Friday, January 16, 2009

Can someone explain the grading process?

I'm confused about the way that grading services do their business. Not the business of accepting cards to grade, billing and returning the cards. But what is it that they do? What is their process once a card arrives at their place of business?

I'm guessing that they check the paperwork of the order and place the card in a basket of some sort. Some employee verifies that the card in hand is actually what the owner says it is. A T206, not a T205. The card gets scanned or digitally photographed to add to the database.

Then it gets assigned to a grader. Perhaps the graders have a certain expertise (tobacco, prewar, postwar, modern). Perhaps not. The grader examines the card, searches the database to compare it to other (already graded) cards. He makes some notes, assigns a grade.

Perhaps another grader does the same thing, but doesn't have access to the previous grader's assigned grade. In theory, they should give the card the same grade. If they don't, a third grader joins them. No, not an eight year old. He (or she) is the tie breaker. They spend time discussing why they gave the card the grade that they did.

Once a final grade is given, then the card is slabbed, or sealed. The appropriate size holder is selected, a sheet of archival clear 'plastic' film covers the card and then the whole thing is sealed with heat or special infrared microwaves.

Then the card is shipped back to the owner with a report.

I don't know. This is all conjecture. Guesses. I have no idea. It can't happen that way. Too many resources (graders) tied up for a single card. Maybe if it is a T206 Wagner, but not the card of a below average player from 1987.

But looking at ebay, I found some difference in some PSA graded card slabs and therefore the process. I'm not picking on PSA, these are just examples that I found while searching for some PSA graded T212 cards.

The Netzel apparently was an early grade from PSA. The holder doesn't really secure the card. There's a bit of "Saran Wrapping"

The Orendorff seems to be in the correct holder. All is well with the world. This is what I think a graded card should look like.

The Perrine is in the correct holder, but I don't know what's up with the "Saran Wrap" look.

These cards are a part of the T212 Obak set. REA has a listing of a 1911 T212 Obak complete set.

Ignorance disclaimer: I have never had a card graded by any professional grading service. I do not own any professionally graded cards. I've seen some in card stores and think that should I buy any older cards on ebay, I'd want them graded. In the proper sized slab.

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