometimes microscopic dings or just a small amount of rounding can decease the corner score

▪ Three: Edges. The edges should be as clean and crisp as possible. There should not be any scraping or wear on any of the four edges.

▪ Four: Centering. The image of the card should be centered on the card both top to bottom and left to right. It has to be well centered in both directions. Centering is the only criteria that has a mathematical criteria. You can determine how centered a card is by looking at what percent of the border is on the left compared to the right and the top compared to the bottom. Different grading companies have different criteria for what qualifies as centered. For example: PSA allows for a card to be 60/40 in one direction while BGS only allows for 55/45.

Some people may ask: What about cards without a border? How do they do centering in these cases? Sometimes a card does not have a border where centering is easily visable. In these cases grading companies may use a logo, how parallel the sides of the edges of the cards are or other distinguishign characteristics of the set to determine centering. They may also use the back of he card.

These criteria are all applied to the front of the card but the back of the card still matters. However, the back of the card matters to a lesser extent. For example, PSA requires 60/40 on the front of the card but only 75/25 centering on the back of the card. In all cases the front of the card is more important.