Graded cards fetch more on the market than their raw equivalents. Therefore, they are the cornerstone of many collections. So, why would anyone consider breaking cards out of a PSA or BGS Slab?
Unfortunately, not every grade comes back a gem mint 10. Sometimes, the grade looks pretty unfair to us. And we wonder if there is anything we can about it. The answer is yes. There are several steps you can take.
For general card submission guidelines, read our complete guide. However, if you have already received your cards back and are unhappy with the grades, read on.
When you have received a grade you think is not justified, take a good close and objective look at the cards you submitted. You may also want to get a second opinion from someone who understands grading to see if the graders were right.
Another option is to have your grades reviewed. PSA will allow you to resubmit cards they have graded for review, as long as you are willing to pay for the service, of course.
However, the PSA website kind of warns you that it is a waste of time. It says:
“It is important to note that we have a minimum of two or more, professional graders review your item, and they must agree upon a grade…Nevertheless, PSA is here to provide a third-party, unbiased opinion to ensure that our customers (whether a buyer, seller or collector) receive the most accurate estimation of the item.”
Beckett provides the same service. However, the language on their website is less discouraging. Take that for whatever it is worth.
When you want to resubmit your card for grading, you do not have to break it out of its slab. One option you have is to resubmit it as a crossover grade.
When you do so, you have the option to ask that they reslab the card only if it passes a specified minimum card. For example, you can send in a BGS 9.5 card and ask that they only reslab it if they give it 1o gem mint grade. Otherwise, the card will remain in its BSG slab. Obviously, you pay for the service either way.
Beckett provides the exact same service.
If both major grading companies provide a crossover grade service, why would you break open the slab before submitting it? Not everyone trusts that the graders will not be prejudiced by the previous grade when reexamining the card. This is particularly relevant when you resubmit the card to the same grading company.
It is human nature to be prejudiced by existing grading. It gives you an immediate frame of reference.
In some cases, something happens to the slab, and it cracks or stains in an unsightly way. This can also affect the resale value of the card.
Make sure you have the following implements:
As we all know, the grading companies divide the slabs into two separate sections. The top section contains the grade and information. Meanwhile, the lower half has the card itself.
The secret to opening a slab is to create a puncture in the top part of the slab, from which you can pry the entire slab open without directly touching the section containing the card. That way, the card does not sustain any damage from the process.
If you remember nothing else, keep this in mind. While you can basically do whatever you want with the plier and screwdriver in the top section, do not ever use a tool on the bottom half. If you crack the bottom with the plier or jab the screwdriver in that section, you risk damaging the card.
Cardlines decided to subject a 2020 Topps Yordan Alvarez rookie card to heavy-handed experimentation. Here are our findings:
PSA puts their slabs together well. Almost too much so. So be prepared for some heavy resistance when you come in and try to break it.
To demonstrate, we chose to bust open a card of my man crush, sorry, I mean favorite player Shohei Ohtani. This beautiful Topps Museum Collection card got a 6 from Beckett, so we aren’t too worried about opening it.
The Beckett slabs are not put together as securely as their PSA equivalents. However, they are thicker. Therefore, it is not always easier to pry them open. Nevertheless, the same general principles apply.
SGC cards are the easiest to break. One incision with the pliers, or two at most, will provide you with the necessary leverage. Once you get it open with your screwdriver, it will just come apart into two pieces quite neatly.
The Cardlines approved method of opening slabs is as good as it gets. You will most likely get the card out completely intact. However, it is not a completely safe process. Something can always go wrong, and your may damage your card in the process.
In addition, resubmitting a card after grading will skew the population numbers. These are essential stats collectors rely on in assessing value. Once the process is finished you may want to contact the original grader and let them know it has been cracked open so they know to correct their pop numbers.
Have fun and good luck!