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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – SGC Grading Service Review

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – SGC Grading Service Review

Posted on 13 March 2013 by Tim Danielson

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

Topps Henderson

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

TCMA Henderson

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

Lone Wolf

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

Gray Wolf

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.

 

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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.

BikeSpokes

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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+

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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.

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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 – Beckett Grading Service Review

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – Beckett Grading Service Review

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Tim Danielson

We have already discussed reasons for having your cards professionally graded. Today we will look at the services provided by Beckett Grading.

BikeSpokes

Becket Media has long been the premier resource for collectors of sports cards.  Starting with their monthly price guide magazines, Beckett Media now offers on-line price guides, collecting forums, a safe on-line trading environment, monthly, quarterly, and yearly publications.  Beckett also offers pricing guidelines for cards, autographs, figurines and more for all sports, non-sport and entertainment cards.

Two very popular features offered by Beckett Grading are the simple but detailed grading scale and sub-grade report card.  In addition to just giving a card a grade of 8.5, Becket assigns grades to the four different attributes the card is graded on.  This way you can see that a card graded 8.5 has sub-grades of 10 for centering, 8.5 for corners, 9 for edges, and 8.5 for surface condition.  Beckett also offers the industry’s first on-time money back guarantee.  Either your cards are returned to you on time or you get a refund on the grading services.  Other features offered by Beckett grading can be viewed here.

When staring a submission to Beckett grading collectors have several different options to chose form.  They offer standard grading and encapsulation, vintage card grading for pre-1981 cards, an economical Collector’s Club Grading and a raw card review.  Details and pricing of each can be viewed here.  Both the on-line and printable submission form are very easy to use and understand.  As with other companies, Beckett offers several different tiers of turn around time at varying costs and monthly specials.  Beckett allowed me to send in four cards at the 5-day service level.  My cards were returned in exactly five business days from the date Beckett received them.

Cards that I submitted for grading:

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson RC – Beckett Vintage Grading  7.5 Near Mint+

Beckett wolf 1

This card came back pretty much what I expected it would.  I was hoping for an 8 based on my comparison to other graded Henderson RC cards I have seen.  After reviewing Beckett’s grading scale, the grade this card received is very consistent with the guidelines they have established.  I was a little disappointed that the vintage grading did not include the sub-grades for the different card attributes.  These are not included on any vintage graded cards, but it still would have been nice to know these sub-grades.

2009 Americana Stars Material Gold Proofs #1 Jackie Chan #/25 – Beckett Grading 8.5 NM-MT+

Beckett wolf 2

This card has sub-grades of 10 for centering, 8.5 for corners, 9 for edges, and 8.5 for surface.  This card received the grade that I thought it would.  I submitted this card to show that Beckett also grades memorabilia cards.  I was very pleased to see that the thicker memorabilia card was placed into the same thickness holders as the rest of the cards.  The recessed area inside the holder is just deeper to allow for the thicker card without adding thickness to the holder itself.  From the side though you can see where the inner sleeve is separating on the edges.

1997 Magic the Gathering 5th Edition Wyluli Wolf  (Rare)- Beckett Grading 8 NM-MT

Beckett Chan

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 submitted this card to illustrate that Beckett also grades non-sport cards.  This card received sub-grades of 9.5, 7.5, 9, and 8.5.  I was impressed that Beckett was able to identify not only the edition this card is, but also the rarity.

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini National Animals #NA26 Gray Wolf – Beckett Grading 9.5 Gem Mint

Beckett Henderson

Receiving sub-grades of 10, 9.5, 9.5, and 9.5, this is practically a prefect example of this card.  I was very pleased as this came back graded a little higher than I thought it would.  For collectors and dealers looking to flip and make money off their graded cards, grades of 9, 9.5, and 10 often command higher premiums.  The illustration here is that Beckett grades and has holders for 206, Tobacco, and Allen & Ginter sized cards.

Beckett has many strong points for collectors to consider when shopping for a grading service.  From the very beginning both the on-line and printable submission forms are among the easiest I have used.  I was able to track the status of my submission with e-mail updates of when Beckett received, graded and shipped my cards.  I was actually able to log in and view the grades before they were shipped.  In my opinion the two best features of Beckett grading services are the sub-grades and color coded labels.  The sub-grades printed on the front of the label sticker give much more detailed information about your card.  The highest graded cards, 9.5 and 10 receive a gold colored label and 8.5 and 9 grades receive a silver label.  All other grades have a white label.  This makes for easy identification of the highest graded cards.  Compared to other services, Beckett’s holders appear to me to be a little less secure.  The holders are nested and stack-able.  Thicker memorabilia cards do not require thicker holders which is nice.  Three of my four cards all had damage to the bottom left corner of the holders though.  This damage is visible in the pictures above.  The Allen and Ginter card which received the highest grade suffered the most damage, compromising the seal of the holder itself.  I assume that this damage occurred in shipping  as the damage is all on the same corner.  Dealers who pay for insurance will not want to receive a Gem Mint card in a cracked holder.  For collectors who plan to keep their cards will enjoy the ease of use, service and features offered by Beckett 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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