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What's with these TRADING CARD PSA Slabs? Are they legit? Watch Before Your Next PSA Sub

March 04, 2022 4 min read

What's with these TRADING CARD PSA Slabs? Are they legit? Watch Before Your Next PSA Sub

I get tons of questions about these PSA "trading card" slabs so I thought I would bring some clarity to them.  I remember seeing these when I first started in cards and was confused as well.

There are 2 kinds of slabs that you will see when sending in your cards to PSA  for autograph authentication and slabbing.

The first one that you will see is the one that probably confuses the most people. It just says "trading card" on it. You'll see that in the top left-hand corner of the slab label.

The other option you will see is one where it actually lists out the entire card.  For example, Derek Jeter1993 SP Foil,

Both will say PSA/DNA cert, noting the autograph has been authenticated.

Those are the 2 different options that you have when you are sending in autographs that you've had signed in person or at a paid autograph signing.

This is not anything to do with any pack pulled autographs. These are just autographs that you are submitting for authentication.

First, let's talk about the trading card one. Why does it say trading card on there? The reason why it says trading card is you are sending this card to PSA/DNA, who is the autograph division of PSA for autograph authentication only. They are not authenticating the card, meaning they're not checking to see if it's a reprint, or if it's a real card. They are saving the time and cost on their end of sending this card over to PSA to have them check.   PSA/DNA is only authenticating the autograph. That's why they put "trading card" on the slab label and not the actual card information because they don't have a way of verifying if that card is 100% authentic.

You also have the option of getting your autograph graded.  This is where a lot of people get confused. It'll say GEM MT 10 on the top right-hand corner of the label, but you'll look at the card and it will be completely off-center or the corners will look like garbage.  You are thinking to yourself, how was that card a 10?"  Well, it's just for the autograph grade. If the grade # on the slab is for the autograph only it will say "auto grade" underneath PSA/DNA certified.  That's what the 10 or whatever grade you get for the autograph is certifying.

How do you get a good autograph grade? First off, the autograph can't be touching the edges of the card. If you get something like that, probably not going to get a 10.  If the ink has any smudges, or if it skips that will also affect the grade.  Basically, you're looking for a perfect autograph. One where the pen color doesn't really change throughout the autograph. That's what you're looking for. I have noticed PSA's getting a little harder on the autograph grades, so make sure if you're going to choose that option, that you're pretty sure that you're going to get a 10.  Otherwise, you are just wasting the $10 to have the autograph graded.

That covers pretty much everything about the "trading card" slab,  Why would you use this option versus the other option of getting PSA to authenticate the card?  It comes down to cost. To do the "trading card" slab, you're just paying the autograph authentication and encapsulation fee. For example, Larry Bird, he's a $30 autograph to authenticate on the site, plus a small encapsulation fee. Roughly $35 total.  To have PSA also authenticate the card, the cheapest option for that right now is $120!  Almost four times the cost.

This isn't going to be something you want to do for every card, but typically people are going to use the "trading card" label for the cheaper autographs and the full information slab for the expensive cards.

Let's talk about your other label PSA offers. That's the one where they actually write out the entire card description.  For example, Derek Jeter, 1993 SP Foil.

I used this one on the last Jeter card that I got signed. I went and got the autograph graded as well because the autograph was just perfect. Didn't have any issues with it at all. Again, what this label means is that PSA has looked at the card and determined that the card is an authentic SP foil.

What are some reasons to use this type of label from PSA?  Collectors want to have that information on the label for a couple of different reasons. One, they want to make sure they're buying a real card. You just spend $3,500 on like a Jeter card like this, you want to make sure that you're getting the real deal. Second, it just looks better. Obviously, nobody wants to do "trading card" on the label. It looks cheap.  Personally, I would rather have a card with the full label information,
Spending $120 to get it in the correct slab that everybody want makes sense.  You've spent over $1,000 on the autograph, spend the $120 and put it in the full information slab  You would not want to do the trading card one with this one.

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