Guest Article by Don White

Card grading has become a industry unto itself and has fueled the hobby as many people now buy rookies to get graded to then sell on eBay to make major profits. Thus, a whole deluge of grading companies have come and gone as the market has stabilized itself to just a few key companies with others on the fringes.

In the past, there were not many graders of cards or memorabilia. During the 1990′s, there were many graders as you will always see cards graded by no name guys such as Champs, CTA, AGS, Gem and many more over the years along with the top three PSA, SGC and BGS.

There are several main problem I see. There are many people busting cards out of their cases to have them regraded. “Is this a truly problem?” is a common question. I would say it is not truly a problem in just committing the act. The problem lies in the fact that sometimes a grading company will grade a card one to three grades higher than another which creates a serious question on the companies standards. This highlights a major problem in the industry, and someone needs to take note.

Another problem I see is, how can a company remain neutral when they do both grading and pricing? I think anyone can see this is a conflict of interest. Of course, I truly believe Beckett does have a edge over any other grading card company as they can tout their product and services over any of the other grading services due to their presence in the card market. With various pricing publications, set ups at shows, a large website (traffic), and other media outlets, who can compete with the juggernaut that is Beckett?

So, I post this question to you collectors, the grading card companies, and whoever may want to give some input: HOW CAN YOU TAKE THE SAME CARD BETWEEN TWO COMPANIES AND GET TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT GRADES? Lets begin with a example, and then ask yourself how this is happening:

Here is a real rare Walter Payton card encapsulated with grading by PSA: 1999 UD CENTURY LEGEND WALTER PAYTON GAME USED JERSEY AUTOGRAPH PSA 8

Here is the same card as you can verify it as it has the same serial number. Obvioulsy, it was graded by BGS this time:

It’s being sold on ebay for a higher dollar value than it could have obtained as a PSA 8.5 (EBAY LINK):…MEWA:IT&ih=009

How can a card go from a PSA 8 to a BGS 9.5 (10 auto)? I mean technically that is jumping two whole categories Near Mint – Mint (PSA) to Gem Mint (BGS).

I headed to a local card show at the Lexington, Ky. Armory on November 24, 2007. I sought out some friends to post some questions for answers from a few people I trust in the hobby. Upon showing the above example it elicited many responses. If you look at various YouTube videos (doniceage), I have some graded cards on there which is one of the people that I questioned. Don is a grading specialist in my opinon as that is all he focuses on with vintage cards.

Another dealer I talked to from North Carolina who had attended the Nationals in Cleveland mentioned an example he did at the show which just validated my point. He took a Ken Griffey UD rookie and did the same exact thing with the above example of Walter Payton. The Griffey was also graded a PSA 8 and upon getting it reviewed at Becket he obtained a BGS 9.5.

I asked how this can happen and some of the answers I received:

1) People grading the cards are human. We all make
2) If you grade in volume you tend to get better
grades on a average more 9.5s instead of 9.0s
for example.
3) If you know someone, just like in the real world,
connections will yield better grades when you
submit your cards.

I am sure other collectors have ideas and possible theories as to why this happens. Feel free to think about it, but this just makes me wonder are all companies truly 100 percent legit? As if this can be had, this is a new market within the collecting market itself: finding off grades cards that you think might be regraded at a higher level to sell down the road for a higher price. We all know if there is a dollar to be made someone will step in and fill the niche.

In closing, I read, and perhaps this is the only true solution, have a machine grade the cards on a regulated standard so all cards undergo the same criteria from point a to z. This would take the human element out of it for mistakes on grading from one grader to another. No matter how many cards or who you know, your submissions would be graded by machine with a regulated standard so those elements would not come into play. If you have some ideas or can enlighten me on a better solution or if you don’t think there is a problem, feel free to respond. I just think it a problem that will need to be addressed down the road sooner or later.