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Using PSA - A Professional Baseball Card Grading Service

Updated on June 29, 2011

To sell baseball cards these days requires a level of expertise some collectors and sellers do not possess. Additionally, the collectibles market has suffered from falsely-graded product (subjectively rated higher than its true grade), counterfeits, and altered cards. In response to these problems, since a card’s grade is its most critical pricing element, third-party grading services have sprung into existence.

Although several services exist that independently and objectively grade baseball cards, probably the most respected is the Professional Sports Authenticator. The PSA began in 1991. The process for service use is simple. A collector sends the PSA a card, a PSA evaluator fairly and impartially gives the card a numeric grade (which corresponds to the old subjective terms of “fair”, “good”, etc.) and returns the card to the owner encased in a hard, tamper-proof clear shell (commonly called a slab) with the rating data and card/set information include on a label contained withing the case (commonly called the flip). There is a small fee per card for this service, which varies depending upon card value and other factors. However, since the grading is now recognized within the collectibles market it is almost de rigueur to have it done, especially if one plans to sell baseball cards of more-than-common value.

PSA even grades oversized cards like this 1964 Topps Giant Mickey Mantle
PSA even grades oversized cards like this 1964 Topps Giant Mickey Mantle

The PSA doesn’t only grade baseball cards, however. They are a full-service authentication provider. The sports memorabilia market is filled with fraudulent items, especially pieces of equipment allegedly used by legendary players and autographs purporting to be of famous players, The PSA has handled and authenticated several very high-profile items:

  • Shoeless Joe Jackson's Black Betsy Bat
  • Mickey Mantle's 500th Home Run Baseball
  • Hank Aaron's Career 715th Home Run Baseball
  • 1923 Babe Ruth "1st Home Run in Yankee Stadium" Bat

PSA has processed over 15 million cards and collectibles since inception. These items have a cumulative declared value of nearly a billion dollars. Every month they process about 100,000 submissions. It is a trusted source in today’s collectibles market for authentication, especially for high-value items.

Beyond grading, PSA boasts an active community of members who take great pride in competing with one another for top grades in cards and sets. It doesn't matter if a person is new to the hobby or a Gem Mint PSA 10 collector, the staff and members are encouraging and friendly and there are some great tips for selling baseball cards and cards offered for sale on the active forum.

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