PSA 1 low pop hype

A recent thread posted on efour about a psa1 gold star espeon possibly being traded for a psa9 base zard had me thinking again… Sometimes I think that I’m taking crazy pills because I don’t understand the price increase or hype about owning a low psa graded card. Often times a PSA 1 will be selling for more than a PSA 2-4…and that to me makes absolutely no sense.

It seems to me that a low pop report of a PSA 1 graded cards means that most people just aren’t grading damaged cards…the majority of raw ungraded old wotc cards are not mint and so it would seem that not only are there others out there in PSA 1 condition but also that if I were to take a PSA 2,3,4 and break them from their case, give them an extra scratch or two and maybe a small dings or creases…I could also have a PSA 1 card. the low pop report just kills me…as if that’s what gives the card value.

Analogy - would you rather take an old 1960 Shelby Cobra in “PSA 1” condition because there is a smaller population of them or a “PSA 2” condition even though more exist?
Analogy #2 (hypothetical and not actual numbers) - Would you rather take a t206 Honus Wagner in PSA 1 condition because there is only one in this condition in the world or a PSA 3 when there are 6 in the world.

Change my mind.

PSA 1s do not sell for more money than a higher grade - is there any trend / card you can evidence this with?

In both analogy’s I’d take the higher grade all day.

You can always make a PSA 2 card a PSA 1, the opposite can’t be achieved (without altering), usually PSA 1s can command a premium for cards which people are likely to build a PSA 1-10 set of

If you see a PSA 1 sell more than a PSA 2 or 3 it’s probably because someone valued the “meme” of owning a PSA 1 more than the difference in condition between PSA 1 vs 2 or 3
To reiterate, buying a PSA 1-3 in Pokemon usually means you’re not really concerned with condition. With a PSA 1, there’s an added novelty of “why was this card even graded” that may attract a slightly larger buying pool of people which means occasionally you will see that PSA 1 ‘premium’. No one is buying PSA 1s because they are low pop. If you are, please stop.


I don’t actively search them but when looking for some specific cards…like when I was in the market to get my 1st ed base Charizard I saw PSA 1s selling higher than a 2 and I believe 3 (maybe 6 months back)?

I’ll have to post a pic on this thread next time I see one. Whenever I do run into it, the person is always using the same logic and really emphasizing the Crazy Low Pop Report.I guess that I’m not alone with my thinking and that these are probably pretty shady listings?

The thought of collecting a PSA 1-10 set is intriguing… There isn’t anything more rare about a played card as compared with any nicer copy, the only value is it’s significance as a collectible PSA branded product. Collecting low PSA grades used to be a punch line (referencing a PSA 1 crystal charizard listing from a few years ago). So is PSA a collectible brand now?


PSA 1’s are harder to come by in general but yes as most people said, for those wanting to collect PSA 1-10, sometimes can command a premium but it has no continuing statistic data to go by.

I look at it in terms of a percentile ranking. Let’s take 1st edition base Charizard as an example.

Grade: Pop: Percentile
PSA 1: 21: 1%

PSA 8: 467: 66%
PSA 9: 620: 94%
PSA 10: 120: 100%
Total 2217

PSA 1 is the “rarest” individual grade. You could make the claim that only 21/2217 (less than 1%) have a grade of PSA 1 and therefore it’s the rarest. It’s more rare than achieving a PSA 10 which has been achieved 120/2217 =5.4% of the time.

However, look at it in terms of a percentile ranking. PSA 1 is the 1% percentile ranking since it has the same or better grade than 1% of all other graded cards. The PSA 9 percentile ranking is (2217-120)/2217 = 94% since it has the same or better grade than 94% of the other graded cards. PSA 10 percentile ranking is (2217)/2217 = 100% meaning its the same or better than all other graded copies.

I really think this is the best way to interpret the grading scale. It negates the arguments that low pop PSA 1 and 8.5 grades should hold a premium due to their “rarity”.

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I think people (including myself) value a 1 more as opposed to, let’s say, a 2-4 due to it being on the end of the scale.


I’m a mopar guy…

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1s are easy to produce. 2s, 3s, and 4s are MUCH harder.

Don’t agree? Ok. Let’s put up $10,1000.00 each. I’ll go for a 1. You go for a 2. Whoever hits their number wins the others $10,1000.00.

@garyis2000, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you post in the past about putting together a 1st Ed Base holo set graded PSA Authentic. If so, what is the appeal of collecting such a set for you personally and how would that differ from collecting PSA 1s?

I think an Auth set seems like a pretty cool idea to collect, but I can’t quite put my finger on why. So I’m wondering your thoughts about that.