We have all heard the phrases: "Purchase the best quality card you can for your collection." "Quality over quantity." "Avoid dinged corners at all cost."
That last one reminded me that there are (or were) several card blogs that have condition / grading in their blog names.
The 2009 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards uses the following:
- Mint (MT)
- Near Mint/Mint (NM.M)
- Near Mint (NR MT)
- Excellent (EX)
- Very Good (VG)
- Good (G)
- Fair (F or Fr.)
- Poor (P)
PSA, one of the leaders in the card grading industry, uses both numbers and words to grade the condition of cards.
- Gem Mint 10 (GEM-MT)
- Mint 9 (MINT)
- Near Mint - Mint 8 (NM-MT)
- Near Mint 7 (NM)
- Excellent - Mint 6 (EX-MT)
- Excellent 5 (EX)
- Very Good - Excellent 4 (VG-EX)
- Very Good 3 (VG)
- Good 2 (GOOD)
- Fair 1.5 (FR)
- Poor 1 (POOR)
Beckett Grading Services have their own system, which is numerical (1-10). The other minor grading companies have a combination. Look them up on your own.
Since many of the card collectors that I interact with do it for their own enjoyment and pleasure, that they think of it still as a hobby and not an investment vehicle, I'm going to suggest a simpler grading scale.
- Well Loved
- Run Over By A Truck
I'll explain each of them and show you some examples from my own collection.
I think this is the only graded card I have in my collection. I bought it on ebay years ago. PSA deemed it a NM 7. The left/right centering is off. Corners are sharp, as are the edges. The surface is clean and good. Looks like it came right out of the pack, despite the fact that it 56 years old.
I collect Earl Wilson cards because he was the first black player signed to the Boston Red Sox. Pumpsie Green was the first black player to play for the Red Sox, but Earl was signed a few years before Pumpsie. Do I have plans to upgrade this card to maybe an 8 or a 9? Nope. I'm perfectly fine having this. I'm not planning on cracking it out of the slab.
This 1971 Topps Bill Melton has been handled. The corners aren't crisp, but you can still see that they are corners. Clearly not Pristine. The '71 set, with black borders, show just about any edge imperfection.
It could be worse. Half of it could be missing. Probably due to a kid folding it over, and over, and over, and over again.
Maybe this 1971 Jim Hickman is a good example of the Well Loved category. Rounded corners. And a pink Bic Banana goes to town on his face.
Run Over By A Truck
It is hard to determine which type of truck ran over this 1967 Hank Fischer, but clearly one did. Almost like it was taken to shop class and dropped on the belt sander. (Note: the Hank Fischer card is no longer in my collection. It happily resides safely in Tony's binder.)
I like the cards for what they are. I wonder what the story was behind them. Who was Paul M. Longacre? Who despised Hank Fischer enough to not treat him with some care? Why pink clown tears for Jim Hickman?
I propose that the collecting world switch to my proposed grading scale. The sooner, the better.
This blog post was spurred on by Jeff Katz's post on SABR's new Baseball Card blog.