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To grade or not to grade, that is the question ...

I don’t know about you, but one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the hobby was grading cards. There’s a certain puzzle aspect to it, the idea that you’re solving some kind of mini-mystery when you determine an unofficial ranking for the cardboard.

I suppose it’s like anything else; it’s fun to do a little dab of it in an non-pressurized situation, and probably not as much fun if you have to do it five days a week for an extended period, and likely even less so if you’re under significant time constraints.

I always figured it would be great fun (and various versions of this idea have been done) to have a couple of dozen cards of widely varying conditions be part of a test at a National Convention to show just how tricky it can be to find consensus when you’re dealing with something as subjective as assessing the condition of a baseball card.

In the past at Nationals when something like that has been undertaken, it’s usually involved the various third-party grading companies, adding a big-business and big-dollar component to it that wouldn’t be part of what I envision. I just think it would be fun to see what level of uniformity – and divergence – there would be if a dozen hobby old-timers of any stripe graded that hypothetical two dozen cards.

And, of course, I am talking about assigning the old-time grades of Fair, Good, Very Good, Excellent and Near-Mint, not bothering to plant a number alongside, which immediately conjures up visions of dollar signs rather than baseball cards.

What got me to thinking about this was grading some of the cards that are slated to be in our company’s upcoming Auction. For those of you keeping score at home, I have no doubt that the relative scale that I employed for this process more closely resembles what old hobby guys used to do 20 years ago than what takes place in the mega-dollar market today.
At the risk of inflaming English teachers everywhere, I tried my best to do Good, even Very Good. In any event, I enjoyed the heck out of the process.

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