The past five years have been quite prosperous for all those collectors who were wise enough to buy high grade PSA issues. PSA 8's, 9's, and 10's have produced returns equal to or greater than those of most Wall Street investments. The fact that these premium quality issues are still increasing in value, has caused a shortage of cards available for the consumer. With such a shrinkage of merchandise, demand and auction prices are at record highs. This part of the hobby is sure to continue growing, as the number of rare grade issues continues to dwindle from the marketplace.

Many collectors have switched their interest from high grade and are now in search of PSA 6's and 7's. Although these grades do not boast razor sharp corners or blinding gloss, they do possess, in most cases, nice eye appeal and a relatively low price tag. Many consumers are finding that these mid-grade issues allow them larger collections, without sacrificing a significant amount of visual enjoyment. The chart below is a list of Mickey Mantle's cards from the 1960's in EX-MT and MINT conditions, and their corresponding SMR prices.

Mickey Mantle PSA6 PSA9
60 Topps $250 $1675
61 Topps 240 1600
62 Topps 275 2200
63 Topps 255 2000
64 Topps 190 1225
65 Topps 260 1800
66 Topps 130 885
67 Topps 150 1100
68 Topps 140 950
69 Topps 145 965
Total $2035 $14000

According to the SMR, a run of Mickey Mantles from the 60's in EX-MT6 condition would cost about the same as one 1963 Mantle in MT9. In fact, seven runs of 60's Mantles in EX-MT could be purchased for the price of owning a single mint run.

It is doubtful that PSA6's will outperform PSA 9's over the next decade, but modest returns should be expected. Many collectors have taken note of the grading craze and want to be a part of it. Not all, though, can afford to spend thousands of dollars for a single card purchase. They prefer to leave a show with a stack of memories, rather than a single investment. Not all have forgotten about their childhoods, their heroes, or what it really means to collect.

Next time you are at a show, take a look at some mid-grade issues. Not only are they affordable, you might be surprised at how nice these cards really are. Along with a smaller price tag, comes a larger collection. And with such a diverse collection, comes a greater chance of owning an issue that will appreciate in the future.

If your resources are endless and you store your cards in a safety deposit box at the bank, keep buying high grade issues, as they will surely perform remarkably well over the years to come. But if you are like most people, with limited funds and a desire to enjoy your collection, think about buying some cards in EX-MT and NM grades.