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Graded Baseball Cards 

What does it mean to have a graded baseball card? 

First, grading is primarily about defining a cards condition in a standardized way usually by a third party professional company that offers a grading service. Professional grading services have been offered to collectors and dealers for the last decade by several companies including Beckett Grading Services (BGS), and Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). The purpose is to have an unbiased evaluation of a card's condition so a collector or dealer can quickly determine value. Before third party grading was available determining a cards condition could be an arbitrary experience. Grading is important because the better the condition, the higher the value. 

Defining a sports card's condition

In general grading companies use a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest or best example. There are some companies that include half points in their scale to further define a cards condition but, the concept is the same. For instance a grade of a 9 is better than a grade of 8.5. The following is a general guideline to each step in a grading scale. (Note: please refer to the specific company's grading scale descriptions for details about their grading standards).

GEM-MT 9.5 or 10: Gem Mint

    A Gem Mint 10 or 9.5 card is a virtually perfect card. Attributes include four perfectly sharp corners, sharp focus and full original gloss. A Gem Mint card must be free of staining of any kind, but an allowance may be made for a slight printing imperfection, if it doesn't impair the overall appeal of the card. The image must be centered on the card within a tolerance not to exceed approximately 55/45 to 60/40 percent on the front, and 75/25 percent on the reverse.
MINT 9: Mint
    A Mint 9 is a superb condition card that exhibits only one of the following minor flaws: a very slight wax stain on reverse, a minor printing imperfection or slightly off-white borders. Centering must be approximately 60/40 to 65/35 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the reverse.
NM-MT 8: Near Mint-Mint
    A NM-MT 8 is a super high-end card that appears Mint 9 at first glance, but upon closer inspection, the card can exhibit the following: a very slight wax stain on reverse, slightest fraying at one or two corners, a minor printing imperfection, and/or slightly off-white borders. Centering must be approximately 65/35 to 70/30 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the reverse.
NM 7: Near Mint
    A NM 7 is a card with just a slight surface wear visible upon close inspection. There may be slight fraying on some corners. Picture focus may be slightly out-of-register. A minor printing blemish is acceptable. Slight wax staining is acceptable on the back of the card only. Most of the original gloss is retained. Centering must be approximately 70/30 to 75/25 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the back.
EX-MT 6: Excellent-Mint
    A EX-MT 6 card may have visible surface wear or a printing defect which does not detract from its overall appeal. A very light scratch may be detected only upon close inspection. Corners may have slightly graduated fraying. Picture focus may be slightly out-of-register. Card may show some loss of original gloss, may have minor wax stain on reverse, may exhibit very slight notching on edges and may also show some off-whiteness on borders. Centering must be 80/20 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the reverse.
EX 5: Excellent
    A EX-5 card has very minor rounding of the corners is becoming evident. Surface wear or printing defects are more visible. There may be minor chipping on edges. Loss of original gloss will be more apparent. Focus of picture may be slightly out-of-register. Several light scratches may be visible upon close inspection, but do not detract from the appeal of the card. Card may show some off-whiteness of borders. Centering must be 85/15 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the back.
VG-EX 4: Very Good-Excellent
    A VG-EX 4 card's corners may be slightly rounded. Surface wear is noticeable but modest. The card may have light scuffing or light scratches. Some original gloss will be retained. Borders may be slightly off-white. A light crease may be visible. Centering must be 85/15 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the back.
VG 3: Very Good
    A VG 3 card reveals some rounding of the corners, though not extreme. Some surface wear will be apparent, along with possible light scuffing or light scratches. Focus may be somewhat off-register and edges may exhibit noticeable wear. Much, but not all, of the card's original gloss will be lost. Borders may be somewhat yellowed and/or discolored. A crease may be visible. Printing defects are possible. Slight stain may show on obverse and wax staining on reverse may be more prominent. Centering must be 90/10 or better on the front and back.
GOOD 2: Good
    A Good 2 card's corners show accelerated rounding and surface wear is starting to become obvious. A good card may have scratching, scuffing, light staining, or chipping of enamel on obverse. There may be several creases. Original gloss may be completely absent. Card may show considerable discoloration. Centering must be 90/10 or better on the front and back.
PR-FR 1: Poor to Fair
    A PR-FR 1 card's corners will show extreme wear, possibly affecting framing of picture. Surface of card will show advanced stages of wear, including scuffing, scratching, pitting, chipping and staining. Picture will possibly be quite out-of-register and borders may have become brown and dirty. May have one or more heavy creases. A Poor card may be missing one or more small pieces, have major creasing and extreme discoloration or dirtiness throughout. Card may show noticeable warping. Centering must be 90/10 or better on the front and back.

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