Taking My Hacks

An Early Look at Half-Point Grading

Joe Orlando


We are only a few months into the new era of half-point grading at PSA but, so far, there have already been some clear indications that the market will pay a premium for premium grade material. Of course, this is no surprise since buyers have historically paid a premium for those cards they believed to be high-end for the grade.

So, what's the difference now?

Those same buyers, the ones who were willing to pay the premium for high-end cards, are now willing to pay an even higher premium since confirmation of the quality is given by PSA. In addition, gargantuan premiums may be realized for those cards that become the highest graded examples known. An example might be where a PSA NM-MT 8.5 now becomes recognized as the highest known example, if there are no PSA Mint 9s or Gem Mint 10s in the current PSA Population Report.

It will be interesting to see how the half-point premium affects the values of trading cards a year from now and over the long haul. If you combine the large price gaps between grades with the selectiveness of the PSA graders, strong prices for cards that achieve the half-point should continue to be realized. As hobbyists get a better feel for how significant these cards are in quality and relative scarcity, there is a good chance that the premiums may escalate. Many hobbyists feel that it is simply a matter of time.

Sports Market Report (SMR) will begin adding half-point values into the pricing section as the year progresses. The pricing will be, most likely, conservative to start with adjustments being made as more product enters the marketplace. In the early going, there have been many standout prices achieved by cards bearing the new half-point. A couple of cards that come to mind are a 1954 Topps Al Kaline and a 1957 Topps Dick Lane, both PSA NM-MT 8.5s.

Each rookie card was auctioned this spring, the Kaline card in Mastro Auctions and the Lane card on eBay. The Kaline, which normally sells in the $1,200-$1,250 range in PSA NM-MT 8, sold for exactly $3,000 while the Lane, which became the highest grade to date for that particular card and is one that normally sells for about $400 in PSA NM-MT 8, reached an astonishing $3,600! There is no doubt that the half-point adds value because results speak for themselves but figuring exactly what premium to pay above the lower full grade may be difficult in the beginning.

It is important to remember that this service is new to everyone; collectors, dealers and PSA too. Finding that "grading line groove" is of the utmost importance to our company and, as submitters become more and more in sync with our grading staff, the more product will enter the market. In turn, the hobby will be able to better anticipate price premiums associated with cards that achieve the half-point grade.

It will be very interesting to look back a year or so from now to see how these cards are performing versus cards at the lower full grade, both commons and stars alike. While I am not much of a betting man myself, I don't think there is any doubt that these cards offer tremendous upside. Where that upside ends is the question that only patience and time will answer.


Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief