If you're a collector, you know that the value of your cards isn't just in the nostalgia or the artwork; it's in the condition. PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator) grading can make or break the value of your collection. But what exactly goes into grading a card? What should you look out for before sending your cards for grading? We've got you covered in this ultimate guide.
The Four Pillars of Grading
Centering: The first thing to look at is the centering of the card. The borders should be even on all sides. Any misalignment can significantly affect the grade.
Corners: Corners are a huge deal. Even a minor fold or ding can plummet the grade. Use professional equipment to examine the corners closely.
Edges: The edges around the card also play a crucial role. Any wear, chipping, or fraying can lower the grade.
Surface: This is often the trickiest to catch. Surface issues like print lines, scratches, or even residue can be detrimental to the card's grade.
The Importance of Cleaning
Before sending your cards for grading, it's crucial to clean them, especially modern-day prism and chrome cards. Use a microfiber cloth to gently wipe the surface. This is not altering the card; it's merely removing any fingerprints or smudges that could affect the grading.
The Submission Process
Create a Detailed List: Whether you're submitting your cards directly to PSA or through a bulk submission service, you'll need to create a detailed list of the cards you're submitting.
Value Estimation: The value you assign to your cards will affect the grading cost. Be aware that if your card receives a high grade, thereby increasing its value, you might be subject to an upcharge.
Packaging: Use semi-rigid card savers rather than regular top loaders. For modern cards, use an oversized penny sleeve before placing them in the card saver. Package your cards securely to prevent any movement during shipping.
Tips and Tricks
- Use professional equipment like magnifiers to examine your cards.
- Always opt for signature confirmation and insurance when shipping your cards.
- Be prepared for potential upcharges if your card grades higher than expected.
PSA grading is more than just sending your cards and waiting for a grade. It's a meticulous process that requires attention to detail. From the moment you decide to grade a card to the time you send it off, each step is crucial in determining the final grade—and ultimately, the value of your card.
So, whether you're a seasoned collector or new to the game, understanding the ins and outs of PSA grading can significantly impact your collection's worth. Don't leave it to chance; arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make the most out of your collection.