When you get a new pack of Pokémon or baseball cards, you may notice something when you open them. There’s a line or two running vertically or horizontally over the card’s face. What’s more, you hit the jackpot with one of the cards. Do print lines affect PSA grading?
Unfortunately, print lines will affect grading. Actually, any defect on the card will influence its grade. If there are many lines or they’re very noticeable, you can bank on not getting a mint grade. However, not all is dismal.
You may still get a grade 9 depending on the card, its condition, and other factors. However, at the very least, do not expect a Mint 10.
What Are Print Lines on Cards?
Print lines on cards are those pesky white, black, or mixed-color lines that appear during production. These can happen during the actual printing, with the mechanisms of the machine making its mark in a line.
It could also happen when the cards undergo cutting as they feed into and out of the machine. Another way they can occur is through the packaging and stuffing the cards for distribution. Regardless, how they appear and affect visual appeal will determine the grade given through PSA.
Related: Is PSA Grading Trustworthy?
How Much Do Print Lines Affect a PSA Grade?
How much a print line will affect the PSA grade will depend on how bad or severe it is. If the line is light and quite faint, you might get as much as a 9. But if multiple lines interfere with the image, you may get something like a 3 or 4.
Therefore, if you can only see the lines at a certain angle or if they don’t impair the image, you may very well get a higher grade.
PSA Recommends using Card Saver 1’s when submitting cards for grading. To check the current price and availability of Card Saver 1 Sleeves, click here to view the selection on Amazon.
So, to better grasp how cards measure up, it’s best to understand how PSA’s grading system works. Upon sending your cards in, a grader will use several qualifiers. They use various acronyms to mark down the issues and problems the card exhibits. They are as follows:
- PD – Print Defect: These are any flaws that cause the card to fall below acceptable standards. These are print lines, dots and white patches that have the potential to appear during production.
- OC – Off-Center: While there may be a whole image, there was a misprint during production. This causes the image to be just slightly askew from the true center of the card.
- ST – Stain: Any nonprinting splotches and smudges that appear on the card classify as a stain.
- OF – Out of Focus: The image is blurry.
- MK – Marks: These are other blemishes and marks that appear on the card, either during production or from some other means.
Then there’s the matter of actually grading. Once they determine the number of qualifiers that affect the card as a whole, there’s a system of numbers they use. These are the standards that make a card valuable.
However, it’s equally important to first understand how subjective grading is. It’s all going to depend on who grades it and what their opinion is. So, your trading cards are subject to the grader’s whim, wisdom, and awareness, and you won’t know anything until they return to you.
The grades go as follows:
- 1 (Poor): There are multiple pinholes, tears, missing corners, creases, surface loss, discoloration, warping and/or staining. There is no real visual appeal to the card.
- 2 (Good): A card will be approximately centered and may have missing corners, scuffing, notched edges, loss of glossiness, several creases or other print defects.
- 3 (Very Good): The card in question will have near-perfect centering with soft, rounded corners. There’s very little surface wear. Focus may be blurry and there could also be some discoloration and registration marks. Surface breaks and light tears or creases may also be visible, but minimal.
- 4 (Very Good to Excellent): The trained eye and measuring implements will only notice the image off center. Corners may have light rounding or fraying with a slight wrinkle or hairline crease.
- 5 (Excellent): Centering requirement is the same as a 4, but surface wear and printing defects are minimal. There might be some fraying or rounding of corners along with chipping, lost gloss and some scratching. But none of these should detract from the overall appearance of the card.
- 6 (Excellent to Near-Mint): Centering is pristine with only a bit of fraying on the edges, a hair out of focus or barely noticeable registration. Bitsy stains or signs of lost gloss can qualify.
- 7 (Near-Mint): Perfect centering with only one or two flaws exhibited on the card.
- 8 (Near-Mint to Mint): Stellar centering with sharp corners to the naked eye; although the corners may have some imperfections upon closer inspection. Only one miniscule flaw is present.
- 9 (Mint): Impeccable centering, clean registration and sharp corners. If there is a flaw, it’s hardly noticeable.
- 10 (Gem Mint): Exquisite centering of the image and there are absolutely no flaws, imperfections or visible wear.
So, while print lines will more than likely affect the PSA grading, you may have a chance to receive a fairly high one. If the lines aren’t that noticeable or don’t affect the image’s appeal, it might be okay. But, if the lines are severe, plentiful, or definitively ruin the image in some way, expect it to be very low.
One thing is certain. If there’s a print line, you won’t get a 10. The only time that could happen is if the line is so faint it’s easily missed by the naked eye. But, if the grader catches it and they’re meticulous, it’s not likely to get a 10.
But, you’ll only know if you send the cards in. If you think you have a card worth grading, go for it. It can’t hurt.