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How are sports cards graded?

In: Sports

1955 all american football cardsThe grading system for sports card can be a bit complex for people outside the industry. 

Imagine this scenario, as a newbie collector,  you want to buy some Roberto Clemente baseball cards at an online card store or a local shop, the vendor tells you it is a  Grade A card or a BGS 9 card, you get confused and ask yourself, What do these terms mean, and how are sports cards graded? If you have ever been in a situation like this, this post is for you.  Let us take a look at how companies grade sports cards. 

What is sportscard grading?

Collectors or hobbyists grade cards to determine their market value. The process involves submitting a card to an authorized third party to ascertain its quality and rarity of the card.

Grading companies check for similar criteria for your card’s integrity- however, this doesn’t mean that the same card will have the same grade for different companies, and sometimes individuals may not get the results they were expecting.  Most companies employ a 1-10 grading system, with 1 being the poorest and 10 being the highest possible grade. 

Why should you grade your card?

Collectors who buy vintage football cards as an investment need to know the resale value. This is where grading companies come in. The price of a sports card rises dramatically as the grade increases. Many collectors grade their cards to know the market value and find out if they would make a profit when reselling them. 

How are sports cards graded?

Grading companies check for the following criteria 


Cards with chipped edges have low chances of making it into the mint category. Grading companies check for imperfections along the edges or borders of all cards. 


Gem mint cards (10) mist have perfect corners.  For the untrained eye, a card may have perfect corners, but when a grader observes it under the microscope, he may tell a different story.  Graders check if the corners are rounded or bent. They also check if part of the part is missing or if there are white spots on them. 


Centering determines how well the image is centered on a card.  The process involves checking and measuring the distance between the borders of the outer edge. If all sides are equidistant from the edge, the card has perfect or 50/50 centering. 


The card’s surface is one of the most important criteria when grading a card.  Your vintage football card may have straight edges and perfect corners but may not “make” mint because of imperfections on the surface. Scratches, stains, and creases will reduce the grade of a card.

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