Sports Card Grading Graveyard

Updated Dec 28, 2023

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It’s widely accepted that the only three major card graders in the hobby are PSA, SGC, and Beckett.  

There have been many upstart graders over the years, but those are the main three still standing strong.  

Still, we have many cards in circulation from other now defunct grading companies. I get questions from collectors asking if they should trust so and so card in such and such holder they found on eBay.

So, I thought it would be helpful for collectors to have a ‘Sports Card Grading Graveyard’ where we list out old card graders and whether or not their slabs/grades should be trusted.  

Thus, this list is a collection of our experience with other grading companies and our research sourcing opinions from websites such as the Net54 Forums and Blowout Forums (both unbelievable resources).

We’ve assigned a Slab Trustworthiness Score © for each grading company based on our evaluation of how trustworthy the grader was in their evaluation of cards.  

The score is based on a scale of 0 through 5.  Zero– meaning that the grader was a complete sham set up to enrich its founders and associates to a 5, meaning that collectors should have full confidence that the grade is nearly 100% accurate. 

If you have any graders not on this list that you have questions or comments about, feel free to email me at chris@allvintagecards.com

PS – shoutout to fellow collector Lucas Dewease (and huge Frank Thomas fan), who informed me of a few defunct companies I wasn’t aware of. Thanks, Lucas!

Sports Card Grading Graveyard

AGS (Advanced Grading Specialists)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  1 out of 5 

AGS was related with Shop at Home early on and notorious for overgrading cards that were sold on the Shop at Home network.  They weren't around for very long and I don't know with certainty how honest they were in grading any altered cards (or counterfeits) but if anyone has experience let me know.  Otherwise, I'd avoid these if you find them...or at the very least, spend a lot more time examining the card.  At a minimum, assume the card has been over graded or potentially trimmed.


ASA (Accugrade Sportscard Authentication)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  2 out of 5 

Accugrade was the first sports card grading company, founded by Alan Hager back in 1984.   Hager actually developed the 1 to 10 grading scale used by all of the major grading companies today.  However Hager's reputation as a card grader with ASA was in a nutshell - less than stellar.  Hager started out by grading out his own collection and quite favorably, often vastly over grading cards, while also grading cards that had been altered significantly.  At one point Hager was actually trying to sell ASA card grading franchises.


An ASA graded Gehrig 1933 Goudey.

An expose in an early issue of VCBC called Hager "the most dangerous man in the hobby" mostly for accusations that his price guides were misrepresenting the actual card prices to his benefit.   In addition, VCBC editor Alan Purdy Jr. said in observance of a number graded card that even 'Helen Keller could have spotted that it was trimmed'.   While I've heard of some ASA graded cards turning out as fakes, I think I would be mostly concerned about the over-grading and the numerical grading of doctored/altered cards. 

Capitol Grading

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  0 out of 5 

Capitol was part of an expose back in a 2005 SCD article, which claimed that GEM grading,  Capitol Grading and Foremost Grading (FGA) were involved in a big operation in which they were knowingly grading fake cards

"SCD discovered that counterfeits of 1963 Bazooka cards, 1921 W551 strip cards, 1931 W517 strip cards, 1947 Homogenized Bond Bread and 1952 Wheaties were being sold online.....but also the Bond Bread and other similar cards that were targeted in that SCD investigation three years ago. Capitol Grading and FGA (Foremost Grading Authority) holders often contain fakes, too"

Not to say that you might not get lucky with a Capitol holder, but I'd be very careful.  


CSA (Certified Sports Authentication)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  2 out of 5 

One of the first card grading companies which got it's start shortly after PSA.   In fact one look at their early flips and you can see that they were nearly identical to PSA's.  CSA was a franchise like spin-off of Alan Hager's ASA.  From my research, its sounds as if CSA has a bit of a mixed past, with negatives mostly on over grading. Given Hager's checkered past with grading, I'd find it hard to believe that CSA was any better.

Some folks from an old Collectors Forum post note that CSA had three different 'flips', one as above with the red and white label (in which the grading was ok, but slightly over-graded), another with an entirely blue holder (shown below with the Jordan RC) in which cards were even more over-graded.   


They also had a third holder with subgrades which one forum poster claimed is one to definitely steer clear of:

Clear holders with subgrades - Laughable grading/authentication - basically PRO style rules on trimming and authenticity. Who cares about the grades when it is likely trimmed?

From my buddy Lucas: "As you can see the slab is massive, that's a regular sized card. It's horrible for storage". See his Frank Thomas card below.


CSA Graded card with sub-grades


CTA (CTA Grading Experts)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  1.5 out of 5 

One of the earlier graders that went out of business around 2007.  They claimed to be using a 'computerized' score, but most claimed that it was just more of a detailed sub-grade calculation.   

I personally don't have much experience with CTA and have never come across a holder.  But, this note on Blowout Forums certainly does not instill my confidence in their 'trustworthiness'.

"Alright, time to let the cat out of the bag on CTA... I have personal knowledge of two individuals that made a deal with CTA when they first started out. These two individuals would buy PSA 6'S on the internet, crack them open and submit large orders that they would grade either "CTA 7" or "CTA 8" GRADES for a nice fee. A majority of these cards were T 206'S,1915 Cracker Jacks, up through the early( 50's star cards only).


Thus with CTA, I don't know if they were slabbing fake cards, but most definitely over grading cards.  As with anything, if you come across one, give it a close examination. 

Here's an archived view of the old CTA grading website.

ECG (Elite Card Grading)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  2.5 out of 5 

I wasn't familiar with ECG until a reader notified me that the company had recently filed for bankruptcy and left some submitters high and dry. In terms of buying ECG graded cards on the market, I don't think they were that popular, so there aren't a ton of their crads floating around. The clearly overgraded this Montana rookie card, but I don't have any intel that they were intentionally grading fake cards. 


FGA (Foremost Grading Authority)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  0 out of 5 

Some call this one FGA (or "Forget Guaranteed Authentic") due to its association with several scammers in the hobby.  One of its founders - Roger Hooper - was arrested for sports memorabilia fraud.  And eBay had banned sales of its cards following an expose in SCD which outed FGA, Gem Grading and Capitol Grading. Note you can still find FGA cards on its website, but I'd be super careful with any of those.


GAI (Global Authentication Inc.)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  3.5 out of 5 

GAI was founded in 2001 by former PSA founder Steve Rocchi.  Mike Baker was a former grader at PSA and the head of grading at GAI.  Global Authentication was a pretty good grading company yet when they hit financial troubles in 2009, they spun off the grading company into a new unit called Global Authority.  Note that while GAI graded cards and packs have a fairly good reputation- Global Authority was not very trustworthy.  

Notably GAI was the first unopened pack grading company and if you find a GAI graded wax pack, odds are that it is authentic and not tampered with.  Thus, I would have a lot of trust in GAI graded cards and packs, however, Global Authority graded cards should be avoided.  On note on GAI;  make sure if buying a card in on of their slabs--lean towards the silver flips and avoid the newer/whiter flip.  

Regardless, any GAI card would still need a full evaluation...meaning that I would not 100% trust the grade.  I haven't seen them grade many fake cards, but trimmed cards have received numerical grades.


GEM (Gem Grading)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  0 out of 5 

Gem Grading had two services--it's core Gem Grading service and Gem Elite which offered grading with subgrades, similar to what Beckett Grading does today. 

Note this snippet found on their website back in 2004 should tell you all you need to know about the grading quality/trustworthiness of GEM:

Providing authentication is challenging and not guaranteed due to improved computerized printing techniques.

Here's a 'Gem Elite' Gem Mint graded card that definitely looks trimmed:


Our friend Steve Taft had also discovered that Gem was grading fake Star basketball cards among others.  They were also Shop at Home card graders.  Stay away. 

UPDATE ON GEM:  One reader had this to tell us about their experience with GEM:

"Every single card I have ever sent to SGC from GEM for crossover has come back to me with a "Trimmed" designation. It seems automatic, like SGC isn't even taking the time to consider it. 
Now, I have a few higher end cards I have collected over the years that are encapsulated by GEM or GEM Elite that I can't get crossed over.  I even tried sending one of them to BGS. It came back "Trimmed" as well, but it's the only experience I've had trying to cross a GEM to anyone other than SGC."


Slab Trustworthiness Score:  0 out of 5 

It appears that at one point in time, GradeMyCards.com was trying to make a go of it. Checking back on Archive.org, they had a full functioning website, while advertising that they had been grading cards since 1981.

It is kind of hilarious, knowing all we know about card grading today, that they only charged $1.99 to grade a card. 

It appears that somewhere around 2014-2015 they went out of business. In my research, all I could find were negative comments about GradeMyCards. 

Here are a few threads that are at the very least good entertainment.




MAP Industries/MAP Grading

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  3.5 out of 5 

From Lucas: 

"Easily the strangest Encapsulation I have ever seen. Apparently the owners name was George who worked very early on for PSA. And I have read the grades cross over very well to PSA. I will concur this Nolan Ryan is definitely at least a 4.  I think on a good day it could get a 6."

MAP Industries/MAP Grading
MAP Industries/MAP Grading

Mint Grading (MintGrading.com)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  2 out of 5 

If you scourt the pits of eBay, you might find some cards for sale encapsulated in a 'Mint Grading' slab.  It looks like they disappeared sometime around 2015.  I don't have any evidence of Mint grading fake cards, but mostly everything I looked at on eBay is overgraded by at least two grades.  Here's an example

PGC (Premier Grading Company)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  1 out of 5 

The website Premier-Grading.com listed on their old slabs is down, but it appears there is a new website (https://pgc.iwarp.com/). The website doesn't exactly instill confidence that this is a legitimate grading company. 


PSG (Premium Sports Grading)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  0 out of 5 

I've only seen one card from here but I'm sure there are others. The one card in question is the fake Goudey Ruth below. So, if you see a PSG slab, avoid like the plague. 


PGS (Professional Grading Service)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  2.5 out of 5 

Based on my research PGS was at the time a decent grader, and have seen some PGS cards cross over fairly well to either SGC or PSA.  Although I have seen some trimmed cards with a numerical grade in a PGS holder.  Worth a shot if you find something decent in a PGS holder, but of course, I'd look out for any evidence of alterations. 

PRO (Pro Sports Grading)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  1 out of 5 

Pro had a less than stellar reputation as a grader and was notably often grading altered and trimmed cards with a numerical grade.  From my experience, PRO was not as notoriously bad at grading fake cards, but it's more on the over grading and number grades for trimmed cards.  Here's a Lajoie T206 card that has clearly been trimmed but graded as Near Mint:

Professional Grading Authority

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  1 out of 5 

I haven't been able to find much about this company and can't even find a website, but I do see more recent issued 2021 cards that have been graded by them, so I'm assuming this is a basement grader. GEM 10's all over the place on eBay, so I'd say they really like to hand out perfect grades. I'd avoid.


PSCG (Premier Sports Card Grading)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  0 out of 5 

I don't know much about this one, likely a basement grader. Bunch of cards all over eBay, most via the same exact seller. The website on the back of the card looks like it was never even developed...so yeah, this one is junk.  

PSCG Defunct Grader

SCD (Sports Collector's Digest)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  3.5 out of 5 

The well known sports card magazine launched a short lived card grading company in 2001 that lasted until 2003.   While much harder to find than some of the other grading companies with more longevity, SCD was known as a very trustworthy grader.  However as the link above shows, SCD was hiring new graders on the spot, so they weren't necessarily impeccable in discovering altered or trimmed cards.


Note that Sport's Collector's Digest sold a bunch of its equipment to another company that launched as Sports Card Direct although with a label that looked quite similar, albeit with a blue label.  Sports Card Direct (also SCD) had a very bad reputation.  Here's an SCD (Sport's Card Direct) card graded as a 10 which is certainly not a 10.  

scd-gem mint

A card graded by Sport's Card Direct, which had no relationship with Sport's Collector's Digest aside from buying some equipment from them.

TFA (The Final Authority)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  2 out of 5 

Maybe one of the ugliest flips in existence, The Final Authority (TSA) was a Florida based card grading company that only made it a few years and went under in the early 2000's.  Some say they have crossed some vintage stuff successfully, but probably would be rare to find any old valuable stuff in these holders.  Most of the TSA stuff i see on eBay is more modern such as this Jordan card below:

USA (USA Sports Grading)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  2 out of 5 

I don't have a ton of experience with USA, as they went under sometime around 2002-2003 I believe.   Some say their grading was fairly accurate but can't speak from experience.  If you have any info on USA please let me know.

SMA (Sports Memorabilia Authenticator)

Slab Trustworthiness Score:  1.5 out of 5 

Wasn't familiar with this one until a reader sent me in this Babe Ruth magazine clipping.  From my research online, the creator of SMA started by cutting magazine clippings and slabbing them, as with this Red Sox Team photo from a 1916 copy of 'Reach magazine.


While I have not examined one up close, the same reader noted that they had placed this copy under blacklight and the paper did not fluoresce, thus their claim was that the clipping was in fact original.  

This is not something I can debate and value for something like this is certainly hard to ascertain.  This grading company is no longer in business, and would view these as more of a cool novelty than anything else.

I will also note that based on other digging, I found this Blowout Forums post where someone posted about this SMA slabbed Orr rookie which is clearly a counterfeit.  Thus, there certainly would be a credibility concern about any card that you might find graded by SMA.  Thus, caveat emptor


Other Graders Still Operating Today

KSA Grading - Canada outfit, fairly reputable, would trust the grades
Beckett Collector's Club Grading (BCCG) - Beckett's discount grading service. While it would be rare that they grade an inauthentic card, they are well known for massively over grading cards.
World Class Grading (WGC) - Avoid
GMA Grading - Basement graders. Avoid
BCG (Baseball Card Grading) - eBay seller selling graded aged reprints. Avoid.
BSG Grading - eBay seller that does basement grading. Avoid
ISA Grading - ISA, aka Sports Authentication.  A reader alerted me to this one. Based on research sounds like a mixed experience.
ASGA (All Star Grading) - Avoid

Have cards from one of the defunct or second-tier operating graders that collectors should see?  

Feel free to comment below or send any images to chris@allvintagecards.com.  

All Vintage Cards

About the author

Chris Rogers, is the founder of All Vintage Cards. Launched in 2018, All Vintage Cards is the hobby's leading resource for vintage sports cards. Chris is also the author of 'The Complete Guide To Selling Your Sports Cards'. Chris remains an avid collector and can be reached at chris@allvintagecards.com.

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  1. I have a card that has been graded by precision grading inc. I cannot find any information on that company or to whether their gradings were ligit. Any information about this company would be very helpful.


  2. Bought Atomic Mantle in a Gem slab, gd. 10 Card is very nice and measures exact including the diagonals! Slab is superior! Same experience with 89 TTRyan 10 from advanced grading! Nice Slab! GMA cards are accurately graded for the most part! Actually hard graders! Daughter has U-degree in art! We’re both not impressed with the so called PSA professional graders! All card graders are basically TRAINEES! BCCG cards are terribly graded! Spend most of my day measuring and studying cards! My son is an expert iin de-slabbing cards and says GMA slabs are cheap plastic. World Class Grading is OK in my book! MTK

  3. The only Gibson rookie you show on this site is the first one! SGC would never give the 4th one a 4! Just another bad PSA grade!!! MTK

  4. If you need nice PSA cards for your site, try All Star Cards , Overland Park, Kansas! They put out a great catalog for their business! Their PSAs are good! Their phone number is 1 800 932 3667. I’ve bought many cards from them! Their catalog is online. http://www.allstarcardsinc.com. MTK

  5. How trustworthy is HGA (Hybrid Grading Approach)?

    I’m totally new to grading and found availability/pricing of PSA/BGS to be pretty crazy right now with their backlogs.

    HGA slabs look awesome and I see a pretty good number for sale on eBay. I want to get a few of my $100-ish 90’s rookies graded without breaking the bank.

  6. Any idea if the grading company by the name “MintGrading.com” is still in business? I just going through some of my graded cards and just wondering if they still around.

  7. i have a 1986 fleer michael jordan rookie graded by The Final Authority. it's grade is a 4.
    not so much worried about the grade but how confident would you be it is authentic and not a fake?

  8. A lot of the grading is still done with the human eye and people are not perfect. If I recall 1-2 newer companies now use software to grade?

    I had a Reggie Jackson Rookie, graded 7 by GEM. I also have another, graded 7 by PSA. They look almost exactly the same to me. I took the GEM out of its case and to a card show. PSA graded it a 7.5

    I think the key is to spend some time training yourself. Look at color, finish, focus, edges, corners, surface, centering, you get pretty good at spotting bad, good and great cards. That can help a bit when looking at cards from different or defunct grading companies. You can still get some good cards from them.

  9. You sound like a shill for the supposed top grading companies. Nothing you have said is proof that you know anything about card grading. I would never send a card to any grading company because of the possibility of theft by substituting a lesser card. If I have any card graded by a grading service, I will be there watching their every move so they cannot steal my card. Anybody trusting these services is a fool. They charge to much for these services and what makes them any better than a previous service. I find WCG, Mint Grading, CSA Grading and Advanced Grading are better then you claim they are. So get a better clue about what you are talking about.

    1. David not sure why you are lashing out at us? The article you commented on is about grading companies that went out of business. I’m not sure where you come across thinking we are some sort of “shill” for the grading companies. The graders you mentioned may be fine but in terms of resale value, there are only a few in the hobby that are perceived as “trusted”. There has never been an instance I’ve heard of where a grading company swapped out a card. Never. If you have stories let me know because it has never been brought to my attention. Sure a grader can accidentally damage a card. That does and has happened. Most of the big grading companies let you know of this after the fact

  10. What all you know about cash. Classic sports grading.com. Just ran across 2of them. Here’s willie mays Topps 1954. Be glad the send you pics front and back. To me it looks too white on back side and shines. Yes it’s encased in a pop riveted holder. Thanks mike 260-705-5612. You can text me if you want.

  11. Any thoughts on RSA Grading Company? I started using them during the pandemic when PSA stopped working and I think they do a great job. They are pretty hard graders, but that makes me confident when I buy stuff graded by RSA. Just wondering if you've heard of them or used them?

    1. Unfortunately, not a grader I have any experience with. Website looks a bit amateurish…and pricing is basically higher than PSA…so no real reason to bother with anyone else aside from PSA,SGC, or Beckett.

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