PDA

View Full Version : Profession Card Graders


Archive
09-12-2006, 03:08 PM
Posted By: <b>ErikV</b><p> Since the card collecting hobby has not only adopted and accepted the idea of graded cards, it has also become big business. With many graded cards selling for high dollars at auctions, I'm curious to know what the credentials are for the individual card graders that are employed by the "big three" card grading companies? Is there a mentoring period when they first get employeed? Is their a certain number of cards they must grade before they are recognized as an expert? What sort of training or schooling do they attend? Are they tested on a regular basis and recertified? I understand the fact that PSA, SGC and GAI stand by their graders' opinions, but I'm just wondering what makes the individual card graders word hold as much weight as it does?

Archive
09-12-2006, 03:32 PM
Posted By: <b>Joann</b><p>And on a similar note ... do vintage, insert, etc or other categories of cards just get assigned to the first availalbe Inbox, or are there people within the companies that deal more strictly in certain areas?<br /><br />Joann

Archive
09-12-2006, 03:42 PM
Posted By: <b>davidcycleback</b><p>My guess is that the major graders hire already experienced people. I don't know who are the card graders, but know that PSA/GAI, etc hire already well known or at least already experienced people for autograph and game used authentication.

Archive
09-12-2006, 03:43 PM
Posted By: <b>Gilbert Maines</b><p>I believe that there are no requirements for any of this, Erik. Anybody can claim to be a grader, since no certification of competence is necessary. They can open up a business, establish their own criteria, and start slabbing.<br /><br />They can train their employees, or not. And even if trained, some employees will be better than others. Hopefully all will become competent in adhereing to the companiy's grading guidelines. But there may be a high turnover rate in this type of work.<br /><br />In fairness, training theoretically is continuous at the major graders, in that each card reportedly is evaluated by multiple individuals prior to releasing the slabbed product back to its owner. And I would think that graders get feedback on their performance through this mechanism.<br /><br />However, the detail regarding this and other aspects of the approach used by these graders I believe is typically available on their sites.

Archive
09-12-2006, 03:56 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Most of the graders are young and are probably trained on the job. Some may have already been collectors but I assume that isn't necessary. They get their training and experience as they go along. They probably start out with the newer and less expensive cards, and the more valuable vintage ones are handled by the more experienced head graders. It's not rocket science, it just takes practice.

Archive
09-12-2006, 04:01 PM
Posted By: <b>Judge Dred (Fred)</b><p>I think that the graders can not be legally blind, although thier seems to be evidence that this may not be the case. Perhaps some of the grading companies are equal opportunity employers and enjoy the tax benefits provided by hiring vision impaired. <br /><br />

Archive
09-12-2006, 04:06 PM
Posted By: <b>leon</b><p>Depending on which company you are asking about I think the qualifications are that you can open a bag of Cheetos.......SGC is probably a little more stringent as they only have 3-4 graders and all are very competent and experienced, imho.....

Archive
09-12-2006, 04:10 PM
Posted By: <b>davidcycleback</b><p>I would think the major graders would have to hire a card grader who was experienced with cards. I don't necesarilly mean a well known figure, but a collector or dealer with hands on experience. A lot of fakes would be flying through if the grader hadn't handled cards before. Perhaps starting graders have areas to grade: a former 1970s-80s Topps collector would focus on Topps.

Archive
09-12-2006, 04:20 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>Ever try opening those Cheetos bags- they are always stuck and you have to take a pair of scissors to them. I think one of the benefits of having young graders is good eyesight. I've been grading cards for 25 years but my eyesight is poor, so I wouldn't be a good candidate. Of course, with youth and lack of experience probably comes a greater likelihood of errors, so I guess it's a trade off. I'll go with the kids with good eyesight. Once the eyes go, the only thing left to do is become an umpire.

Archive
09-12-2006, 04:20 PM
Posted By: <b>Joann</b><p>Maybe a whole company would only need one person experienced enough to spot fakes. <i>All</i> cards could go through this one person, and he would completely ignore condition and look only for fake/altered. <br /><br />Any he finds f/a get routed to an Aut slab, and any that he okays get forwarded to a pool of graders that have the grading criteria at hand and just look at condition, not authenticity or alterations.<br /><br />One person experienced enough to see fakes quickly looking only at auth/alt could keep up with quite a few regular graders that spend more time with each card looking closely at condition. I bet anyone on this board could keep up with at least 5-10 graders if all you were looking for was auth/alt. <br /><br />Anyway, that's the way I'd do it - it would be pretty efficient.<br /><br />Just guessing at it.<br /><br />Joann

Archive
09-12-2006, 04:23 PM
Posted By: <b>DJ</b><p>David,<br /><br />In response to you, most autograph authenticating hire people who are "known to the hobby", but does that make them "experts"? <br /><br />After all, a few of those names on the PSA/DNA and JSA list were at one time hotel rats, chasers. I can think of Zach Rullo and Kevin Low that come to mind right away and even Steve Grad from the get go. How can a hotel chaser who just managed to track doen Bob Denver be able to authenticate a Thomas Jefferson signature? When you send Thomas Jefferson to PSA/DNA, who looks at it? John Reznikoff?<br /><br />When you get something authenticated by one of the big authenticating companies, who actually looks at the piece? Does Jimmy? Does Jimmy's worker Jeremy? That was the key issue when Joe Orlando was signing the certs at one time for PSA/DNA.<br /><br />In most part, these companies are positive for the business and do a decent job, but I think these people have to be trained to be able to look for key problems and match the scans with the items in their hand. <br /><br />I think with cards, you most certainly need to know what you are looking for and I'm sure experienced people are brought in to the job. Vintage cards are tricky and often confusing and I can't say they can just pull someone off the street and say "SLAB THIS STRIP CARD!".<br /><br />DJ

Archive
09-12-2006, 04:32 PM
Posted By: <b>davidcycleback</b><p>DJ, your point is sound. However, my point was that when Grad was hired he had experience in the field of autographs. Whatever one's opinion on his expertice may be, he had been a long time in person autograph gatherer. He wasn't the proverbial baseball card grader who had never owned a baseball card before.

Archive
09-12-2006, 04:33 PM
Posted By: <b>Gilbert Maines</b><p>Sounds a bit Henry Ford-ish J. The problem tho is convincing an individual to partake in the sweatshop/assembly line approach of feeding 5-10 graders for 8 hours every day.

Archive
09-12-2006, 04:38 PM
Posted By: <b>barrysloate</b><p>JoAnn touches on an issue that I and others have long debated- that spotting fake and altered cards is the most important service the graders provide. Personally, I think the grading part of the service is overrated. It's just too subjective and it's something we can all learn to do ourselves. You can't take something that is a matter of opinion and put such a precise number on it, like a 3.5, or an 86, etc. There can be thousands of dollars difference between a 7 and an 8 but the visual difference between a high 7 and a weak 8 is imperceptible. But I guess we can debate this point forever.

Archive
09-12-2006, 04:54 PM
Posted By: <b>Frank Wakefield</b><p>Well I collect cards, and I did not adopt card grading services, if I did, I wish to terminate parental rights. And I do not accept them either. With great distaste I acknowledge their existance.<br /><br />Grading is subjective... we have second thoughts about medical opinions and legal opinions that we seek out from very well educated professionals. The truth is that many of us think more of some of our cards than we do our medical and legal matters, yet some collectors trust and even pay for plastic cased opinions from kids that we wouldn't trust to mow our yards, or in Kentucky terms, we wouldn't trust to slop hogs.<br /><br />I will concede that the major grading services put forth some effort to "try" to have things done in an acceptable manner. And I think that while we refer to it as grading, truth is that more folks use it for a certification of authenticity of a card, and sometimes identification, rather than to determine the grade of a card.<br /><br />Generally, I trust in my own opinion about what a card is, if it is genuine, and its condition, much more than a label inside plastic. I've encountered collectors who have a slabbed card who think they have what the label says, when I know good and well that the card is misidentified. There is know substitute for knowing about the cards you collect. Woe unto he who collects merely by PSA or GSC labels.

Archive
09-12-2006, 08:33 PM
Posted By: <b>robert a</b><p>I agree....about the cheetos bags.<br /><br />Robert

Archive
09-13-2006, 08:58 AM
Posted By: <b>warshawlaw</b><p>I've had an autograph with JSA since the National. I called for status and they told me that their "experts" had split on the item so they were awaiting a tie-breaker from another guy. Grading is not exactly a science and not exactly an art. I am more qualified that most of the "experts" out there; the grading services just could not afford me. <img src="/images/happy.gif" height=14 width=14>

Archive
09-13-2006, 01:20 PM
Posted By: <b>DJ</b><p>I could be wrong, but Grad was a chaser who sold modern autographs through his company Grad Ink before he joined Mastro as a text writer and then PSA/DNA hired him to work under Spence. <br /><br />Spence on the other hand was born into the business as a dealer first who gained knowledge that way to become what he is today. My point is that you can be trained to authenticate in the autograph business. It's all about training your eyes to look for imperfections. I don't have issues with either company, really, in comparison to those authenticators who are 100% fraudulent and pass everything for the right price. <br /><br />After all, if you have ever seen the process up close, it's all about looking at exemplars and looking for key things in a signature that may bring up a red flag. Would the Babe slow down here? Why did the Babe lift his pen? Why did the Babe tail off in a swift motion at the "h"? How can the Babe sign a 1978 All-Star Baseball? <br /><br />All I can tell you is that authenticating autographs is FAR from perfect and I can assure you that even the best authenticating companies pass items that they shouldn't have.<br /><br />DJ

Archive
09-13-2006, 02:08 PM
Posted By: <b>fkw</b><p><a href="http://www.collectors.com/experts.chtml" target="_new" rel="nofollow">http://www.collectors.com/experts.chtml</a><br /><br />Each seems to have their own field of expertise.

Archive
09-13-2006, 04:41 PM
Posted By: <b>warshawlaw</b><p>JSA rejected an OJ Simpson autograph I submitted that came from a friend who was friends with his first batch of kids and got the autograph at his home. JSA couldn't authenticate it. <br /><br />I know my Lennox Lewis could not be authenticated since it is a sloppy scrawl he signed for me with handwraps still on. <br /><br />Doesn't prove squat. Like I said, not a science.