For both novice collectors and seasoned veterans of the game, knowing how to grade a sports card may be a helpful resource.
This information will come in handy when identifying raw cards for sale and determining an anticipated grade at the moment.
One of the most critical factors in determining a card’s grade is its centering. Some collectors need near-perfect centering, while others are prepared to overlook centering in exchange for a card with clean edges and small amounts of slight wear. Centering is an essential component of the grading process in any circumstance. The overall centering of a card can usually be judged by looking at it. It may be challenging to determine whether a card has perfect 50/50 centering at times, but it is straightforward to find anything significantly off-center.
Centering is a mathematical procedure in which expert graders measure the distance between the outer border and the card’s edge on the top and bottom and left and right. A card is perfectly centered if the distance between all four measures is precisely the same.
It is very straightforward: measure the top and bottom borders in your chosen unit (mm, inches, etc. ), add the two, then divide the top border measurement by the total. So, here’s a Jordan Rookie with some obvious centering problems (PSA gave it a Mint (9) grade with an OC or off-center qualification). According to PSA, a card that receives a Mint (9) grade must have a front centering of 60/40 to 65/35. We can see that this Jordan card has 70/30 centering if we measure the left and right borders. Despite meeting all of the criteria for a Mint card, it received a 9 (Mint) grade with an OC (or off-center) qualification because of its centering.
It is worth noting that various grading firms have somewhat varying centering criteria. In comparison to SGC, PSA is a little more forgiving.
A-rated “Gem Mint” card must have four sharp edges, which is a common grading criterion. Because the graders are examining the card under magnification to obtain a close look at the card, you and I believe that beautiful edges may not make the grade with PSA or SGC. Any minor flaw in one corner will knock you down the grading scale, and several corner flaws will knock you down much more. The edges of cards that are rated Fair or Poor are usually heavily rounded.
Most collectors overlook the card’s surface when determining its grade, although it is an essential consideration. A Gem-Mint rate will never be given to a flawless card with sharp edges but some fingerprints or dirt on the surface. Using a jeweler’s loupe and a blacklight, as we will explain later, may also help you see specific additional unidentified surface problems that your naked eye can not see.
Surface flaws may take many forms, but wax stains, print defects, focus faults, scratches, scuffing, and creases are among the most frequent concerns that can lower a card’s grade. Some surface problems, such as dirt or fingerprints, may be wiped off the card, but others are sadly something you will have to live with. Lower-graded cards will have an increasing quantity and severity of these issues. PSA has its own’ qualifiers,’ such as ‘ST’ (or stain), that are added to a card’s standard grade, as we shall see later.
When determining a card’s overall grade, the edges (or borders) are also considered. A card that is Gem Mint or even Mint should have crisp edges and no indications of wear. Because it is often difficult to detect issues on a card’s borders with the naked eye, a loupe or other magnifying lens is required to obtain a closer look. Lower-grade cards are more likely to have considerable border wear and perhaps chipped edges.