Buying Collectables Online – Know Your Grading

Some of the most popularly bought and sold items on the web are collectables – sports cards, coins, comic books, and many other lesser known pieces. Like any other highly specialized base of knowledge, there are those who spend years learning the intricacies of what separates top grade collectables from their inferior counterparts. While you may not have the time required to dedicate yourself fully to learning all the ins and outs of your specific hobby, the tips below can help to give you a better understanding of what certain items are viewed as higher quality than others.

Baseball Cards
One of the more highly priced collectables sold on ebay has been a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card. While the card in and of itself is rare and valuable, there have been some that sold for a few thousand dollars, while others that sold for tens of thousands of dollars. What’s the difference? The difference lies in the condition of the card itself. A few simply marks or unintentional creases can make all the difference. For example, the card below on the left was rated as a grade 1 by Professional Sports Authenticator, while the other was rated as a grade 5. That four number difference in grading was also the difference between a card that sells for $6,000, and one that sells for over $25,000.

Coins
Similar to the rating scale that PSA has established for sports cards, the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has created its own rating system to evaluate coins. Based on a scale from 1 to 70, subtle dents of marks on the coin can make the difference between one that is valued at a few dollars, or a few thousand. You can also watch a video on NGC’s website to get a better idea of the entire process that goes into grading various types of coins.

Toys and Action Figures
An increasingly larger community of collectors have circled back to their childhood and turned the buying and selling of older toys and action figures into big business. This increased interest from collectors has spawned the creation of the Action Figure Authority, a grading and rating authority that specializes just in action figures and other toys. This grading association has established four specific authorities that are further specialized in their areas of expertise – the Action Figure Authority, Collectable Doll Authority, Die-Cast Authority and Video Game Authority. Each of these authorities will rate any given piece on a scale of 1 to 10, with half and quarter grades being assigned for numbers 7.5 and above.

Regardless of which avenue your favorite hobbies or interests may run, the key to knowing how to buy and sell online is knowledge. While you may not have the time to learn all of the intricacies of your specific interests, knowing the basics of how those items are rated and evaluated is the first step in ensuring that you aren’t caught off guard as you seek out that perfect find.

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