Seven months after announcing its intention to compete in the grading and authentication market for sports cards, Certified Collectibles Group announced Tuesday it was accepting submissions.
CCG, a well respected grader of coins, paper money, comic books, magazines and concert posters, is launching the new service under the Certified Sports Guaranty (CSG) brand. The Sarasota, FL-based company says it will utilize artificial intelligence as part of its efforts to gain a share of the fast growing market for graded cards.
“We are excited to serve the sports card market with the highest levels of expertise, impartiality, innovation and efficiency,” says Steven R. Eichenbaum, CEO of CCG. “I am confident that CSG will quickly become the leading third-party sports card grading service by leveraging the full scope of our experience and resources.”
CSG will face long-established competition from PSA, SGC and Beckett Grading, but all three were inundated with submissions in 2020 and are dealing with large backlogs that have impacted turnaround times.
Memberships starting at $25 per year will be required for collectors and dealers who want to submit cards to CSG. Services range from $100 for a five-day service to a 60-day bulk service for 50 or or more cards. Like its main competitors, CSG will grade cards on a 10-point scale.
While CSG’s team of newly hired graders will examine each card and do the bulk of the authentication work, the company plans to automate many of the more time-consuming aspects of grading, such as attributing a card and measuring its centering. The CSG graders will also use other advanced technologies, including forensic devices that reveal alterations and hidden details through infrared and UV lighting, ultra-microscopic inspections and non-destructive ink and paper analysis.
Late last year, the company hired former Beckett employees Andy Broome and Westin Reeves to head up the new division.
“Over the more than 20 years that I have graded sports cards professionally, I have seen the hobby grow and change dramatically,” stated Andy Broome, who has been given the title of CSG Grading Finalizer. “The next opportunity for positive growth and change is utilizing advanced technology to assist in authentication and grading. I am proud that CSG will immediately lead the industry in technological solutions that enhance the grading process and benefit collectors.”
Cards that are graded and authenticated will be encapsulated with a certification label that provides a detailed description of the card, its grade, its unique CSG certification number and a QR code to facilitate quick verification. CSG says its clear holder and label “feature extensive security elements that prevent against tampering and counterfeiting.”
At launch, CSG will grade standard-sized cards as well as cards sized up to large vintage Topps cards. Starting in April 2021, CSG will accept cards that are up to 7.25 mm thick. These cards will be encapsulated in new-to-the-industry holders that the company says “will accommodate more thicknesses than any other third-party sports card grading company’s holders.”
Each card certified by CSG will be scanned in high-resolution. Those images, along with certification details, will be available for free on the company’s website at CSGcards.com. The company has a complete list of the prices for its various services and current turnaround times there as well.
CSG says it will offer a guarantee that provides recourse for the owner of any card it certifies if it’s later found to have been altered, not genuine or overgraded.
Last July, CCG launched a separate division which grades Pokémon TCG and Magic: The Gathering cards.