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].

A group of cards that are sealed by the manufacturer for retail sale.
A hockey card manufacturer based in Canada. Originally, the company produced cards from 1951 through 1964 and later again in the 1990's.
PD (Print Defect)
Type of qualifier. The card exhibits significant print flaws causing the card to fall below the minimum standard for the grade.  The print can appear in the form of print dots, print "snow" (white patches), print lines, etc.
See Also: Qualifier
Certain special cards may be able to receive a pedigree from PSA. A pedigree allows collectors to personalize their PSA labels with something like “John Doe Collection”.
perfect game
A game in which a pitcher completes a game without allowing a base runner. The most famous perfect game was in game five of the 1956 World Series, in which Don Larsen of the Yankees pitched a perfect game to defeat the Brooklyn Dodger, 2-0. It was also the first no-hitter in series history.
A term that describes a special note, next to a signature, such as: "Dear…", "To my pal…" or "Best wishes…" In autograph collecting circles this is also known as an "inscription".
Philadelphia Gum Co.
A major manufacturer of football cards in the 1960's.
pine tar
a sticky substance used on baseball bats to aid a batter’s grip. Originally, pine tar was an actual product of pine trees, while today, a synthetic version is also used.
Play Ball
A very popular pre-war baseball card manufacturer that produced sets from 1939 to 1941. Also, the phrase used by an umpire to signal the start of a baseball game.
Police Set
A small set of cards issued regionally by various police departments (and sometimes fire departments). These cards were given to kids and usually carry a safety tip.
Pop Report
Short for PSA Population Report. This is the publication that reports the graded population or census of any particular PSA graded card.
Cards that were issued by the Post Cereal Company on the back of cereal boxes. The most well known issues are from the early 1960's and featured either baseball or football players. The company also inserted cards into the boxes in the 1990's.
A collectible that dates after World War II.
From a time before a player’s accident. This term is most often linked with Roy Campanella, who was paralyzed in an auto accident in January of 1958. Later, through the aid of a modern medicinal tool, he did several signings before his death in 1993. Pre-accident autographs are worth significantly more.
A collectible that is from a time before the start of World War II.
An item issued as an advertising extra. In most cases, collectors have had to send away to the companies or manufacturers to receive a "premium".
The amount of money a sports card or sports memorabilia item sells for at auction, through a set sale, or in individual transactions. At auction the price is determined by competition among bidders. For set sales in catalogs, price lists, and advertisements, the price represents the asking price of the seller. In individual sales, the price is negotiated between the buyer and seller.
price guide
A list of estimated values for sports cards and/or sports memorabilia. The first major sports collectibles price guide was The Sport Americana Baseball Card Price Guide issued by Dr. Jim Beckett in 1979. Today, there are dozens of price guides.  Some are good, some aren't so good.  The best online price guide is the Sports Market Report Online Price Guide (OK, so we're prejudiced).  The best hard copy price guide (and the one most often referred to by both collectors and dealers) is the Sports Market Report.
private signing
When an athlete signs for an individual or company, as opposed to a public signing, where all comers are welcome. Many wholesalers pay for the services of top athletes, usually by the hour. These companies then offer these signed items for sale to the public.
Pro Set
A sports card manufacturer that produced cards in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Professional Sports Authenticator
See Also: PSA
A magazine-like publication issued by a team that includes information about the team. Programs can be purchased at stadiums for a few bucks. The most desirable programs are vintage World Series programs, some sell for as much as $30,000.
Short for promotional card
promotional card
A card produced by a manufacturer to promote upcoming issues. Generally, these cards are more limited than the regular issues.
Short for Professional Sports Authenticator.  These are three of the most recognizable letters in the sports card market. Founded in 1991, PSA set the standard for the graded card market.  These letters are usually used by collectors in conjunction with a number from the PSA 10-point grading scale as in PSA 8, PSA 9, or the ultimate grade, PSA 10.
A third party authentication service that focuses on sports and music autographs.   PSA/DNA uses synthetic DNA that is only visible with the aid of a laser to mark the item being authenticated.  PSA/DNA also affixes a small sticker, which has a unique certification number, onto the item.  This unique certification number matches a PSA/DNA certificate of authentication that is issued with the item at the time of the authentication.