Grading the condition of the card is probably the hardest (and definitely the most subjective) element of the hobby. A card in MINT Condition may be worth ten or twenty times as much as a card in GOOD or FAIR condition. The above mentioned price guides will contain detailed guidelines on how to grade cards. It is beyond the context of this short article to go into details of grading cards, but what I will say is that the art of grading cards by dealers is subjective at best and deceptive at worst. There have been times that Dean's Cards has purchased a card over eBay and felt that it was over-graded by as much three or even four grades.
Not to long ago we bought a 1970 Joe Namath card off of the internet to complete a set. The card was advertised as "Ex/Mt". We would have graded the card "Good". We eventually got our money back, but it was a waste of time and effort. I often believe that some sellers on these community flea market sites purposely send out over graded cards, knowing that some people are not going to bother to return them. There seems to be less accountability, when a particular seller is just one of a community of hundreds. This frustrates me very much as a buyer.
Not all “over grading” is meant as a deception. The grade of the card can depend on the grader's fatigue level, mood, and possibly even whether or not they had a fight with their spouse that morning! Even the professional grading organizations, such as PSA, Beckett or SCD Authentic will sometimes vary on how a card is rated on any given day and who looks at the card. If you wish more details on grading of vintage sports cards, simply consult one of the fore-mentioned guides or our guide on Grading Sports Cards.
It is not uncommon for even experienced collectors to grade the exact same card differently. To account for this subjective human element, Dean's Cards offers a money back satisfaction guarantee on all the cards that we sell. A purchase from Dean's Cards is NOT complete until you are 100% happy with your card. That being our policy, we tend to grade cards on the conservative side to avoid having to frustrate our customers (and also having to go through the cumbersome hassle of refunding money). In our case, it is just good business.
If you are looking to sell your cards, please contact Dean