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The Best Card Grading Companies: A Collector’s Survey

best-grading-companiesWe’ve written extensively about sports card grading and many of the controversies that have surrounded the space.

With the explosion in demand for card grading, collectors have faced long wait times and higher prices.

I felt like it was a good time to get a pulse of the collector community to get opinions on the best grading companies.

Let’s face it, a lot has changed, and new competitors have come into the market.

In what follows, I provide the results of our 2021 Sports Grading Collectors survey while also providing some of my experiences with the different grading companies. 

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BREAKING NEWS: PWCC Accused Of Shill Bidding By eBay

ebay-most-watched-cardseBay today announced that it would be restricting PWCC from selling on its marketplace due to allegations of ‘shill bidding’.  

For those not familiar with the term, shill bidding occurs when fake buyers submit bids on items in order to intentionally drive increased activity to a listing.  

The full statement from eBay:

As one of the world’s largest marketplaces, eBay has policies in place to protect our buyers and sellers. eBay was founded on trust, and we work every day to ensure a fair and positive experience for the entire eBay community.

Recently, it was determined that individuals associated with a trading card seller, PWCC, have engaged in “shill bidding,” which is prohibited on eBay. As a result, eBay has restricted PWCC’s selling privileges and listings, effective today. eBay’s policies and standards were designed to ensure a trusted marketplace where our community can transact with confidence. If we determine that a buyer or seller is not acting in good faith, eBay takes this seriously and takes action. Our customer service team will work directly with anyone who has a question about a recent PWCC transaction.
eBay is the destination for buying and selling trading cards – built over 25 years with our passionate community of collectors and sellers, as partners, on that journey. Trust is the cornerstone of eBay, which is why we felt it was important to share this information with our community. We assure you that eBay will continue to take actions to deliver on our commitment.
 
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Can I Still Buy Sports Cards At Target or Walmart?

walmart-targetWhile the bulk of my card collecting and writing on All Vintage Cards is focused on older cards, I admittedly have had the urge to buy some modern cards while shopping at Target or Walmart in the past.

However, when I went to Target recently to pick up some household items, I was disappointed to find the shelves that used to hold sports cards galore completely barren.  So I set out to find the truth.  

Can you still buy sports cards at Walmart or Target?

Unfortunately, it’s much harder today to find sports cards at Walmart or Target, as they both have suspended the selling of many sports and trading cards. They still sell some sports cards in-store and online, however, there is a huge variation in availability based on your specific location. 

The surge in modern card pricing and the resultant ‘rise of the flippers’ has led to some not so pretty situations in these stores.  And while there are rare cases where you might find some cards, the odds are quite slim.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons for the supply disruptions and if you still might be able to score a find at your local Walmart or Target. 

Do you know of a location that is still selling cards?  Drop a note in the comments below to let us know!

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Ken Goldin (of Goldin Auctions) On The State Of The Hobby 2021

goldin-auctionsI noticed this video from Ken Goldin on Instagram and figured it was worthy of a discussion here on the blog.  

For those not familiar, Ken Goldin is the founder of Goldin Auctions, one of the hobby’s biggest and well-known auction houses.  

Goldin is one of the hobby’s OG’s, getting his start in the hobby with his father back in 1978 at the age of 20.  He founded Goldin Auctions back in 2012, and just this year received a whopping $40 million investment from The Chernin Group

Goldin is still involved with Goldin Auctions, but with the latest investment, Goldin moved from CEO to the chairman of the board at Goldin Auctions.  He is quite active on Instagram and is not shy to provide a sneak peek at some of their prized items coming up for auction. 

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The Future Of Card Grading: Are Price Hikes And Massive Wait Times The Norm?

psa-logoThe last few years in the sports card market have been to say at the very least- a bit crazy.  Sports card grading has exploded, driven by a surge in values for both vintage and modern cards. 

This surge can largely be explained by increased speculation and greed, fueled by the advent of card breaks, flippers, investors, and the like. 

A global pandemic seemed to stoke the fire even further as bored, work from home collectors sought refuge in the hobby.  Stimulus checks seemed to keep it all afloat, although as the economy has started to reopen, there do appear to be some kinks in the armor. 

Through it all, the card grading companies have been beyond overwhelmed—PSA in an April letter to its followers, said that it had received more submissions in three days than it had in the previous three months.   Even SGC had said that over the course of a 24 hour span, the number of cards submitted to SGC for grading increased by over 500%. 

The deluge of grading requests forced PSA to halt all submissions below its Super Express ($300) grading level effectively putting a pause button on things to help its graders get caught up.   Along the way, PSA also hiked prices for all of its grading services, thus, once operations resume (expected in July) it will cost collectors $50 to grade a card (unless it is submitted in a bulk value or grading special submission).

psa-grading-prices

PSA has pretty much shut down grading unless you want to submit at the $300 level

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PSA To Suspend Value, Economy, Regular and Express Grading

psa-logoIn what can only be described as inevitable, PSA just announced that it was suspending all Value, Economy, Regular and Express grading service levels.  In a letter to collectors, PSA President Steve Sloan outlines the massive influx of grading requests and the move to ultimately slow down submissions. 

Sloan reiterates in his letter that PSA continues to get flooded with grading requests and has received more cards in three days than they did during the previous three months.  The letter clearly states that PSA needs to catch up.  And in order to do so, they are halting any Value, Regular and Express grading submissions.

So what does this mean for collectors?  Well, it means that it will basically be impossible to get your cards graded at PSA, unless you want to pony up the $300 for the ‘Super Express’ grading level.  And for most collectors that isn’t an option, unless you are dealing with a card worth in the multiple thousands of dollars.

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PSA & SGC Hike Grading Prices, Provide Updates On Wait Times

psa-logoIn what was only inevitable, both SGC and PSA, two of the hobby’s largest third-party grading companies have hiked prices. 

The deluge of cards submitted to the grading companies has resulted in nearly unfathomable wait times and the grading companies are trying to put a halt to submissions….well, by raising prices.  

The story at PSA is two-fold.  First, if you hadn’t heard, the parent of PSA – Collector’s Universe was acquired by an investor group, which includes collector Nat Turner.  Turner has voiced his desire to improve upon the existing operational infrastructure at PSA and to provide much-needed investment to improve upon the existing processes.  

In a recent letter to customers from PSA President Steve Sloan, PSA provided a new pricing structure, hiking the ‘Regular’ service card submission from $50 to $100, while at the same time raising the declared value to $499 (from $199) on Collector’s Club ‘Value’ submissions.  They also hiked the ‘Value’ rate to a minimum of $20 per card.  

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Here’s Why The Sports Card Market Crashed In The 90’s (And Why It Might Happen Again)

Why Did The Card Market Crash In The 90's_

I was only 9 years old when I started collecting back in 1985. I got a few packs of 1985 Topps and was hooked; as a kid that loved baseball, those little pieces of cardboard were everything to me.

I was obsessed right away and it consumed my entire being, ranging from riding my bike three miles to the nearest baseball card store and setting up tables in my basement for a ‘baseball card show’ amongst friends.

My brother soon opened a baseball card store and I was quickly thrown into battle as a high schooler peddling cards and negotiating purchases. I lived through the peak of the ‘Junk Era’ in which cards were massively overproduced, yet at the time, I didn’t grasp the realities of what was happening with the values of cards.

I returned to the hobby several years after college and slowly started getting interested in cards again –which ultimately led to the launch of ‘All Vintage Cards’. 

I’ve discussed my thoughts about the current market exhibiting signs of being in bubble territory, but this time I wanted to examine the current market environment in relation to the last big card bubble from the 1990s.  

While I lived through it, I sort of always chalked up the bursting card bubble to overproduction but figured there had to be more to it. 

Thus, I went into the archives, did some more extensive research, and spoke to other people in the hobby. 

Thus, here are the results of my exploration into the sports card bubble from the 90s’.   

Note, if you lived through it and have a different perspective, or if you just want to leave your thoughts on my findings, please leave a comment!

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Collectors Can Now Buy Vintage Sports Cards With Bitcoin

Crypto currency / Blockchain concept with coin on the motherboard.

All Vintage Cards is excited to announce that vintage sports card collectors can now purchase cards via the All Vintage Cards sports card store using bitcoin.  

“This is a big step in the evolution of digital commerce and especially in the advent of what has become a growing market for cryptocurrencies.  Our stance is that bitcoin is here to stay and that we would like to play our part in helping the digital ecosystem evolve into the world of online commerce.  It’s only natural that card collectors have the ability to utilize their cryptocurrencies in purchasing sports cards” -says All Vintage Cards President, Evan Gibson.  

The All Vintage Cards shop carries high quality vintage sports cards, and was recently launched in 2020, following on years of success in helping collector with a plethora of hobby resources, including numerous resource guides relating to spotting counterfeit cards, along with helping to identify good investments in the hobby. 

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