PSA Mail Day

They’re here! In December 2020 I sent 20 of my ungraded 1993 refractors to PSA for review and encapsulation. Within months the grading company was overwhelmed by a surge of new submissions and announced the unprecedented step of halting new orders in April. My cards, which had been sent under the firm’s slow but economical bulk service, sat untouched for nearly a year. I was surprised in late October to find the status changed from “Under Review” to “Grading.” Today a package arrived containing the newly encased cards.

The entire process took 455 days from the time the US Postal Service handed my cards to PSA through the point at which the grading company put the return package into a mail carrier’s hands. The time taken for each step of the grading process can be highly variable. Collectors have banded together in a thread at Blowout Cards to post processing data so that others can estimate their own progress. My own experience is shown in the table below:

StepDateTotal Time Elapsed
Receive cards from USPSJan. 8, 2021-Start-
Entered in PSA system & identity researchedMar. 9, 202160
GradingOct. 30, 2021295
AssemblyMar. 5, 2022421
Quality Assurance Check #1Mar. 24, 2022440
Quality Assurance Check #2Apr. 7, 2022454
Grades populatedApr. 7, 2022454
Cards shipped back / tracking providedApr. 8, 2022455

Expectations and Results

I had estimated a condition for each card and carried it in my mental overview of how the set was stacking up. Comparisons of raw cards with an already sizeable inventory of graded ones provided a basis for how grading would turn out. With the return of these cards I can apply a more tangible weight to these estimates.

Here’s how they fared compared to my expectations going into the process:

NameSetCard #Expected GradeExpectation NotesActual PSA Grade
Carlos Garcia1993 Finest Refractors48/99
Scott Cooper1993 Finest Refractors 77/8Really bad T/B centering, likely gets (OC) qualifier or a 2 point deduction for centering7
Curt Schilling1993 Finest Refractors 107/8Bad centering7
Andy Benes1993 Finest Refractors 197/88
Ramon Martinez1993 Finest Refractors 2988
Darryl Hamilton1993 Finest Refractors 4588
Harold Reynolds1993 Finest Refractors 508 or No GradeCard is cut slightly shorter than others – not entirely sure it would grade – no trimming suspected as it was a long-time component of Phil Gold’s collection and purchased raw8
Bobby Bonilla1993 Finest Refractors 6688
Terry Steinbach1993 Finest Refractors 6788
Reggie Jefferson1993 Finest Refractors 13989
Cal Eldred1993 Finest Refractors 1477/8Dinged corner, not sure about how harsh PSA will be9
Dean Palmer1993 Finest Refractors 15988
Dave Winfield1993 Finest Refractors 16288
Danny Tartabull1993 Finest Refractors 16788
Jack McDowell1993 Finest Refractors 17288
Eric Anthony1993 Finest Refractors 1799Best looking card in the group8
Ray Lankford1993 Finest Refractors 1877/8Really bad T/B centering, likely gets (OC) qualifier or multi-point deduction8
Lee Smith1993 Finest Refractors 958/98
Dennis Eckersley1993 Finest Refractors 1007/88
Kirby Puckett1993 Finest Refractors 1126/7Minor corner bend, centering, and multiple print dots on surface. Not sure how hard PSA will be on the latter issue.8

Overall, I am pleased with the results of this submission. Third party graders are not infallible. Elsewhere in the collection I have a Sammy Sosa with a hard corner ding that was somehow given a grade of 8 out of 10. There were a couple surprises (Puckett and Eldred to the upside, Anthony to the downside) but nothing terribly out of line.

These cards were all purchased raw through eBay auctions or through COMC. Both services are comprised of individuals, so some variation in sellers’ grading capabilities is to be expected. COMC states in its FAQ that post-1980 cards are “Near Mint-Mint (NM-MT 8) or better.” My experience has shown this is usually optimistic, but of the half dozen COMC-sourced cards submitted in this batch I received 4 grades of 8 bookended by single grades of 7 and 9. The midpoint of the range was right in line with their stated condition expectations.

I have one more shipment of cards in the grading process and now have hopes of seeing them sooner rather than later.