I have to admit to being something of a snob when it comes to adding pre-World War II cards to my collection. When given the choice, I will always take a card graded either PSA 1 or SGC 1o over any card that receives an “A” grade, no matter how much nicer the appearance of the card merely graded “Authentic.” The funny thing is that I know it’s a form of snobbery that isn’t necessary adhered to in other forms of antique collecting; lots of people have no issues with buying restored/rehabilitated antique furniture. However, I, like many other baseball card collectors, am very picky about this; I just don’t want a card that underwent restoration techniques — if for no other reason than the act was most likely born out of an attempt to defraud a collector.
In an ideal world, I could completely avoid any card that bears an “A” grade. My biggest problem with it is that you typically don’t know the precise reason for the grade. The card could’ve been altered, the person who submitted it for grading may have only wanted its authenticity judged, or, as is the case with a significant percentage of strip cards from late teens and early ’20s, the card was hand-cut too small or flat-out ripped from its adjoining brethren (PSA explains how they handle strip cards on their Grading Standards page). Yes, you can find slabbed strip cards bearing actual grades, but all too often the seller is extracting some sort of premium, even if the grade is as low as “Fair” or “Good.”
Given the rarity of so many of these strip cards, my desire to acquire as many Phillies cards as possible, and the constraints of my budget, something had to give. Last week, the dam broke, and I purchased my first strip card bearing an “A” grade. I’m going to continue to avoid doing so as much as possible in the future — and my intention is to refuse to purchase such cards if the grade appears to be to trimming or some other form of alteration to a card that wasn’t of the strip variety. However, while I’d hate to change my mind on this matter, I may not be able uphold that standard. The fact is that many of the other issues from the first couple decades of the 20th century are completely out of my price range unless I get ridiculously lucky in an eBay auction, as I did with my 1909-1910 C.A. Briggs (E97) Kitty Bransfield card. The fact is that somewhere down the road I may just have to accept a card that received an “A” grade for unpalatable reasons.
But, that day isn’t here yet, and there’s always a chance I experience the same bit of luck that allowed me to acquire the C.A. Briggs Bransfield card. Until then, it’s almost certain that I will allow other strip cards bearing the “Authentic” grade in my collection. Hopefully, I can keep that number to a minimum.