To crack open the slab or not, that is the question

January 29, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Posted in My Cards, Topps | 19 Comments

I’m no stranger to PSA graded cards.  I own a bunch of them, and the vast majority of them are vintage cards made before 1980, along with some major rookie cards from the 1980s and early 1990s.  I’ve acquired a few graded Don Mattingly cards in the past, but only because I couldn’t find ungraded copies of those cards.  I broke them out of their slabs so that I could store them with my other Don Mattingly cards (which you can see here).  The only exception so far was a PSA 9 copy of Don Mattingly’s 1993 Topps Finest refractor.  I kept that one in the PSA slab because it is the most valuable Don Mattingly card from his playing days, and it’s even more valuable when it’s graded.

Anyway, I recently won an eBay auction for one of the 9 Mattingly cards from his playing career that I needed.  It was the “Members Only” parallel of the “Virtual Reality” parallel from 1995 Topps Stadium Club.  Yes, a parallel of a parallel.  But anyway, it is a PSA graded card.  Specifically, it’s a “Gem Mint” PSA 10 card.  Here it is:


Now, under normal circumstances, it would be any easy decision for me to crack open the slab and remove the card, so that I could put it in a penny sleeve and top loader just like all of my other Don Mattingly cards.  But this is different for me because it’s a PSA 10 – a perfect specimen.  I own very few PSA 10 cards.  On the other hand, it’s a rare card, and having a graded copy doesn’t increase its value much.  I’m really on the fence about what to do.  What do you think – should I set this one free from the slab or not?



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  1. I’m of the opinion that all cards should be free from any plastic coffin. I say you bust it out of its shell, and consider doing the same to all your graded cards! They are ment to be touched, enjoyed in the natural way the card companies intended!! Set it free!

  2. I don’t understand the point of breaking the slab. Its in a case, you would just break it open to put it in another case.

  3. You’re justt going to put it in another case so why bother cracking it open? I know PSA makes their cases a little to tall and they are harder to store that way, but it is Gem Mint. Don’t forget to slap a team bag on from each end to keep it from getting scratched up.

  4. If you break it Don West will never, EVAR forgive you.

  5. Break it. Unless you’re going to sell it, what’s the point of having it in a case?

  6. I’d leave it be. What’s the point of taking it of one case to put it in another one?

  7. I’d leave it in the case. It’s a free protective case and it’ll never get damaged inside that case. Unless you shake it really hard and ding the sides or something. If you leave it as-is it also becomes a conversation piece. You and I both know who you bought that from, that guy that only sells graded cards on eBay.

  8. Some very interesting opinions so far…

    To Tribecards – I buy a lot of vintage cards specifically because they’re graded. The grading tells me that they’re not counterfeit, I know exactly what condition they’re in, and I know that the condition will never deteriorate. So for those cards, I’d never consider breaking them out of their slabs.

    A few people have asked what the point of breaking it out is if I’m just going to put it into another case (penny sleeve and top loader). The only reason is that I have all of my other Mattingly cards stored that way (except for the 1993 Finest refractor), and I’d like to store this card with all of the others. Conversely, if I kept it in the slab, I could store it with the graded 1993 refractor…

    Jeffrey raises a good point too – I would definitely not want to incur the wrath of Don West!

    To clarify Pete’s comment – this came from ‘4-sharp-corners’ on eBay – which is a name that I’m sure everyone who’s ever searched for PSA graded cards on eBay is familiar with.

    I think I’m leaning towards leaving the card in the slab – for now…

  9. Keep it in the slab, it’s a gem mint 10!

  10. For what it’s worth, I’d keep it in the case. If for no other reason than it’s in the best protection you could get for it.

  11. I’m not a big case fan, but when you’re talking about high grade vintage cards and real PSA 10s you might as well keep ’em in there simply for the protection value. You can throw those suckers up against the wall and dunk ’em in the toilet and the card will still be reasonably protected. IYou never know, you might end up finding an ungraded copy of this next week, then you could flip the PSA10.

  12. I’d leave it in its case, simply to protect it. If it was NrMt, then you would want to put it with the rest of your cards, since they are all probably NrMt-Mt or better. But a Gem Mint version of a card is a rarity, and you would want to protect this better. No better way to protect it than leaving it in the slab it is in.

  13. Since it’s a 10 I would keep it in the plastic. No reason in risking damaging the card trying to take it out. How did u get a list of all the cards u needed?

  14. I like dayf’s idea – keep it slabbed, and then if/when I find an ungraded copy, I can sell the PSA 10.

    David P – I printed off a list from Beckett’s web site in 2004. I’ve been checking cards off the list ever since.

  15. I would leave it in the slab. Just for the sake of protection, and you are just going to take it out to put it in a different case anyway. Why risk dinging a corner in transfer just to free it?

  16. sometimes bad things happen to good people when they take the protection off…..

  17. Let it free! The only cards that should be graded are the ones from the 1970’s or older.

  18. Do whatever you will get the most enjoyment from!

  19. Is there a best way to break a card out of a slab? I’ve collected autographed items for years and store them in albums so unless its a $2000 signed item I’d prefer to keep it in the album with the rest of the cards – not easy finding UNSLABBED signed HOF plaques, Perez Steele, etc. anymore. Do you just pound it with a hammer or is there a non-destructive simple way to open these slabs? Any ideas? What has worked best for you?

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