Question: Do you collect graded cards?

Some guy with no wife or girlfriend spent $94,000 on this card.

Graded cards are the pissing match of collecting.

Think about it. Suppose I have a Wayne Gretzky rookie card–not graded like the one above, which sold for $94,000 earlier this month–but a nice, ungraded one. Or maybe I pulled it from a pack 30 years ago and kept it safely tucked away.

Then you get a Gretzky rookie. 

But I say mine is better–because yours isn’t perfect for one reason or another. Besides, my Gretzky RC is, uh…mint-ier. We own the same card, but somehow mine is better than yours. It just has to be.

Enter card grading.

Now we get our Gretzky rookie cards graded. Yours gets a 9, and mine only gets an 8.5.Or maybe you just flat out buy one that is graded at 9 or 9.5.

We may both own a Gretzky rookie, but according to the grading service, your card is better than mine.

Clearly, you are the better collector because you own cards in better condition. You can afford near-mint graded cards, drive a Mercedes Benz and eat prime rib. I must somehow be satisfied with mid-grade or–gasp!–ungraded cards, take the bus and dine on Steak-Umms.

Oh, and you win the pissing contest.

And I don’t mean any of YOU personally. I mean YOU in the hypothetical sense.

Now that I’ve ranted voiced my opinion, here is my question: Do you collect graded cards?

I care what you think! I’ve added a poll (top of the right sidebar column). Please take a moment to vote, and feel free to post your thoughts about graded cards here.


Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

13 thoughts on “Question: Do you collect graded cards?”

  1. I've only purchased a handful of graded cards and have never submitted any to a grading service and probably never will. Years ago I purchased a few 1966 Philadelphia Football singles thinking I was going to put the set together since it has both Butkus and Sayers RCs but when the few commons arrived I realIzed they were a pain to store and decided I didn't want to deal with 200 or so slabbed cards. I relisted the cards a short time after their arrival and haven't purchased any since. I don't see the point since it's just another way for the likes of Beckett to make a quick buck on such a subjective concept. The Strasburg Superfractor fiasco last year along with the Montana RC story are perfect examples of why I will never buy into the grading system.

  2. I've never understood the hoo-ha over graded cards and frankly I think they look kind of sad all shut up in their little labeled plastic jails.

  3. If someone wants to purchased graded cards, that's cool with me. I'm not big on them. The only two I own are PSA 10's of both the OPC and Topps Linden RCs.

    If YOU (and I don't mean you personally) are intimidated by someone else having graded cards over your unslabbed cards, then YOU need to take a closer look at your collection. Why should anyone's collection affect the way I choose to enjoy this hobby.

    My collection is mine – and nobody else gets to dictate how I collect (or what's good or bad).

    If I enjoy a chewed up, 30-year-old, rounded corner piece of cardboard while you need to have a pristine, encapsulated graded card….we both have the right to enjoy them and cherish them equally.

    I could care less if someone else collects graded cards.

  4. I own a handful of graded cards. I got them on the cheap on eBay because a) they were lesser grades (6-7, which are more than fine with me) and b) some were KSA graded.

    When I go to card shows, I skip tables that have nothing but graded cards. They are unwieldy to store and if the cases get scratched, then what? With a top-loader, I can switch cards out to new cases.

    Around 1999, I sold a lot of my vintage cards on eBay. I wanted to get top dollar because the money was going towards tuition. I sent everything into PSA and I was severely disappointed with the results. As a result, I'll never send cards in again.

  5. I'm going to play devil's advocate…while most of what I buy is non-graded, I've purchased hundreds of graded cards over time and still pick them up occasionally.

    Actually, as I started typing this comment I realized it's gonna be a book, so I'm going to do a post on my blog to answer this one!

  6. Graded cards can serve a purpose… trying to complete a set you started collecting 30 years ago as a kid, but you don't want a counterfeit Guy LaFleur Rookie. Bought one, cracked open the case, and added it to my unslabbed collection. Nice!

  7. I don't go looking for graded cards but some have ended up in my lap because they were good deals or whatever. I have never mailed anything off to get graded mainly because companies like BGS end up charging Canadians almost 50 bucks a card by the time all the fees and handling charges are paid.

    In addition, the cards I do own that are graded some are 9.5's and 10's I see flaws in. So I question the validity of the grading system to some degree!

    Like Shane, I think Sal has given me another good idea of a post and I will share what I have for graded stuff….

  8. I agree with bamlinden–I don't hav any or have ever sent cards to be graded–It's my collection and if you read my blog, you can see cards that are creased, corner wear, etc—I suppose if I saw some graded cards I wanted andf it was priced at a buck, I probably would–but I have never seen any such creature–but to each his own

  9. I owned 10 graded cards prior to the "garage" acquisition. Now, I have about 400 or so. I pay them no attention and rarely do I attempt to accumulate more. I don't trust the grading companies I guess. But, on the other hand, I can see where it comes in handy, especially with older vintage stuff.

    Wow, this is almost the "peel or not to peel" debate all over again.

  10. Hey Sal,

    Great Post! I have 3 graded cards that I pulled from some very cheap and cool blaster boxes … it was 1 per box, and I got 2 Cam Ward base and a Shea Weber Rookie.


  11. I would say that for me, the only graded cards I really go after would be for two reasons – anything more expensive that I am buying from someone I don’t trust and secondly I prefer those for my 1911 set. While these are mostly based on protecting myself from a potential fake due to the higher costs, I find that it is handier for rookies like myself to purchased graded cards from the older sets. I find that my own curiosity helps me to question why the card was graded as it was which helps me strengthen my ability to not only spot fakes, but also spot weaknesses when I am purchasing from someone which means I am less likely to be taken or pay too much for something. With my 1911 set, I have purchased many which are un-graded which is a lot of fun, but I always have preferred to get graded ones for the security of the money I am paying and because it is incredibly hard to find a proper card holder for a 1911!

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