Buying raw "mint" cards on Ebay - your experiences

Hey all,
all of the four cards above were purchased as “mint” over the last few months and I have specifically asked the sellers if the surface had any scratches/damages (edit: which they denied).
None of these has any whitening though, which makes it easy to hide or miss the damages.

Especially for Japanese old backs, my personal track record for “mint” cards that actually came out to be mint is <10%. Are sellers simply not aware that they have to take the surface into account when giving a condition estimate? What are your experiences with buying raw vintage singles, you got any great tips?

p.s. I know I could ask for detailed pics, but I usually prefer not to bother sellers for every $20 card.


I lucked out with the only raw cards I’ve bought. But it was from one seller, and I bothered him enough to get his number and we exchanged many photos.

This was for more than a $20 card but my situation might be unique as I’m pleasantly surprised at the condition

I’ve tried to add photos but Imgur seems to be having issues

I don’t know what you mean, that’s a “beauty goods, condition {A}” right there!


My experience is the same. My success rate was so bad that I no longer bid on anything that does not have adequate, expandable, well lit pics, or a seller willing to take more pics. I have given up on using words as a condition measurement tool. And since this eliminates 50%-70% of the listings, I’m left competing with others for discernibly high quality cards that end up selling for a premium. So unless I can snipe a BIN listing straight away before others see it, I have to pass on any raw cards I want that cost more than a few bucks risk—especially cards the age of your old backs here.


“Raw Mint” is not a feasible thing anymore. The amount of time you have to spent to actually find something is much better invested in different activities. You might get lucky but in 99% of the cases there is some kind of flaw. With everyone knowing PSA, it won´t get better I fear.


Product is new or unused™

My Japanese mint cards have been pretty hit or miss as well, usually do better on the high end cards surprisingly — on Yahoo Japan. I think I’ve been fairly lucky with eBay, all the cards I’ve bought (which aren’t many) have been fairly NM, with any flaws being pictured. I just automatically assume “mint” is +/- nm though. That helps.

I trust the words on eBay listings very little. A picture (or many) are worth more than any amount of words.

Oddly enough the listings I’ve found to be some of the most accurate descriptions are lots of non-mint or mixed condition old back cards from Japanese sellers where the seller gives their definition of mint/nm/excellent/good in the description along with their individual ratings for each card. I feel more confident buying a nm/excellent card from these sellers than from the 90%+ of eBay sellers who seem to consider everything that’s not torn in half as mint.


I make it a point to not trust listings when they use “mint/near mint” descriptors. I always ALWAYS check the listing pictures themselves and either ask for better pictures if I cannot determine whether it’s in line with my personal collection requirements.

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I do feel like if I’m spending only $20-50 on a raw card and the pictures look good enough, I know I’m accepting a risk it’ll suck.

For any card over $200 or so I’m almost exclusive to buying graded.

Although I did buy a raw 1st edition Zard, but it was beat — and I knew it

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I echo similar sentiment to most others here, almost 90% of the time when a listing says “NM-M” its actually MP-LP, the current grading craze has people sniping NM-M cards like their lives depend on it. As a binder collector I’m better off doing BIN on new or unpopular listings.

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In my experience, a “Mint” listing is NM-LP depending on the photos. If you want actual mint cards, you’re better off buying graded.


Purchased a NEO Genesis 1st edition, advertised as the best lugia ever. it graded a ten lol. cant argue sometimes. Although i get the sentiment. you have to really know how to ask questions to get them to provide what you are looking for. or be really good at evaluating blurry/dark pictures.


What cards are those Mukky boy? :grin:

(I see maybe one might be vending Marowak, but you already have it, so…)

Dude you just can’t get mint cards raw. No way. Just a handful of sellers I’ve ever had that I return to in full trust. Hell, many already gradedPSA 9’s aren’t mint. They make me laugh out loud.

So raw cards? What the hell! Luck of the draw. I’ve said it before, most people on ebay can’t be trusted to count to 10 successfully. We’ve all talked about getting great pics. It helps. So I don’t go off any grading unless it is someone I know and trust who knows what they are doing. Descriptions only matter when you get that immediate understanding that they know what they are doing.


@brendantheclayboy , these are the exact cards:

So, nothing super valuable, but still kinda annoying.
But you are indeed right, not even a PSA 9/10 grade actually guarantees you a “mint” (pack fresh) card. However I did end up buying the GB Venusaur in PSA 9 for $200 now, because I have a reeeally long and annoying history of falsely advertised/misgraded copies of this card. I just hope to be over with it now :grin:

Anyway, I think my problem is that I’m still kinda stuck in the pre-COVID era when it comes to prices. I just can’t accept to pay like 500 bucks for an easy to grade Japanese set card of which I KNOW there ARE still mint copies out there for 30 - 50 usd. Problem is really just finding them faster than my competitors - of which there seem to be many more now than 10 months ago - and distinguishing the 95% trash listings from the actual mint ones.


These days buying raw vintage Japanese, I’ve shifted my expectations that even if the card looks super clean, I’ll expect a 9 quality card at best. Lots of the clean 10 quality cards have already been picked over, even coming straight from Japan.

With your pictures above, hearing from a seller who isn’t used to grading calling those mint doesn’t surprise me.


Do you have the listing? There was one listed recently and I stopped short of buying it since I usually get snakebit. Wondering if it’s the one I almost snagged

Raw mint on English WoTC is basically dead. It’ll go that way with desirable Japanese Cards next, if it hasn’t already.

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@muk, I hear you on all. Graded cards are usually overpriced. There are tons of clean ass copies floating still. Especially Japanese. I’m in the same boat.

The two sorrows of the experience now. Sifting trash out of ebay (you are nearly spot on–95% sounds about right), and there being an ever-increasing influx of people wanting JP all of a sudden, with the added kick of knowing that all but a few don’t know how to grade or describe their raw cards.

Remember how just even 6-8 months ago average mint Neo holos like your Scizor were $10? Crazy. I mean you just couldn’t even give that stuff away.

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I always assume two grades lower than I can visually see from pictures. If it’s still a good buy taking that into consideration, then I buy it.

If the seller states Mint and the card seems mint I’ll check their other listings and see how they describe their other cards. Very few cards I buy are actually labeled mint but if I were looking to spend a large sum on a ‘mint’ card I’d request additional photos.

I think the damage done to the cards in the photos you provided is almost unavoidable on cards 20 years old (apart from the dented card that’s just straight up played).