Collectors are all bonded by the same ‘rush’ of the hunt for treasure, or a great hunch validated. The rush of opening a new pack and finding that one unexpected gem, or making a big deal that turns out in your favor over time. So when graded cards became the norm back in the 90’s, the traditional collectors (especially vintage specialists) understandably had some reticence: ‘Send my valuable cards away for someone else to evaluate?’
But while sending your cards away used to seem painful (I likened the process to turning in a term paper and awaiting the teachers red marks)… in actuality the process adds another rush to the card-lovers life. Once you’ve opened the packs, you get a second chance at the same rush once the graded version comes back with news on the condition, whether it be a new card or a vintage staple!
The graded market provides a great dimension for vintage cards, and has opened up the collecting world to more casual collectors over the last 15 years. Getting a vintage card returned in a high grade doubles the rush of the unique find in a new pack!
On the business side, grading takes SOME of the ambiguity out of the buying and selling process, especially since so many deals are conducted online. A uniform system, albeit not perfect, also allows dealers to comfortably invest in a deal and know they won’t have to take a major loss due to a counterfeit or shady customer most of the time.
As mentioned in our investment article, PSA, Beckett Grading and SGC are the most trustworthy options when purchasing on the graded market. While some higher graded cards come with a premium price tag, you have to factor in the cost to have the card graded, and the number of cards available with the condition of the card you are purchasing.
For example, consider the 1971 Topps Terry Bradshaw Rookie Card. Without a doubt the 4-time Super Bowl winner would garner many a collector. There have been 1,888 total submissions of the Bradshaw RC card to PSA. While 384 of them came back as pure NM-MT 8 a mere 18 of them have been graded a MINT 9, with only 3 having been granted the holy grail GM MINT 10. That’s not a typo, only three!