What is an SGC A Grade?

sgc a blog header
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An SGC “A” graded card stands for “Authentic.” This is not a card rating that one would expect on an encapsulated card, but rather a designation. Meaning, it’s an option that can be selected upon submission if you “would like SGC to encapsulate any trimmed or color-enhanced card (that is authentic) with the “A” designation.

July 2022 Update: This just in, SGC will be replacing the “A” designation with the word “authentic.” In addition, on the label under neath “authentic,” SGC will be adding additional information as to why the card was graded as so. For example. if the card had color added, you might see “color added.” Or, if the card shows evidence of it being trimmed, it will say so. You can watch the announcement recently posted to Facebook (around the 2:20 mark).

1968 Atlantic Oil Play Ball Contest - [Base] #4.4 - Willie McCovey [SGC A] - Courtesy of COMC.com

This is the “A Only” mention from the submission process: “If checked your item will not receive a numeric grade. If authentic, it will receive a grade of “A” Authentic.”

sgc screenshot showing "a" authentic

Of course, there is bound to be confusion around these slabbed cards, given “A” in most scales means the best or at least very good, as in an “A” letter grade as opposed to your “C” average. Not to mention that SGC grades on a 1-10 scale, leaving someone like me who didn’t know better to initially think that perhaps they once graded on a letter-grade scale (that is, before diving deeper for more info).

What makes matters worse is that nowhere is this “A” explained on the label itself (at least what appears to be the newer labels? There is an “AUTH” mention on some cards, it seems.

1972 Topps - [Base] #445 - Tom Seaver [SGC A] - Courtesy of COMC.com

Plus, finding more info about it is quite difficult. I mean, that’s why I’m writing this post—it was only until I used particular search operators that I was able to find this mention of the “A” designation. With that said, the statement is a bit different than the above:

“Check here if you would like SGC to encapsulate any trimmed or color-enhanced card (that is authentic) with the “A” designation.”

So, either way, hopefully this helps you from rushing into an “A” card thinking it’s at the top of something like an A-F letter-grade scale. And if you’re considering submitting your own cards, here is some information on SGC turnaround times.