When you begin to consider buying some valuable cards, or perhaps selling them off. Or having some of your most treasured trading cards valued, then you should know about the grading standards.
These were introduced by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). They are the most recognized third-party trading card authentication company in the world.
PSA is also the largest and most trusted organization for grading cards too. So you should want to find out what PSA 10 means.
In this guide, we will explain grading standards and find out what does PSA 10 mean?
Grading Standards: Explained
Let’s say that you have inherited your grandfather’s treasured box of sports trading cards. After flicking through them, you realize that your grandfather was sitting on a potential gold mine.
If you happen to spot a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, then stop right there. Put on a pair of gloves, and be very careful. There is a marked difference in grading standards, and these can change just by the odd stain.
PR 1 – Poor
Unless that card is one of the most valueable of all time (such as the T206 Honus Wagner card). You should not expect to get much for a card that is rated as PSA Poor 1.
This designation would be given if the card had some significant creasing and was maybe missing a corner or two.
FR 1.5 – Fair
Going further up the grades, a PSA Fair 1.5 card is a slight improvement, though still has extreme wear which may affect the picture’s framing.
There will still be signs of wear and tear which may still include staining and scuffing, the borders may be brown and dirty, but the card itself should be fully intact.
At PSA 2, the corners may be rounded and there will still be surface wear, but the staining and scuffing will be lighter.
The card may also be discolored and most of the original gloss has disappeared yet the centering should be around 90/10 or better, though this may only be on the front.
VG 3 – Very Good
A PSA 3 graded card will have reduced rounding of the corners, with a lot of the card’s original gloss having disappeared.
There may be a slight stain on the obverse and wax staining appearing on the reverse. The centering should also be around 90/10 or better on the front and back.
VG-EX 4 – Very Good-Excellent
There is little difference up to VG-EX 4, but the centering should be 85/15 or better at the front, then 90/10 or better on the rear.
The card may still have some scratches or light scuffing, though some original gloss will typically remain.
EX 5 – Excellent
While you may think that excellent should be the epitome of grading standards, it is only halfway.
Below 5 on the PSA scale, you can still gain a decent price at auction, though this is typically for pre-war trading cards that achieve the highest prices.
At PSA 5, the centering must be 85/15 or better on the front and 90/10 better at the back.
Only at close inspection will the scratches be visible, as these will not detract from the appearance of the card.
EX-MT 6 – Excellent-Mint/NM 7 – Near Mint
There is little difference between excellent and near mint, aside from a slight improvement on the centering (80/20 in excellent to 70/30 in near mint).
The surface wear may only be seen on close inspection, and there can even be some slight fraying at the corner. The card may even have lost some of its original gloss.
NM-MT 8 – Near Mint – Mint/Mint 9 – Mint
Once you hit PSA 8 and 9, the only differences may be on closer inspection. That could be a tiny wax stain on the reverse, an almost imperceptible fraying at a corner, a slightly off-white border, or a minor printing imperfection.
What Does PSA 10 Mean?
A PSA 10 is pretty much a card in perfect condition. The corners will be sharp with no apparent creasing, and the original gloss will be intact.
There will be no staining, though there will be the acceptance of some printing errors. Finally, the centering will have a tolerance of 55/45 to 60/40 on the front with 75/25 on the rear.
If you do want to get your most valued sports trading cards valued, then you need to handle them carefully. Even the slightest stain or frayed corner can alter a PSA 10 down to a PSA 9.
That simple imperfection can knock off so much of the value that it is certainly worth looking after your cards if you want to get the most value from them.
If you want to know more about becoming a card grader we have written a post about it here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is Centering Important For Grading Sports Trading Cards?
Should you want to have your prized sports trading cards graded, then the centering is a crucial factor.
When you send it to a third-party trading card authentication company, such as PSA, the centering can make a difference between whether it’s a PSA Grade 10 or lower.
For example, a PSA Grade 10 should have centering of 60/40 or better. You do not need to send the card to a third-party company to learn the centering, as you can use a GradeMaster tool to determine the centering.
Is There Better Value In PSA 9s Or 10s?
Deciding whether to buy the same card in PSA 9 or 10 may depend on your budget and how highly you value that specific card. It is worth knowing that a PSA 9 is typically worth twice as much as the raw card.
However, if you are comparing the value between two cards, remember that a PSA 10 can be worth around 3.5 times as much as a PSA 9.
That does mean more of an outlay for the same card, but as long as it is kept in its protective envelope, the value is only going to go up.