Like any burgeoning industry, entrepreneurs have launched into action, attempting to pick up the slack from some of the biggest grading companies.
One new entrant – Certified Sports Guaranty (CSG) which is backed by a successful comics and coin grading company launched this past February and is headed by a few former high-ranking card graders from Beckett.
Does CSG have what it takes to compete against PSA?
Disrupting any of the top three grading companies (PSA, SGC, and Beckett) would be a monumental task, but I think CSG at least has a fighting chance to become a major player in the space. Their team of experienced card graders and success in other grading verticals gives them a higher probability of success. In my mind, probably the fiercest competitor we’ve seen in a long time.
Let’s explore CSG the company in more detail and discuss some of the reasons they may or may not be successful with their card grading venture.
Note that I did reach out to CSG multiple times to try and arrange an interview, but no one responded.
If you got started collecting in the 1980’s you might have kept some of your prized sports cards encased in what is commonly known as a screw-down holder.
When protecting your cards starting becoming paramount in the ’80s the screw-down holder was viewed as the premier way to encase your card. What better way to keep your card safe than holding it together with a big, gigantic piece of plastic held together with four tight screws.
Although it used to be the preferred way of protecting valuable cards, screw down holders can cause significant damage to sports cards. The pressure applied from the tightening of the screws can flatten out the card over time.
This can make it appear as if the card has been altered, and the grading companies will often reject cards stored in screwdown holders, returning them as ‘Altered’.
Card grading has completely changed the hobby in the last decade. While there have been some hiccups, a more standardized system has led to a more uniform and liquid market for cards.
Most newer collectors think that they need to send in all of their cards for grading to maximize value, but this isn’t necessarily always the case.
Collectors should certainly engage in self-grading their own cards. The more one can become educated in the process of how grading works, the better-equipped one will be to decide whether to spend the money for card grading.
And as more and more collectors become efficient in grading cards, the more accepted it might be to buy and sell ungraded (or raw) cards.
Unfortunately, despite becoming an efficient grader, an ungraded card still tends to sell for less than any card that has been graded by a third-party grading company such as PSA, SGC, or Beckett.
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).