Sports Illustrated Blog #42 – Latest Update on CGC Grading Trends.

Welcome to my Sports Illustrated/TIME magazine blog – Your collector’s guide to the latest hobby updates and insight into what’s trending now.

Thanks for your SI interest.  The scoop we all want to know.  What is CGC up to these days regarding magazines?

Is CGC, the most recognized comic and magazine grading company, its evolution, and its every trend/advancement important to our hobby? Perhaps I can best answer that question with a question – would you rather have a 1952 Mantle Topps Card Mint 10 or a near mint 9.5? 

Whether you’re interested in dollars or just bragging rights, we collectors “live and die” with our grades.

Just five short years ago, SI issues were collected by the cover, not by whether there was a mailing label, label removed, creased, stained, torn etc etc.  But one thing is absolutely certain in collectables, the best always rises to the top, in demand and value. 

Condition is the absolute driving force and momentum behind every collecting medium and magazines are no exception.

Hence, is the training and thought process behind every CGC grading criteria important?   Is every current event/trend at CGC important?   You bet your collection they are.

Magazine grading think ology is moving thru an evolution as unmistakable as the growth of the hobby.  Referring only to SI’s, there are probably about 10 pre-1980 CGC 9.8’s in existence today (excluding the #1 issue).  There are currently none listed on ebay or for sale at any of the auction houses which means the rest are in private collections and not being sold publically.  To my knowledge, the last pre-1980 CGC 9.8 sold in auction (again excluding the #1 issue) was two years ago at Heritage.  It was a 1955 Williams which sold for approximately $6000, an absolute steal in today’s market.  

I predict that the next publically sold pre-1980 CGC 9.8 SI with similar star magnitude, will sell in excess of $50,000.  In 1980, if I would have said that in our lifetime certain Topps cards would be selling for $millions, would you have believed me?

Here are a couple of current trends of interest coming out of CGC regarding high grades (9.8, 9.6), pre-1980, since 2017. 

  1. With the exception of the number #1 issue, there has not been a single grade above 9.4.  Not some, but all high grades on the census have come during or before 2017.  That is a trend.
  2. There has never been a 9.9 or 10.0 grade issued by CGC, across ALL magazines, EVER.  So I believe it’s a safe conclusion to assume any 9.8 will be the highest grade for that issue forever – until trends change.  That is a trend.
  3. If you are lucky enough to find, receive or own a 9.0, 9.2, or 9.4 CGC grade, it will be the very unlikely exception that your grade will ever be beaten.  That is a trend.

As we search the internet, trade with collectors, or even walk the isles of the NSCC (National Sports Card Convention) in July, in pursuit of the very best magazine grades, don’t shadow the crowd that believes a CGC 9.0, 9.2 or a 9.4 is not and will not be the best ever.  This is not baseball cards we’re talking about here, it’s magazines.  Fact, pre-1980 magazines have had a much more difficult time surviving than their counterpart in cards.

Think about it.  A newsstand SI is purchased in 1965.  In order to maintain a 9.0 status or above, it must be brought home without protection, stored in a box without being read, survive numerous moves, restoring, shuffling, bumping, box deterioration, humidity and handling all over a 50 year period.  If it survives all that, it must then be located in the box, pulled for perusal, handled for photographs, autographs, and reselling before eventually finding its way into a protective package.

That all this could happen without damage is more than a long shot – in fact, it happens so infrequently that the scarcity of high grade SI’s is the hobby’s biggest asset and worst liability.

In my next blog, I’ll have more to say about CGC’s actual grading process and what I believe to be their grading intentions as they absolutely drive the hobby momentum.

I hope you are enjoying the reads on the history of TIME and SI magazines as well as an insight into relevant magazine collecting.

Great collecting to you and best fortunes with Sports Illustrated/TIME!

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