My First Graded Cards

Okay, the title is something of a misnomer. I own plenty of graded cards. In fact, I recall buying them as early as 2002 (if not earlier), and over 450 cards in my collection reside in slabs assembled by SGC, PSA, or BGS. However, I never actually submitted any of my own cards for professional grading until the most recent CSA Chantilly Card Show, back in the beginning of October.

1954 Bowman Ennis AutoI resisted (and will likely continue doing so, as much as possible) getting my own cards graded for so long solely because of cost considerations. For the most part, it just isn’t the best use of my resources. However, I am not completely oblivious to the fact that at some indeterminate point in the future, I will likely need to start selling the collection, and when I do so, it may be to my advantage to have at least a few key cards in slabs in order to maximize my returns. So, I decided to take advantage of the fact that both SGC and BGS would have submission tables at the show and see what would happen.

With the first card, my primary concern was to get the autograph authenticated. I knew it was legitimate because I paid to have Ennis sign it in person at a card show in Ocean City, NJ during the summer of 1992 or 1993. When the day comes that I start breaking the collection up, it certainly will be one of the last cards I sell, but I felt authenticating it would be to my advantage when the day to sell finally arrives. I know having the card itself graded really isn’t important for most collectors, but when the SGC representative told me it would only add a few bucks to the overall cost, I thought, “What the hell.”

I decided to get the Schilling card graded because it’s probably the most unique card in my collection. I have a few other 1/1 cards, but this is the only one bearing an autograph and multiple relics.* It felt like I was taking a gamble because I knew that there was no way it was 2005 Classics Schilling BGSgrading as anything higher than an “8.” In fact, given one of the corners, a “7” or “7.5” was far more likely. I was pleasantly surprised when it came back bearing the “8,” but sure enough, thanks to the corner I worried about, it did get a subgrade of “7.5” in that category.

I’m certain that I will submit other cards for professional grading at various points in the future. I’m not very happy about the cost of doing so, but I actually enjoyed seeing the Ennis and Schilling cards return in their new tamper-resistant, condition-preserving holders. Figuring out the next cards to send will be a bit of a challenge (I’m guesstimating that I have roughly a dozen cards I would like to submit for grading), but it will take a number of months before I’m reading to determine which ones.

* I posted about this particular Schilling card previously.


One response to “My First Graded Cards

  1. First, welcome back! Second, I subscribed for one year to the PSA grading service. I did the same thing you did, signing up at a card show and giving them an initial batch to be graded. One was a 1979-80 Topps Wayne Gretzky rookie that came back a “9”, and which I promptly then sold on eBay for something like $1,800! So everything after that was gravy. I took advantage of a few of the monthly offers they had during the year, like $5 per baseball card under $50 value or things like that and probably sent them something like 100 cards during the year. I got not a single 10, but for the ones that came back a 9, I was able to flip them for a nice amount and then re-buy them for my collection in an ungraded state. So it worked out well. I had a few disappointments, like a Steve Van Buren rookie that came back as “Evidence of Trimming” (I didn’t trim it myself!), as well as my Ripken 1982 Topps update that came back a 5 because of some previously unseen internal crease on the card (a flaw in the paper, as it had essentially never left the box it came in). But generally I was pretty happy. I’m not sure I will ever do it again, but it did allow me to monetize some items like those. I still have probably 50 of them to sell, mostly mid- to late-1970s cards graded 7 or 8, so not much of a premium there.

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