April 2022 Grading Recap

Published May 2nd, 2022
  • PSA graded 826,515 items during April - down 16% from a record-setting March.
  • SGC volume dropped 9% while Beckett and CSG both increased 4% in April.
  • Junk-wax-era cards spiked at PSA, while Pokemon momentum subsided. F1 activity increased meaningfully.
April Grading Summary

Category Comparison

Items Graded by Era

Gem Rate Breakdown by Era

April 2022 PSA Grading Recap

  • PSA graded 826,515 items during April - down 16% from a record-setting March.
  • TCG/Pokemon momentum dropped off meaningfully, down 51% compared to March.
  • Junk-wax-era cards spiked as PSA continues to clear out its backlog (now below 4 million cards). Nearly 30% of all cards graded were from the 1980s or 1990s.
  • Gem rates took a hit in April. The overall gem rate was 35% in April vs 40% in March and 79% of the top 100 cards graded had lower gem rates compared to March (typically closer to 50%)

Category Summary

Basketball regained the top spot as TCG activity dropped by more than 50%

  • Non-sport and F1 saw meaningful increases in activity during April

Set Summary

The top sets saw steep declines nearly across the board

  • 1999 Pokemon Game held onto the top spot by a slim margin and was nearly surpassed by '20 Prizm football
  • New to the list in April: 2021 Topps baseball
  • Dropping from the list: 2020 Pokemon Swsh Black Star Promo
  • Other noteworthy moves: 1986 Fleer up to #13 and 1990 Marvel Universe moved up to #20

Player Summary

Michael Jordan tops the list thanks to the junk-wax surge

  • Micheal Jordan saw a large increase in activity with 40k+ cards graded in April
  • Others with increases include Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady, Justin Herbert, Shaquille O'Neal, and LaMelo Ball
  • Shaquille O'Neal moved onto the top list in April while Mew (TCG) dropped off

Card Summary

Junk wax and 2021 Topps baseball shook up the list of top cards in April

  • New to the list in April: 2021 Topps Alec Bohm #277 and Cristian Pache #187, 1989 Hoops Michael Jordan #200 and Michael Jordan All-Star #21, 1990 Hoops Michael Jordan #65, and 1992 Topps Shaquille O'Neal
  • Dropping from the list: 2020 Topps Now Bundesliga Youssoufa Moukoko, 2020 Pokemon Sword & Shield Rayquaza, 2016 Pokemon XY Charizard Holo #11, 2020 Topps Luis Robert #392, Yordan Alvarez #276, and Kyle Lewis #64

What's Next for PSA?

  • April looks like it was a bit of a spring-cleaning month for PSA. It’s unclear how much discretion PSA has to group and grade orders by submission level, category, and era. That said, it appears there’s some ability to manage the queue as PSA activity suggests a shift to lower-margin bulk to start Q2 after a record close to Q1.
  • With the backlog now below 4 million cards and the Collectors Club grading events now in their fourth month - we could see the $50 service level open up more broadly sooner than later. With that, we are getting closer to assessing where true demand sits today compared to the peak levels of 2021.

April 2022 SGC Grading Recap

  • SGC graded 94,401 cards during April - a 9% drop from its record high in March.
  • Looking at category activity, only soccer and F1 saw increases in April.

Category Summary

Only soccer and F1 saw increases in April.

Set Summary

F1 climbs the leaderboard

  • New to the list in April: 2021 Topps Chrome F1, 2020 Topps Chrome F1
  • Dropping from the list: 2021 Bowman Chrome Draft baseball and 2020 Panini Select basketball

Player Summary

Michael Jordan leads but Tom Brady closes the gap

  • The top player list did not see any new additions in April
  • Only Wander Franco and Mac Jones saw increased activity during the month
  • Noteworthy names that saw increases outside the top list include Ja Morant, Trevor Lawrence, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Tyrese Maxey

Card Summary

Wander Franco stays atop the list

  • The top three cards remain unchanged
  • New to the list in April: 2020 Topps Chrome F1 Max Verstappen #6, 2018 Topps Update Shohei Ohtani #US1, 1981 Topps Joe Montana #216, and 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle #280
  • Dropping from the list: 2021 Donruss Ja'Marr Chase #262 and Mac Jones #255, 1996 Topps Kobe Bryant #138, and 1966 Topps Mickey Mantle #50

What's Next for SGC?

  • The modest drop in grading activity was a slight surprise given SGC had been consistently ramping output to start 2022. In addition, there was not much noise out of SGC after a big marketing push earlier in the year. There have been hints of updates coming from SGC - perhaps that played into April output. Perhaps ~100k cards a month is the ideal capacity for SGC in its current state. May should give a read on whether this was a slight blip or a near-term ceiling for SGC.

Other Charts - CSG

Category Summary

Set Summary

Player Summary

What's Next for CSG?

  • CSG continues to make strides. While April activity is not a definitive read - there are signs that CSG grading was not nearly as tough in April (a common source of negative feedback for the company) - which should be well received by the hobby along with its new grading scale.
  • In addition, the company announced another interesting partnership (with PWCC) and released its CGC pop report (which GemRate has started to track). When combined - the CGC / CSG combo is the second-largest grader by volume with more than 130k cards graded in April. A solid increase in activity in May would be another step in the right direction for a company that still seems to fly under the radar.

Other Charts - Beckett

Category Summary

What's Next for Beckett?

  • After months of silence, Beckett chatter has started to regain momentum. The company revealed a new logo, is making a push to hire technical talent, announced a vault, quietly made an acquisition and reopened its standard grading service. At the same time, “Is Beckett still relevant?” content spiked. Something has to give. Is a bigger Beckett push coming? How will it be received?