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How Does Autograding Work?

Auto-grading is a service for already certified autographs or pack-pulled autographs. It differs from authentication, which deals with in-person autographs requiring certification. A card collector can have the two processes done simultaneously or at different times.

All reputable card graders have their in-house grading scales for all autographs. Essentially, all their grading systems have scales running between 1 and 10. On these scales, 10 is the highest score. Grading autographs also depend on the quality of the signature as part of a grader’s autograph guidelines.

However, autograph grading has nothing to do with the rates graders give cards. For instance, if the ink isn’t smeared and the autograph isn’t faded, the autograph will receive a score of 10. Every graded autograph must be an “out of pack” auto, meaning it should not be hand-signed or in-person.

So, how does auto-grading work? This post delves into the details of how this service works. Remain in touch to learn more.

1.  The Grading Scales

Grading scales lie at the center of auto-grading. In fact, no grading can happen without a scale against which card graders grade the autographs. All the major card grading companies have their grading scales. Beckett has a 1-10 scale with sub-grades. The industry’s biggest player, PSA, has a flat 1-10 scale. SGC grades autographs on a scale out of 100, whey it uses to give cards a rate of 1-10.

Any grading score above 9 is worth book value or greater. This grade means the card is in excellent condition and nearly flawless. Definitely, most card collectors want to buy cards in this condition. You can get more details on various card graders’ standards here: PSA Standards, SGC Standards, and HGA Standards.

2.  Auto Grading Factors

So, what factors or conditions do card graders look for when grading cards? A professional card grader looks for several variables on a card’s front and backside. They critically examine a card’s corners, edges, surface, and centring before awarding grades. Let’s look at these factors more intensively below.

auto grading factors

a. Corners

A card must have four sharp corners to be considered a “gem.” Graders like PSA, Beckett, and SGC look at cards under magnification to get a closer look at them. Some of the questions arising regarding a card’s corners are:

  • Are a card’s corners rounded in any way?
  • Do its corners miss some paper?
  • Do the card’s corners have any whitening?
  • Are its corners bent in any way?

b. Edges

A card’s hedges or borders are another critical factor grader will look at before auto-grading them. Any card that falls under the Mint or Gem Mint condition must have sharp corners without any signs of chipping.

Detecting these dents in a card’s edges can be challenging using the naked eye. Therefore, you need a loupe or magnifying glass to get a closer look. A card with lower grades usually has its borders significantly worn out with potentially chipped edges. Some of the questions you should ask yourself before presenting a card for auto-grading are:

  • Are its edges straight?
  • Are its edges perforated along the edges?
  • Are any of its edges bent or creased?

c. Surface

Your card’s surface condition significantly affects its overall grading score. The card might have a perfect surface, but it may not earn the coveted Gem-Mint score if it has fingermarks or dirt. Other things can also dent your card. These include wax stains, print defects, focus imperfections, scratches, scuffing, and creases.

You can use a loupe or backlight to help your eye detect some of these surface imperfections. The naked eye is most likely to miss them. Ask yourself these critical questions before presenting your card for auto-grading.

  • Does its surface have any discoloration that differs from its original color?
  • Are its colors sharp or faded?
  • Does the card’s surface have any debris or dust?
  • Does its surface have any printing errors, such as black dots or lines that were accidentally added during the card’s manufacture?
  • Is its surface creased in any way?

d. Centring

Centring influences your card’s overall grading score. Sometimes, you can have challenges telling if the card has a perfect 50/50 centring. However, telling if something is obviously off-center shouldn’t be difficult. Ask the following questions regarding your card’s centring.

  • Is the player’s image centred within acceptable thresholds, both top to bottom and left to right?
  • Is its front image within the 55/45 to 60/40 percent threshold, and its back within the 75/25 percent threshold to earn the coveted Gen-Mint score?


Closing Remarks

Auto grading boosts your card’s value if you wish to sell it in the future. Graders rate autographs using a scale of 1-10. They also grade cards based on centring, edges, surface, and corners.

Do you have cards you want to submit for grading? Go ahead and contact us today for all your card submission needs.

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