While modern basketball and other sports cards issued in the last few years are the main reason PSA fell so far behind on authentication and grading, the company has also graded large numbers of vintage baseball and popular rookie cards this year.
The most popular pre-1981 card examined by graders was the 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson rookie card, with 2,067 copies added to PSA’s Population Report since February 1.
Only one of them was awarded a Gem Mint 10 grade. The second most graded individual vintage card was the 1980-81 Topps Larry Bird-Magic Johnson rookie card, which saw 1,441 new copies encapsulated over the last seven months. Again, just one of those was given a 10 grade.
Data obtained by Sports Collectors Daily through Gem Rate shows the 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky ranked third on the list with 1,325 copies graded. None of the condition-sensitive cards rated a 10.
Other top rookie cards to make the ‘most graded’ list and the number of each that were examined included:
- 1976 Topps Walter Payton 891 (1 PSA 10)
- 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan/Jerry Koosman rookie card 860
- 1979-80 Topps Wayne Gretzky 828
- 1969-70 Topps Lew Alcindor 653
- 1979 Topps Ozzie Smith 598
- 1972-73 Topps Julius Erving 545
- 1975 Topps George Brett 542
- 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax 513
- 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle 511
- 1968 Topps Johnny Bench 493
- 1969 Topps Reggie Jackson 488
PSA graded over 8,000 Mantle cards between February 1 and the end of September. In addition to the 511 1968 Topps, the company added 486 1966 Topps, 442 1969 Topps, 435 1958 Topps All-Stars, 403 1964 Topps, 380 1956 Topps (gray back) and 379 1967 Topps to its census.
Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Carl Yastrzemski, Wayne Gretzky, Pete Rose and Nolan Ryan were also among the most heavily graded Hall of Famers.
The vintage card sets which saw the most grading activity during the period included 1956 Topps (7,748), 1968 Topps (7,459), 1971 Topps (7,273), 1969 Topps (7,009) and 1959 Topps 7,002). Among pre-War issues, PSA graded 2,390 1933 Goudeys.
The list was dominated by baseball. Only 1980-81 basketball saw more than 4,000 cards graded, with 35 rating Gem Mint 10. There were 3,887 1969-70 Topps basketball examined.
Football cards ranked lower on the list with all except 1976 Topps football adding less than 2,000 additions to the pop report.
Among the vintage sets that had the most Gem Mint 10 results were 1975 Topps Baseball (175), 1976 Topps Football (155), 1978 Topps Baseball (121), 1970 Topps Baseball (104) and 1969 Topps Baseball (79). In all, however, the last seven months have seen fewer than 1,000 10s.
In all, PSA has been grading between 530,000 and just over 800,000 vintage and modern trading cards per month since March.