Tag Archive | "Grade 9"

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – ISA Grading Service Review

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – ISA Grading Service Review

Posted on 05 March 2013 by Tim Danielson

We have already discussed reasons for having your cards professionally graded. Continuing this week we will look at International Sports Authentication ISA.  ISA Grading is a relative new-comer to the card grading industry.  Some ISA graded cards have already realized auction values that rival cards graded by other companies however.  ISA was founded to be a customer focused company that strengthened the hobby and promoted fun.  Offering the best submission prices and turnaround times in the industry, ISA is a rapidly growing grading company catching on with collectors and dealers alike.


ISA’s website and submission form are very user friendly and easy to use.  ISA does grade most licensed sport and non-sport cards.  It is recommended that you contact them first if you have any questions about getting something graded.  ISA offers custom encapsulation of cards from tobacco to standard sized cards up to 40 points thick.  ISA will be adding slabs for “tallboy” and 80 point thick cards soon.

Cards I submitted for grading:

1996 Topps Sean Casey RC – ISA grade 9 Mint


This was the easiest to identify card I submitted to be graded.  I was expecting a grade of 8 due to the slight yellowing of the card.  I was very surprised that the corners, edges, and surface of the card are all in outstanding shape which held this card to the high grade.

1931 John Player and Sons Wild Animals Heads #48 Wolf – ISA grade 7.5 NM+

1937 Ogden’s Ltd. Zoo Studies #49 Wolves – ISA grade 4.5VG-EX+

W.D. & H.O. Wills Birds Beasts and Fishes #40 The Wolf – ISA grade 2 Good


These were the cards I was hoping would stump the research department.  Only one card proved to be a little difficult however.  The 1931 wolf head card is probably my favorite of the three.  Four sharp corners, clean edges, and a clean back free of glue and tape common in tobacco cards, this card is in great shape for a card over 80 years old.  The 1937 Zoo Studies cards is another favorite card of mine.  I really like the horizontal layout and picture of the wolf pack.  Three of the four corners have a slight touch of wear and the card is a little off center top to bottom.  I thought the card would have graded at a 5, but I am not disappointed in the final grade.  The last card proved to be the most challenging to identify.  I was told that there are several different versions of this card printed from 1938 to 1942.  Some have a blank back, some do not have the scoring to have the card stand up.  Even though this card does have a printed back ISA was still unable to pinpoint the exact year.  This is similar to T series cards which were printed from 1909-1911 for example.  The slight off-centering and dirty appearance aside, the biggest reason for the grade of 2 is the big area of dried glue on the back of the card.  Any pencil, pen ink, tape, glue or waxy stains on cards from the era are pretty much unilaterally graded a 2 from all third party graders in the business.  The black inserts really make the cards pop.  Also notice the different size of inserts used to accommodate different sized tobacco cards.

2012 Magic the Gathering M12 core set Hunter’s Insight – ISA grade 10 Gem Mint


ISA also grades collectable gaming cards like magic, Pokemon and Yi-Gi-Oh.  The interesting part this this card though is that it graded at a perfect 10.  Gaming cards often are played and show the signs of being handled and shuffled in decks.  Black border cards are especially difficult to get good grades on as the black edge on both the front and back of the cards is almost always chipped or dinged.  Even taking these cards out of the package, a lot of these cards get damaged enough to not be a perfect gem mint copy.

2011 Panini Adrenalyn XL Superbowl promo Tim Tebow – ISA grade 9 Mint


This is another example of a game card only with a twist.  These cards were only available at the Fanfest event at the Superbowl.  The only thing keeping this from a grade of 10 is that there is a slight raise or bump in one of the corners.

1988 NWA Superstars #102 Sting – ISA grade 7 NM


Though not necessarily hard to Identify, this is definitely an oddball card.  Pretty badly off-center left to right, this is the exact grade I was expecting for a 25 year old possible rookie card of the professional wrestler Sting.

2008 Upper Deck Champ’s Hockey Natural History Collection Dire Wolf – ISA grade 8.5 NR-MT+


If you have not guessed by now, I like wolves and wolf cards, a lot.  To my naked eye, I would have graded this as a 9.  The right edge and bottom right corner of the card both have a slight ding in them.  This is just another example that ISA grades all types and sizes of cards and has the inserts to match.

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson RC – ISA result, not graded due to being trimmed.

1908 International Tobacco of Canada Silk Animals and Country Flags, Wolf, Siberia – ISA graded, ungraded.


The edges and corners of the Henderson looked perfect to my untrained eye.  The only flaw being that it is severely off-center, almost mis-cut.  It turned that the edges were too perfect as it was determined that all four were trimmed.  Cards from the early 1980’s are near impossible to find this clean.  The card also measured slightly smaller than industry standard sized cards.  I am disappointed that the card is altered, but happy with the quality of work from ISA to determine that it is.  The silk card was my fault for sending in.  I did not completely research what cards ISA could and could not grade, nor did I call first.  It is always recommended that you contact ISA first with any questions you have about unusual cards.  There is also really no standard to grade silk cards against.

I really like the custom holders ISA uses.  They have combined popular elements from other grading companies into their slabs.  This makes for a very eye appealing and unique protective holder for your cards.  To date, similar cards with similar grades have shown that auction prices are higher between other third party grading companies and ISA.  It seams that dealers and “flippers” are waiting for ISA to become more established before using them.  As a collector who will never get rid of his graded cards though, ISA’s prices and turnaround times cannot be beat! Looking to have your personal collection cards graded and protected for display?  I encourage you to use ISA Grading services!

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – PSA Grading Service Review

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – PSA Grading Service Review

Posted on 20 February 2013 by Tim Danielson

Continuing with my series of card grading services, this week we look PSA.


Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) is the largest and most trusted third-party grading and authentication company in the world. PSA is the preferred choice of collectors, dealers and auction houses worldwide. PSA has processed over 16 million cards and collectibles with a cumulative declared value of nearly a billion dollars.

Founded by PSA in 1998 in response to widespread counterfeiting, forgery and piracy of autographed collectibles, PSA/DNA is the world’s leading third-party authentication service for autographs and memorabilia.


Cards that I submitted for grading:

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson RC – PSA Grade 7 NM

1982 Granny Goose #35 Rickey Henderson – PSA Grade 7 NM

1990 Score McDonald’s #5 Rickey Henderson – PSA Grade 7 NM


I will admit that some of the cards I submitted for grading I was hoping I would stump the researchers at PSA.  These were some of the easier ones though.  The 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson RC is one of the cornerstone cards to own from the 1980′s.  Common printing problems from the early 1980′s include off centering, printing marks and rough edges.  This Rickey Henderson RC card has evidence of all three.  I am surprised with a grade of 7.  Compared to other graded Rickey Henderson RC cards I have witnessed I was expecting a grade of 6.  Possibly a little challenging was the 1982 Granny Goose Henderson card.  This is a good example of a regional food issue card.  Cards in this set were distributed on the west cost in potato chip packaging.  The centering is better than on the Henderson RC card but still a little off center.  There is also some yellowing on the card.  I was expecting a 7 and satisfied that my suspicions were verified.  The 1990 Score McDonald’s is another example of a regional food issue.  These cards were available only in select Iowa McDonald’s locations.  To my untrained eye this card looks pretty good, perfect centering, sharp edges, good eye appeal.  There is a little fuzzing on one of the corners.  I was expecting a grade of 8.  Upon closer inspection, it appears that the corners are a little more damaged than I thought.  Still a nice grade, I am happy to have it protected from further damage because of how rare it is.

1910 E29 Philadelphia Carmel Zoo Animals, Wolf – PSA Grade 1 Poor

1937 Ogden’s LTD Zoo Studies, Wolves – PSA Grade 5 EX

1937 Gallaher LTD Wild Animals, The Wolf – PSA Grade 6.5 EX-MT+

1978 Brooke Bond & Co., Vanishing Wildlife, Wolf – PSA Grade 6 EX-MT


My next few cards I submitted I hoped would prove more difficult to identify but the research team at PSA was up to the challenge.  Pre World War Two tobacco cards are very popular.  Some of the highest realized auction prices of graded cards have been of sports figures from this era.  Maybe slightly less popular are other subjects and themes on tobacco cards.  The 1910 card deserved the grade of 1  besides the very obvious layering of all four corners, there are three pin holes in the top of the card.  The 1937 Ogden’s card has really great eye appeal and looks very clean.  It is very slightly off-center from the top to the bottom of the picture.  I thought the card would be graded a 6.  The corners are not noticeably bad to me.  Inks, papers and printing techniques have changed in the past 85 years and PSA grades accordingly.  This is the one card I do not quite understand the reason for the grade.  The 1937 Gallaher was graded just as I though it would.  To me this card actually has one worse corner than the Ogden card.  I am very happy with the grade this card did get however.  I thought the 1978 wolf card would grade at a 6 or 7  The physical characteristics of the card look alright but there is some yellowing on the card.  Overall I am pleased with the grades of these vintage cards and like the inserts for the tobacco sized cards compared to regular sized cards.

2011 Goodwin Champions, Animal Kingdom Patches, Timber Wolf – PSA Grade 8 Nr-Mt


I knew that this card would not be difficult to identify, but submitted it to illustrate that PSA will grade memorabilia style cards.  What I did not expect was the awesome display encapsulation case the card was put in!  I did not even know that such holders existed.  The card itself graded exactly like I thought it would.  I just love the holder though.  The recessed holder actually sits 1/2 inch tall.  The arrowhead corner protection design not only provides superior card protection, but make the card pop as well.  This card is now a centerpiece on my desk.

1999 Wizards of the Cost, Magic the Gathering (MTG) Portal Three Kingdoms (P3K), Wolf Pack (Japanese version) – Not Graded

2007 Nintendo Legend of Zelda, Twilight Princess, Wolf Link Gold G6 – Not Graded


I actually thought these cards would have been easier to grade than the vintage cards.  I know PSA does grade MTG cards, however the foreign language may have disqualified it.  Modern non-sport and entertainment cards can sometimes be the hardest to identify.  The sheer number of card sets produced and the lack of checklists add to this problem.  The gold foil chase cards from the Twilight princess are very rare and can command a premium in on-line auctions.  Do not fret though collectors.  If you submit cards that PSA is unable to grade you will receive vouchers for future submissions.  It will help to check out their website however for a list of cards that PSA will and will not grade.

PSA is the most popular grading service for several reasons.  PSA has been around longer than other grading service.  They have graded a larger volume of and realized a larger dollar amount of graded cards and memorabilia then others.  These reasons make PSA the most trusted and recognized name in the hobby.  Just walk around a card show or search an on-line auction site.  The total number of PSA graded cards is greater than all of the cards graded by other companies combined.  This is especially true with vintage cards.  I have seen entire sets of cards all graded and encased by PSA.  I really like the holders used by PSA.  They are much thinner than other companies holders and in fact seem to by much more sturdier.  PSA’s website is nicely laid out and very easy to use.  There is a wealth of resources available from a graded price guide, population reports, card registry, caparisons of card values before and after PSA grading and even an introduction to third party grading a “collecting 101.”  The customer service was good with e-mail updates of when they received my cards, when the grades were available to view on-line and when they shipped my cards.  Being the most popular and arguably the best comes at a cost though, for customers.  PSA does have some of the highest submission prices.  Unless you are like me and are going to keep your cards no matter what, single and small quantity card submissions can add up quickly.  For dealers looking to flip cards for profit or groups of collectors working together, PSA is the industry standard.  PSA does offer monthly and themed grading special which offer some savings.  I do recommend PSA/DNA services for everyone.  Depending on what and why you collect though will determine if the cost is worth the benefit.

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – JSA Autograph Authentication Service Review

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – JSA Autograph Authentication Service Review

Posted on 08 February 2013 by Tim Danielson

This week, as part of my on-going series of card grading services, we divert a little and look at autograph authentication and grading.


James Spence Authentication (JSA) does not grade cards specifically, rather they authenticate and grade autographs.  JSA offers this service for sports figures, celebrities, actors, music entertainers, historical and political figures autographs.  From former Presidents to rock stars to sports heroes, JSA is the place to go to verify if the autograph is authentic.

A black eye on the hobby of sports card collecting has been people trying to sell fake autographs.  As the industry leader, JSA has provided piece of mind to collectors for years.  JSA authenticates autographs on cards and other memorabilia including bats, balls, gloves, helmets and jerseys.

Besides the obvious reason of a higher resale vale for graded autographs, JSA’s service can also include a Letter of Authenticity for insurance purposes.  While other grading services may appeal to dealers and resellers, JSA autograph authentication will also benefit other collectors and historians.

JSA does have a partnership with Beckett Grading Services, BGS.  Thanks to this partnership collectors can have their autographs authenticated and graded as well as the card itself graded and encapsulated.  This offers a collectors a ‘one-stop-shopping’ experience where they send in a raw ungraded autographed card and receive back an encased dual graded collectible.  For purposes of this article I will be reviewing the autograph authentication by JSA only.  Among other techniques, JSA authenticates and grades autographs against other know autographs from the subject and considers legibility, penmanship, and cleanliness or neatness of the autograph.

Autographs I submitted to JSA for grading:

2002 SP Authentic #87 Sean Casey – JSA autograph grade – 9 MINT (BGS card grade – 9 MINT)


I obtained this autograph through the mail, (TTM).  I have and have seen several other Sean Casey autographs on baseballs, in person, and on pack pulled cards to be very confident in the authenticity of this one. Sean Casey’s autograph has been very consistent through the years.  Another positive indicator that this autograph is real is that Sean Casey was never a super star that commanded a high premium.  No one is going to make money from selling fake Sean Casey autographs.  It may be difficult to see in the picture, but there is ‘streaking ‘ in the ‘S’ and ‘C’ of the autograph.  This is a sign that the autograph is hand signed with a Sharpie marker and not auto-penned.

1987 Topps #478 Dave Dravecky – JSA autograph grade – 8 NM-MT (BGS card grade 8 NM-MT)


This is another autograph I acquired through the mail.  I have also observed several Dravecky autographs and felt confidant about the authenticity of this when I sent it in.  Although very consistent with his autograph during his retirement, the biggest difference and probably the reason for a grade of 8 is that this autograph was signed with a ball point pen.  Pen ink can be more likely to fade over time than a Sharpie marker.

1983 Topps #180 Rickey Henderson – JSA Unable to Authenticate


This was a little bit of a disappointment for me.  I was not disappointed in the services provided by JSA, rather I was disappointed that I paid a fair amount of money to purchase this card on-line.  This makes me  two for two at buying fake Henderson autographs on-line.  On the contrary, I am happy that JSA has expertise and experience to accurately identify legitimate and questionable autographs.  Rickey Henderson is a Hall of Fame whose autographs and memorabilia can command premiums, if they are real.  Maybe what made this autograph difficult to authenticate, or easy for a scammer to fake, is the fact that it is signed with a felt tip marker.

Before sending an autograph into JSA be sure to visit their fees page to not only check their prices, but also to verify then can take and authenticate your autograph.  There are several benefits of having your autographs authenticated by JSA.  Some of these advantages are: Quick and simple online confirmation of your certification number.  Increased value, for faster sale of memorabilia.  Secure, virtually impossible to replicate proprietary watermark James Spence Authentication Letter of Authenticity with corresponding high-resolution image and a unique certificate sticker.  Guaranteed acceptance of our Letter of Authenticity by collectors, dealers, and ALL auction houses worldwide, or your submission fee will be reimbursed.  Peace of mind that your memorabilia is deemed authentic and ready to be sold, passed along to a family member, or cherished forever, and all numbered Letters of Authenticity are fully transferable without resubmission.  For these reasons, I recommend James Spence Authentication services for collectors, dealers and historians alike.  The piece of mind and protection offered by JSA when coupled with Beckett Grading services will be worth the money.

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.


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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – To Grade or not to Grade

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – To Grade or not to Grade

Posted on 31 May 2012 by Tim Danielson

One of the most important rules about baseball card collecting is that ‘condition is everything.’  You may own the rarest, most highest valued baseball card in the world, but if it looks like it went through your bike spokes and then thrown in a shoe box, then it is not worth anything.  One option collectors have is to have their cards professionally graded.

There are a few card grading companies that collectors can use, but I will reference the biggest two here.  Both ‘Professional Sports Authenticator’ PSA, and ‘Beckett Grading Services’ BGS offer different levels of grading packages and pricing.  At the simplest level, card grading is based on four components: centering, corners, edges and surface.  These four categories are then given a number grade from 1-10.  There are specific guidelines and characteristics that are used to help determine a cards condition.  The centering of a card is just that.  Is the picture centered left to right and up and down?  There is a measurement used to gauge the percentage “off-center” the card is.  The corners need to be sharp and un-frayed or rounded.  The edges should be straight with no chipping or layering.  Both the surface of the front and back of the card cannot have any scratches, dents or dings. The higher a card’s overall grade, the higher a card’s value.  ‘Gem Mint’ cards often sell for several times the listed value of the same un-graded card.

To better answer the question of weather or not you should send your cards in though, you need to ask yourself another question.  What do you plan to do with your cards?  If you are a collector who buys and sells cards for profit then grading your cards may be a good idea.  Follow the basic stock market principle, “buy low, sell high.”  Buy raw or un-graded cards, send them in and hope for high grades, and then turn around and sell the grade 9 and 10 cards for more then you bought them for.  Keep in mind though that it does cost to have the cards graded in the first place.  Both companies have different rates depending on how many cards you send them at one time and the turn around time you would like them back in.

Some collectors are player or team collectors, or someone who will never sell or get rid of their cards.  Having your cards professionally graded may not be worth it.  A grade 8 on your card will not increase the sentimental value.  If you are never going to sell them anyway why would you need to know that you could sell it for more if it were a grade 10?

I am a player collector, and will never get rid of my cards until my kids inherit them.  I also have a few graded cards however.  I have never paid to send my cards in though.  The cards I have were picked up in trades.  There is a novelty to graded cards.  Seeing a card encased in a permanent holder and being able to look up the individual barcode/serial number on the company’s website is pretty cool.  Cards graded from the same company all stack very well as the cases are made to nest together.  I will be running a series highlighting different card grading companies in the future.  In the meantime,   please enjoy some examples of graded cards.

Here we see three different copies of the same card, graded from three different companies.  “The Final Authority” is no longer doing business.  Note the individual sub-grades for the four characteristics.

Here are a couple of more of my graded cards of my favorite player.

Until next time, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

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