I don’t have a lot of use for graded cards. I find that the slabs make for difficult storage, they take up too much space and they make the cards hard to flip through. My preference is still the 9-pocket sheet (or eight, twelve or whatever fits). It’s the easiest way to deal with a set and it mixes basic protection with ease of access. (Dropping a binder stinks, though.)
The main use I have for graded cards is when a grade depresses the value of a card that would otherwise be annoyingly expensive. My favourite is the PSA 6 or 6.5 that is physically flawless but a smidge too far off-centre for the 7 or 8 it would get otherwise. Right behind that is the card that is mostly-centred but has just a trace of a corner ding. Sold raw, the seller would call it NM and try to get full value (often succeeding). The PSA drags it down.
When I get one of these, I crack it and stuff it in my set. The flaws that take down a grade don’t tend to stand out in a binder and the set comes out looking really good. These are vintage cards, anyway. Off-centre is their natural state of being.
Conversely, the ones I really hate are the perfectly-centered 6s and 7s. They’ll have a ding somewhere (I’ll take off-centre and no ding vs. centred and dinged any day), or sometimes worse.
This Bobby Hull is a perfect example. My previous ’65 Hull was probably among the three or four worst cards I had in terms of shape. Mangled, beat to shreds, missing bits on the back, it was the ultimate filler. This was supposed to replace it. It looks like the classic PSA 6 – off-centre just enough, corners touched a hair more than I’d like, but it would probably do well in a set.
Flip it over and – wait, what on earth is this?
Look at both bottom corners. It’s not paper loss. It looks more like something stuck to the back of the card. Was it glued into an album, maybe? I’ve never seen this on a ’65 before, so it’s not something that came from a pack.
How did this possibly get this grade? It’s not centred, three corners show touches, so that should get the 6 if not less, but with gunk stuck to the back?
Somebody was napping.
This one isn’t getting cracked. This one is trade bait for the Fall Expo.