When you’re buying or selling cards, you can opt for cards or packs of cards that have been authenticated by a professional sports memorabilia authenticator. That way, there is no argument between you and the seller (or buyer) about whether the object for sale is genuine or not.
The grader has made a decision that will be respected over the years to come.
The most common sports card grader is the PSA, which stands for Professional Sports Authenticator. If you’re selling a box of baseball cards that you’ve found in your attic, you cannot guarantee the cards are worth money unless they’ve been authenticated. The PSA will assign a value up to 10 on your card or pack of cards, and that designation can dramatically increase the value of what you have.
For example, according to the PSA, a 1963 Topps Roberto Clemente card certified as a 10, which means it’s in mint condition, might bring $300 without the authentication or $21,000 with the authentication.
But it’s costly to get that big box of cards graded. You must be a member of the PSA in order to submit cards, and memberships cost between $110 and $200. If you’re not a member, you can still submit your cards through a dealer who will submit them on your behalf. It costs $15 per card, or possibly $10 per card when submitted in bulk.
On eBay, when you search through the category of Sports Memorabilia, Cards, and Fan Shop, you will see a checklist on the left-hand side of the screen. You can check off whether you want to look only at ungraded cards or you can check off one or more graders. PSA is not the only authenticator. Beckett, Global Authentics, and Sportscards also offer great credibility.
Buying and Then Selling
As a buyer, that means you might very well make some money if you buy that huge box of ungraded cards offered by a seller who “claims” he found them in his grandfather’s attic. You can take a chance on those cards and you might very well find that mint Mickey Mantle, just like the person who discovers a Rembrandt in a picture frame at a flea market.
Once you go through that lot, you can take out about 10 or 15 that you think might be worth submitting to a grader, and then resell the remainder on eBay—in lots according to team or player. Whether you are buying or selling, cards can be sorted according to era, by condition, or by price. You can sort according to year or team, although one successful eBay seller—the link to his guide is below—claims that only two teams generate sufficient profitable interest: The Yankees and the Red Sox.
The graded cards and packs come sealed with the authenticator’s information and grade on the top of the packet. Many people buy these packets and never open them, because then the authentication is voided. However, if you buy an authenticated pack and you want to know what’s inside—maybe you’ll find that elusive Andre Dawson or Roberto Clemente card!—the process of cutting the pack open is known as “ripping.”
What’s That Pack Worth?
How do people know an unopened pack might contain something worthwhile? Many experts sort those packs by weight or size. If the pack holds an insert, it might weigh a smidgen more than other packs. Experts use micrometres to see if a pack is a smidgen wider than other packs. That’s why people will bid more for a specific pack.
Ready, Set, Action!
If you’re ready to sell your baseball cards, go to eBay’s home page and click on the Sell option at the top right-hand side of the page. Go to the Seller Information Centre. In the search bar, type in “baseball cards.” On the left click on Best Practices and you will find eBay’s current terms for listing baseball cards. While eBay normally charges you an insertion fee plus a final selling fee if the item sells, sometimes there are deals: For example, during the latter half of 2012 you can list without an insertion fee.