I have already discussed the reasons to have your cards graded and cited some examples from different companies. This week I will provide an in-depth look at the card grading service offered by Sportscard Guaranty, SGC.
SGC has long been a popular choice for card grading with collectors, especially for vintage cards. One of the most popular features SGC offers is their detailed grading scale. Their 1-100 scale offers accurate and consistent grading of all cards. For collectors more comfortable with a 1-10 scale, they also offer the equivalent grade. Other popular features SGC offers are their guarantee and unique holder.
SGC does offer several different tiers of grading fees, based on the type of card and desired turnaround time. SGC also offers many different monthly and themed grading specials. SGC allowed me to send in four cards under the ‘EXPRESS’ tier (10 day turnaround time) for purposes of review. My cards were returned in six days.
When starting the on-line submission form, the first thing I noticed was that the form was buried and required lots of clicking to get to. I did have to create an account and sign-in, but even with expecting that, the from was not right there. The form itself is very easy to use and complete. The form has fields to input very detailed information about the cards you are submitting and charts to calculate the service fees, return postage and insurance required to send your cards back. There were a couple of broken links and fields that did not allow me to complete the on-line submission form though. In the defense of SGC, at the time of my submission, I do know that they were in the process of creating and up-loading new monthly specials which may have created the broken fields. Collectors can hand write an invoice for cards they are submitting or request a submission form/kit.
Cards that I submitted for grading:
1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson RC – SGC Grade 84 – NM
This card came back graded pretty much exactly what I thought it would. The card is just a touch off center, has one rough spot on an edge and a very small amount of fraying on one corner. For cards from 1980 and earlier, the industry standard expects them to be in Near Mint condition. Price guides have their high book price meant to be for cards that are Near Mint. Vintage cards with a higher grade than Near Mint can easily command prices several times that of the high book price.
1979 TCMA Rickey Henderson Minor League card – SGC Grade 20 – Fair
I was a little surprised at the grade assigned to this card. The centering is comparable to the Henderson Topps RC but the edges and corners or much cleaner and in better shape. I will admit that there is a small blue ink mark on a back corner of the card. I thought based on the physical condition of the card, especially the front, that this would have graded in the 50′s or 60′s. After reviewing SGC’s grading scale though this grade is accurate and consistent with the descriptions of a 20 grade.
2003 Magic the Gathering Lone Wolf Foil – SGC Grade 88 – NM/MT
One of my geeky pleasures, Magic is a collectable card game in the genre of Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and other non-sports cards. Magic players often put more weight on the playability of their cards rather than the collect-ability of them. The super rare and valuable cards are usually put in a case never to see the light of day and a “proxy” card is used to represent them in a deck. If you actually want to play with your cards, people may just put every card of a deck into a penny sleeve and use them that way. All this in mind though I sent in a foil version of a card in my signature deck to illustrate that SGC also grades non-sport cards. I was pleased with the grade of this card knowing that it had been shuffled and played out of my deck a couple of times.
2008-09 Upper Deck Champs C373 Gray Wolf Mini – SGC Grade 96 – MINT
This is another non-sport card even though it was packed out in a Hockey card product. The illustration here is that SGC grades and has holders for 206, Tobacco, and Allen & Ginter sized cards. I selected this specific card as it was recently pulled form a pack and presumably in Mint condition. I was correct in my assumption of a grade as this came back graded as an almost perfect example of the card.
I highly recommend SGC’s grading service for a few reasons. SGC’s prices for both the per card grading and return postage are much more reasonable compared to other similar grading services. I really enjoy the 100 point grading scale. I feel this gives you a more accurate description of the condition of your cards. Many other companies only use a 10 point scale or only use half grades like 8.5. I absolutely love the black frame SGC puts around the card. It really highlights your card and makes it stand out. The very quick turn around time was a nice surprise and the customer service is top notch. Keep an eye out for SGC’s monthly specials for submission. Depending on the amount and type of cards you want graded, these specials can save you a few dollars.
Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.