But one of the bigger questions that has come up lately is this:
I always assumed that this was true, but decided now to do a deeper dive into recent sales data to see if it was actually true.
Our findings: for older pre-war cards, PSA graded cards do carry a small premium over SGC and Beckett. For newer, modern cards, PSA pricing is more in line with the other grading companies.
Let’s take a closer look.
Examining Grading Premiums of Pre-War Cards
I decided to start with pre-war graded cards. The easiest and most liquid cards with the most sales are the T206 White Border cards. The issue is that the T206 cards have different backs that have varying scarcity and different multiples on value.
Thus, for this part of the evaluation, I took the regular, non scarce backs--Piedmont and Sweet Caporal.
In examining some of the more popular cards from the set, I did find that PSA graded cards sell for a small premium. Here are the findings:
T206 Cy Young Portrait + Glove Shows PSA and SGC Pricing Comparison
There have been 2 PSA 2 Cy Young Glove Shows sold this year at an average price of $1022, whereas the three SGC Young Glove shows have sold for an average of $819, good for a 25% premium for PSA over SGC. The other data shown below shows a lot more of the same, although there are some caveats here.
Notably the 1's are just one data point for each. The 3.5's contain only two PSA sales and one SGC sale. The 4's contain six PSA sales (from May thru August of this year) and only one SGC sale that happened in mid March. The 6's contain three SGC sales and one PSA sale.
So, conclusion at least on the Young Glove shows card is that there are some signs that PSA does carry a premium, although I'm not sure there's enough data to conclude this fact to be true. Plus, I'm only using data from December 2019 to today and ultimately anything prior to that just wouldn't be reflective of true pricing.
On the Cy Young Portrait card, we tried to find the best grades for a sample set and ultimately ended up having to use several different grades. Here's a table of our findings.
Note the huge discrepancy on the 5, but we might avoid this one--as the one SGC 5 sale happened in early January (and it had a marker stain on the front)--while there are four sales of PSA 5 Young Portraits that occurred from March to August--a much more reliable data set.
On the 1.5's, I'd probably omit this data as well, since the two SGC sales were in September 2020 while one of the PSA data points was in January.
So, ultimately, we should be focusing on the 2/3/4 sales data, and surprisingly, it's pretty even! The conclusion on the Young Portrait cards is that SGC and PSA pre-war cards sell for right around the same price, all else equal. The Glove on card showed some tilt in premium for PSA, although the data wasn't really all that we needed to make a true evaluation.
It's a good sign truly and really a testament of vintage collectors buying the card and not the grade. I would argue that many vintage collectors actually prefer SGC as a grading company and this is really proof that is true.
Examining Grading Premiums of Post-War Cards
Now, let's skip a few decades to examine some cards that have some more sales data.
Enter the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle care, one of the hobby's most cherished and valuable cards.
Note I'm using only data from 2020 here. I think even with the limited data we have, I can make an educated guess that BVG does not command the same sort of pricing premium as PSA or SGC. Limited sample still, but we can see on Auth 52 Topps Mantles, PSA has carried a 13% average premium. Again not a ton of data to work with.
But here are examples of recent sales for 2.5's. The lone BVG sale, albeit much earlier this year was well below comparative sales from PSA and SGC.
Now in examining the data we have from SGC and PSA, at the higher end---grades 4 and above, there is only a small PSA premium, an average of about 2.5%. However there are some glaring differences in pricing at 2 (Good) and 3 (Very Good), as shown 36% and 31% premiums for PSA respectively.
On the 2 Grades, we have 2 SGC data points and five PSA data points---one outlier sale for $43,200 for a PSA 2 Mickey Mantle Topps sold on April 19, 2020. Yes, an outlier but still a premium.
Thus, my conclusion after reviewing all of the data on 52 Topps Mantle's is this.
PSA does command a premium over SGC and BVG. It will certainly vary based on the attractiveness of the card in question, but there is most definitely evidence that PSA is attracting higher sales prices.
Examining Grading Premiums of Modern Era Cards
Now lastly, my thesis before starting this was that PSA would command a slight premium versus SGC (and BVG to a larger extent) in Pre-War and Vintage cards. However, my guess was that for modern stuff, Beckett may have an advantage.
Thus, I decided to look at my favorite modern-era card (which is nearly vintage by now), the Michael Jordan Rookie Card. And well, we have a TON of sales data for this one.
In looking at the last six months of data, there are some things that are quite clear:
PSA has a significant premium over SGC graded Michael Jordan Rookie Cards.
Here's the data just on PSA vs SGC:
PSA graded Jordan Rookie Cards carry an average 56% premium over SGC graded cards!
Now what about Beckett? (note we are using BGS 9.5 as a comparison versus PSA 10)
This surprised me.
PSA graded Jordan Rookie Cards carry an average 61% premium over Beckett/BGS graded cards!
Thus, my initial assumptions were correct, although I didn't think the premium would be that significant.
So, in conclusion, there's a clear indication at least for higher value cards, such as Michael Jordan's rookie, there is a very big premium for PSA versus any other third party grading company.
When it comes to vintage cards, it does seem that PSA carries a premium, although by a much narrower margin versus SGC (although at a higher premium to BVG).
I just know that anecdotally speaking, when collectors come to me seeking a Jordan rookie, it's always a PSA that they are looking for. Seemingly, even despite the past trimming issues, PSA is still the most respected grader in the hobby.
If you have higher value cards that need to be graded, I would tend to opt for PSA, just based on what I've outlined above.
For lower dollar and specifically pre-war cards, I'd say that you could also consider SGC in addition to PSA. Yet, be aware of the higher costs to grade more valuable cards.
Have any experience in this topic? Sold a card for more that was PSA graded versus SGC or Beckett?
Let me know in the comments or shoot me an email at email@example.com
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