The Worst Conditioned Card in My Collection

Sports card collector are usually obsessed by condition. Condition not only makes cards that much more visually appealing, but it increases the value of the card exponentially. So why not share the card in the worst condition from my collection? Bloggers Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle and The Chronicles of Fuji showcased theirs, now it’s my turn.

This card was recently featured on my first BGS mail day post as a card that I actually had graded. Why would I grade a card that is in terrible condition is a question in itself, but it definitely takes the cake as the worst conditioned card in my collection.

1909-12 T206 Sweet Caporal Frank Isbell BGS 1.5

Now having a BGS 1.5 in itself is proof of the terrible condition of this card. You can barely make out the player name on the bottom of the card at this point.

Here’s the story behind the card though. When I first started collecting cards again back in 2005, I bought one of those dutch auctions on eBay. Basically it’s a grab bag with a ton of different cards throw in. I received a couple of pretty cool cards from players I was a fan of, but also this little guy was tucked in there. I knew it was old when I found the card, but wasn’t sure exactly how old it was. I wasn’t that well versed at the time with vintage cards, and I’m still not. But this is just one of those iconic sets that once you learn about, you will never forget.

First Ever BGS Mail Day

If you remember a few weeks back I spoke about the benefits and negatives of grading your cards. Well I went ahead and graded a few of my cards for the first time and thought I would share the results.

My reason behind grading these cards were mainly for selling purposes. As you can see, a couple of hot rookie autographs graded 9+ will add a little bit of value to the card compared to selling it “raw”.

The other is for display purposes. Owning a card from 1909 is interesting. I tell people about it and they ask if it’s worth anything. Well, as you can see, a 1.5 for a grade isn’t going to help it any. However, it will make a great display piece and conversational piece for my collection. The labels that show the date and the name of the player add a nice dimension to the display and the card is forever protected in that condition inside the holder.

Grading cards definitely has it’s benefits in this situation.

Getting Your Sports Card Graded

For the first time in my history of collecting cards, I have sent out a few cards to get graded. What is grading you ask? It’s simple. It’s a professional company set up to “grade” your card based on several attributes to determine what condition your card is in. Centering, edges, surface, and corners are the common places companies look at to determine the condition of your card. High grades mean better condition. The better condition, the more value your card has.

There are two big companies that are the most popular to collectors. Beckett Grading Services (BGS) and Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). PSA is known for doing the best with vintage cards while BGS is better known for modern cards.

Both companies will grade your cards and then return them, slabbed in plastic, so they can not be damaged anymore. This will keep them in the same condition and in adequate protection so they can no longer be damaged. BGS measures the grade in increments of .5 while PSA uses whole numbers.

Getting your cards graded has a number of benefits:

-Adding value to your collection

-Adding a great layer of protection

-Presentation

-Organization (easily stackable, reference numbers to check your collection and population reports, etc.)

The only issue with grading is the price. You can get grading for a relatively low price is you’re willing to wait. But if you are looking to resell, it may help add value which would off-set the price of the grading. For instance, I’m getting a card graded that will sell easily for $150 ungraded. I plan on selling it for up to 2 times that amount when it returns with a Mint grade from BGS. (At least I’m 95% sure it will.)

Personally, I wouldn’t want to grade my personal collection. I like have the physical cardboard in my hands as I feel closer to the magic of collecting cards that way. Although, I am getting a personal card graded as well. My only 1909-11 T206 card I own. However, that is for presentation purposes only. Plus I’m afraid of touching a 100+ year old piece of cardboard and breaking it.

But if you’re new and looking into grading your cards, currently I would not trust any company other than the ones I listed above. They are the most recommended by collectors and hold the most weight on the secondary market if you are looking to resell the cards at any point.