The Little Things That Make or Break a Card’s Value

Ever since sports cards entered the market, some cards have been more valued than others. Unfortunately, there are many variables that can affect a given card’s worth. While you may luck out and find a collector with a special interest in some of your cards, your chances of scoring big are better if your cards have some of the more ideal characteristics. This guide has been written with the goal of highlighting some of the characteristics that go into assessing a given card’s value beyond who the card belonged to or how old that card is.

  • Centering. The more a card is centered within its front and back sides, the more that card is worth.
  • Corners. Rounded corners indicate heavy handling; the sharper the corner, the more you can get.
  • Edges. While some cards are known to have flawed edges, the cleaner and better cut the card is from the print sheet, the more it earns.
  • The Surface. If a card is creased, smudged, its colors are faded or has any other imperfections, it won’t be worth as much as a pristine version.
  • Grading. A card that’s evaluated by a legitimate organization carries a grade signifying that card’s value. Collectors are more likely to pay higher prices for graded cards because of that verification. Note that such organizations usually charge a fee for grading.
  • Errors. While variables like a card’s edges can be attributed to snafus at the printing office, there are some printing hiccups that increase value. If you discover that your card is an error card from a set that also had a “corrected” printing of that card, you likely have some money coming your way. The reason why error cards fetch more goes back to scarcity: fewer misprints exist than corrected ones, therefore they fetch a higher price.
  • Short Prints. Some cards were printed less frequently than others to increase rarity and compel collectors to buy more packs to fill any gaps in their sets, which is another example of scarcity’s influence on value.
  • The First Card. Cards are printed sequentially. When looking at older cards, the average first card will usually be of worse quality, be it from poor treatment in binders or regular abuse from being stacked or bound with a rubber band. Even decent quality first cards of no-name players may have a higher price than other cards in the same set in similar condition.

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