Whether you collect hockey cards as an investment or for fun, you should want to keep your cards in the best condition possible as that condition, or grade, of the card has the largest factor in determining the value of the item. Learning to grade like a pro can be a huge benefit to your collecting endeavours, but even if you don’t learn anything beyond basic grading principles there is a way to obtain and appreciate high grade cards.
Third party grading companies offer a valuable service. The cards graded through them will hold their value better and are more likely to remain in great condition with the quality of the holders the companies use to house the cards. Using the services offered will, for the most part, eliminate question when trying to determine the card’s grade. This itself is often a huge weight lifted from collectors’ shoulders.
What are third party graded cards? These are cards that have been submitted to various companies that specialize in grading and placing the items in specially designed cases (the process is referred to as “slabbing”). They can be sent in by you or may have been sent in by others and purchased already slabbed.
The companies considered by myself as most reliable are: Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA); Beckett Grading Services (BGS); Sportscard Guaranty Corporation (SGC); and KSA, Canada’s top third party grading company. Each are a little different, but offer similar scales of grading and good protection of the cards as well as accurate and consistent grading.
Purchasing a card graded by these companies should ensure the quality of the card as they will grade and protect it (as mentioned) and check for authenticity as well. When buying online, especially on auction sites such as eBay, this will help ease your mind, particularly when purchasing more expensive items.
Having slabbed cards in your collection will help to increase and maintain value and the enjoyment of those special cards.