PSA Glossary

Sports Lingo

Like all collectibles, the sports memorabilia market has its own terms and slang. The following is a brief definition and explanation of the most frequently used sports collecting terms.

Note:This is a work in progress and we would love to hear your comments and suggestions. Send your thoughts to [email protected].

cabinet card
An oversized card that was issued by tobacco manufacturers. They were commonly produced on a thick cardboard stock and available as premiums in the 19th and early 20th century. Curio cabinets were very common in this era, and a favorite place for collectors to display these treasures, thus the name cabinet card.
card collection
A group of sports cards accumulated by a card collector.
card collector
A person who collects sports cards.
Card Saver I
The recommended card protectors that PSA accepts. They measure 3 3/8” x 4 7/8” and are made for standard sized cards.
Card Saver IV
The recommended card protector for oversized cards. They measure 4 ½” x 7 1/8”.
card show
See Also: Show
card stock
What a sports card is printed on. Traditionally, manufacturers used heavy paper or cardboard. Today, cardboard is still the norm, although some manufactures have tried materials such as metal, leather, plastic, and wood.
Carte de Visite
The first widely available and affordable form of photography, "calling card" prints became highly popular in the latter half of the 19th century. The photos are usually black-and-white or sepia-toned, and mounted on cards that measure 2.5" by 4". Some CDV prints of 19th-century players and teams can be found today.
A listing of cards for sale, usually sent through the mail in magazine-like form.
See Also -- Carte de Visite
cello box
A box that contains cello packs. These boxes were distributed to retailers for individual pack sales. Most cello boxes contain 24 packs.
cello case
A number of cello boxes (usually 16) packaged for wholesale purposes.
cello pack
A form of card packaging. These packs usually contain more cards than the standard wax packs. These packs are wrapped in a transparent packaging, much like cellophane. Cello packs that have a star visible, especially on the front, are collectable and carry a premium over that of the price of the single card.
One of the most important factors in determining a card’s grade or condition. A card’s centering is found by measuring the distance between the photo and the edge of the card from opposite sides. A card centered “50/50 top to bottom and 60/40 left to right” is perfectly centered on the top and bottom borders and shifted to the left with 60% of the border to the left of the photo and 40% to the right. Perfectly centered cards are most valuable, while cards with no borders on any one edge are considered “miscut” and have very little value.
cereal box
A box of cereal that includes a sports image. Some boxes contain actual cards (like Post and Wheaties), while others are collected for their attractive sports images on the front of the box (Wheaties). These boxes are very collectible, and in many cases, very valuable.
certificate of authenticity
A statement of the genuineness of an item (often an autograph), printed on a piece of paper, thin cardboard, or plastic, that is furnished to the buyer by the seller.  Certificates of authenticity can be issued by the seller or a third party authentication service.  The validity of the certificate of authenticity depends upon the integrity and knowledge of the seller or authentication service.
See Also: PSA/DNA
Certification Number
PSA gives every graded card a certification number.  It can be found on the PSA label.  This number can be verified through our Online Cert Verification.
A list of cards in any one set or series. Checklists can be found in books and price guides, although the term is more commonly used for checklist cards, which are often included in sports card sets. These are intended as aids for collectors and commonly include small boxes that can be checked when the card is obtained. For this reason, many vintage checklists are of great value if found free of markings.
A word that describes the condition of the edges of a card. Chipping is most noticeable in sets with colored borders, due to the contrast of the borders and the lighter cardboard stock below the thin layer of ink. Chipping may occur from aging, handling, or even dull blades at the productions factory.
Cleats refer to shoes worn by either baseball or football players. Game used cleats are a small part of the memorabilia market, and can carry a large price tag if they are game worn by a famous athlete.
clubhouse signature
A signature that is not signed by the intended athlete. Most clubhouse signatures were done by bat boys, equipment managers, and other available clubhouse workers.
coach’s card
A card that features a coach or group of coaches.
A metal, plastic, or cardboard disc that pictures an athlete or related sports topic. A handful of silver coins do exist in the hobby and commonly picture well-publicized sporting events.
Putting cards in order, most commonly by number. Sets may come factory collated or hand collated. Collation is a dreaded word among those who break wax.
See Also: break
Used as a noun to describe all items that are wanted by collectors (as in, Autographs are a collectible) or all items within a specific collectible market (as in, sports collectibles).  Used as an adjective to describe any item within a specific collectible market that is wanted by collectors.  For example, photos of Babe Ruth are all collectible sports photos whereas your sons Little League photo, unless he grows up to be the next Mark McGwire, is not a collectible sports photo.
See Also: sports collectible
A group of sports cards and/or sports memorabilia accumulated by a sports collector.
A person who accumulates a specific group of items for fun, education, pride of ownership, and/or, sometimes, profitable purposes.
collector issue
A set of cards produced primarily to be sold to collectors and not issued as a premium to be given away or sold with a commercial product.  Collector issues fall into two categories: authorized (meaning the issue was made with the approval of professional sports and the players' association) or unauthorized (meaning the issue was made without approval).
See Also: authorized issueunauthorized issue
combination card
A single card which depicts two or more players, but is not a team card.
A term used to describe a card that is not a rookie, semi-star, or star card. These are usually the least expensive cards in a set. “Singles” has also become a widely acceptable term for commons.
See Also: common
complete set
A complete run of cards from a given issue. A set includes one card of each number or each player that was produced.
The state of preservation of a sports card or memorabilia item.  Condition is a big component of value in most collectibles fields, and it is especially critical for sports cards and many sports memorabilia items.  The better the condition, the more desirable an item is, and thus, the more valuable it is.
See Also: grade
A bogus reproduction purposely manufactured to deceive buyers into believing they are purchasing the real thing. A fake or forgery.
A term used in bat collecting. A game used bat that has been cracked is of lesser value than one that is not. This term may also be used to refer to the act of opening a box or case of unopened cards (“I just cracked a case of 1986 Fleer wax”).
Cracker Jack
This term refers to the 1914 and 1915 Cracker Jack set that was issued as an insert in Cracker Jack boxes. The 1915 set is both desirable and valuable. The 1914 set is even rarer than the 1915, although this scarcity turns off most set collectors.
A bend or fold in a card. The mishandling of a card causes most creases. Creases are a key factor in determining a card's grade and value. A crease can drop a card one to five grades.
PSA will review cards, graded by other grading services, for crossover. PSA graders will evaluate your card inside the current holder. If they deem that the card is worthy to cross over into the equivalent PSA grade or specified grade on the PSA submission form (for instance, you may choose to have the card crossed into a lower grade), then the card will be cracked out of the current holder and placed into a PSA holder.
Cy Young Award
An award given out at the end of each baseball season to the best pitcher in each league. Voting for the award is done by members of the Baseball Writers Association. The award is named after Cy Young, whose 511 wins are still the most ever by a pitcher.