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LeBron James Cards » Blog » What to look for when determining the condition of a basketball card

What to look for when determining the condition of a basketball card

Date posted: Nov 21, 2009

When looking to purchase a card there are a range of physical factors that will influence the card's value. You should thoroughly check these out before you decide what the card is worth to you.

  • Corners. The sharper the corners the better the condition of the card. Older cards can be hard to find with very sharp corners so this becomes slightly less of an issue with age.
  • Centering. Cards are printed in large sheets with multiple cards side-by-side. The individual cards are then cut out of the sheet. Sometimes this cutting stage can be a little off which greatly impacts the card's condition. Off center cards can also be distracting to view. When a card is stated as 50/50 centering it is perfect, 60/40 is a little off center, 70/30 is further and so on. Also don't forget to look top to bottom as well as left to right for centering!
  • Edges. Cards edges can become worn as with the corners. In addition many cards, especially foil cards, can easily become chipped off even before they are pulled from a pack.
  • Surface. A card's surface can deteriorate with age through fading, scratching etc. This is the hardest conditional quality to tell from a photo - especially as many cards are displayed in a soft sleeve which can be scratched itself. Dealers with a high reputation will state if the card has any surface defects, however.

These four conditional qualities are very important factors to consider before you purchase a card. Beckett has published an excellent grading scheme which you can use to determine the overall condition of a card or vice-versa.

You might also be interested our LeBron James Cards Price Guide.

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