Should You Have Your Sports Cards Graded?

When it comes to sports cards, as with many valuable collectibles, condition is key for most serious collectors. There are, however, some collectors, even serious ones, for whom condition or grading is immaterial. Just the joy of holding your favorite player in your hand is enough. In other cases, collectors want to own cards in unopened packs. Some train as professional graders and prefer to do that work themselves. Still others prefer to buy and sell cards without having them graded because of the hysteria that usually arises when collectors hear the word "mint."

Of course, the extremely valuable cards should be graded if for no other reason than insurance value. For example, even a slightly worn Ty Cobb 1909 tobacco card, such as one with a VG 3 rating, is worth nearly half a million dollars. Honus Wagner's card from the same set is worth six times that much. Most people have house insurance, and their homes don't cost nearly as much. 

Conversely, cards without much value usually don't need grading. Take the 1991 Pinnacle Tony Amonte rookie card. Some websites have more than 100 of them for sale. Despite Amonte's fame and popularity among Rangers and Blackhawks fans, the card costs less than a dollar. 

That brings us to a final point. Grading companies are not cheap. Even for cards of which there are hundreds of thousands of copies, such as Amonte's rookie card, it can cost $17 or more to have it evaluated. Why should you shell out 1,700 percent more than your card is worth to have it graded, particularly because the grading is irrelevant? If you own a super-valuable card, it can cost $500 or more to have it graded. Such prices only really benefit the grading companies and not the collector. That is one of the main reasons collectors are taking the time to educate themselves as card graders.

People in the industry rely on integrity and a sense of "team spirit" to help each other out with grading, largely because of the exorbitant fees charged and false promises made by grading companies. One such company, which shall remain nameless, has been the subject of so much negative press that it is listed prominently on the website RipoffReport.com. Worst of all, the company in question has made serious errors in its grading resulting in towering losses for its clients on a number of occasions.

When you come right down to it, getting your sports cards graded is a preference in almost every case. Watch out for scammers and incompetent graders. Do your research. Better yet, learn to do it yourself and help others with their grading. You might be surprised by the reciprocity!

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