Key Data Sources

In my last post, I presented data on prior sales prices of graded cards and on the number of cards that had received various grades from BGS. In this post, I will explain how you can access this data yourself, and discuss some of the limitations inherent in the data. I will use a newly acquired Alpha Mana Short as an examples to illustrate.

BGS Population Reports

To access the Beckett Grading Service (BGS) report showing how many copies of a specific card have received various overall grades (known as a population report), click here. If you don’t already have an account at Beckett, you will need to create a free account before you can access these reports. Then select Magic: The Gathering under the Select Sport drop down menu, enter the set name such as “Alpha” in the Set Name input box, and enter the card name in the Player Name input box.

Empty BGS Population Report Input Form

For example, to look up the population report for AlphaMana Short, you would set your inputs as shown, then click the “SEARCH” button. The result of this search is shown below as well.

BGS Population Report for Alpha Mana Short (2020-10-07)

The report shows you the number of copies of Alpha Mana Short at each grade that BGS has graded. There are no black label BGS 10s (all 4 subgrades 10), there are no copies graded 10, 5 graded 9.5, etc. Note that the numbers for non-zero entries can be clicked to see a list of all cards that received that grade, including the serial number and subgrades for each card. This can be useful for counting the number of quads (all subgrades at or above the overall grade) that exist at a given grade, as quads are generally considered more desirable than basics (i.e., non-quads). It can also be useful for identifying cards that generally have poor centering or that often have print splotches. For example, clicking on the “5” link in the “9.5” column opens a new page that displays this table.

BGS Population Report for Alpha Mana Short 9.5 (2020-10-07)

In the case of Alpha Mana Short, there are 3 copies that are 9.5 quad, and 2 that are 9.5 basic. Both of the basics had their failing subgrade (for being quads) being centering, which hints that Mana Short might be a card that suffers from widespread mis-centering. Inspection of the population report for Alpha Mana Short BGS 9 (which you should now be able to obtain yourself) reveals that of the 26 cards assigned that grade, 12 (almost 50%) received only an 8.5 centering subgrade, confirming the hypothesis that the card does indeed suffer from widespread mis-centering. There were also 5 cards that received 8.5 on edges, 5 that received 8.5 on corners, none that received 8.5 on surface, and 4 that received a grade of 9 quad.

Given that Alpha Mana Short suffers from widespread mis-centering, one would expect that its overall population of cards graded 9 or higher would be relatively low compared to most other Alpha cards, at least those that do not also suffer from widespread printing defects. And in fact, at present Mana Short’s 31 total cards graded BGS 9 or higher ranks 48th among the 295 different Alpha cards. This can be derived from data that can be extracted from the BGS site, but it requires additional data processing. I have therefore created a public Google sheet, titled “BGS POP Report Alpha 2020-10-07”, which you can access by clicking this link. For your convenience I have added tabs at the bottom so you can view the results sorted alphabetically by card name, by rarity, and by number of copies graded 8.5 or higher, 9.0 or higher, and 9.5 or higher.

Note that all of the above data represents only a snapshot of population at the time the data was collected, and should not be relied upon to remain accurate at least over long periods of time (i.e. years). And even with up-to-date data, there are still several issues that prevent the data from being completely accurate. First, not every card is accurately graded by BGS. Some cards will appear in the report at a grade higher than is justified by the actual card’s condition. In addition, some cards will have been undergraded and cracked out of their case and resubmitted to BGS in hopes of receiving a higher grade than originally assigned. These cards are counted more than once in the population report, overstating the true number of copies that exist. Lastly, note that this population only reflects cards graded by BGS. There may be additional copies graded by other grading services or which are still raw.

eBay Sold Listings

The best public data source for graded card sales prices is eBay’s sold listings. Price data can be obtained for sales within the past 3 months on the eBay site, by searching for a card (e.g. “mtg alpha mana short”) and then changing the results filters to show sold listings.

EBay Sold Listings (prior 3 months)

Very often there are few or no sold listings on eBay within the past 3 months, especially in the case of graded Alpha cards. For example, there are only one sale each of BGS 8.5 and BGS 9 Alpha Mana Short in the past three months. A single sale provides at least a little information on current market value, but it is only one data point and the price of any individual sale is not necessarily reflective of the current market price. Auction results might be below market due to poor pictures, lack of demand at the specific time the card was auctioned, the fact that the seller had little or no feedback deterring higher bidders, etc. Results might also be above market due to multiple buyers wanting the card and being relatively price-insensitive. Non-auction prices can also be misleading, as eBay in many cases shows the original listing price of the card even when it was sold at a “best offer” price that is lower. Lastly, sold listings sometimes represent fake sales that were either never completed or that were between related parties and were created by unscrupulous sellers attempting to portray a higher market value for their cards.

The sold listings shown above are difficult to interpret, as the sale of a quad 9 at $1330, followed a week later by the sale of a basic 8.5 at $1400 seems inconsistent. Thankfully, eBay sold listing price data from a period of several years is available free on the PWCC web site, along with a variety of ways to filter this data. To access this data, again you will need to create a free account with PWCC. After you have created an account and logged in, you can retrieve this information on the “Market Price Research” page. Below is an example of a search result for “Alpha Mana Short BGS”. I have selected to show both auctions and fixed price sales, and I have limited results to sales over $500 to eliminate some sales of BGS 8 Mana Short. (Note that the PWCC report omits the recent sale of a BGS 8.5 for $1,400 in September 2020 that appears on eBay, for unknown reasons.)

PWCC Market Price Research Results for Alpha Mana Short

Note that the only other sale of a BGS 9 since the beginning of 2019 was at $2650. Prices have softened for many graded Alphas since the first half of 2019. But they certainly have not softened enough to make the sale of a quad 9 at $1330 in August, 2020 seem consistent with this other sale at $2650. This data point, combined with the apparent sale of a BGS 8.5 copy at $1400 and fact that the population of BGS 9 Quad or better is only 9 cards, would lead me to believe that the current market value of a BGS 9 quad is in the range of $2,000 to $2,500.

During the past month, I have been offered two BGS 9 Alpha Mana Shorts for sale, one a BGS 9 quad+ offered at $3,000, and the other the exact BGS quad 9 that sold at $1,330 in August, which was offered at $2,500. In chatting with Benjamin Jensen, the owner of this latter card and an avid Alpha Mana Short collector, he told me that his maximum bid on the card was $1,800 and that he felt very lucky that the lack of serious competition for the card allowed him to purchase it so inexpensively.

My Mana Short Purchase

I wrote last time about how it pained me to spend $320 to purchase the BGS 9 Alpha Lifelace because neither the card’s ability nor the art have any special appeal to me. Although Mana Short has a somewhat more useful ability and somewhat better art, it is still not high on the list of Alpha cards that I care about. The thought of spending close to $2000 for even a BGS 9 basic copy solely because the card suffers from mis-centering was extremely unpleasant. So instead I planned to wait for a nice (perhaps undergraded) BGS 8.5 copy to be available that I might submit to CGC and cross over as a basic 9. I started by checking all of the major graded card sellers of which I am aware (see the pinned post in the Facebook “Graded Magic Collectors/Sellers” group for a list of some of these.) To my surprise and delight, I was able to find and purchase this lovely BGS 8.5 basic+++ for $1,000.

While this $1,000 price may appear high compared to most of the recent sales of BGS 8.5s shown in the PWCC Market Research report, it is significantly lower than the $1,400 price from September, 2020 and seems reasonable in light of my assessment that a BGS 9 should fetch approximately $2,000 to $2,500. But as I am trying to build a CGC 9 set, the critical issue is whether this card will receive that grade. If it will, then $1,000 is a tremendous bargain…if not, then regardless of price it is not a card I want to purchase.

The centering on this card appears to me to have been under-graded by BGS at an 8. But regardless of what grade this card would receive if resubmitted to BGS, my experience with the CGC grading standard for Alpha cards that are typically mis-centered gives me confidence that it will receive a centering score of at least 8.5 from CGC. The other subgrades assigned by BGS appear to me to be very solid, so I have no worry about any of them being reduced below 9 by CGC.

As a final assurance, I had previously submitted the Mana Short from my original set to CGC and found that it would only receive a 7.5 overall grade due to a very slight surface warp, but that it would receive a centering score of 8.5. I scanned this card and determined by counting pixels that the front black border on the card I previously submitted (8.5 centering) had a left-right ratio of 58%/42% and a top-bottom ratio of 53%/47%. The BGS 8.5 shown above has a left-right ratio of 55%/45% and a top-bottom ratio of 54%/46%, which is at least slightly better, giving me additional confidence in my assessment that it too will receive a centering score of at least 8.5 from CGC.

Other Purchases

In addition to the Mana Short, I also purchased these three cards for my set during the past few weeks. If you are interested in understanding the pricing on these cards, you should now have the tools necessary to research and think about it on your own.

Conclusion

There are other data sources besides the two I mentioned, such as the PSA graded card registry, but I believe that if you are looking to make a quick assessment of graded card pricing, the BGS registry and PWCC market price research should be the first places that you look. I have also been told that some top collectors maintain their own private databases of sales that also include any private sales transactions of which they are aware. This seems like an extremely valuable additional resource, but unfortunately it is not one I have access too at this time.

Finding CGC 9 Quality Alphas

After deciding to switch my alpha set collecting goal to the completion of a CGC-graded alpha set with a minimum grade of 9, I have quickly begun my search for the 31 rares that I do not own in that condition. Because alpha is far into its grading cycle, meaning that the vast majority of mint rares have already been graded, I am not holding out much hope that I will find raw alpha rares that I can acquired at NM raw card prices that will then grade 9 or higher. Still, I always keep my eyes open for the possibility, and I do believe that I will be able to find some raw commons and uncommons that will grade 9. (Several of the higher value uncommons in the raw set that I started building in 2019 did achieve a CGC 9 grade, so I know that such cards are still out there even if they are not easy to find.)

Because I cannot expect much in the way of raw rares, I began filling in the gaps in my alpha rare set by looking for graded cards that looked likely to cross over to a minimum 9 grade at CGC. Interestingly, I cannot simply buy any BGS 9 and assume that it will cross over to CGC at 9 or higher. Some BGS-graded cards in my initial CGC grading order would not cross over at the same grade. The factors that could cause this are:

  • BGS gave the card a higher grade than it deserved,
  • the card has edge defects that would cause CGC to assign a lowed edge subgrade than BGS did, or
  • the card has physical surface damage, such as compressions or scratches, that would cause CGC to assign a lower surface subgrade than BGS did.

Conversely, it is also possible that a few BGS 8.5 cards would cross over to CGC at 9, as was also the case for some cards in my initial CGC grading order. The factors that could cause this are:

  • BGS gave the card a lower grade than it deserved,
  • the card has corner defects that caused BGS to assign a lowed corner subgrade than CGC would,
  • the card has surface defects such as print dots or splotches that caused BGS to assign a lower surface subgrade than CGC would, or
  • the card is miscentered, but so are the vast majority of other copies of the card, causing BGS to give the card a lower centering subgrade than CGC would.

With these thoughts in mind, let’s review the four BGS-graded alphas rares that I have recently purchased. Because I purchased these cards to replace CGC 8.5 copies of the same cards, I will also use these purchases to explore some of the factors that affect the relative pricing of 8.5 quality and 9 quality alphas.

Medium Supply & Low Demand: Lifelace

It pains me deeply to have had to pay $321 for this alpha Lifelace, which is among the absolute worst cards in alpha. However, it had been roughly one year since the last BGS 9 alpha Lifelace was sold on eBay, and the last three sales, all in summer 2019, were at $318, $368, and $403 for a BGS 9 quad, quad+, and basic, respectively. If $321 is above current market for a BGS 9 quad+, it certainly is not over by enough to worry about, and I was happy to win this auction at this price even though it was clearly not any great bargain.

I now have a spare CGC 8.5 quad+ Lifelace that I can sell to recoup part of the cost of my new one. The most recent eBay sales of BGS 8.5 alpha Lifelace were $180 for a basic++ in July 2020 and $183 for a quad++ in August 2020. Note the large price difference, in percentage terms, between BGS 8.5 and BGS 9 copies, with BGS 8.5 copies fetching only roughly 50% as much as BGS 9. This difference can vary significantly from one card to another, and depends both on supply and demand for the card in question.

In the case of Lifelace, the BGS population report shows 43 copies of alpha Lifelace, and 53% of all copies graded by BGS, graded 9 or higher. It is tied for 93th place for lowest number of BGS 9 or better copies among the 295 different cards in the alpha set. This reflects the fact that Lifelace is a card that does not suffer from widespread issues of mis-centering or print defects due to foreign material on the printing press during production. On the demand side, there is relatively little demand for BGS-graded alpha Lifelace, compared to the demand for other alpha rares or for iconic cards. So if the prices of a BGS 8.5 and BGS 9 alpha Lifelace were too much closer, there would be very little reason for anyone to purchase a BGS 8.5 alpha Lifelace rather than a BGS 9 copy.

Medium Supply & Medium-High Demand: Meekstone

Unlike Lifelace, Meekstone is a card that I do not mind paying up for. The card is powerful, and the Quinton Hoover art is superb. The last sales of BGS 9 Meekstone on eBay were at $1093 in November 2019 for a quad++, and $876 way back in October 2018 for a basic. Again, my purchase at $1071 was not a bargain, but rather was right in the range of current market value.

The most recent eBay sales of 8.5 quality alpha Meekstone were a PSA 8.5 at $727 in September 2019, a BGS quad++ at $686 in March 2019 (which seems like a bargain) and $780 for a quad++ in August 2018. So in the case of alpha Meekstone, an 8.5 sells at roughly 70% of the price of a 9 (compared with 50% in the case of Lifelace). Let’s consider why this is the case.

There are 36 copies of alpha Meekstone graded 9 or higher in the BGS population report (48% of all copies graded by BGS) which is slightly lower but roughly comparable to the 43 copies (and 53%) of Lifelace. Meekstone is tied for 61th place for lowest number of BGS 9 or better copies in the alpha set. But although supply is similar, the demand for BGS-graded alpha Meekstone is significantly higher than for Lifelace. Because Quinton Hoover is one of the most popular and iconic artists from the early years of Magic, there is demand for high grade copies of this card from collectors who simply love the art and want to own a rare, iconic piece of Magic history, or who perhaps are collecting copies of all cards with Quinton Hoover artwork. This is a type of demand that does not exist at all for a card like Lifelace, which is collected almost exclusively by full-set collectors. As a result, demand for BGS-graded Meekstone is not satisfied by the 36 BGS 9 or better copies that exist, causing the the BGS 8.5 copies to sell at a smaller discount to BGS 9 copies.

Low Supply & Medium-High Demand: Vesuvan Doppelganger and Forcefield

I purchased the final two cards, BGS 9 Vesuvan Doppelganger and Forcefield, from Matthieu Joly. Matthieu collects these specific cards but had these spare copies that he was willing to sell. When I first think about the prices of individual alpha cards, I have a rough idea in my mind based on raw cards in LP condition, which is what I usually purchase for play in Alpha 40 or Old School, and I expect to pay somewhere around 2 to 2.5 times that amount for a BGS 9 copy. I think of Lifelace as a $125-150 card and I paid $321 for a BGS 9, and Meekstone as a $500 card and I paid $1071 for a BGS 9. With LP Vesuvan and Forcefield around $1000 each, I was shocked to discover that BGS 9 Vesuvan and Forcefield each sell for around $5000, double what I would have expected.

The explanation for this is that both cards are very low population in BGS 9 or higher because of mis-centering and/or printing defects that affected the vast majority of copies. In fact, there are only 22 Vesuvans graded BGS 9 or higher (22% of copies graded) and only 18 Forcefields (21% of copies graded), out of the same roughly 1100 total copies of each rare alpha card that were printed. Of the 295 different cards in the alpha set, Vesuvan is tied at 22nd place for the fewest copies graded 9 or higher, and Forcefield is tied for 8th place. As a result, the supply of these cards available to satisfy even the base level demand from graded alpha full-set collectors is strained. When you factor in the added demand for Vesuvan Doppelganger from Quinton Hoover fans, that card winds up fetching a slightly higher price than a similar condition Forcefield, despite there being 4 more copies of BGS 9 or higher Vesuvans than of Forcefield.

Comparing prices to BGS 8.5 copies, we find that an 8.5 Vesuvan sells for around $2000, which is a whopping 60-70% discount to 9.0 copies. BGS 8.5 Forcefield sells for $1500 to $2000, for a similar 60-70% discount. After this analysis, such discounts for 8.5 copies should not be a surprise. There is a supply-demand imbalance for BGS 9 or higher quality copies of these cards which does not exist among BGS 8.5 copies, which are far more plentiful.

Choosing A Vesuvan Doppelganger

So far, I have been fairly loose in my pricing analysis, lumping all BGS 9 graded cards together, and all BGS 8.5 graded cards together, and in both cases not evaluating whether any individual card was deserving of the grade it received. This was necessary in order to have enough sales data to perform the analysis above. However, when making a decision to purchase a specific card, especially one costing several thousand dollars, accurate valuation requires reviewing subgrades as well as the actual condition of the card.

Comparing my $5200 Vesuvan BGS 9 basic+ purchase to the extremely recent comparable sale at $4075 of a BGS 9 basic copy, the most obvious difference is that the edge grade on the card I purchased is 9.5 rather than 9. This is not much of a difference, though certainly deserving of a small premium if the grading is accurate. For my purposes of crossing the card over to CGC, however, this difference is more meaningful. I know that CGC is stricter in grading edge defects than BGS, so the 9.5 grade eliminates any concern I might have that CGC will downgrade the edge score below 9.

Graded card collectors often use the adage “buy the card, not the grade.” Although both cards received centering subgrades of 9 from BGS, the centering on the card I purchased is better both horizontally and vertically. I’m not certain whether the comparison copy deserved a centering grade of 9, but at best it has centering close to the bottom of what BGS would consider 9, whereas the copy I purchased has centering typical to above average for a BGS 9 centering subgrade. The card I purchased also appears to have slightly cleaner corners than the one sold recently on eBay, though it is difficult to tell because the eBay card was not photographed against a black background.

Both cards received subgrades of 8.5 for surface, due to the print splotches each card has on the front right black border near the bottom of the card, and the print dot each has on the back right border 3/4 of the way down. For these type of printing defects, CGC will not drop the surface grade below 9, so I can expect that the card I purchased will receive at minimum a CGC 9 quad. Had I purchased the eBay card, there is a slight possibility that it would have received an 8.5 on both surface and edges from CGC. Even if I had been assured that it would receive a basic or quad 9 from CGC, I still prefer the copy I purchased as I believe the condition is superior enough to warrant at minimum a $1125 price difference.

In addition to the Vesuvan I purchased, I was also offered this BGS 8.5 basic++ copy for $2500. A quick comparison with the copy I purchased reveals how vastly different the condition of these two NM to mint cards are. So while it was tempting to try to “save” over 50% by purchasing this copy and hoping that it crosses to CGC as a 9, the reality is that the card I purchased is worth twice as much as this copy and is guaranteed to cross as a 9. Most people would not value the BGS 9 twice as high, but as there are only 22 alpha Vesuvans graded BGS 9 or higher, it doesn’t take many many collectors who do value the 9 that much higher to create this kind of market pricing structure.

Had I purchased this BGS 8.5, the odds that it would cross over to a CGC 9 are at best 50%. If there are no surface defects besides the print splotches and dots, as I was told by the seller, then the CGC surface score should be 9. All 4 corners show some white, making it unlikely that CGC would give the corners higher than an 8.5. And there are several white marks on the edges which might cause CGC to assign an edge score of only 8.5, as CGC is stricter in grading edges than BGS. Centering looks like it would remain at 9. So in order for this card to receive an overall grade of 9 with CGC, I would need both the edges to remain at 9 and that there be no physical surface defects such as light scratches or compressions that the seller missed. Given that every time I “miss” by submitting a card that does not cross over to CGC as a 9, I have completely wasted the time I spent purchasing the card, submitting it for grading, and then reselling it, and given that the BGS 9 that I purchased was priced fairly, I ultimately decided to purchase the card that I was certain would cross to CGC as a 9.

Finally, for comparison, here is my current Vesuvan that was recently graded by CGC. The BGS 8.5 definitely has better edges and centering than this card, but the edges are not necessarily enough better to receive a 9. Corners are comparable, which is why I would expect the corners on the BGS 8.5 to cross to CGC at 8.5. And centering on the BGS 8.5 is better, which is why I would expect it to cross with identical 9 centering.

Choosing A Forcefield

These two Forcefields were offered to me at almost exactly the same price, and have exactly the same BGS subgrades. The one I chose to purchase (top) has slightly better centering, but slightly worse edges and corners. I chose the card with better centering because mis-centering is the main feature making this a difficult card to find in grades of 9 or higher, so I thought that having slightly better centering was more important than having slightly better corners and edges. Also, when viewing a card, the eye tends to notice the most major defect first. As the biggest defect on both of these cards is mis-centering, the card I purchased seemed to offer a better balance of quality that would result in a card with better eye appeal overall. For comparison, here is my current Forcefield that was recently graded by CGC.

Conclusion

I hope you have found this analysis interesting and educational. In retrospect, I realize that I have presented a lot of data about past sales and BGS population counts without explaining where I obtained this data. In the future, I hope to dedicate a post to explaining these data sources in detail so that you can easily find and use them yourselves should you wish.

A Change of Plans

As I wrote in my last post, I recently submitted all of my alpha rares that I believed were in near mint or better condition to CGC for authentication, grading and encapsulation. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have considered grading my cards because I wanted to have them all available in case I wanted to play with them. Over time, I have come to appreciate the rarity of NM to mint alpha cards and the value of preserving them through encapsulation. But because of my unwillingness to trust my cards to BGS, I had been assuming that I would be keeping my original set, built in 1993, raw for the many years I expected it would take for Beckett to (hopefully) improve their service to a point where I would want to use them. Looking for a collecting challenge, last year I began collecting another NM alpha set, which was the initial subject of this blog.

Now that I have graded all of the rares in my original alpha, I can see that although the general quality of cards is high, it is far from uniform. As is typical for alpha, many of my cards were poorly centered or had some corner whitening due to the way the cards were die cut from the press sheets. Out of the 116 rares that I graded, 18 received an overall grade of 9.5, 67 a grade of 9.0, 24 a grade of 8.5, and 7 a grade lower than 8.5. Of the power 9, only one, Mox Sapphire, received lower than a 9.0 overall. This, combined with the fact that over 70% of the rares received a grade of 9.0 or higher, has led me to try to upgrade the remaining cards in the set to a minimum overall grade of 9.0.

I still plan to grade the commons and uncommons from my original alpha set and to upgrade those to a minimum grade of 9.0 as well. I’ve also been planning to start a blog about pre-alpha playtest cards, which I also collect. With these projects and all of the other things I have going on in my life, I don’t want to devote the energy to collecting a second alpha set at this time. I feel like I will get enough satisfaction simply working towards completing my one alpha set at a minimum grade of CGC 9.0. So I am abandoning the process of building the second set. But I will continue to blog about my progress in building my CGC 9.0 quality alpha set and hopefully provide some entertainment and some useful information for you in the process.

Partial Alpha Set Sale

Fortuitously, a couple days after I decided to abandon building my second alpha set, I was contacted by a collector who wants to build a NM alpha set with very similar condition preference to those that I used, emphasizing clean edges and corners with only minor defects, but willing to accept mis-centered cards. He had already started collecting power 9 cards and dual lands, planning to complete both of those subsets, but decided that as these cards represent the vast majority of the value in the set, he would like to expand his project to collecting a complete set. He is hoping to jump-start the process by purchasing a partial NM alpha set, and I like the idea of passing the torch on this set to someone new rather than just breaking the set apart and selling, trading, or playing with the individual cards. If I do sell the majority of the partial set, I will still have a number of higher value rares left. I will list the graded ones for sale/trade in the Facebook Graded Magic group, and all of them in the Facebook Magic The Gathering: “Alpha 40” Worldwide group.

Alpha prices have declined somewhat since I started building the set, but they have stabilized and begun increasing again. Because I was careful about the prices I paid for the cards I purchased, purchased a few raw cards that graded 9.0 warranting a premium value, and added some value for a set collector who can save the effort of tracking down a lot of the lower-priced cards, I will probably break even or make a small profit overall on this project. Like most of us, buying and selling Magic cards for me is a hobby, not a profession. So even without any profit, I am satisfied that I got to enjoy the collection process for a while and pass the partially completed project on to someone who will continue to enjoy it.

Building My CGC 9.0 Alpha Set

I have already begun purchasing cards for my set that I believe will grade at a minimum of 9.0 overall by CGC and that I know I will need from having graded all of my rares. In general, the cards I acquire will be ones that are already graded by BGS, because it is difficult to find raw alpha cards of CGC 9.0 quality for sale, and because it is easier to determine whether a card is likely to receive a CGC 9.0 if it has already been graded by BGS. I bid on several cards in the August PWCC auction, and was able to pick up a BGS 9.0 Quad Plus Meekstone and Lifelace. I have also lined up the purchase of a BGS 9.0 Basic Forcefield and a BGS 9.0 Basic Plus Vesuvan Doppelganger. I feel confident that all of these cards will cross over to CGC at 9.0 overall. I have more to write on the topic of building a high grade alpha set and of purchasing cards with the intention to cross them over to a different grading company. But I will save that for a future post.

My Current CGC 9.0 to 9.5 Cards

Following is a gallery of the graded rares that will be a part of the my set:

I also graded many of the higher value common and uncommon cards, and now have these for my set as well:

CGC Grading Standards

Several months ago, I was approached by Matt Quinn from CGC to discuss their plans to begin grading Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon cards. For those who have not heard of CGC, they were founded in 1999 and have become a premier authentication and grading company for comic books, magazines, coins and paper currency. You can learn more about CGC’s comic book, magazine and trading card grading from their website by clicking here and about their related companies that grade coins and paper currency here.

I have had my original, complete alpha set since 1993, with the vast majority of cards having been pulled from deck boxes or boosters and placed directly into 9-pocket pages. I have played with a few of the cards, double-sleeved, over the years, but the set is in general in very nice, near mint to mint condition. Over the past five years, I have on several occasions considered submitting my alpha set to BGS for grading. But inconsistent grading and a number of poor customer service experiences I have had with BGS, along with many service complaints from others collectors, prevented me from ever actually submitting them.

After several discussions with Matt about CGC’s existing authentication and grading expertise, their grading philosophy, and after personally reviewing a sample slabbed card, I decided that I trusted CGC with the care of my treasured cards and that it was time to have them graded. One major factor that influenced my decision is that once CGC authenticates, grades, and encases a card, they guarantee the authenticity of that card and its condition in the future (provided the case is not damaged due to mistreatment.) What better way to make sure that a company provides high quality authentication and accurate grading than to have them financially guarantee the results?

Another potential benefit of CGC is that they, unlike BGS, are not entering the trading card game grading business as an extension of an existing sports card grading business. As this post explains in further detail, this has resulted in them developing a well-considered and nuanced approach to grading that is specific to Magic (and even specific to certain Magic sets) rather than simply applying more generic standards like BGS does.

Because CGC wanted to use images of my alpha power 9 for promotional purposes after grading, they arranged for a Brinks armored truck to transport my cards to and from their offices and to insure my cards the entire time that they were outside of my physical possession. I decided to take advantage of this offer to grade all of the rares and high value uncommons in my original alpha set, as well as all ungraded rares and high value uncommons from the new alpha set I started building and blogging about last year, and all of the high value cards in my beta set.

In my next post, I plan to review my grading experience with CGC in some detail. For now, all that you need to know is that overall I was very pleased with my experience with CGC. In this post, I will focus specifically on the grading criteria use by CGC and how these criteria differ from those of BGS. BGS has graded a huge number of Magic cards, and has become the standard against which any new competitor must be judged, not only in terms of service quality, accuracy, consistency and value (where in my view it would be difficult not to surpass them), but also in terms of what actual CGC grades mean about card quality in comparison to BGS grades. For example, how does the quality of an accurately graded BGS 9 quad (all subgrades exactly 9) compare to that of an accurately graded CGC 9 quad? Developing an accurate assessment of this will require comparing the grades CGC assigns to a large number of BGS slabs that are submitted to be crossed over to CGC, and I hope that this post will start that process by proving at least some tangible data. In most cases I have also verified with CGC that the observations I made reflect their grading standard, rather than, for example, being the result of misgrades.

BGS Crossover Submissions

My submission to CGC included 20 BGS-graded alphas and 6 BGS-graded betas. For each, I supplied a minimum CGC grade at or above which I wanted CGC to crack the BGS slab and regrade that card. One excellent feature of submitting previously graded cards to CGC is that they have a process that permits them to inspect and grade a card’s surface even while that card is still encased in a BGS or PSA slab. So you can submit a card that you believe deserves a better grade without risk that it will be cracked from its current slab and assigned a lower grade than it was given when previously graded.

Of the 26 BGS-graded cards I submitted, only 15 met my minimum grade requirement and were regraded by CGC. So one would expect that, on average, the grades and subgrades CGC assigned to these cards would be the same or higher than their original BGS grades and subgrades. In addition, although we do not have grades and subgrades for the 11 cards that were not crossed over to CGC, we can infer that CGC, in general, assigned grades and subgrades that were the same as or lower than those originally given by BGS. With that in mind, we will examine each of the 4 subgrades individually, trying to identify and understand any differences between CGC and BGS. Note that this analysis assumes that all the BGS grades and CGC grades are accurate based on these company’s respective grading criteria, or at least that any inaccuracies are not biased (meaning that there are roughly the same number of over-graded and under-graded cards by each service for each subgrade.)

Centering Subgrades

CGC’s philosophy on centering differs from that of BGS. CGC only assigns centering subgrades ranging from 8.0 to 10.0. Any card that is drastically off-center receives a subgrade of “OC” instead of a numeric grade. CGC believes that poor centering alone (provided it is not drastically poor) should not prevent an otherwise near mint card from receiving an overall grade of 8.5. I personally agree with this approach, but regardless of whether or not you do, it is something that you should be aware of when thinking about how a CGC centering subgrade compares to BGS. Along with the elevation of accurately graded BGS 7.5 centering scores to CGC 8.0. CGC has also elevated some accurately graded BGS 8.0 centering scores to CGC 8.5, in order to prevent the CGC 8.0 centering score from representing too broad a range of centering quality. From what I have observed, CGC centering scores of 9.0 and above correspond more-or-less to those of BGS. The following analysis of supports this conclusion.

Of the 15 cards that crossed over, 5 started with a centering subgrade of 7.5. As expected, all received centering subgrades of 8.0 or higher from CGC, with 2 receiving 8.0, 2 receiving 8.5 and 1 receiving 9.0. You can inspect the centering and judge for yourself. In my opinion, the Power Surge and Timetwister, if accurately graded by BGS, should have received a centering score of 8.0, and BGS completely blew it on the Lord of Atlantis, which should have received either an 8.5 or 9.0. In any event, it is clear both from CGC’s stated criteria and from these examples, that CGC’s centering subgrade will be somewhat higher than BGS’s on cards with mediocre to good centering.

The 3 cards with a BGS centering subgrade of 8.0 all crossed over to CGC with higher centering scores as well, one receiving an 8.5 and two receiving a 9.0.

The 2 cards with BGS 8.5 centering that crossed over both received centering of 8.5 from CGC as well, beginning to suggest that higher BGS centering scores are more-or-less comparable to those of CGC.

Two of the 3 cards with BGS centering scores of 9.0 received the same score from CGC, the third receiving a bump from BGS 9.0 to CGC 9.5.

Lastly, of the 2 cards with BGS centering scores of 9.5, one received a 9.0 from CGC and the other a 10.0.

From this limited sample, and taking into account the fact that, statistically, the 11 cards that did not cross over to CGC would likely have received the same or lower centering scores, I believe it is fair to conclude, provisionally, that CGC centering scores of 9.0 and higher correspond more-or-less directly to the same BGS score.

The one proviso to this analysis is that on alpha cards that are notoriously poorly centered, CGC has stated that they are somewhat more lenient in their centering grading than they are with the vast majority of other alpha cards. Further, this leniency is relatively minor on common cards, such as Dark Ritual, where there are more copies of the card available for grading, becoming more significant as rarity increases. As a result, the CGC centering grade is a bit of a hybrid between the absolute accuracy of the card’s centering and the relative quality of its centering among the population of all copies of that specific card. Here is an example of an alpha Sedge Troll, one of the notoriously poorly centered alpha rares, that CGC assigned a 9.0 centering grade. Presumably a different card with this centering would instead have received an 8.5 or perhaps even an 8.0 centering score.

Surface Subgrades

We cannot judge much about surface condition from a photograph taken looking directly down at a card face or card back, but we can still review the numerical data. To my knowledge, there are no major differences in surface grade criteria between CGC and BGS, so a simple count of cards where surface grade increased, decreased, and stayed the same should provide a rough picture of the strictness of CGC’s surface grade compared to that of BGS.

Of the 15 cards that crossed over, the CGC surface score was lower by 0.5 on 4 cards and lower by 1.0 on one card, it was higher by 0.5 on one card, and it was identical on the remaining 9 cards. And recall that this is only on cards that met my minimum grade to cross over, so it likely that this trend of stricter surface grading by CGC compared to BGS was even more pronounced on cards that did not cross over. Therefore, I believe it is fair to tentatively conclude that CGC’s surface grade is somewhat stricter than that given by BGS. (Although I have had BGS grade cards and then damage them during the process of encasing them, it seems improbable that there would have been surface damage done to one third of my cards after they were graded by BGS, so I am assuming that damage done after BGS graded the cards was not a factor.)

There is again a proviso to this analysis. CGC has stated that they are more lenient about print dots and splotches on cards than BGS, especially for cards where almost the entire print run suffered uniformly from the same print defect. This is analogous to their approach to centering, where their score is mostly a representation of absolute quality but in unusual cases also incorporates an element of quality relative to the population of the specific card.

For example, a high percentage of all alpha Savannah Lions has a print splotch on the front right black border, to the right of the bottom of the flavor text, as seen in the picture below. Under BGS criteria, any card with this type and extent of defect should receive a maximum surface grade of 8.5, regardless of how common the defect is. As a result, the population of BGS 9.5 and higher alpha Savannah Lions (which requires a minimum surface score of 9.0) is only 7 cards, one of the lowest of any alpha rare. And among cards graded BGS 9.0 overall (which generally permits only one subgrade of 8.5 or lower), 30 of the 46 cards have a surface subgrade of 8.5. In the case of such a pervasive defect, CGC will not reduce a card’s surface score below 9.0 purely as a result of its the defect.

Below you can observe one of my alpha Savannah Lions with this print defect that received a CGC surface score of 9.0, as well as a copy without the defect that also received a surface score of 9.0. Although it might seem “unfair” for both to receive the same score despite one being obviously superior (at least with regard specifically to the print splotch), print dots and splotches are readily apparent and can easily be avoided if that is your preference when purchasing graded cards. Common surface defects such as compressions or light scratches are not apparent, so having the surface score function primarily to differentiate the extent of these types of defects is much more informative.

Corners Subgrades

Of the 11 alphas that crossed over, the corner subgrade increased by 0.5 on 5 of them and remained the same on the other 6, which can be seen in the pictures in the Centering section of this post. In addition, there were 4 alphas that did not cross over, but would have if the corner score had increased by 0.5 (with the other subs remaining the same), so it is likely that the CGC corner score on these would have been the same or lower than the BGS score.

On alpha cards, corners often have defects even when taken directly from a freshly opened deck or booster pack. The limited data (15 alpha cards in total) suggest that CGC applies a slightly more liberal corner grading criteria to alphas than BGS, with approximately one third of alphas getting a 0.5 corner score increase compared to BGS. CGC has subsequently confirmed to me that they intentionally grade alpha corners slightly more leniently than they grade corners from other Magic sets and slightly more leniently than BGS does.

Of the 4 betas that crossed, the corner grade increased by 0.5 on one of them, decreased by 0.5 on one, and stayed the same on the remaining 2. In addition, 2 BGS 8.5 Quad++ betas with 8.5 corners failed to cross over as quad 8.5s, though it is not possible to know whether the failure was due to their corners being bumped down to 8.0 or the other 8.5 subgrade being reduced. From the extremely limited data (6 beta cards), it appears that CGC is about equally strict on the grading of corners on beta cards as BGS.

Edges Subgrades

Of the 15 cards that crossed over, the CGC edge score was 0.5 lower than BGS’s original on 6 of them, 0.5 higher than BGS’s score on 1 card, and identical on the remaining 8. Again, refer to the Centering section of this post if you wish to see pictures of the cards and grades. As before, cards that did not cross over are not included, but would likely have contained even a higher fraction of cards where the edge score decreased. This suggests that CGC applies stricter criteria to edge grades than BGS, with between one third and one half of cards receiving a decrease of 0.5 in edge score when graded by CGC compared to BGS. CGC has confirmed that they do intentionally grade edges slightly more strictly than BGS.

PSA Crossover Submissions

My submission to CGC also included 5 PSA-graded alphas and 1 PSA-graded beta, all of which were graded 8. Because PSA only gives a single, overall grade, and only gives grades in whole numbers from 0 to 10 (i.e. a grade of 8.5 is not possible), one would expect that a PSA grade of 8 would translate into a minimum CGC grade of 8 basic or 8 quad, and a maximum grade of around 8 quad++. I submitted these cards with the instruction to cross them over to CGC at a minimum grade of 8.5 basic. Three of the cards met this minimum and three did not, which is more or less what you would expect if CGC and PSA grades were comparable. These are the cards that crossed over.

And these are the cards that did not meet the minimum required grade of 8.5 basic.

Conclusion

Overall CGC grades and subgrades are roughly comparable to those of BGS, but there are subtle differences. Overall, these differences can be summarized by saying that the BGS standard is based entirely on absolute card quality, whereas the CGC standard, while also largely based on absolute card quality, does take into consideration the quality of the card relative to the overall population of that card so that defects that affected a large fraction the print run do not lower its grade quite as much.

With respect to specific subgrades, CGC is somewhat stricter than BGS with respect to edge condition and surface defects like compressions and scratches. CGC appears to be about equally as strict as BGS on centering scores for well-centered cards (BGS 9.0 centering or higher) but more lenient on moderately mis-centered cards (BGS 7.5 to 8.5 centering). And CGC is also equally as strict as BGS on corners scores, with the exception of alpha, for which CGC grades corners somewhat more leniently than BGS. Lastly, CGC is somewhat more lenient than BGS on surface scores for cards with print dots or splotches that affect the large majority of the print run of the particular card being graded.

Back To Set Building

Hello everyone! I have been more-or-less on a break from building the alpha set thus far in 2020. Sadly, my wife was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in December of 2019, and much of my time and attention has been devoted to finding her the best medical treatment and caring for her. She is currently on a chemotherapy regimen and hopefully this will stop the tumor from growing for a long while.

In any event, I am back now with an update on the few alpha cards I acquired for the set in 2020. In addition, yesterday I received back approximately 200 graded cards, mostly alphas, from CGC. CGC is a new player in the Magic grading arena, though they have a long history and excellent reputation in comic book and paper currency grading. In the near future, I plan to provide a review of my CGC experience, some data on how the BGS slabs I submitted crossed over to CGC, and of course some pretty pictures.

Additions

I haven’t added anything terribly exciting to the set thus far in 2020. I have been more selective about condition this year, and only picked up cards that appeared to be clearly above my minimum quality standard. The one exception to this is this Juggernaut, which I purchased over Facebook at $200 for play in the Alpha 40 League. It is very clean except for a light scratch on the back. This is a card I personally would be happy with in a set of the quality I have been building. I plan to submit it to CGC as part of a future grading order, and I will add it to the set if it receives a minimum grade of basic 8.5.

Removals

These two cards were part of the roughly 15-20 alpha rares that I received from Dan Sonderskov and Allan Asmussen of Tier1MtG last year. You might recall that this batch of cards that contained several clipped alphas. As part of my recent CGC grading order, I submitted all of the raw alpha rares that I had acquired for the set. CGC identified these two as also being clipped betas. Upon very close inspection, it is clear that the corners have been clipped and that the print layer alignments do not match those of alpha copies of these cards.

The fact that I initially discovered that there were some clipped betas in the batch and inspected all of the cards for this specifically was apparently not enough for me to catch all of them. So much for my career as a Magic card authenticator. Thankfully, as before, Dan and Allan stand behind the cards they sell, notwithstanding the fact that it has been almost a year since I received these cards from them. This should serve as a further reminder that high-end Magic purchases are best made from reputable sellers who will treat you fairly if a problem arises.

Conclusion

I hope this post marks a permanent resumption of my alpha collecting and blogging activity. I have received many inquiries about the dormancy of this blog over the past six months, and many message of support for my wife’s and my family’s welfare. Thank you all for your interest and concern.

December Deals

Sadly, I acquired only 7 new cards for my Alpha set in December. The primary reason for this is that I did not make any large multi-card purchases. Fortunately I have two different sources that I hope to tap in January to pick up a significant number of commons and uncommons that I am still missing.

The December PWCC auction also had far fewer near mint cards than previous auctions and although I bid on a few of them, I did not win any. I did, however, acquire these three lovely new cards in the November PWCC auction.

Also, last month I showed a Lifelace that I received from Card Kingdom for $160 using store credit ($123 cash value before 30% trade credit) that they considered NM but that I and many readers felt was LP. I sent that Lifelace off to ABU Games for approximately $250 in trade credit (worth between $125 and $150 in actual value due to ABU Games’ very high list prices), so although it was a slight waste of time, I didn’t lose any value due to accepting the LP Lifelace from Card Kingdom. Note that ABU Games now has 4 grades: Mint, Near Mint/Slightly Played, Played, and Heavily Played. This can be advantageous when selling cards like the Lifelace, but disadvantageous when you purchase NM/SP cards from them. Fortunately, ABU Games has scans of many, many card, so often you can confirm exactly how played a card is prior to purchasing it. That is exactly what I did when I picked up the following two alphas from them using store credit from the Lifelace and other cards.

I also acquired an alpha Savannah Lions from a seller on eBay. It was listed at $1900 or best offer. I made an offer of $1,650 which was accepted. Lastly, I acquired a Berserk from my good friend, Jonathan “Nemo” Salem, a local San Diego player who is always happy to help out his fellow Magic players and collectors. We valued it at $400, based on a BGS 8.5 Berserk that sold for $395 in November’s PWCC auction.


2019 Recap

After approximately four months of actively trying to build the set, I have made it to an even 200 out of the 295 total cards in a complete set. Here are the card counts by rarity.

Of the more valuable cards, I have obtained 5 of the Power 9, 3 of the 9 dual lands, and many of the other more valuable rares. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.


Wishing you all a happy, healthy New Year!

Online Stores

This week I picked up some inexpensive NM alphas from ABU Games and Card Kingdom, two large online Magic store in the United States. In both cases, I made the purchases using store credit that I had obtained from selling mostly sub-$5 cards. Card Kingdom offers a 30% bonus when you take payment in store credit, and ABU Games offers an insane bonus of over 100%. For this reason, if you are already planning to purchase cards from one of these online stores, it is always better to buylist some cards to them first so that you can take advantage of this bonus.

Even if you don’t have cards you wish to sell, or if the online store isn’t paying particularly high on the cards you do have to sell, it is often cheaper to purchase cards from other sources, such as TCGPlayer, eBay, or your local game store, and then ship them to ABU Games or Card Kingdom for store credit. For example, if you have identified $130 worth of cards you wish to purchase on Card Kingdom and don’t have any store credit saved, you should be able to find a card on which Card Kingdom pays $100 that you can purchase elsewhere for $110 to $120, then ship to Card Kingdom for $130 store credit, which you can then use to purchase the cards you want. Although this is probably not worth the effort to save $10-$20, if the price of your purchase is higher, or if you can find opportunities to purchase a card for $80 to $90 and ship to Card Kingdom for $130 in store credit, it might become a worthwhile strategy for you. Personally, I prefer to keep at least several hundred dollars of store credit at ABU Games and Card Kingdom so that I am prepared to purchase using store credit when the right opportunity arises. When my store credit balance gets low, I ship another stack of cheap cards that I have laying around gathering dust.

My pickup this week from Card Kingdom was a NM alpha Lifelace for $160. This required me to buylist $123 worth of cards to Card Kingdom and select to be paid in store credit with the 30% bonus. The highest dealer buylist on NM alpha Lifelice is ABU Games, who pay $117 for it. So effectively I obtained the card for about 5% over ABU Game buylist price, which is about as efficient as I can hope to be when obtaining cards from large online stores. I will note that I am slightly disappointed in the condition of the Lifelace. I am not certain that if I shipped it back to Card Kingdom to sell it to them, they would grade it as NM or EX. I have made many, many purchases from Card Kingdom and highly recommend them. But I should have requested a scan of the card before finalizing the purchase, which Card Kingdom will happily provide on cards over $100.

From ABU Games, I picked up the following cards this week.

Here is an updated chart of my overall progress in building the NM alpha set.

Underground Sea and more

PWCC Auction

This week I acquired 11 more cards for my alpha set. Three were purchased in October’s PWCC auction, a far cry from the 18 cards I purchased in the auction last month. This decrease is due partly to my needing fewer cards now, and partly to prices being a bit firmer at least for graded BGS 8 and 8.5 quality alphas. My win rate was under 10% this month, winning 3 out of 31 cards on which I placed bids, compared to a win rate of about 20% in September. The condition on the Underground Sea is very close to the border of acceptable for the set, so depending upon how it looks when I receive it and on what better options are available in the future, I might crack it to play with instead of including it in the set.

Alpha 40 League

November is the first month of the new online monthly Alpha 40 League. If you have any interest in Alpha and are not yet aware of the league, please join the Facebook “Magic The Gathering: “Alpha 40” Worldwide” group and click “Alpha 40 League” to filter to see the relevant posts. You can also click to see an awesome video trailer for the league, and deck construction rules. Thanks to Michael Angelo Russo, Drew Epstein, Joseph Freshwater, Peter Edwards, and Jason Letts for their tireless work organizing and running the league.

My next acquisition, 7 cards, resulted from my desire to hook up my friend, Vivien Zell, with an LP-MP Earthquake for his Alpha 40 league deck, and to pick up a Drain Life that I could play in my deck this month before putting it into the set. Our overall trade looked like this.

Traded LP-MP Earthquake for 7 NM Alphas

Lastly, I picked up a nice NM Sinkhole from a seller on the Alpha 40 channel of the Old School Discord, which I will also be using in my Alpha 40 league deck this month.

Sinkhole NM $80

Taking Stock

Presently, the set is roughly 2/3 complete based on card count, with both rares and uncommons being over 50% complete by count. In terms of value, I now have 4 pieces of Power 9, 2 of the 9 dual lands, and a smattering of other high value rares such as Time Vault and Chaos Orb. Now that I have almost 2/3 of the cards, my early rapid pace of acquisitions will no doubt continue to slow as the majority of good opportunities I find to acquire NM alpha cards will be for cards that I already have. As a result, I will now need to be more willing to make purchases of individual lower-value cards, such as the Sinkhole acquired this week.

Overall, I am thrilled with the progress I’ve made the past few months. I hope you have found it entertaining, as well as educational, to follow my progress. The post on which I have received by far the most positive feedback is my post on authentication. Because of the great interest in this topic, I plan to devote another entire post to it in the near future.

Eternal Weekend Pickups

Pre-alpha 40 Deck

Last weekend I travelled with my friend, Jonathan “Nemo” Salem from San Diego, California to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for Eternal Weekend. We both had a blast playing in the Legacy event on Saturday and in the Old School event on Sunday. The Old School event was held at the Elk’s Lodge, which is ironic as Old School is the only format this weekend in which there were no elks involved. Thanks to Jaco for organizing a great Old School event! I also got in lots of alpha 40 pickup games, mostly with my pre-alpha 40 deck comprised of gamma playtest cards.

With all of the opportunities to play, catch up with old friends, and make new ones, I didn’t want to take much time out to hunt for alpha cards for my set. My major purchase was this raw NM- Alpha Mox Ruby for $7800 from Jim Bruso at Graded Power. Jim has been a fixture of the Magic community seemingly forever, but he still clearly loves what he does. When I first walked past his booth, he was in the midst of filming the opening of a Legends booster box. Several of the crazies in attendance were purchasing the fresh packs to play pack wars with. Jim is extremely professional and has a large inventory of vintage cards for sale. If you missed Eternal Weekend, you can always check out Jim’s inventory on the Graded Power web site.

I also traded my good friend, Brian Urbano, for an Icy Manipulator and Demonic Tutor. Both are in better condition than necessary for the set, so if I find a good deal on slightly lower quality copies in the future, I will keep these cards for myself. But at least I now have a couple of the good uncommons for the set in case they prove difficult to find.

NM Winter Orb

I also purchased an LP Winter Orb from Paul DeSilva for $800 which I used to replace a NM Winter Orb that I have been playing with, freeing up the NM copy for the set.

Other small additions include a Hurloon Minotaur that I already owned and found when organizing cards last week, and these six commons also from Graded Power at $20 each.

First Power Added To Set

A few weeks ago I wrote about a full NM Power 9 that Marc Lattanzi and I recently purchased. Most of these cards and a second Mox Sapphire were graded by BGS on Monday and the results were about as expected. There were a couple quad 9s, a couple basic 9s, and a couple 8.5s, all of which are “too nice” for the set I’m building. Then there were the following 8.5 and 8s that are still NM and consistent with the quality of the rest of the set, but don’t carry the same kind of value premium as the more highly graded cards. These three cards are being added to my set.

The BGS 9 and 8.5 cards shown below are now for sale at the asking price shown. If you are interested in any of these cards, please contact Marc Lattanzi via Facebook Messenger.

Other Recent Acquisitions

This week I also received a lot of 32 commons and uncommons from Michael Thompson. Michael contacted me after reading the blog and was kind enough to photograph all of his alpha cards for me so that I could select the ones that were NM enough for my set. The purchase price was $1000 (including an Animate Artifact that I didn’t inspect carefully enough in the photo and that turned out to be LP).

October 30, 2019