PSA 9 Standards

I recently bought a card that was graded a 9, but decided to crack it out of its case in the name of science. Honestly I just wanted a baseline or standard to measure raw cards against so that I could establish a reasonable grading expectation.

Should this have gotten a 9? What are the usual qualifiers?

Appreciate any advice!

The corners made it a 9. For me personally, corner and edge whitening takes away appeal of a card. Depending on the grader, scratches might take a grade away. If i was grading that card and there was no corner whitening, I’d give it a 10 because the scratch is very minimal that it doesn’t impact overall card appeal.

Baseline is, if you can see something wrong, it would deduct a grade.

Every card starts with a 10 grade and gets deducted down for every noticeable flaw. If a card has a crease, the grade starts with 6. If a card has a dent, the grade starts with 6 or 7 depending on the size of the dent and goes down from there.

So if scratching is kept to a minimal (we’ll say no more than 3 small hairline scratches) and there isn’t any whitening, it can still land a 10? I guess I have the idea of a 10 as absolute perfection and no tolerance of any kind of flaw.

10s are never perfect. That card may not deserve a 10 but a 9 seems right.

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That is what I believe. Also some scratches are more visible and than others. There is no objective definition of ‘hairline scratch’ so it all comes down to the grader. A PSA 10 has a spectrum from a weak 10 to a pristine 10. You cannot objectively compare two cards of the same grade down to its print dot, because grading by nature is subjective. Some 10s are stronger than others hence the saying, ‘buy the card, not the grade’ if you are looking to own a card in a certain grade.

If you go to the PSA grading standards, a GM10 does allow for some flaws.

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I have seen hundreds of 9s at this point and I can confirm that’s a pretty average 9.

I have a handful of 9s with a lot heavier holo scratching compared to what I can see in the image. The number of white specs and how deep they go into the card is what I look for. Typically the whitening is limited to 1-2 corners and doesn’t get much more extensive than what you see in the left corner of the second image.

But yeah overall I have worse looking 9s and cleaner looking 9s. This one falls somewhere in the middle. It’s a shame you chose to crack it though, thats one I still need :blush: