You hear the term “eye appeal” a lot when collectors discuss vintage trading cards. It’s a somewhat subjective quality but now one dealer is putting a number behind it.
PWCC Marketplace has instituted a program to assess how subtle aesthetic qualities impact a card’s market value. While third-party grading companies work with a set of technical guidelines, PWCC will add to the grade with its own overall appearance rating, based on a variety of factors including centering, print, color, and general cleanliness. The company is awarding what it considers the top cards in a given technical grade with one of two certifications: Premium Quality and High End.
Grading companies allow an acceptable range of a card’s visual qualities when they assign a technical grade. For example, according to PSA’s written standards, the acceptable range on image centering for a card graded as a NM-MT 8 is from 50/50 (virtually perfect centering) to 65/35 (somewhat off-center). PWCC says that “while this process is fair and based on strict criteria, it can result in two cards with the same technical grade and notably different visual appearances and market values.”
PWCC’s eye-appeal rating process measures the visual qualities of a card on a 0, 1, 2, 3 and 3+ scale. A zero represents a below average example in the card’s technical grade. One is an average example. Two is above average. A three is an exceptional specimen and earns the Premium Quality certification. A 3+ represents the best visual example of a card in a given technical grade and earns the High End certification—a designation given to only the top five percent of cards in a given technical grade. Holographic stickers are applied to those awarded the PQ or HE designation.
“Eye appeal and visual quality have historically been difficult to understand and evaluate,” said Brent Huigens, CEO of PWCC Marketplace. “For the first time ever, PWCC has been able to statistically quantify a card’s visual quality and prove why it matters when determining the investment value of a trading card.”
Huigens says its sales records show that details, such as image centering, print, color, and general cleanliness can influence a card’s visual appeal and subsequent market value by an average of 65 percent within a specific technical grade. The best among them can sell from more than 165 percent of the market value compared to cards in the same technical grade with average visual qualities. The company believes the scale “helps explain the fluctuations in market price for cards within a technical grade giving investors further clarity and confidence.”
Huigens’ team worked with the three major grading companies while creating the eye appeal scale. The program is a free service provided to all PWCC consignors. Huigens says he directly oversees the program to “ensure a consistent eye appeal assessment for each card.”
Historical data for all High End certified cards is available on the company’s website.
PWCC conducts 11 auction events throughout the year, focusing on vintage and high-end modern trading cards.