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 in new submissions and announced the unprecedented step of halting new submissions 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:
|Step||Date||Total Time Elapsed|
|Receive cards from USPS||Jan. 8, 2021||-Start-|
|Entered in PSA system & identity researched||Mar. 9, 2021||60|
|Grading||Oct. 30, 2021||295|
|Assembly||Mar. 5, 2022||421|
|Quality Assurance Check #1||Mar. 24, 2022||440|
|Quality Assurance Check #2||Apr. 7, 2022||454|
|Grades populated||Apr. 7, 2022||454|
|Cards shipped back / tracking provided||Apr. 8, 2022||455|
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:
|Name||Set||Card #||Expected Grade||Expectation Notes||Actual PSA Grade|
|Carlos Garcia||1993 Finest Refractors||4||8/9||9|
|Scott Cooper||1993 Finest Refractors||7||7/8||Really bad T/B centering, likely gets (OC) qualifier or a 2 point deduction for centering||7|
|Curt Schilling||1993 Finest Refractors||10||7/8||Bad centering||7|
|Andy Benes||1993 Finest Refractors||19||7/8||8|
|Ramon Martinez||1993 Finest Refractors||29||8||8|
|Darryl Hamilton||1993 Finest Refractors||45||8||8|
|Harold Reynolds||1993 Finest Refractors||50||8 or No Grade||Card 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 raw||8|
|Bobby Bonilla||1993 Finest Refractors||66||8||8|
|Terry Steinbach||1993 Finest Refractors||67||8||8|
|Reggie Jefferson||1993 Finest Refractors||139||8||9|
|Cal Eldred||1993 Finest Refractors||147||7/8||Dinged corner, not sure about how harsh PSA will be||9|
|Dean Palmer||1993 Finest Refractors||159||8||8|
|Dave Winfield||1993 Finest Refractors||162||8||8|
|Danny Tartabull||1993 Finest Refractors||167||8||8|
|Jack McDowell||1993 Finest Refractors||172||8||8|
|Eric Anthony||1993 Finest Refractors||179||9||Best looking card in the group||8|
|Ray Lankford||1993 Finest Refractors||187||7/8||Really bad T/B centering, likely gets (OC) qualifier or multi-point deduction||8|
|Lee Smith||1993 Finest Refractors||95||8/9||8|
|Dennis Eckersley||1993 Finest Refractors||100||7/8||8|
|Kirby Puckett||1993 Finest Refractors||112||6/7||Minor 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 corner crease 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 sometimes optimistic, but of the six 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.