There are multiple ways to approach this issue....
- For vintage cards the most reliable source is www.vintagecardprices.com. You need to pay for an account but it will show you not only eBay sold listings but any reputable auctions houses.
- For recent sales (within 3 months) the easiest place is watchcount.com. Go to the sold item and copy the item number. Once the item number is copied open another tab on your browser and go to www.watchcount.com. Paste the item number and hit enter. Your final sales price will appear.
- To find sales of between 3-12 months on eBay you will have to get a subscription to another site. We recommend www.terapeak.com and they will give you upto 12 months of sold listings.
This is upto the buyer. Personally I would prefer a BGS 9.5/9 because I care more about the condition of the card than the auto. Others will say the exact opposite. You need to answer this one for yourself.
In general, a BGS 9.5/10 will create a 50% value increase over a raw card. A BGS 10/10 will typically add another 50%-200% to the card. Remember that these are generalizations. Above and below the $100-$1000 range these increase and decrease respectively. A black label BGS 10 (All sub grades as a 10) also adds to the value because it is in essence a "perfect" card and they are EXTREMELY rare.
BGS is well known for being the go to modern card grading company while PSA is known for vintage cards. Anything pre-1980 is considered vintage and you get a larger premium for grades on those cards. That premium trickles up throughout the 80's and 90's but it is more of a personal preference at that point. Also, BGS is the only company that actually grades the autograph on cards with certified auto's. This causes some folks to value a BGS 9.5/10 greater than a PSA 10 on modern cards
The proper way to ship a card is to place it in a penny sleeve and then in a top loader. Go out and buy yourself some blue painters tape so there is no sticky residue that ruins the top loader and potentially the card. Put a little piece of blue painters tape on the top loader to keep the card from falling out. Place the top loaded card in a team bag with some decoys or low value base cards on either side (2 or 3 on each side or a small piece of cardboard should do). Place the card in a bubble mailer and you are good to go.
The most common method to make sure you are paying a safe value for something more than a base autograph is to use a multiplier. The multipliers that we recommend are: Refractor (1.5x base), Blue Auto /150 (3-4x base), Gold Auto /50 (8-10x base), Orange Auto /25 (12-15x base), Purple Auto /10 (18-22x base), Red Auto (35-45x base), Superfractor Auto 1/1 (100x base). There are other colors out there and sometimes the other colors have weird numbering. It is recommended to always defer one level down in value for those cards. For example a Black Auto /35 would be comparable to the value of a Gold Auto /50, but a Black Auto /99 would be comparable to a Blue Auto /150. While these multipliers work well with Bowman Chrome every product is different so this is just a basic guideline and specific to autograph cards. For non-autographed refractors it is generally accepted that a base auto will be about the same price as a gold refractor non auto /50.
Beckett pricing became basically obsolete when eBay came around. Average sale prices on eBay have basically become the hobby wide accepted value of a card. Most cards on eBay sell for a fair share less than Beckett. If trading some folks still use Beckett values.
All three of these are meant to protect your cards. To us, the safest way is to put your card in a penny sleeve and top loader. This thicker plastic protection will stop nearly anything from ruining your card. Since it is in the penny sleeve the card won't get damaged by the plastic. Next best would be a semi-rigid which are exactly what they say they are. These are less firm plastic holders that some folks think are easier to get the cards in and out of. These are very safe for the cards and both major grading companies (BGS and PSA) recommend sending your cards to them in these types of holders. Magnetics are the most expensive and your cards definitely look best in them when being displayed. Unfortunately your cards don't go into a penny sleeve first (or else they wouldn't fit) so the surface, edges, and corners of your card are subject to direct contact to the plastic. This can lead to scratching and damage to your cards. Shipping in these is heavily frowned upon as the cards may leave in mint+ condition but arrive damaged due to bumping around during shipping. Of course the best way to protect your cards is to get them graded and encased by one of the companies mentioned above.
There is no right or wrong product to buy but there are different reasons to buy each product. First and foremost it is recommended to stick to fully licensed products. These products will show the team logo, use the team name and have a picture in the team uniform. Some companies hold exclusive licenses from the league in specific sports (EG - Topps/Bowman has an exlusive MLB license). If you don't see a logo or don't see a team name (EG - It says New York Baseball Team instead of New York Mets) then the product is not licensed by the league. The long term value of licensed products is stronger than unlicensed products. For baseball stick to Topps and Bowman. For football and basketball stick to Panini products.
Well first of all if you are going to use a top loader (recommended) you need to get thick card penny sleeves. These sleeves are easy to find and using them will prevent corner damage when putting them in the penny sleeve. In order to determine which size top loader or magnetic holder you need just pile cards on top of each other next to your card. Each standard paper card is 20 pt. thick. EG - If you have a card that is 6 standard cards thick you will need a 120 pt. holder.
Group breaks are when one person owns a case and sells different spots in that case to the participants. There are many different forms of group breaks but the most common is a team break. Each person pays a certain percentage of the case and they get all the cards of that team shipped to them.
Some variations include: Random teams, pick your team, random divison, random player, random serial #, and random box.
This one is a little hard to break down quickly so stay with me here. An insert is a subset of a release. They are specially designed cards with a smaller set released, in packs, as part of the larger set. A parallel is a serial numbered alternate version of a card. These can be for regular base cards or for inserts. A short print is generally a card that has no serial number but there are less of them made than the original release. They are a type of insert usually but not specifically the same.
If you are looking to grade your cards, start by reading this 101 intro to get the basics down. This will help you pick out the best cards to send in.
Make sure there are no streaks in the auto, if there is a bad streak remove from grading pile.
Examine centering. If you don't trust your eye then do yourself a favor and purchase an omni-grid. You simply place the card under the omni grid and look to see that borders or opposite sides main features line up. For example if you look at sterling they have diagonal lines on the bottom corners from the bottom edges to the sides, those should be the same length and have the same space. If not it's off center. Cards with obvious borders you can measure the distance, make sure its close enough. If it doesn't pass this test it can stay in the pile but one more strike and its out.
Examine the surface. Simply tilt the card under direct light and look for imperfections. Surface lines, dimples, and fingernail imprints come to mind. Most "stuff" can be wiped off but these won't be able to. Buy/use an eye glasses cloth (microfiber cloth) to wipe the basic stuff away including dust, fingerprints, and other crud. DO NOT use your hands, a cotton shirt, a papertowel, a penny sleeve or anything like that. What horrific advice. Depending on depth and location of the issues the card can still grade. If you look at it and say "meh its ok" then give it a chance. If you look at it and say "oof thats awful" then its most likely a major issue. If the dimple has lines coming out of it then remove it, thats bad. This is where I recommend that if you think its close send it in. Write down what you think is wrong with the card and learn from each card you submit. Asking for advice ALL the time won't help you learn. It goes back to the saying "Give a man a fish he can eat for a day, teach a man to fish he can eat for a lifetime". Teach yourself to fish. FWIW I use a light that has a magnifyer on top of it. I like being able to have my hands free and if I see something I can just look through the magnifying glass of the light and use both the light and magnifying glass.
Edges/Corners - These are the ones where you need to use your eyes the most. Look at the corners and edges. If you see white when it's not supposed to be white that's an issue. If there is white on more than one corner the card most likely won't grade. Edges just look closely. Again use the light and magnifying glass only if you see something but aren't sure what it is. The eye test (not magnifying/loupe test) is key to seeing issues. Many people over think these 2 subgrades and hold cards out that will grade. Again it comes down to testing and writing down what you think you see. Send in a few cards so you know all the details of the card and then you will get better and better.
Typically if a card passes 3 of the 4 grading tests that I give it it goes in. If it is 50/50 I will wait until I can do a bulk sub or need some cards to get to a break point on my submission. Again this is just meant to tell people what I do and give some links to some tools that helped me when I was starting. Also, remember grading is adding value to your PC or your business so you will have to invest to get it right. Investing means sending stuff in just to learn from your mistakes. Sure you can be super duper picky and you will get amazing results, but you are also leaving money or cards on the table that could end up being worth more in the long run (whether they are worth more to you or the next buyer)
Definitions / Key Terms
- CMB - Check my bucket (Look for cards that I may have available for you)
- Dime - BGS 10
- eBay 1/1 - Some haphazard attempt at increasing the value of a card. Usually some random fact about the numbering that the seller says it is a 1/1.
- Error - A printing malfunction which generally leads to higher valued cards
- FOMO - Fear of missing out
- Gem - BGS 9.5 or PSA 10
- Hot Pack – AVOID
- Insert - Specially designed sets that are smaller in number and inserted into regular packs of cards.
- NFS/NFT - Not for sale/Not for trade
- NNOF - No name on front (a rare error specifically tied to the Frank Thomas Rookie card)
- OP - Original poster (usually used on forums or facebook)
- Parallel - A serial numbered alternative version of a regular card. Generally they are printed on a different color stock of paper.
PBM - Previously blocked member (used on message boards often)
- PC - Personal Collection
- POP - Population report. Usually people say Pop 1 or Pop 2 which means it is the only one or there are only 2 graded that high.
- PP Gift / F&F - Paypal Friends/Family Payment (no buyer protection)
- PP Goods - Paypal Goods/Services Payment (recommended way to pay)
- PWE - Plain white envelope - A way to ship inexpensive cards
- QS/Quicksale - Cards are priced to move fast and are below recent sale values
- Rainbow - Having every parallel of a certain card
- Raw - A card that is ungraded
- Razz - Raffling a card to multiple participants
- RPA - Rookie patch auto
- Shill Bidding - False bidding on eBay to inflate the price of a card
- Snipe Bidding - Last second bid on eBay to win an auction
- SP - Short Print
- TRS - Top Rated Seller (A seller level on eBay that earns discounts based on hitting sales/shipping goals with eBay)
- True Rookie - First year card with "RC" logo on it
- BC - Bowman Chrome
- HHN - Heritage High Number
- Paper or Bowman Paper - Regular/Base cards in bowman products
- Topps Flagship - Topps Series 1, 2, Update
- YG - Upper Deck Young Guns (Hockey Rookie Card)
- Group Break – Multiple people pay one person (host) to open a box or case of cards for the group. The host then ships the people the cards that they hit in the product.
- Razz – Raffling a card off between multiple participants