Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA)
Sports card collectors have cared about the condition of their cards for decades, but they originally had to make do with subjective terms like "mint," excellent" and "very good" as descriptions. In 1991, Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) was created with an eye toward quantifying the condition of cards, and the concept proved so popular that the company is currently the largest third-party authenticator in the industry.
PSA uses a team of experts to grade cards on a ten-point scale, with 1 (Poor) at the low end and 10 (Gem Mint) representing a card that is virtually perfect in every facet. The factors used to determine a card's grade include sharpness of the corners, the lack or presence of staining or smudging, and the sharpness and centering of the photo. The company also uses half-points between 2 and 9 for cards it feels fall in-between two grades, and in those cases the focus is usually on centering.
Once the card is graded, PSA seals it inside a hard plastic container that preserves its condition and is intended to be permanent, as removal of the card invalidates the grade. At the top of the holder is PSA's distinctive red label, which contains the card's grade, player and set information, plus an ID number that can be entered online for verification purposes.
The fees PSA charges to grade a card can range from $15 to $250 depending on the size and declared value of the card, as well as how fast the owner would like the card back - a higher fee ensures a faster turnaround time. The company also accepts bulk submissions of less valuable cards, with a lower per-card fee for larger batches of cards.
Befitting its status as the industry leader in card grading, PSA attends many hobby shows where cards can be graded on-site. However the vast majority of cards are submitted by mail to the company's Orange County, California headquarters. PSA has very specific instructions on how cards should be packaged for submission, and many experienced collectors and dealers know them by heart.
In addition to sports cards, PSA also grades unopened packs of cards and tickets to sporting events. Its sister company PSA/DNA enjoys a similar status in its field of authenticating and grading autographs.
Home Page: www.psacard.com
Contact Information: (P) 1- 800-325-1121, (E) firstname.lastname@example.org