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Illusion of Objectivity: PSA Grading Practices Examined

Scooter261830Scooter261830 Posts: 49
edited May 22, 2020 11:53AM in PSA Set Registry Forum

Great video on YouTube on applying the 9;10 ratio of PSA 10's to any set you want to look up.
I was truly blown away by it but in the back of my mind,it kind of makes sense.
Many responses from many collectors in the video's comment section.
Any thoughts on this by all are welcome.

This is the video on YouTube---> Illusion of Objectivity: PSA Grading Practices Examined

this is the 9:10 ratio link:---> https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/

This video explores PSA's grading practices for mint condition cards by comparing the ratio of 9's to 10's for a number of key cards between 1978-1993.

The 9:10 ratios of the key cards are compared to common cards in the same set to determine if PSA grades key cards with the same standards they use for all other cards. The 9:10 ratio can tell us which cards in a set are graded toughest by PSA. Those cards will have the highest 9:10 ratio in their set.

If PSA grades cards fairly and objectively across the board than there should be little/no difference in the 9:10 ratio's of the key cards and the commons. For example, we might see in the 1984 Donruss set that the Mattingly card is graded toughest, but in the 1985 Topps set a common card might be the toughest 10. We shouldn't see a pattern where one type of card is continually graded the toughest in set after set.

Another important measure paired with the 9:10 ratio is using Printing Sheet Comparisons. Printing sheets provide a wealth of knowledge to test PSA's practices because we can identify cards that are in a similar position on one or more printing sheets for that set. We can then compare these cards to see if there is some consistency between how PSA grades all cards in that set.

I encourage you to watch the whole video; it can be a complex issue, one that I tried my best to simplify.

Contact me: [email protected]
Instagram: vintage_card_curator

Comments

  • 1951WheatiesPremium1951WheatiesPremium Posts: 2,630 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Until we meet again, Scooter!

    Curious about the rare, mysterious and beautiful 1951 Wheaties Premium Photos?

    https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/987963/1951-wheaties-premium-photos-set-registry#latest

  • I just checked out the 51 wheaties on ebay...nice cards... Is that your top priority set?

  • DBesse27DBesse27 Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yaz Master Set
    #1 Gino Cappelletti master set
    #1 John Hannah master set

    Also collecting: 1964 Venezuelan Topps, Patriots team HOFers, Andre Tippett, 1968 Venz Red Sox, 1974 Topps Sox

  • i don't understand that picture...please explain.

  • doubledragondoubledragon Posts: 4,618 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Scooter261830 said:
    i don't understand that picture...please explain.

    PSA runs these message boards, and it isn't wise to criticize their grading methods. They won't hesitate to ban you. That's why everyone is saying goodbye.

    Hello, I'm a Joe Louis card addict.

  • 19591959 Posts: 40 ✭✭

    We have pretty much known this for years. This more or less proves it and puts it in writing.

  • JoeBanzaiJoeBanzai Posts: 7,049 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Scooter261830 said:
    Great video on YouTube on applying the 9;10 ratio of PSA 10's to any set you want to look up.
    I was truly blown away by it but in the back of my mind,it kind of makes sense.
    Many responses from many collectors in the video's comment section.
    Any thoughts on this by all are welcome.

    This is the video on YouTube---> Illusion of Objectivity: PSA Grading Practices Examined

    this is the 9:10 ratio link:---> https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/

    This video explores PSA's grading practices for mint condition cards by comparing the ratio of 9's to 10's for a number of key cards between 1978-1993.

    The 9:10 ratios of the key cards are compared to common cards in the same set to determine if PSA grades key cards with the same standards they use for all other cards. The 9:10 ratio can tell us which cards in a set are graded toughest by PSA. Those cards will have the highest 9:10 ratio in their set.

    If PSA grades cards fairly and objectively across the board than there should be little/no difference in the 9:10 ratio's of the key cards and the commons. For example, we might see in the 1984 Donruss set that the Mattingly card is graded toughest, but in the 1985 Topps set a common card might be the toughest 10. We shouldn't see a pattern where one type of card is continually graded the toughest in set after set.

    Another important measure paired with the 9:10 ratio is using Printing Sheet Comparisons. Printing sheets provide a wealth of knowledge to test PSA's practices because we can identify cards that are in a similar position on one or more printing sheets for that set. We can then compare these cards to see if there is some consistency between how PSA grades all cards in that set.

    I encourage you to watch the whole video; it can be a complex issue, one that I tried my best to simplify.

    Contact me: [email protected]
    Instagram: vintage_card_curator

    If you ever worked in a print shop, you would laugh at this guy's theory.

    It is an interesting start on researching why some cards are harder to get in 10's. But it's only a start.

    One good example is the Moltor/Trammell rookie card. Many, but not all, have a "smudge" on them. This means your ratio is going to be skewed. Also cards on the edges of the sheet can't be compared with ones in the middle.

    I am in the process of going through about 10,000 1987 Topps cards and it's kind of amazing how one stack of 15 of the same card can have consistently good or bad centering and be totally free of printing spots and the next guy has 12 of the 15 with "blotches" all over the cards. Some players have BOTH centering issues AND print defects. These cards are all from unopened stuff I have just recently ripped, so they haven't been handles and should be mint as far as wear is concerned.

    I will agree that there seems to be certain cards and certain years that are graded differently. But you can't prove it with math alone. It is a good start though and contains some very interesting thoughts.

    2013,14 and 15 Certificate Award Winner Harmon Killebrew Master Set and Master Topps Set
  • PaulMaulPaulMaul Posts: 3,424 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 22, 2020 2:14PM

    The fact that the Molitor rookie is tough in high grade does not invalidate what the OP is saying. Of course certain cards are tough in high grade, both stars and commons. Some cards are on sheet edges, both stars and commons. His point is that over a large sample size, stars should not be overrepresented in being tough 10s. And that sounds reasonable.

  • Scooter261830Scooter261830 Posts: 49
    edited May 24, 2020 9:36AM

    The article i simply stumbled upon.It was interesting so i just thought I'd pass it on....

    I do believe that most 10's are somewhat lucky...seeing the difference between a 9 and 10 is so mynute.
    I was very fortunate enough to collect about 28 93 sp baseball packs and 2000 bowman football packs over the years .I would pick up packs at the store on the way home from work.In an 8 or 9 year span,bought packs and just stored them away....
    I decided to open those packs years down the road,probably like 2010 or 11,once Brady and Jeter had established careers.
    I managed to pull 2 Jeter rookes and 2 Brady rookies,so i was the only one who handled these cards.All my cards go into penny sleeves when I open them..even the commons.So when I got back my grades of Jeter 7,7 and Brady 8,8..I was bummed.I knew my Brady's weren't a 10 or even a 9 simply because upon close look...both cards had a tiny ding where the machine puts them in the pack.2 dings in the exact same spot...bad luck for me :( The Jeters however... i was kinda shocked to receive two 7's on cards i had only handled was pretty depressing.
    Does anyone else pregrade their cards before sending them in to any 3rd party grader to match your eye appeal to theirs to see how close you can be? I have received many 10's but i never expect them.

  • DBesse27DBesse27 Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It doesn’t matter if only you have handled them. Cards can be 7’s or even much lower right out of the pack.

    Yaz Master Set
    #1 Gino Cappelletti master set
    #1 John Hannah master set

    Also collecting: 1964 Venezuelan Topps, Patriots team HOFers, Andre Tippett, 1968 Venz Red Sox, 1974 Topps Sox

  • 1951WheatiesPremium1951WheatiesPremium Posts: 2,630 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Scooter261830 said:
    I just checked out the 51 wheaties on ebay...nice cards... Is that your top priority set?

    It’s certainly my favorite but now that it is completed, I leave it be and haven’t sought out too many upgrades.

    Curious about the rare, mysterious and beautiful 1951 Wheaties Premium Photos?

    https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/987963/1951-wheaties-premium-photos-set-registry#latest

  • @DBesse27 said:
    It doesn’t matter if only you have handled them. Cards can be 7’s or even much lower right out of the pack.

    ohhh..i knew that...especially with bordered cards being offcenter and other issues.The foil cards have no border and these cards were absolutely scratch free.i just wish i knew why they got a 7 is all.I've had some pretty bad luck with opening packs.
    86 fleer basketball/PD, 84 topps Yzerman/PD.I guess we all get bad breaks in collecting at times..oh well

  • DBesse27DBesse27 Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A card without a border can still be OC, but my guess would still be something with the foil, maybe the edges. Hard to say without pics.

    Yaz Master Set
    #1 Gino Cappelletti master set
    #1 John Hannah master set

    Also collecting: 1964 Venezuelan Topps, Patriots team HOFers, Andre Tippett, 1968 Venz Red Sox, 1974 Topps Sox

  • JoeBanzaiJoeBanzai Posts: 7,049 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @PaulMaul said:
    The fact that the Molitor rookie is tough in high grade does not invalidate what the OP is saying. Of course certain cards are tough in high grade, both stars and commons. Some cards are on sheet edges, both stars and commons. His point is that over a large sample size, stars should not be overrepresented in being tough 10s. And that sounds reasonable.

    Yes it does absolutely.

    When you have certain cards that get "smudged" that changes the ratio (as long as the grader lowers the grade because of the smudge) the Molitor rookie will never have as good a 9 to 10 ratio because you are removing hundreds of cards that have any possibility of becoming 10's.

    Sample size does not have anything to do with it. When you "ruin" the same cards in the printing and/or cutting process, the ratio gets changed. Sample size will not effect the ratio.

    Again this is not a math problem, you can't solve it that way.

    1987 Topps is a perfect example; Bo Jackson was a "Future Star" card, yet they are usually very well centered and almost never have print defects, 50% of the submitted cards get 10's. Barry Bonds was on the edge of the sheet and 95% of his cards are not going to be 10's. You can do math on these cards and say that PSA grades Bonds tougher and the numbers prove it, but you will be wrong. Edge of sheet cards are going to have a way different ratio than middle of sheet cards.

    Rick Leach is at the top left corner of the sheet, there are no 10's of his card. There may never be.

    Next look at print spots/defects. These are random, but since it's some kind of problem in the printing process, they show up on certain cards over and over again. This also blows the math out of percentage.

    1987 Topps has some "Turn Back the Clock" cards. Yaz, Clemente, Reggie and Ricky all are at about 50% 0f the submitted cards being 10's. Now look at Maury Wills' card 5%. Not because of PSA hating on Maury, but because there's a big print spot by his left ear on a lot of his cards. To top it off, a lot of these printing errors that are in the same spot go from dark to light to gone,

    This too ruins the theory.

    These are called Random Factors. Since they are random, the grades of certain cards are going to be different.

    If you don't follow this, I am sorry. You can't just add up the 9's and 10's and compare them and say PSA grades them differently. It's an interesting opinion, but the numbers don't actually prove anything.

    2013,14 and 15 Certificate Award Winner Harmon Killebrew Master Set and Master Topps Set
  • PaulMaulPaulMaul Posts: 3,424 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 23, 2020 4:46PM

    You are still missing the point. When I say a large sample size, I mean a large number of different cards, both stars and commons. If you run the numbers on the 9:10 ratio for a million different players and many different years, you should not see markedly different results for stars than for commons. On the average, stars and commons taken as groups should have similar 9:10 ratios.

    What happens with the 1978 Molitor or the 1987 Rick Leach doesn’t matter for this discussion.

  • JoeBanzaiJoeBanzai Posts: 7,049 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I see your point, your not seeing mine.

    You would have to exclude cards like the Bonds rookie and any other cards in the comparison (Molitor/Trammel etc) that had a logical reason for a poor ratio. This would include the 1987 Rick Leach common or other commons notorious for print defects and off centeredness.

    This guy is basically accusing PSA of grading cards unfairly/incorrectly, but his evidence is going to get "thrown out of court" unless he refines it. Plenty of "worthless" cards have poor ratios, right there it disproves his theory. Why would anyone spend the time "incorrectly" grading cards that had no value.

    Once you have narrowed the search criteria to cards that can actually be fairly compared, you could try to use the formula.

    The math equation ratio test is only worth doing if you are going to get accurate results. It's a great start to try to prove a point, but it just doesn't PROVE anything, unless you eliminate or greatly reduce the random factors.

    I would say that in general 10's on modern cards are harder to get, but that's just my opinion. I don't have any statistical formulas to back it up.

    2013,14 and 15 Certificate Award Winner Harmon Killebrew Master Set and Master Topps Set
  • PaulMaulPaulMaul Posts: 3,424 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 24, 2020 3:41AM

    This is my last post because I don’t know what else to say.

    Lots of cards individually are tough in high grade for whatever reason. Edge of sheet, print dots, whatever. These factors affect both commons and stars. In the aggregate, you would expect commons and stars to be affected equally.

    If it could be shown by analyzing thousands of different cards that star cards consistently had fewer 10s relative to 9s than commons, that should raise eyebrows. There is no reason why star cards should be disproportionately impacted by the vicissitudes of production. For every Molitor there is a Leach. For every star on the edge of a sheet, there are commons on the edge of the sheet. In a perfectly unbiased grading world, no such discrepancy would exist. And maybe it doesn’t, I have no idea.

  • JoeBanzaiJoeBanzai Posts: 7,049 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This will be my final post as well for the same reason. No hard feelings, nice discussion. I think we might be arguing different points.

    You are absolutely correct that if you take all the graded cards and create a database by grade, you will certainly be able to come up with a ratio when you compare 9's to 10's or 8's to 9's (or whatever grades you choose) and the ratio will be mathematically correct. No argument there.

    What you absolutely DON'T get, is proof that PSA grades the cards with some kind of "Illusion of Objectivity".

    In the end of this math project, the guy who made the video will be pointing and shouting "SEE they grade the 1987 Topps Barry Bonds card differently, I told you so!".

    While his math is correct, this particular card is going to be way out of the "normal" range, BUT there's a legitimate reason. Being on the edge of the sheet means it is going to have a completely different ratio than a 1987 Bo Jackson card, and every card in the middle of the sheet of every set ever produced.

    It's not because a grading company has a bias for one card over another, and that's what the dude with the unbelievable "evidence" is saying.

    To try to come up with evidence that might convince me, not that anyone cares ;-), you could take the following 10 sets from Topps to compare; 1957, 58, 59, 60 ,61, 64. 65, 66, 67 and 69. (these sets chosen for their white borders all the way around the card) then take out the edge of the sheet cards and the cards with regular PD's and do your ratio. THIS would give you a much better start if you want to offer some _strong _evidence.

    You don't even need to look at "regular" commons. The (silly, so far) accusation of a lack of objectivity wouldn't apply to commons. Only "star" cards and maybe "low pop" cards.

    The completely indisputable fact is, certain cards ARE going to grade differently and have a legitimately different ratio, therefore this evidence is nowhere good enough to "prove" a grading bias.

    2013,14 and 15 Certificate Award Winner Harmon Killebrew Master Set and Master Topps Set
  • PaulMaulPaulMaul Posts: 3,424 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I said it would be my last post, but I lied 😁

    It seems like you are misunderstanding what would constitute evidence of a lack of grading objectivity. It would NOT be that the 1987 Bonds card doesn’t conform to the 9:10 ratio of the rest of the card population. It would be that STAR CARDS AS A GROUP don’t conform to a similar 9:10 ratio as COMMONS AS A GROUP.

  • 19591959 Posts: 40 ✭✭

    What the op is stating is 9's vs tens. on star cards. Sometimes a grader might give a common a 10 just the benefit of the doubt. But a star ( Mantle, Griffey, Jordan, etc. ) leans to a nine witch is still a mint card.

  • gemintgemint Posts: 5,298 ✭✭✭

    I think the most compelling study was the 1980 Henderson RC and comparison to other 1980 A’S cards and common players located in similar positions on the uncut sheets. He also analyzed whether there were print issues prevalent on the Henderson card that would skew the grades lower.

  • JoeBanzaiJoeBanzai Posts: 7,049 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Until there's a way to inspect the cards via a machine, there's going to be subjectivity in grading.

    This is not a math test.

    OP is alleging that star cards are graded differently. In some cases they might be looked at more closely. Human nature.

    The point is irrefutable that anyone seeing there was a different ratio would then take it to the next level and say their card was undergraded (i.e. 1987 Topps Bonds), and say the unequal ratio "proved" it.

    Math is perfect. Printing baseball cards is not. You simply cannot apply math to all things to achieve a correct answer when random factors are involved.

    I say go ahead and do it and we can argue about the results later!

    ;-)

    2013,14 and 15 Certificate Award Winner Harmon Killebrew Master Set and Master Topps Set
  • DBesse27DBesse27 Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Scooter261830 are you the same person as @scooter729 ?

    Yaz Master Set
    #1 Gino Cappelletti master set
    #1 John Hannah master set

    Also collecting: 1964 Venezuelan Topps, Patriots team HOFers, Andre Tippett, 1968 Venz Red Sox, 1974 Topps Sox

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