My family went for one last summer vacation during the week prior to the Orland show. Unfortunately, I had to miss the August Gonzaga show. We went up to Minneapolis and hung out at the Mall of America. Shopping malls may be dying all across the country but not at the Mall of America. That place is amazingly massive and filled with hundreds of shops and thousands of people.
This was me and my daughter's second trip to the Mall of America and the first for my wife and son. My daughter and I hit it a few years ago when we were in town for a card show. Then and now we barely scratched the surface.
Upon arrival, we dined at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Restaurant which was okay. It was about what you would expect for a chain restaurant located in a mall. The wife and the son spent most of the day in the mall's indoor amusement park. The daughter and I shopped, mostly for her. I was impressed to learn that the mall has four Lid stores, you know the shops that sell baseball caps. I was unimpressed to learn that the inventory did not vary between the stores.
We also spent a day at the Minneapolis Zoo which is about as good of a zoo as there is. I got some good exercise in between the mall and the zoo. All in all, we had a nice time.
Back home at the Orland show, I was surprised at how light the crowd was. This was certainly the smallest crowd of the year. As a result, I had my slowest Orland show of the year. Nevetheless, I did sell a few cards.
A father and son team got things going. The son purchased some 1959 Topps baseball while the father purchased some 1961s. A regular purchased some early Bowman baseball and a 1933 Goudey Lon Warneke.
Larry purchased some 1974 Topps baseball. Rick purchased some 1975 Topps football. I put out my publications at this show and sold a Sport Magazine from the 1960's with Mickey Mantle on the cover. A regular purchased a 1966 Topps Don Sutton rookie and a 1957 Topps football Frank Gifford.
Dan purchased some 1954 Bowman baseball. A Cubs fan purchased some 1980-81 Topps hockey. A long-time customer purchased some 1960 Fleer baseball. Joel purchased some 1975 Fleer football and some 1960 Fleer baseball. Will purchased some 1963 Topps baseball. I know I sold some more cards but I got chatty and forgot to write them down.
On the buying front, I picked up a real nice box of baseball stars from the 1960s. Quick day, capped off with another fine meal at the sub shop with Will and Joe.
Time for a rant, the subject today: Graded Cards.
I first observed graded cards about 20 year ago. My initial thoughts, that I was fully qualified to grade my cards without the assistance of a third party, has not changed. I did not foresee how graded cards would affect the pricing of cards. The prices for high grade vintage cards have gone through the roof and these cards are no longer accessible to the regular collector. They have become luxury items for the rich.
While many folks claim that graded cards have helped stem the tide of fraud, I have to disagree. There are many fraudsters out there popping out high grade cards from their slab and replacing them with low graded cards or fakes and selling them on eBay. In addition, the grading process is heavily flawed and dishonest. PSA is prone to damage cards submitted for grading. To cover their tracks, the employees at PSA slab and give these damaged cards high grades. I was victimized by PSA years ago, when I submitted an absolutely beautiful and flawless 1953 Topps Roy Campanella. I gave the card to PSA staffers at the long defunct Sports Fest in Schaumburg, Illinois. A month or so later, I received my card slabbed in the mail. There was a huge crease in the middle of the top edge. Obviously, some moronic PSA staffer placed the card in a box with other cards then dug his or her thumb into the top edge when pulling a group of the cards out of the box. The card which should have been an 8 or 9 received a 5. With the crease, the card was more like a 2.
I see the PSA booth at all the big shows and it is staffed with young folks from California who are not card hobbyists. These kids don't care about your cards. They are just there to get paid. So, in my opinion, PSA is a sad joke and a detriment to the hobby.
If you follow the online threads about PSA on certain card collecting sites, you will read all sorts of PSA horror stories. The biggest PSA story concerns the Gretzky T206 Wagner in which convicted felon Bill Mastro admitted to trimming the card. There is conflicting accounts as to whether PSA knew the card was trimmed when they gave it an 8.
Many believe that PSA gives better grades to its best customers such as large auction houses. Recently, the Miami Herald published a story in which a reporter gave some fake autographs to PSA which slabbed them and graded them as authentic.
The loser in this whole grading/PSA saga is the average collector who thinks he is buying a legitimately graded card or autograph when in fact he is not. As PSA continues to grow and influence the hobby, so does its negative impact. I personally view PSA as this monster lurking behind the scenes.
Since they ruined my '53 Campanella, I've hardly submitted any cards. Recently, PSA slapped me in the face and I vow to NEVER submit a card to them again. My newest gripe about PSA concerns their online forum. For the past four years, I have been posting information regarding my Milwaukee show on the forum. I never took advantage and bumped my post like some other guys. I just put it out there and let people naturally respond. Over the years, a few guys came into the show as a result of my post on the PSA forum.
In August, I received the following message from one of the moderators of the PSA forum:
I just wanted to let you know we do not permit advertising of any kind on the boards. Your latest thread is unique in that it is a show ad primarily, so I just wanted to reach out to explain before just removing.
We certainly want to promote and support more show attendance, but the reason we do not allow ads on the site is because it then becomes a free for all. We just want to ensure the site doesn’t become a place to filter through a bunch of spam.
We appreciate your understanding and cooperation moving forward.
So who is Jackie? Does she collect cards? As a card collector do you feel that information regarding shows are spam? As I said before, I have been posting info about my show monthly for the past four years without incident. I have not had a single collector accuse my posts of being spam. As a result of this latest insult from PSA, I will never again do any sort of business with them. PSA has really taken much of the joy of collecting out of the hobby. Going forward, let's take back our hobby and boycott PSA! I know grading is a necessary evil these days so I plan to support the alternative grading companies such as SGC and Beckett. I hope you will as well. @#!$% you PSA!!
Come out to my show at the Four Points Sheraton, 5311 S. Howell, in Milwaukee on Saturday, October 6, 2018, and let's talk about PSA!