Not sure? Get 'em Graded!

Grading Your Cards Can Eliminate Stress When Selling
  • March 10, 2019

A few months ago we were contacted by a gentleman who was looking to sell a group of vintage cards. The group consisted of mostly stars from the 60's – Mantle, Mays, Bench – and a Nolan Ryan rookie. Obviously, this is right up our alley! After taking a look at the cards, we determined that they definitely weren't in mint condition as the seller suggested, but rather EX to near mint condition. This may not sound like much of a difference, but when talking about the value of vintage cards, it most certainly is. Condition is everything!! The difference between a mint Nolan Ryan rookie and a near mint Ryan rookie is literally tens of thousands of dollars. That's why it's so important to know the exact condition of the card, when it's ungraded, before buying.

With that said, we went back and forth a few times because we couldn't "agree" on condition. And this happens a lot. When someone is looking to sell their cards, they always think their cards are mint, and usually have some sort of emotional attachment, so they believe their cards are worth more than they are. Not their fault, it's just human nature, and we don't blame them. If I was an average person trying to sell my father's or grandfather's cards, I'd think they were mint and I'd want "ebay asking prices" too!

So, this is why we instructed this gentleman to get the cards graded. It would settle the "debate" on condition. (And I say "debate" lightly). We suggested he send them into PSA for encapsulation, and when he gets them back, we'd make him an offer based off of their grades.

Well, a few months went by, and we hadn't heard back, and I kind of forgot about this collection. And that's because we didn't even know if he followed through and actually sent them to PSA. No idea if he sent them with 10-day service, 30-day service, or non-guaranteed service. No idea if he sent every card or just a few. Then, one afternoon we got a reply email to the original thread with pics of the graded cards. He only sent 4 cards in for grading, just to see the condition (because they were representative of the entire collection). The Ryan rookie came back a PSA 7, and the Mantle, Bench and Carlton came all back PSA 6's.

So, for a few bucks, he was able to get his cards graded and was comfortable selling them now, because he was confident in the condition and value. This worked out great for both of us, and he sent the cards in right away. As soon as we received his package and confirmed everything was in there, we cut him a check.

So, why are we bringing this up? Well, for a two reasons:

  • It's 10x easier for us to buy a graded cards vs ungraded cards. Not only does it take less time to value the collection, it eliminates any risk on our end, which means we can also pay more.
  • Many sellers aren't die-hard collectors, and are unfamiliar with condition and price. Most people looking to sell larger collections that got passed down to them and just want a fair shake. If you get the cards graded, you know the exact condition when trying to sell, and will not feel like someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. This eliminates the risk on the sellers end.

So, what's our suggestion?

If you're looking to sell, educate yourself on the condition of your cards. The more you know, the less you'll be disappointed. And that's exactly why we've created this handy condition guide – to help you understand how to evaluate the condition of vintage cards. If your collection consists of stars and Hall of Famers, and are in decent condition, getting them graded by a third party is usually your best bet. We recommend PSA for authentication. Once you know the condition of your cards, you can search for that card and condition on eBay, and then look at "sold listings". This will give you a good idea of the value of the card. Once you're ready to sell, give us a call!

And to tie this all back to the original collection we ended up buying ➡️ we were pretty spot-on with the condition of the cards, but the seller was a little unsure. So, instead of "pressuring" him and making him feel uncomfortable, we just told him to get some of the cards graded. They came back as expected, and we purchased the entire collection. It was that simple, and everybody won. This also makes me feel good as a business owner, because I know that our specialists have a good trained eye!


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