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.


Unique Ben Zobrist Mailday

Not too long ago Ben Zobrist made news by riding his bike to Wrigley Field. It’s not necessarily newsworthy, however, it was unique. Then Topps chose to make a card featuring him on a specially-designed bike with proceeds from sales of the card to be donated to Patriot Forward. I purchased one the day it was released and it finally arrived today. 

Not the most valuable card but definitely a unique piece of cardboard!

For more info on this card you can visit Sports Card Reference here

This TTM Is Mo-Mentous

My recent return is a legend of sorts from the 90s and early 2000s that played the majority of his professional baseball career in the northeast. He’s known for his size and the huge wad he would keep in his mouth while playing. And believe it or not, he was the highest paid player in the game at one point.

Who could it be?

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Final Update: My Topps Double Play Rip Card WINNER Has Been Redeemed

Over the summer, I wrote that I had pulled a Jose Bautista Double Play Rip Card from a retail pack of Topps Series Two. I then ripped the card because I’m a kid inside that can’t leave that sort of thing lying around. Upon ripping the “mini game card” that was inside, it read that I’d win an autographed card from Topps of a player to be determined if Bautista recorded a hit in the 2016 postseason. 

As luck would have it, he did record a hit and it was a monster home run in his first postseason at bat. 

Not long after the World Series ended, I finally sent my card to Topps to be redeemed. I had posted updates all along the way and heard from many that I’d probably get a no-name autograph worth $10. Honestly, I had that fear myself. 

Boy were we ever wrong! 

Today I received my prize from Topps via FedEx and it didn’t disappoint. 

Here’s the letter that was enclosed along with my prize. 

And here’s the prize…..

It’s a 2014 Jose Bautista Topps Update All Star Stitches Jumbo Patch Auto #d 6/6! Plus, I also get to keep the mini that’s serial numbered 1/1, if I so choose. 

I would like to congratulate Topps on a job well done with this promotion. The concept was very interesting to me and reminded me of contests from my childhood collecting days. 

Finally, there is one thing that bugs me just a little. The prize card I received should have been inserted into packs of 2014 Topps Update, right? Why wasn’t it? Was this a redemption that went unclaimed and eventually expired? Who knows what the story is but there are some unanswered questions.

TTM Success #30 – A Beautiful Signature

Kin Kinsley
September 17, 2016

As someone who has collected modern cards, one of my biggest gripes is that players have no pride in their signatures.  They just scribble something on there.  Maybe.  Doesn’t Ezekiel Elliott just put “EZE” or something?  Luckily, many of yesterday’s stars take some pride in theirs.  This is one of those.

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The WWE ToppsNOW Cards Are Limited…and Pricey!


Jason Dean Martin

August 25, 2016

Topps released the first five WWE Topps NOW cards this past Monday, the day after Summerslam while also giving collectors a heads-up over the weekend that they were coming.  Even with the advanced notice, the highest print run any of the five cards will receive is #4 Finn Balor at 221 copies! Of the other four cards, all have print runs between 114-132.

And with a limited supply available, you can be sure that these will (and already are) command big bucks!

Topps priced these cards the exact same way they do for baseball, $9.99 per card or buy all of that day’s offerings at a discounted price. However, if you missed your opportunity within the 24-hour window, trying to purchase one on the secondary market could prove to be difficult and expensive.

Let’s crunch some numbers!

In searching “2016 wwe topps now” on eBay, you’re given 164 results with only 11 consisting of the five cards from this release. That’s less than 10%! Prices from that search range from just under $19 to approximately $30 per card with two sets currently listed for sale at $99.99 and $144.44. If you check the completed sales, an A.J. Styles and a Finn Balor card have each sold for $49.99.

While I don’t foresee a ton of WWE ToppsNOW cards being released in the future, I would definitely consider buying from Topps directly any cards of WWE Superstars that I may want to add to my collection instead of waiting for them to hit eBay.

PACK BREAK: One Topps #BaseballCardDay Pack

Kin Kinsley
August 13, 2016

I honestly had forgotten this was today.  I’m not a baseball guy.  I had to make a a quick stop this morning at Triple Cards in Plano, TX before today’s card show, to pick up one common card.  I’ll save the “why” for later today.  Even though I spent just a dollar, I did get one pack of these.  I know everyone wants to see, so…

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