PSA Photograde provides a general, visual illustration of the differences between each PSA grade. Of course, in reality, there are so many variables when it comes to card characteristics and defects that no two PSA EX 5s, for example, look exactly the same. That said, the purpose of this section is to help educate collectors about what the basic differences look like. Like the PSA Grading Standards themselves, this is by no means all-inclusive (listing every possible combination of potential defects) but it will provide some general guidelines.
In addition, please keep in mind that while the scans can be magnified on your computer screen, the scanning process does not always pick up every detail or defect on the cards. This would, of course, include defects found on the reverse of the card, especially when it comes to the lower grades on the PSA scale.
The following chart shows actual PSA graded 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan #57 cards in three whole grades on the PSA grading scale, from 8-10. Each image can be enlarged on your computer screen for a better view. This chart does not include half-point grades, cards that exhibit premium quality or high-end examples within a particular grade.
PSA Photograde™ Online is also available for the following key card issues:
This beautiful example of the Michael Jordan rookie card rests at the top of the PSA grading scale. Exhibiting extremely strong corners and edges, even under magnification, this card is superior to the two high-grade examples below. No corner wear or visible chipping is present, unlike the two previous Jordan cards. The centering is superb and the card does not contain the degree of print defects that is allowable under the PSA Mint 9 and PSA NM-MT 8 grades. When it comes to PSA 9s and PSA 10s, the difference can often be extraordinarily subtle, which means that eye appeal becomes a greater factor. This is especially true on most modern cards.
This strong specimen is just whisker away from reaching the top end of the PSA grading scale. Unlike the PSA NM-MT 8 example pictured below, this card possess superior corners. That said, in the upper right portion of the card, you might notice some minor chipping. Like the 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card, the Michael Jordan rookie is susceptible to chipping due to the colored borders. It is very common for the card to possess some degree of chipping just from the manufacturer cut of the card. As long as the chipping remains minimal and doesn't detract from the eye-appeal of the card, a Jordan rookie can still achieve a high grade from PSA. You may also notice some commonly-found print defects in the background, often referred to as print "snow," when the image is enlarged.
The 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan card is, arguably, the most iconic basketball card ever made. In grades PSA NM-MT 8 or better, the Jordan rookie remains one of the most desirable modern trading cards. At arm's length, this card may appear to be in Mint condition to most observers. Upon closer inspection, you will notice very light touches, particularly on both the upper left and upper right corners. Due to the colored borders, the tiniest touch of wear becomes visible to the naked eye. You may also notice some very light print defects on the card, which is fairly common for the issue. Otherwise, this is considered a nice example of this popular modern rookie card.
We hope the PSA Photograde™ Online feature is helpful in illustrating the general differences found between PSA grades. Keep in mind that no two cards are exactly the same as different appearances or characteristics can be found on examples within the same grade. These variances become more noticeable the lower you go on the grading scale.
For more information about how to get your prized trading cards graded by PSA, please visit our homepage at www.psacard.com or call customer service toll-free at (800) 325-1121.
A PSA Gem Mint 10 card is a virtually perfect card. Attributes include four perfectly sharp corners, sharp focus and full original gloss. A PSA Gem Mint 10 card must be free of staining of any kind, but an allowance may be made for a slight printing imperfection if it doesn't impair the overall appeal of the card. The image must be centered on the card within a tolerance not to exceed approximately 55/45 to 60/40 percent on the front, and 75/25 percent on the reverse.
A PSA Mint 9 is a superb-condition card that exhibits only one of the following minor flaws: a very slight wax stain on reverse, a minor printing imperfection or slightly off-white borders. Centering must be approximately 60/40 to 65/35 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the reverse.
A PSA NM-MT 8 is a super high-end card that appears Mint 9 at first glance, but upon closer inspection, the card can exhibit the following: a very slight wax stain on reverse, slightest fraying at one or two corners, a minor printing imperfection, and/or slightly off-white borders. Centering must be approximately 65/35 to 70/30 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the reverse.
A PSA NM 7 is a card with just a slight surface wear visible upon close inspection. There may be slight fraying on some corners. Picture focus may be slightly out-of-register. A minor printing blemish is acceptable. Slight wax staining is acceptable on the back of the card only. Most of the original gloss is retained. Centering must be approximately 70/30 to 75/25 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the back.
A PSA EX-MT 6 card may have visible surface wear or a printing defect that does not detract from its overall appeal. A very light scratch may be detected only upon close inspection. Corners may have slightly graduated fraying. Picture focus may be slightly out-of-register. Card may show some loss of original gloss, may have minor wax stain on reverse, may exhibit very slight notching on edges and may also show some off-whiteness on borders. Centering must be 80/20 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the reverse.
On PSA EX-5 cards, very minor rounding of the corners is becoming evident. Surface wear or printing defects are more visible. There may be minor chipping on edges. Loss of original gloss will be more apparent. Focus of picture may be slightly out-of-register. Several light scratches may be visible upon close inspection, but do not detract from the appeal of the card. Card may show some off-whiteness of borders. Centering must be 85/15 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the back.
A PSA VG-EX 4 card's corners may be slightly rounded. Surface wear is noticeable but modest. The card may have light scuffing or light scratches. Some original gloss will be retained. Borders may be slightly off-white. A light crease may be visible. Centering must be 85/15 or better on the front and 90/10 or better on the back.
A PSA VG 3 card reveals some rounding of the corners, though not extreme. Some surface wear will be apparent, along with possible light scuffing or light scratches. Focus may be somewhat off-register and edges may exhibit noticeable wear. Much, but not all, of the card's original gloss will be lost. Borders may be somewhat yellowed and/or discolored. A crease may be visible. Printing defects are possible. Slight stain may show on obverse and wax staining on reverse may be more prominent. Centering must be 90/10 or better on the front and back.
A PSA Good 2 card's corners show accelerated rounding and surface wear is starting to become obvious. A good card may have scratching, scuffing, light staining, or chipping of enamel on obverse. There may be several creases. Original gloss may be completely absent. Card may show considerable discoloration. Centering must be 90/10 or better on the front and back.
A PSA Fair 1.5 card's corners will show extreme wear, possibly affecting framing of the picture. The surface of the card will show advanced stages of wear, including scuffing, scratching, pitting, chipping and staining. The picture will possibly be quite out-of-register and the borders may have become brown and dirty. The card may have one or more heavy creases. In order to achieve a Fair grade, a card must be fully intact. Even though the card may be heavily worn, it cannot achieve this grade if it is missing solid pieces of the card as a result of a major tear, etc. This would include damage such as the removal of the back layer of the card or an entire corner. The centering must be approximately 90/10 or better on the front and back.
A PSA Poor 1 will exhibit many of the same qualities of a PSA Fair 1.5 but the defects may have advanced to such a serious stage that the eye appeal of the card has nearly vanished in its entirety. A Poor card may be missing one or two small pieces, exhibit major creasing that nearly breaks through all the layers of cardboard, or it may contain extreme discoloration or dirtiness throughout that makes it difficult to identify the issue or content of the card on either the front or back. A card of this nature may also show noticeable warping or another type of destructive defect.
Cards that exhibit high-end qualities within each particular grade, between PSA Good 2 and PSA Mint 9, may achieve a half-point increase. While PSA graders will evaluate all of the attributes possessed by a card in order to determine if the card may be eligible, there will be a clear focus on centering.
Generally speaking, a card must exhibit centering that is 5-10% better, at minimum, than the lowest % allowed within a particular grade. It is important to note that there may be cases where the overall strength of the card, such as the quality of the corners and print, will give the card the edge it needs despite the fact that it may exhibit only marginal centering for the grade. This is especially true for cards that find themselves within the bottom half of the PSA 1-10 scale.