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How are 51 Topps Red Backs graded?

The 51 Red Back series is baffling to me. What exactly differentiates an 8 from a 9? From what I can tell the corners, being rounded, are nearly if not completely indistinguishable, and even the occasional factory "crushed" appearance on the reverse side of the corners from the die cut doesn't preclude cards from 8 grades or higher. Is it surface? Edges?


  • JoeBanzaiJoeBanzai Posts: 11,208 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Except for the rounded corners, you could say the same for standard cards.
    Since PSA doesn't grade many cards with rounded corners, consistency is going to be worse.
    Of course edges and surface will come into play.

    2013,14 and 15 Certificate Award Winner Harmon Killebrew Master Set and Master Topps Set
  • true, but at least on a square-cornered card an 8 has a visible touch of wear on a corner or two; on many Red Back 8s I simply can't detect any wear. Maybe they use very high powered magnification? Or I could just be bad at seeing it.

  • JoeBanzaiJoeBanzai Posts: 11,208 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As has been said here many times, grading is subjective, an 8 may have "perfect" corners and a big print dot, or three really small ones.
    Some will say, "I've seen 10's with that print dot", some say, "should be a 9", others will say "a 7 all day long".

    Same can be said on centering, some cards look better than others with slight centering issues.

    I have heard graders have very little time to evaluate your cards. I've gotten pretty good at grading, but I would NEVER want to do it for 8 hours a day, with only a minute(if that) to look at each card.

    I have always said a card with white borders and a little corner wear can get no penalty, but one with dark borders cannot show even the tiniest but if white. Ridiculous, different standards.

    Now you bring up cards with round corners, I'm sure the graders hate them, one less easy(?) thing to look at in determining grade.

    2013,14 and 15 Certificate Award Winner Harmon Killebrew Master Set and Master Topps Set
  • Interesting perspective. You bring up a lot of good points, especially regarding the dark border penalty. Looking at some of my nicer cards under high magnification, I can detect small points of wear that don't distort the squareness of the corner, but would be glaringly obvious if the border was colored.
    I wonder how much time the graders give each card; if PSA's volume is in the millions per year, some cards might not even get 20 seconds. Perhaps more time is given to cards submitted to express tiers.

  • agragr Posts: 56 ✭✭✭

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