Did PSA drop their grading standards?

One question; Did PSA drop their grading standards?
I’ve submitted some cards earlier this year and they just came back in the mail (THANKS USPS FOR SCREWING IT UP).
I sent a total of 13 cards to get graded and I predicted that I would get a few 10s (mainly on the Japanese cards) and the rest 9s or 8s for english cards.

I got 12/13 cards back in Gem 10 (WOW).

I was surprised because some of the cards have some visible whitening on the edges (especially on the corners) and they got a 10.
Does PSA have a set grading standard or is it based off of the individual grader?

And IF PSA dropped their grading standards why? Is it because of the sheer number of people sending in pokemon cards?

Officially? Nope. Same standards.

Anecdotally I have been seeing more questionable 10s roughly ever since the new labels came out. It does seem like the standards have changed, but I think it’s exactly that, anecdotal.

1 Like

Its sad to see their standards going down hill. People are starting to pay premiums for cards with older cert numbers.

I was thinking that maybe it’s seasonal? Do more people send cards in over the summer or something?

It’s all anecdotal…this is why we pay professionals for their opinion…they get it right more often than not, certainly more often than we would…but their methods aren’t flawless and they are still human, so mistakes happen every now and again as with any profession.

However, this isn’t any different now than it was “then”…they’re probably just seeing a greater volume of Pokemon cards being graded and thus the “older standards” appear to be changing, when in reality, it’s just the nature of the grading process.

I just went 10-for-14 on PSA 10s, and while i’m not going to complain about getting 3/7 Gold Stars as PSA 10s, I did think a couple more were deserving of 10s, more so than the ones that actually got the 10…but i’m not the grader. I don’t think that’s indicative of “lower” grading standards at all.

Someone I know on Instagram just went 0-for-11 on PSA 10s for a bunch of Call of Legends SLs less than a week ago…he got all PSA 9s. He was pretty “certain” he was a lock for quite a few PSA 10s and is actually going to crack them open and re-send to try his luck, as he’s had many SL submissions previous and got 10s and thought he “knew” what he was looking for/sending in…but apparently he didn’t. That doesn’t sound like “lower” grading standards to me.

I think for the new Sun + Moon sets though, the Hyper/Rainbow Rares in particular (to me) seem to be getting some inconsistent scores, particularly on the inner-border centering…take a look at this Hyper Rare PSA 10 Charizard GX’s centering that’s up on eBay, for example…how in the world did this get a 10?

The two Hyper 'zards I just sent in and got 10s on have WAY better centering than this one, to the point that I would never have even sent that one above in if it was mine…but maybe it’s just PSA’s standards on the centering for this particular card/print that is different…but that doesn’t mean that particular standard applies to every card/year of print.

TL;DR - no, PSAs standards haven’t changed and there will always be an element of “luck” (or grading “leeway”) no matter what the card or who the grader is…for every one person that gets amazing grades (that are probably deserved), someone might get a bunch of crappy grades on the other end (that are also probably deserved). I think it all evens out in the end.

2 Likes

With today’s technology, they should definitely be able to write a program that scans cards and assigns grades based on a variety of factors. It’d take a while to perfect, but I think it would drastically reduce uncertainty and case cracking.

2 Likes

True, if we can land on the moon (if that really happened lol) we should be able to create a scanner for grading.
What do all you young geniuses think about that.

2 Likes

This is fake news. I have neither seen nor heard of anyone offering a premium for older cert numbers and if they are they’re sadly misinformed.

As more Pokemon cards get graded, there are going to be more cards with which we disagree with the grades or PSA makes objective mistakes on. It’s a function of the increasing volume of cards. It is NOT PSA “lowering their standards.”

I’m sorry to say it, but your 13 cards are absolutely irrelevant @kaminoikari. Send in 2-3k cards and then maybe you can comment on PSA’s grading standards.

11 Likes

I like it, we could call ourselves PTSA- Professional Technology Sports Authentication.

1 Like

I don’t think people are paying premiums for old certs either but if I’m being completely honest, I am more critical of cards with new labels. Probably completely irrational but it is what it is. The thought is in my head.

Really Really Fake news

The answer is yes. I have a card that came back a 10 that is 100% not GEM Mint. It is kind of a moral battle… being a 10 this card is worth coniderably more, however I know the condition does not warrant a 10, but PSA is a 3rd party grading service, so it is quite a pickle when it comes to potentially selling it. Photos below.

imgur.com/a/zISfk

Uhm on my phone that looks perfectly within parameters, it’s about the whitening correct?
Then again i’m on a phone screen…

Another thing i noticed is that sometimes on japanese cards scanners create artifacts on the edges of the back(factory marks) that are so microscopic you can’t really see them in person.

1 Like

I’ll add a few thoughts as well.

The official PSA 10 standard is:

"A PSA Gem Mint 10 card is a virtually perfect card. Attributes include four perfectly sharp corners, sharp focus and full original gloss. A PSA Gem Mint 10 card must be free of staining of any kind, but an allowance may be made for a slight printing imperfection, if it doesn’t impair the overall appeal of the card. The image must be centered on the card within a tolerance not to exceed approximately 55/45 to 60/40 percent on the front, and 75/25 percent on the reverse. "

There are a significant percentage of PSA 10 examples do not meet this description. Personally, I have owned dozens of PSA 10s with edge wear (usually Japanese cards, which is another topic entirely). This is why many of us advocate buying the card, not the grade, as @smpratte (if I’m not mistaken) once said. Perhaps PSA has become more lax over time. Or perhaps we are simply more aware of their errors as we become better at grading cards.

1 Like

From logicallyfallacious.com:

Hasty Generalization: Drawing a conclusion based on a small sample size, rather than looking at statistics that are much more in line with the typical or average situation.

Example: “I have a PSA 10 card that I don’t think meets the definition of a PSA 10. Therefore, PSA’s standards have been lowered across the board.”

4 Likes

Every time this thread appears, there are the same problems that are never fully discussed. I will try to summarize a few off the top of my head. Hopefully this post can be a reference for any future thread.

First, the sample size is way too small to make any accurate claims.

Second, the individuals submitting are usually newer to the hobby, especially grading. I get so many messages from both ends of perspective on condition: overly optimistic, and overly critical. They both have the same problem; no actual or consisitent experience with third party grading.

Third, the increase in volume of cards + volume of people grading naturally lends itself to more talk. Ranging from people having productive but still anecdotal conversations, to the impulsive: PSA sucks!, what a joke, I have run a better comparable business for the past 25 years.

As one of the largest pokemon submitter’s in both volume and timeline, no, there isn’t a consistent noticeable change for me. The only consistent and quantifiable change is volume. The increase in high grades is primarily due to the significant increase in volume of pokemon submissions. Plus other nuances likes quality increase on sets, people breaking more boxes today and grading than ever. Sure, I get cards back on occasion that are soft, some that are strict as well, because we are paying for an opinion, this is expected.

OH and bonus round, people who want high tech grading equipment and software to grade their cards, but only want to pay $7 or less per card… :face_with_spiral_eyes: :face_with_spiral_eyes:

8 Likes

That card is perfectly within the parameters of a PSA 10 if you’re talking about edge/corner whitening…I would have zero problems buying that and can assume the front of the card is perfect based on the grade.

If anything it is cards with older certs/graded YEARS ago that have shown more edge whitening leeway and PSA has actually gotten much better about it. But again, all this talk of “lower grading standards” is a farce…I have only sent in a few hundred cards myself but as i’ve educated myself over time and become more familiar with PSAs guidelines i’m not too often surprised with what grades my cards come back at. The issue is the volume of cards passing through PSA’s hands and how many more people are buying with the mindset of grading 10s and being more vocal about it when they disagree with a grade they got.

That definition for PSA 10 doesn’t say that the edges are flawless…

It also goes on to say that there’s an allowance for a slight printing imperfection, so if it’s the grader’s opinion that the edgewear is the result of a printing defect and doesn’t otherwise impact the appearance of the card, then it’d still get a 10 (which I’m guessing is why you keep seeing so many hyper rare charizards that are PSA 10 but still have the pack/edgewear). This also makes sense why print lines across the holo are knocked down to a 9, since that DOES impact the visual appearance of the card

edit: also, as a personal note, I couldn’t imagine being a grader. I’m sure most of us fantasize that the job entails looking at 1st edition base set charizards all day and making tough decisions between a 9 and 10 with a group of colleagues, but I’m guessing the reality is looking at hundreds upon hundreds of boring common cards for each interesting, ultra rare card (not only in Pokemon, but all the other sports as well)

I spent a few years as a math teacher and I can tell you that even on something like a quiz or test, it is incredibly difficult, almost impossible to be 100% consistent when grading. Sometimes you start out grading very harshly and then after you’ve seen after 25+ quizzes, you realize that maybe the question or setup wasn’t clear, or maybe the student did most of the work correctly but made a simple mistake, or maybe their answer was due to a misunderstanding of a word. Or maybe it’s the opposite, students should have understood this concept more fully, so I should be grading these more strictly.

A way to get rid of this subjectivity is to use a very strict rubric, which is what’s outlined by the PSA 1 through PSA 10 grades. Does it have perfect corners? No, can’t be a 10. Has the card surface lost some of its original luster? Can’t be a 10. Is the centering past a certain threshold for the front/back? Can’t be a 10. Instead of a subjective look at the card, it’s more of a checklist on all of these very specific points. And even though there’s supposed to be very little room for subjectivity, it’s impossible to be 100% consistent 8 hours a day, 5 days a week when you’re going through the same rubric hundreds of times a day. I don’t envy the grader’s job at all.

On a related note, there was a study that looked at the performance of another popular evaluating profession: judges. The judges studied were MUCH more lenient in their sentencing either early in the morning or after they had had something to eat. On that note, I REALLY hope the grader that looks at my cards in the next couple days gets the Snickers bar I included in the package :wink:

1 Like

I’d argue that “a virtually perfect card” and “full original gloss” means virtually no edge wear, of course with a slight tolerance for edge wear secondary to the printing and packaging process. There are many PSA 10s, especially Japanese cards, with more edge wear than you would expect from the standard printing process.

I should probably clarify my point. I don’t mean to say that PSA 10 cards should be flawless; they cannot be. I’m just pointing out the disparity between the PSA 10 definition and reality. The PSA 10 is a spectrum, with some percentage of cards arguably not deserving the label. In any case, I doubt the grading process itself has changed behind the scenes.

I have also read that within their parameters, however having the experience of grading a couple hundred cards I have had many cards exactly like this get a 9. I am super particular when it comes to condition and if I were to drop twice the amount on a 10 and get a card that is a pretty clear 9 I would probably have some feelings about that. Alas, that is the game we play buying cards from a 3rd party grader.

The original question was did PSA change their standards. I do not know about PSA as a whole, however I’d say when it comes to Pokemon they have loosened their belts. I saw a guy the other day get a submission back with 3 PSA 10 plasma storm Zards. Plasma Storm is a notoriously hard set to grade, or at least has been in the past.