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Making the Grade: What Makes a Sports Card Valuable

Making the Grade: What Makes a Sports Card Valuable

Baseball cards

You probably know at least a little bit about valuing sports cards. But, maybe you don’t know everything. After all, how can one sports card in your collection sell for thousands of dollars while another is worth a few cents, if that? Sometimes, it seems like a mystery. Here’s what expert card graders want you to know.

Book Valuation Versus Market Values

There are two valuations you need to know about. The first is the book value. This is what the card should be worth. You can figure this out by paying for professional Card grading for only $2.50.

Book values are regularly published in price guides by very smart sports specialist like Beckett and Tuff Stuff. But, to get the market rate, you need to put it up for sale. By looking up your card by date, brand, player, and card number, you can get a good idea about the book value of any card listed in a price guide. If you have a rare or specialty card, you probably want a professional to grade it for you.

At one time, these guides were the only way to know the price of any card. But, today, professional graders sell their services to individuals to help them better understand the value of what they’re selling or thinking of buying.

Thanks to online marketplaces, like eBay, baseball card collectors have constant access to real-time market data, so it’s a bit easier to predict the value of a card. Whether you are a collector or looking to get rid of your collection, the market price is a valuable thing to know. It also keeps graders honest in that the market price is what cards are actually selling for. When book values drift away from market values, then there is a discrepancy in the pricing and valuation of the sports cards.

Evaluating Baseball Card Condition

There are many things to know about the condition of your cards. And, many things can decrease their value. For example, even cards coming right out of the pack can have bent corners or show signs of slight wear and tear from shipping. This will diminish their value, so a collector needs to know about how to look for this kind of thing.

Types of wear include damage to the corners, the edges, the surface, and the centering.

Corner defects are common. Cards in mint condition have sharp and well-defined corners. Cards in poor condition have serious damage at multiple corners. Damage might include fraying corners, rounded corners, and torn corners.

Edges can also be damaged. Collectors can examine edges of a card by turning a card sideways and looking at the edge straight on. By doing this, you can see chips in the color or foil on the card. Dents, and general wearing are also possible.

Surface damage is also common. Because modern cards are printed on glossy or metallic stock, damage and defects are easier to spot. Bends and creases are common defects. Loss of gloss are also a type of defect. It’s caused by general handling and wear. Imperfect surfaces might also be caused by stains from packaging or from a printing defect from the manufacturer.

Now, these types of defects don’t always decrease the value of the card, but they can.

Finally, there’s centering. Centering are the most common defects with vintage cards. These defects are common on cards issued before modern printing methods were developed. The defect is one where the print or image is off-center. The value of such cards is much lower than a perfect card.

Joel Austin has been a keen sportsmen since he was a young kid. More recently he has discovered a passion for collecting sports memorabilia and enjoys sharing his passion with others through his writing.

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