A Beginner’s Guide to the World of Pristine Cards
Many collectors get their favorite cards graded in order to provide long term protection. Others grade them in order to guarantee authenticity. In the sports card world of 2010, more and more everyday collectors are getting their cards graded for investment purposes, as highly graded cards can fetch far more than book price.
For example, take the case of Joe Montana's rookie card. An ungraded copy of Montana's historic RC can sell for between $30 and $70, depending on the condition of the card pictured. But graded copies of the card sell for significantly more. Take a look at some of these numbers from recent eBay auctions:
- Joe Montana Topps 1981 RC Ungraded: $30.50
- Joe Montana Topps 1981 RC BGS 8.0: $82.00
- Joe Montana Topps 1981 RC BGS 8.5: $109.95
- Joe Montana Topps 1981 RC BGS 9.0: $300.00
- Joe Montana Topps 1981 RC BGS 9.5: $2,000+
As you can see, the numbers increase exponentially based on the condition of the card. Last year, the holy-grail of football cards hit the auction block, the only “Pristine" copy of Joe Montana's rookie card in existence. Experts estimated the card would sell for between $20,000-$30,000. Final sale price? A whopping $65,000!
An interesting fact about grading is that it can be just as tough to achieve a “Pristine" rating on a modern day card as it is a vintage card. So that got me thinking…even though there are countless autographs and memorabilia cards out there, in fifty years what would be considered the truest rookie card of players like Tim Tebow or Sam Bradford? I chose to analyze Topps Chrome because of its tradition, popularity and status as a "true" RC.
Looking at the charts below, out of all the Topps Chrome cards that have been graded, Sam Bradford has only six Pristine cards and Tim Tebow just one. Three out of those seven are Bowman Chrome insert cards so it can be argued they don't even belong to the Topps Chrome set. One thing is certain: A BGS 10 card could be hidden in your collection or in a common box at a hobby shop unlike the ultra visible and expensive one-of-one.