Are My Cards Worth More Graded?

It’s the most common question we get. People call us all the time and say, “I’ve got some cards but I’m not ready to sell them because they aren’t graded yet.” Actually that’s a good thing; that means you haven’t potentially made a mistake yet either. Because the answer to the question, “Are My Cards Worth More Graded” isn’t that simple, and quite often, the answer is no.

“I Thought All Cards Should Be Graded”

Absolutely not! You should get cards graded ONLY if there is a strong possibility that the result will increase the value of the card, what hobbyists call “gradable” cards. Of course, all you need is money and any card can be graded, but only gradable cards are worth it. Grading is an expense, and you may actually end up with cards that sell for the same or even less than if they were sold ungraded. Just because the card is in a plastic slab with a numerical grade does not automatically increase its value. The key is to learn when a card is gradable and when it isn’t.

Example: 1960 Topps #326 Roberto Clemente - This is the most common situation; a typical star card with typically average wear, or maybe the corners are sharp but the centering is off. This card is not gradable because it won’t add to the value of the card. Maybe it grades a “4” and is worth around $45 or gets a “5,” which sells for around $70. The card would likely sell for around the same price ungraded, maybe more to a collector that likes this particular card’s presentation, and you wouldn’t be incurring the cost or time needed for grading. Now if the card was accurately centered with no blemishes and a very sharp perimeter, making it a candidate for a “7” ($175) an “8’ ($550), or even a “9” ($10,000), that would be a gradable card because it would increase the value well above what it would be ungraded. As you can see, the value tends to move exponentially with each grade increase when you get to the upper grades, but the more common mid-grades don’t increase at nearly the same rate.

Of course, there are exceptions. For many vintage cards of iconic stars like Ruth, Gehrig, and Cobb, it’s usually best to get the card graded regardless of condition, not as much for the numerical grade but to verify that it isn’t a reprint and hasn’t been trimmed or altered, which will increase buyer confidence and save you the headache of dealing with a disgruntled buyer down the road. And while many post-war “commons” aren’t gradable unless they reach the MINT level or higher, others are extremely gradable at NM condition because centering or print problems common to the issue limit the number of high grade examples. Sure, it’s confusing. The key is having an idea of what the card might grade and knowing the approximate value at various grade levels.

How Do I Know Which Cards To Grade?

Everyone is new to the hobby at some point, but over time, you’ll learn what cards are gradable. A key aspect that makes a card gradable is condition. Familiarize yourself with the standards used in determining a given grade. Go to the grading websites, look at the samples and read about the specifications for each grade level. Then take a loupe and start examining graded cards … a lot of them! Carefully and objectively note the centering, surface quality, edge and corner wear and image registration compared to the grade. It takes time and practice, but as you gain experience, you’ll become more adept at assessing cards accurately. The better you become at grading, the better you’ll be at determining what is gradable and what isn’t. This will save you money in the long run.

Condition is very important, but the other key ingredient to deciding if cards are gradable is availability and market value. Quite often, a NM/MT card is worth hundreds, but just one grade lower and it’s only worth a few bucks. Like any other commodity, it’s all about supply and demand. And sure, you might have a “perfect” card that you think can “get a 10” but if there is little to no demand for it, does it really matter? Sites like eBay are a great resource for determining the value of cards currently up for sale as well as those realized in past sales. You’ll notice plenty of MINT and GEM MINT cards that sell for barely more than the cost of grading because there simply isn’t a demand or just too much of a supply. What’s the point of spending the money to grade a card if it doesn’t increase the value, even if you get the grade you’re looking for, which is certainly no guarantee?

How can Mile High Card Company help?

OK, let’s say you’ve got a collection of ungraded cards that you’d like to sell and don’t have the time nor desire to become an expert in the field. That’s where we come in. As a premier auction house, we want what you want: to get the most money possible for your collection. Each of us at MHCC has over 20 years experience in the business and can objectively advise you of your best course of action. We always act in your best interest; what to grade, what not to grade, and how the material should be presented to generate the greatest possible result, because it’s in our best interest as well. Another great benefit is that the grading fees are deducted from the revenue once the sale is complete. You pay no up-front fees for grading. We do this as a service for our consignors free of charge and deduct only what the grading service charges. Most importantly, we save you the unwanted expense of grading cards that don’t increase your return, maximizing your bottom line. Contact our team of experts at (303) 840-2784.