August 2021 Recap

  • PSA grading activity slowed in August (down 9% compared to July), resulting in its lowest output since May '21; however, PSA exited the month with positive momentum as weekly volume increased 26% compared to the lows reached early in August.
  • 2019 basketball exploded in August as it was roughly 18% of all items graded compared to 11% in July.
  • The modern/ultra-modern era dominated grading activity; cards from 2010 on made up 68% of the items graded compared to 52% in July.
  • TCG (Pokemon) continued its healthy climb up the ranks as its share of items graded increased to 21% compared to 16% in July.
  • Published September 1st, 2021

    Welcome to the August 2021 PSA grading recap from GemRate. For reference, here are the July, June, and May recaps. For regular updates on grading activity, please check out the newly launched dashboard that updates daily with recent trends.

    PSA output in August declined an average of 9% per day - with 669,000 items graded in total

  • PSA appears to have suffered from a National hangover as its weekly volume dipped during and after the event. Compounded by likely seasonality, August was the slowest month since May '21.
  • That said, PSA showed signs of returning to peak activity exiting August with weekly output up 26% compared to earlier in the month.

  • Ultra-modern dominates August as 2019 basketball explodes; junk wax activity returns to May ‘21 levels

  • Cards from 2010 on made up 68% of the items graded compared to 52% in July.
  • 2019 basketball cards were roughly 18% of all items graded compared to 11% in July. This is an absolute increase of ~40,000 cards in August compared to July.
  • On the flip side, cards from the 1980 and 1990s dropped to 16% of cards graded, down from 31% in July.

  • Category Summary

    Basketball activity declines slightly despite the big shift back to ultra-modern; baseball sees a big drop in activity; TCG keeps moving up the ranks

  • Basketball activity dropped 4% despite the huge increase in ultra-modern cards being graded as volumes from the junk wax era and 2000s declined meaningfully.
  • Baseball suffered a large decline in August (-28%) as the volume of junk wax cards being graded fell off a cliff. 1980s and 1990s volume dropped from roughly 79,000 cards in July to only 17,000 cards in August.
  • TCG saw solid increases across all eras and has seen its volume consistently increase the past four months (90k in May, 113k in June, 117k in July, & 140k in August).

  • Set Summary

    2019 Prizm basketball volume was nearly 50% greater than the next closest set

  • All the above sets saw meaningful double-digit increases in volume as ultra-modern was the bulk of the grading activity in August.
  • For those keeping score at home, base made up 58% of the 2019 Prizm basketball cards graded in August. However, that is only slightly up from 56% all-time heading into August. While only a sample of one, base activity remains elevated but looks to be fairly proportionate to historical levels for this particular set.
  • Only the classic 1999 Pokemon Game was able to break into the top 10 from outside the ultra-modern era.

  • Player Summary

    The top 3 players saw some movement this month with LeBron moving Jordan out of the top spot

    Card Summary

    2020 Topps baseball leads the list; Pokemon moves three into the top 10

    Gem Rates for the top 10 cards actually improved during August (54% compared to 47% in July)

    What's Next?

    Who knows! The shifts in volume have been meaningful across categories and eras over the past few months. We suspect August activity is closer to the near term normal...but it is hard to know where exactly PSA is in its many million card backlog. It would not be a surprise to see Pokemon continue to increase and football to grow modestly in September, but that expected activity isn’t a bet we’d place just yet.