When a Gem Isn’t Actually Pristine

Earlier today, Blowout Buzz posted an article about a 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan / Jerry Koosman on eBay. However, this wasn’t any ol’ 1968 Topps rookie card that someone found at a yard sale and posted for sale. This one was listed at over $1 million and has been given the grade of 98 (on a 1-100 scale) by SGC. In other words, they graded it as gem mint and as a comparison, an SGC 98 would crossover to BGS as a 9.5 and to PSA as a 10.

This is indeed a rare card!

Based on what you can see in the picture above, the front of the card does indeed look like a card that could grade very high. The centering looks even. The corners seem sharp. It’s a very attractive card.

The issue I have is with the back of the card. It is clearly not a centered card. Being that it’s centered 30/70 at best on the back, why would SGC grade this card as a 98 gem mint? It’s anyone’s guess why it earned the grade it did but there has always been a rumor surrounding the grading of vintage cards by companies such as SGC, BGS (or BVG), and PSA. That rumor is that the fronts of vintage cards weigh more heavily in the overall grade especially if the front has substantial eye-catching appeal.

As is the case with the card pictured, the front is fantastic and while the back is somewhat off-centered, it supposedly doesn’t detract enough from the overall appeal of the card to lower the grade.

In my opinion, I’ve always hated when grading companies do this. A card graded as gem mint or pristine should be exactly that. It shouldn’t look “pretty good” and given a higher grade than it deserves because the card is desirable and eye-catching, especially if someone is going to list it at $1.2 million! Each grade should be treated equally and the back should count towards the grade as much as the front does.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or tag me @jasondeanmartin on Twitter.


Buying Cards on the Cheap

Recently I sort of stumbled upon a new way to buy cards cheaply on eBay. How cheap? For less than the price of a postage stamp in most cases and I didn’t  even have to leave the house!

If you’re in a similar situation (my closest card shop is about an hour away), you’ve probably explored new ways to purchase cards in a cost-effective manor. In my explorations, I began purchasing cards of Bryce Harper for my personal collection for $.99 with free shipping using the Buy It Now option. Then one day I thought I’d take a shot at some auctions that a seller had started at a penny but these also had the perk of free shipping. So, I bid $1 thinking that in a worst-case scenario I wouldn’t be paying anymore than normal but there would a chance of me saving a few cents if I won the card  for less than my $1 bid. 

As luck would have it, I won one of the auctions for less than $1. I don’t remember the exact price but this buying method struck a nerve. 

For whatever reason I stopped using this method for a little while. However, I’ve recently started using this again and I’ve expanded my searches to include other players I collect such as Frank Thomas, Brooks Robinson, and Manny Machado. 

It’s working, too! I’ve been able to get a few steals and I’m loving it!

Here are some of my recent purchases:

Bryce Harper: 35 cents

Manny Machado: 38 cents

Brooks Robinson: 17 cents

Frank Thomas: 30 cents

I was able to get all four of these cards delivered to my house for $1.20! That’s a bargain for any card collector with the way the card shops have dried up. 

Give this method a whirl. I’m sure you’ll get a few bargains here and there. 

Andrew Shaw Addition – and Why I Heart this eBay Seller

My frustrations as a player collector aren’t only with high-priced buy it now cards.  One of my other biggest gripes is when I want to buy a cheap card that I need, but I have to pay $3 or more to ship it.  WHAT SENSE DOES IT MAKE TO PAY THAT FOR A $1 CARD???!!!

There are some ways to get around it.  One is to buy it on COMC, if available.  You can also often find lower shipping on sites such as Sports Card Direct and Sportlots.  These three are options I have chosen many times.  I haven’t been able to “cut the cord” on eBay, so to speak.  However, I have gone other places and saved myself money.

LINK: Why are YOU letting eBay dominate, while likely complaining about eBay?

Unfortunately, they are still the biggest player in the game.  Until buyers and sellers go elsewhere, they will remain at the top.  I will still buy there, but only if I can’t find what I’m looking for elsewhere.

This eBay seller made me very happy, though.

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Why are YOU letting eBay dominate, while likely complaining about eBay?

Kin Kinsley
August 5, 2016

Rarely does a day go by that I don’t see someone online complaining about eBay.  Sometimes it’s a seller complaining about fees, not being able to leave negatives, or any other number of things.  Other times, it’s buyers complaining about high prices or something else.

I won’t say that I disagree about these issues.  My question is WHY are you letting eBay dominate?  There are options out there.  Perhaps you have to do a little more work, but isn’t it worth it to pay lower fees as a seller or a lower cost as a buyer?

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Buying Beckett Publications Online…It’s Simple Really

If you’re like me, your options for a local card shop are slim and the ones that do exist are overpriced. So, when it comes to buying little hobby necessities like storage supplies or a Beckett, it can sometimes be a hassle. Sometimes it’s such a hassle that’s it not worth the time I’d have to spend accomplishing that day’s task. 

Then one day, you just have an epiphany. You’re not sure how it happens it it does and it’s a pretty good feeling. The particular epiphany I’m talking about is the one where I realized I could probably buy Beckett issues directly from the source. 

I was right! And they’re affordable!

A few weeks back I was searching for the new Beckett Vintage Collector and I was not having any luck finding it. I typically buy my Beckett publications on my iPad but since my son has taken ownership of the iPad, I’ve resorted back to in-hand copies. In doing so, finding the latest issues can be somewhat of a chore because I usually purchase them at Walmart. Well, this time I was having trouble finding the latest BVC and then one day it hit me: check eBay! 

I’m glad I did. Beckett has an eBay seller page (you can visit here) where they sell their publications and sometimes they’re cheaper than you can find them on the newsstand or in you local card shop! 

Bottom line…I was able to get the brand new Beckett Vintage Collector for $9.99 with free shipping and handling! My search was over and it was quite painless. I encourage everyone to use this method when purchasing their Becketts. It worked extremely well for me and it was a good value!


Raymond Berry Mailday – Part 1

If I “need” a vintage card of a particular player, the first place I go is to Invest in Baseball‘s eBay page.  I’ve made multiple purchases from them.  They’ve treated me right and they have good prices.

I wanted to pick up a few Raymond Berry cards.  I’ve seen that he is a fantastic TTM signer and wanted to get a few of them for myself.  I ended up picking up four cards, that I will send over two separate mailings.  I have no intention of selling any autographs that I get, but I also don’t want to appear greedy by sending too many at once.

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Mailday: 1986 Bosch Indy Set & Duplicates

If you are reading this, it has probably happened to you.  Whether on Wikipedia, YouTube or elsewhere, you have entered a rabbit hole.  Typically it is a good thing.  In this case, it was.

Searching eBay one evening, looking for IndyCar things, I came across an Al Unser Jr. autograph.  I checked COMC like I do any time that I “find” something.  I did not find what I was looking for at the price that I was looking for.  However, I found a card that I wasn’t aware existed. Continue reading