Card Grading – What Is The Point In ‘Grading’?

Obviously there are hundreds of answers, but I think I have narrowed it down to 3 main reasons for card grading

1 – Investment in Card Grading

We have all seen them – love it or hate it, the original base set Charizard is an icon of ‘value’ (even better if its 1st edition!)

Let’s break down why people think that putting a piece of cardboard, inside a plastic case, with a number on the label, can x10 the value of the card

  • it shows that it has been inspected by professionals who can determine its overall condition
  • it has been sealed away in an ultrasonically fused case & cannot degrade its condition
  • most companies give you access to a ‘population report’, letting you know exactly how many of those cards are in the same grade

On paper, these are all very compelling reasons – now allow me to play devil’s advocate

Firstly, the term ‘professionals’ is a tough one. I have personally have worked with people who have 15 years’ experience in my trade of choice, but after seeing how these people work, I learned that people can have 15 years’ experience of doing a job incorrectly…

It is best summed up by ThePokeMage who said “grading companies scales are all subjective”

Second is the sealing away – while most types of sleeves/toploaders can do a fine job, nothing beats a slab that is welded shut! However there is a concern with the majority of slabs on the market being bulk bought, mass produced slabs from alibaba – a combination of poor quality materials & novice welding techniques has proven to cause more harm than good to some cards – we won’t name names, but always look at the quality of the join & how loose (or tight!) the card is inside.

Other than my criticisms, it is safe to say that regardless of mixed opinions on ‘increased’ value – grading should definitely ‘solidify’ value

card grading can make james rich

2 – Presentable Collections

Nobody can deny that making your holo Pikachu look like Han Solo, frozen in carbonite, is cool!

Putting any card in a slab makes for a wonderful display, we all have an area at home – be it a small shelf or a massive Ikea unit, that we put our collection on display. Graded cards just hit differently.

The market research we have done showed that a whopping 89% of people had only been grading between 1-2 years – the majority of which said they did it to improve the look and presentation of their collection. This could be why our Encapsulation Service was so popular, as it completely avoids grading & just presents your card in our super clear case!

This is truly wholesome collecting at its finest, the decision isn’t driven by profit or quick sales before a new set comes out – these people love their cards, and we love that mentality.

Pocket Card Grading display

3 – Preservation Card Grading

This is more my personal preference to grading – yes it is very nice when a card scores that fat 10, but preserving a childhood collectable to me is far more important.

While the market is flooded with flippers & scalpers, most of the community members we talk to, arent looking to sell cards that they have graded. In fact, we would argue that 80% of people that we have conversations with, feel that cards should only be bought & sold at the value held by the collector – not the ‘market value’ (stick around for a future blog post about falsely inflated priced & how social media is used to convince you of a cards value)

Even if you plan on selling graded cards, preservation should be a primary decision involved. Just imagine for a moment if you will – the year is 2060, you have friends/relatives over to help you move house & you stumble across an old box in your attic with your most cherished collection.

Wouldn’t you rather find them, preserved in the condition you last had them in & shining in a wonderful slab – than to find them loose in a shoebox or old binder, starting to curl & swelling slightly in the edges due to damp?

I am personally a big fan of video game preservation for a similar reason, these cards deserve to be played and enjoyed by everyone – but for each person, the time to retire them is different. whether its pack fresh, or crumpled up – these are all pieces of history

pocket card grading slabs

Pocket Card Grading

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little ramble – im hoping to get more of these out over time, please leave comments or start a conversation with us, where do you stand on grading? has it got too out of control these last few years?

Next post, we are going to be asking questions about Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), so please stick around!

All the best, George


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. ThePokeMage

    Totally agree with everything here. I definitely fall into the camp of presentation & preservation, although selling the odd one I’m not really attached to, to fund more cards or grading is fine and something I’ll likely do occasionally.
    Also, I do think grading has got a little out of hand but I don’t think it’s too bad over here in the UK. In time I’d imagine it’ll whittle down to a few companies (PCG, ACE & MGC are the ones I’d bet on staying around (hopefully!)) I’ve seen a lot of companies pop up stateside though with horrendous slabs, labels and grading and I think they’ll very quickly die a death.
    Thanks for the mention too! Had to double take when I saw my name there, I’m famous now, right? 😂 Can’t wait to send my next submission next week, keep up the great work!

  2. Simmy_82

    For me it’s a combination of 1 and 3 (I’m new to collecting, and only display two at a time). So point 1 because its an investment, but an investment because of part of point 3.

    The year is 2060 and Simmy Junior is now 43 (I’m now archaic), and he stumbles across the cards we collected together when he was a kid. Now some of these will hold good memories for us both and he may choose to hold onto and display these himself, share with his kids, whilst others won’t.

    The ones that don’t, are sat in the slabs, in the condition they were pulled from a pack now may be worth a fair amount (as they may be 1st Editions from 1999) and if its his choice he could choose to sell them on to someone who appreciates them.

    I guess for everyone there are multiple factors at play as to why we grade or encapsulate cards.

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