How to Spot Which 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Cards Are Worth Grading
By David Poole | Senior Grader, Beckett Grading Services
A strong grade can make a major impact on what your 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. is worth (or any 1989 Upper Deck rookie card for that matter). Here are some tips on what to look for when choosing which cards to send in.
Hint: You may want to spend more time on the back.
The 1989 Upper Deck set was produced in very high quality. Cards were generally cut well, print flaws were rare, and corners came out of packs almost always sharp. So why don’t all the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards grade 10? Let’s take a closer look.
1. Keys to Getting Top Grades
• Centering top to bottom is measured from the top border to the bottom of his name. More specifically, the bottom of his name aside from the tail of the lower case ‘y’ in Griffey.
• Natural factory cut edges tend to have a little roughness from time to time. As long as this roughness doesn’t tear into, dip down into the borders of the card, or run down an entire edge, the card still has a chance to get a 9.5, or in some rare cases still achieve a 10 (obviously, if the remaining sub grades allow).
2. Commonly Missed Flaws
• Small paper flaws (small wrinkles in the card stock) appear from time to time on the back surface coming from either the right or left edges about half way up the card. The surface grade, depending on how prevalent the paper flaw is, can range anywhere from a 5 to a 7.5
• The Upper Deck hologram on the back may have chipped off pieces. If only about 15-20% of the hologram is missing, then card may still have a chance to receive a 9.5 overall. The surface grade can get as low as a 5 depending on the severity of how much is missing. If the hologram has been deemed completely missing from the factory, not scraped off, then the surface grade will NOT be affected. It will be referred to as “Missing Hologram” on the label.
In some rare cases, there may be two holograms placed on the back. This also will not affect the surface grade and will be notated on the label. However, if one of the holograms is complete and the other is missing pieces, the surface grade will be deducted accordingly.
• Print Dots, sometimes referred to as “fish eyes,” (small circles of different colors usually red, green, yellow or blue) on or near his face. These negatively impact the grade.
• A “crimp” or slight bend in the surface coming up from the bottom edge right near the Upper Deck logo, extending to the bottom of his right shoulder. This is sometimes hard to see but, unfortunately, leaves the surface grade at anywhere from a 5 to a 7, depending on the severity.
• Small white check mark shaped flaws sometimes appear in groups on the front of the card. These can cause the surface to be dropped anywhere from an 8.5 to a 6.
3. Common Variations That Don’t Count Against a Grade
• The back has a completely different player. This is notated as wrong back on the label.
• Sometimes the ink printing of an entirely different card is printed on top of the front or back of the card (leaving a “shadow” like look of the other card image). This also will be notated on the label and not deducted from the surface grade.
• Missing holograms and double holograms (see above).
One last tip. Even though a card is fresh from a pack or factory set, don’t assume any quality. Those paper wrinkles, and hologram chips likely happened during the printing process. Like many cards, it never had a chance at a high grade, even before it was packaged.