Thursday, August 15, 2019

card trimming for science

The hobby has been rocked by a card trimming scandal over the past few months, with hobby heavyweights PSA, Beckett Grading Services, and eBay consignment powerhouse PWCC in the spotlight over allegations of being complicit in schemes regarding trimming valuable cards for better grades, and therefore higher sales.

For the heck of it, I thought I'd give a shot at trimming a card myself. I've never attempted to trim a card other than my own customs or occasionally a cut-out oddball from a magazine or box, but for the sake of an interesting blog post, I'll give it a try.

Here's a 1990 Score Tony Gwynn card I found among my many Gwynn dupes (He's my all-time favorite player, so I've got a lot.) You can see this card's top corners are both clearly less than gem mint. Let's see if I can take the ol' paper cutter to it to improve them.

Well, I doubt this card would grade out to a 10 after going under the knife-- a bit off-center to the right, and the corners still aren't perfect-- but at a quick glance, I'd say those top corners are improved. If this was hypothetically a valuable card like a 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout or a 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan, the alteration may have helped bump up the grade by a few hundred dollars' worth, assuming the grading entity didn't take any measurements into account and just gave it a rough once-over.

So there you have it. And please note that this is my first time trimming a real card and that I am doing this at 1:30 in the morning while having trouble sleeping. I'd imaging that someone who does this a lot (and on a full night's sleep) would do a better job.

So yeah, it's a bit scary if you're concerned about things such as altered cards and/or are someone who pays a premium for slabbed 10's.

Lest anyone think I was contaminating the hobby with altered '90 Score Gwynns, I pulled the ol' Upper Deck X treatment on this guy, with some artificial "die cuts" to make sure it never gets mistaken for an unaltered card. (Sorry, Tony-- no disrespect intended! Thank you for your sacrifice.)


  1. You should've done this to a Benito Santiago card instead.

    1. Yeah. I originally looked for my Bip dupes, but couldn't find them. Again, I'm dealing with some minor insomnia at the moment and am not running at full capacity. :P

  2. Surprised at how well that worked! Well done?

  3. I've got a mini paper cutter that I use for package labels that I've wondered if it would work for this. (Not that I'd try to "improve" a real card except trimming a Hostess down to the lines.) I imagine the toughest part is getting it started without crimping the corner.

  4. Hey, you've now got an Ebay one of one.

  5. I can't even cut box bottoms out straight. I think the card would look worse after I finished with it than before. And thanks for destroying the card. I would have forever been suspicious of all the graded 1990 Score cards I've planning on buying.

  6. I have a stack of those Big League blaster box cards and haven't tried to cut them. We used to have a heavy paper cutter at work, but I doubt we do anymore. I'm probably going to just end up sending them out uncut like an idiot.

  7. Interesting experiment. I'm lucky that my paper cutter sucks. That way there won't be any 1:30am temptation to clean up my vintage cards.