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About CTA Grading

I have seen (and owned) many cards graded by CTA. I don't think they're in business anymore, but I used their services heavily for a period of time, when I was actively buying and selling sports memorabilia. I have always found their grades to be fair and consistent, but, like most grading companies, they couldn't compete with PSA. The "results" sheet that was included with each card listed the exact corner, edge, or surface flaws (if any) that contributed to the grade that was given. I learned their grading system, and studied the cards that they graded for me. 

In the samples below, you can see how the grading scale works. The front and the back are each divided into 4 quarters (called zones). Each zone has a corner, two side edges, and a surface. Each element (corner, edge, surface) can be marked down one or two points for any damage or flaw. Centering (front and back) is also scored. 
On the Ripken card below, you can easily see that the front of the card is off-center, resulting in one of the penalty points. On the CTA scale, a 10 can receive, at most, one penalty point, a 9 will have two or three points assigned, an 8 will be assessed four or five points, etc. As with any grading system, especially when applied to modern cards, you often need strong magnification to see the flaws that result in lower grades.




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