I know, it seems like a rhetorical question...the grading of altered cards defrauds the consumer by creating the false impression of a higher grade and greater value...but also consider the following secondary and tertiary effects:

  • When altered cards are encapsulated by a trusted grading company it artificially inflates population numbers. In the case of cards that are notoriously condition sensitive or production scarce, this may very well have the effect of devaluing legitimately graded examples. It may also have the unintended effect of usurping customer confidence in all population statistics for a given grading company. We all know that as high-end populations increase, values for the highest graded examples of a particular card tend to decrease. Some issues have value predominantly because of their undesirable placement on the original uncut sheet or due to a haphazard production or collation process. To mitigate these factors by introducing "artificial" or altered grades, a grading company is doing a grave disservice to collectors who value legitimate condition scarcity or have already paid significant sums for tough-to-find cards.

  • The grading of altered cards may have the eventual effect of suppressing the entry of new scarcities into the hobby marketplace. Here's why: as long-time collectors of scarce vintage cards see downward fiscal pressures on key, commonly-altered issues (e.g., color-bordered cards, high-series cards, coveted first and last set issues), they may be less inclined to submit their cards for grading. I don't think there's any question that as key vintage baseball cards sell for record prices, more specimens find their way to market. The grading of altered cards may have an eventual dampening effect on this process as prices fall. Using this same analysis, future submissions to a particular grading company may also decline as collectors will undoubtedly have a desire to have their cards encapsulated by a company that does not have a reputation for grading altered sports cards.

  • Another undesirable result of altered card encapsulations might be focused on collector set registries. For example, if some set builders purchase large numbers of altered cards -- issues that may be unattainable under normal circumstances -- there may be a legitimate disincentive for other collectors to compete knowing that they are paying for legitimate scarcity while other set registrants are artificially inflating their GPA and set point ratings. The long-term result might very well be the erosion of confidence in a particular company's set registry as both entry level and advanced collectors are discouraged from registering their legitimate, privately graded cards and sets. Indeed, those collectors who have the closest associations with the most prolific card doctors will benefit the most from the deception and deceit. Such associations will only act to further perpetuate the detrimental effects that card altering has on this hobby. Well-educated, honest and knowledgeable collectors will comprise the group that is hurt the most.