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March Was One Of The Best Months Ever For Card Grading: April 2024 Report

graded cards november 2023

We are back for the grading recap. The trends recently have been clear. PSA continues to be a powerhouse, baseball keeps getting more robust, and sports are gaining strength from TCG.

We were also a bit concerned about a lower overall activity level. Shohei Ohtani was the king of sports, while Pikachu ruled Pokemon with an iron fist. Did these trends last?

There is only one way to find out, so let’s look at the sports card grading trends for March 2024.

A SUPER strong March for card grading

February and January were both pretty weak months for grading. We saw a loss of 2% in activity in the first month of the year. Then, in February, there was a loss of 1%. We weren’t too concerned.

Last month, I wrote, “It seems very likely that as wallets recover from the holidays and Opening Day fever grips fans of the national pastime, we will see a commensurable increase in the numbers for March and April.”

And I am rarely correct, so let me trumpet it on those rare occasions because we did see a nice amount of growth in March 2024.

The strength of the trend, however, was shockingly high. March 2024 was the strongest month ever for grading. A total of 1.7 million items went through. That was 8% more than in February and 13% more than in March 2023. Those are great numbers.

TCG vs sports card grading trends

 The trend of sports becoming far more popular than TCG continues. There were 917,800 submissions of sports cards of the major sorts in March, meanwhile, 683,900 and 36,900 of TCG and non-sport respectively.

CategoryGraded cards
TCG683,900
Baseball407,900
Football261,200
Basketball205,500
Soccer54,500
Hockey43,200
Non-Sport36,900

TCG did not lose popularity as much as sports gained.

Top grading companies for March 2024

CGC gets a nice boost, but with a strong month for PSA, their margin remains unassailable. SGC and BGS appear stuck even on a strong month. Not a good sign.

Grading CompanyNumber of SubmissionsMovement from February
PSA1.33 million+8%
CGC185,000+13%
SGC147,000+1%
BGS66,000+1%

Top categories for sports grading March 2024

While TCG is standing pat, everything from baseball to soccer is flourishing. Easy to see why this was such a bumper month for sports.

CategoryPSASGCBGSCSG/CGC
TCG481,100 (-2%)17,400 (+1%)31,600 (+1%)153,800 (+2%)
Baseball325,000 (+11%67,300 (-1%)11,100 (+26%)4,500 (-2%)
Football215,800 (+18%)32,000 (-10%)9,000 (+15%)4,400 (+26%)
Basketball169,900 (+15%)21,700 (+15%)9,400 (-14%)4,500 (+62%)
Hockey37,600 (+8%)3,100 (+11%)1,900 (-26%600 (+20%)
Soccer35,300 (+24%)2,100 (+32%)1,400 (+26%)15,700 (N/A)
Fighting Sports10,300 (+1%)1,400 (N/A)300 (-23%)400 (-17%)

Top card era for grading for March 2024

The rate of ultra-modern at PSA remains incredibly high, signaling the continuation of a shift away from vintage in grading priorities.

DecadePSA (Sports Only)PSA (TCG Only)BGS (Sports Only)BGS (TCG Only)SGCCGC (Sports Only)CGC (TCG Only)
2020s62.6%64.4%52.9%62%48.8%57.2% 50%
2010s12.1%12%15.3%15.9%7.8%8.9%13%
2000s4.5%12.7%6.6%10.8%3.7%9%19.4%
1990s8.6%9.211.4%10.9%7.7%11.4%16.2%
1980s4.2%0.5%6%0.1%6.4%3.8%0.8%
1970s2.6%0.3%3.7%0%5.4%3%0.1%
1960s2%0.3%3.2%0%9%1.4%0.3%
The 1950s and earlier3.3%0.6%0.9%0.2%11.1%5.3%0.2%

Top gem rates for sports cards grading companies of March 2024

Gem rates are the most important element in determining the identity of the grading companies. In March, PSA and BGS kept their game rates very similar to the month before.

However, there was a pretty significant change for BGS in the post-modern space. Their numbers plummeted from 48% to 40%. It remains to be seen if that is a trend.

DecadePSA (Sports Only)PSA (TCG Only)BGS (Sports Only)BGS (TCG Only)SGCCGC (Sports Only)CGC (TCG Only)
2020s52.8%71.3%40.9%85.4%48.4%56.8%62.7%
2010s48.6%48.2%35.8%64.4%38.2%31%39.8%
2000s26.3%19.3%14%19.4%19.6%8.2%23.3%
1990s19%14.6%10%28.7%11.1%6.2%15.8%
1980s16.8%15.6%1.8%11.5%2.5%1.5%8.8%
1970s3.4%2.1%0%0%0.4%0%0.9%
1960s0.5%0.8%0%0%0%0%0.4%
The 1950s and earlier0.1%1.1%0%0%0%0%0%

Top graded players and characters for March 2024

We will be interested to see how well sports do, considering the strong month it had. Also did Caitlin Clark and Wemby enter the charts?

Most graded athletes

The big story, of course, is the massive rise in CJ Stroud submissions. It’s pretty incredible that Stroud, who is fairly unproven, has almost caught up to Ohtani. Meanwhile, Anthony Richardson has also gone flying up the charts. Football has a new generation folks.

AthleteAmount Submitted In MarchMovement from February   
Shohei Ohtani25,900-3%
CJ Stroud24,600+50%
Michael Jordan19,400+13%
Anthony Richardson10,100+45%
LeBron James8,200+18%
Kobe Bryant7,900+9%
Corbin Carroll7,600+8%
Ken Griffey Jr.6,600+7%
Gunnar Henderson6,400+4%
Patrick Mahomes II6,300+17%
Bryce Young6,200+63%

Most graded TCG characters

The top three remain the same as always. Meanwhile, Monkey D. Luffy remains in 4th joined by another character from One Piece, Nami. It’s nice to see variety there.

CharacterAmount Submitted In March Movement from February   
Charizard36,400+4%
Pikachu29,600-10%
Mew12,100-7%
Monkey D. Luffy9,500+43%
Mewtwo7,500-10%
Blastoise7,100-4%
Venusaur5,900-4%
Gengar5,400+21%
Charmander4,900-10%
Umbreon4,700-8%
Gengar4,400-6%
Nami3,700-5%

Combined characters and athletes list

Sports is starting to take over the combined list, after being relegated to its periphery for a very long time.

Characters or AthletesAmount Submitted In MarchMovement from February   
Charizard36,400+4%
Pikachu29,600-10%
Shohei Ohtani25,900-3%
CJ Stroud24,600+50%
Michael Jordan19,400+13%
Mew12,100-7%
Anthony Richardson10,100+45%
Monkey D. Luffy9,500+43%
LeBron James8,200+18%
Kobe Bryant7,900+9%
Corbin Carroll7,600+8%

Top sets graded for March 2024

Which are the most graded sets of March 2024? Let’s dive in.

Sports

2023 Panini Prizm Football has skyrocketed. We know it would do well, but 37,400 is incredible. Prizm Basketball also grew exponentially.

Anthony Richardson 2023 prizm
SetNumber Graded In MarchChange from February  
2023 Panini Prizm Football37,400+84%
2023 Panini Donruss Football11,300+13%
2023 Panini Prizm Basketball8,500+208%
2023 Bowman Draft Baseball8,300+11%
2023 Panini Mosaic Football6,700-7%
2023 Topps Chrome Baseball6,400-6%
2024 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs Baseball6,400-1%
2023 Topps Now Offseason Baseball5,900-24%
2024 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autographs Baseball5,800-1%
2023 Panini NBA Hoops5,200-3%

TCG

We see a lot of sets losing steam in March. But 2024 Pokémon Paf EN-Paldean Fates was the newcomer with the most momentum.

Meanwhile, 2023 One Piece Japanese Awakening of the New Era is the first non-Pokémon series to make the top ten since I have been covering this.

SetNumber Graded In MarchChange from February  
2023 Pokémon MEW EN-15118,700-12%
2024 Pokémon Japanese Sv2a- Pokémon 15116,400-34%
2023 Pokémon Japanese Sv4a-Shiny Treasure EX11,900-21%
2022 Pokémon Japanese Sword & Shield Vstar Universe11,300-33%
1999 Pokémon Game11,200+25%
2023 Pokémon Svp-SV Black Star Promo 9,600-9%
2024 Pokémon Paf EN-Paldean Fates9,300+367%
2023 One Piece Japanese Promos8,500+17%
2023 Pokémon Sword & Shield Crown Zenith7,300+1%
2023 One Piece Japanese Awakening of the New Era6,600+30%

Combined list of sets

A sports set way ahead of the competition. That is not something we see often.

SetNumber Graded In MarchChange from February  
2023 Panini Prizm Football37,400+84%
2023 Pokémon MEW EN-15118,700-12%
2024 Pokémon Japanese Sv2a- Pokémon 15116,400-34%
2023 Pokémon Japanese Sv4a-Shiny Treasure EX11,900-21%
2023 Panini Donruss Football11,300+13%
1999 Pokémon Game11,200+25%
2023 Pokémon Svp-SV Black Star Promo 9,600-9%
2024 Pokémon Paf EN-Paldean Fates9,300+367%
2023 Panini Prizm Basketball8,500+208%
2023 Bowman Draft Baseball8,300+11%

Top cards graded for March 2024

What are the top cards? With the rise of CJ Stroud we can expect a lot of him. Especially since 2023 Panini Donruss CJ Stroud #339 was first in February.

Sports

CJ Stroud takes both of the top spots. Did anyone see him becoming the number one guy in the hobby a few months ago? What a meteoric rise.

Meanwhile, Wemby has four of the top ten cards and the Connor Bedard Young Gun entered the chat.

CardNumber Graded In March Change from February  
2023 Panini Donruss CJ Stroud #3393,500+24%
2023 Panini Prizm CJ Stroud #3393,000+102%
2023 Panini Prizm Victor Wembanyama #1362,000+316%
2023 Panini NBA Hoops Victor Wembanyama #2771,800-9%
2023 Upper Deck Connor Bedard #4511,600N/A
2023 Panini NBA Hoops Victor Wembanyama #2981,300-6%
2023 Topps Now Offseason Shohei Ohtani #OS211,200-44%
2023 Topps Now Offseason Shohei Ohtani / Yoshinobu Yamamoto #OS261,100-18%
2023 Panini Prizm Draft Picks Victor Wembanyama #21,100-11%
2023 Panini Prizm Anthony Richardson #3431,000+69%

TCG

The 2023 Pokémon svp EN-SV Black Star Promo Pikachu W/Grey Felt Hat Pokemon X Van Gogh #85 card is still way ahead: a total classic. And we have a One Piece card in the top ten as well.

CardNumber Graded In March  Change from February  
2023 Pokémon svp EN-SV Black Star Promo Pikachu W/Grey Felt Hat Pokemon X Van Gogh #854,800+2%
2023 Pokémon Mew EN-151 Charizard EX Special Illustration Rare #1992,300+1%
2023 Pokémon Japanese SV-P Promo Detective Pikachu Returns Pre-Order #981,400-38%
2023 Pokémon 151 Ultra-Premium Collection Mew Ex #2051,300-30%
2023 Pokémon Mew EN-151 Blastoise EX Special Illustration Rare #2001,300-6%
2024 Pokémon Paf EN-Paldean Fates Charizard Ex Special Illustration Rare #2341,200+224%
2023 One Piece Japanese Promos Monkey D. Luffy Weekly Shonen Jump-Issue 36-37 #431,200+11%
2023 Pokémon Mew EN-151 Venusaur Ex Special Illustration Rare #1981,200-1%
2023 Pokémon Obf EN-Obsidian Flames Charizard EX Special Illustration Rare #2231,200-7%
2023 Pokémon Japanese Sv4-a Shiny Treasure EX Charizard EX Special Art Rare #3491,100-13%

Combined top card charts

Van Gogh is still the most popular card in the hobby. But sports take up a good half of this chart.

CardNumber Graded In March  Change from February  
2023 Pokémon svp EN-SV Black Star Promo Pikachu W/Grey Felt Hat Pokemon X Van Gogh #854,800+2%
2023 Panini Donruss CJ Stroud #3393,500+24%
2023 Panini Prizm CJ Stroud #3393,000+102%
2023 Panini Prizm Victor Wembanyama #1362,000+316%
2023 Pokémon Mew EN-151 Charizard EX Special Illustration Rare #1992,300+1%
2023 Panini NBA Hoops Victor Wembanyama #2771,800-9%
2023 Upper Deck Connor Bedard #4511,600N/A
2023 Pokémon Japanese SV-P Promo Detective Pikachu Returns Pre-Order #981,400-38%
2023 Panini NBA Hoops Victor Wembanyama #2981,300-6%
2023 Pokémon 151 Ultra-Premium Collection Mew Ex #2051,300-30%
2023 Pokémon Mew EN-151 Blastoise EX Special Illustration Rare #2001,300-6%

Bottomline of the March 2024 sports cards trends

March was the healthiest month for grading ever. And it was sports that made it tick. In particular, CJ Stroud was the driving force behind the football resurgence.

Baseball and basketball continue to be strong. The slowing down of Pokémon is a long-term trend at this point.

We are even seeing One Piece move in on the Pokémon action and take up real estate in the TCG chart. Interestingly, although Wemby on the most popular card charts, he still hasn’t entered the top athlete rankings. Perhaps soon, now that his Prizm cards are in the mix.

Meanwhile, Prizm continues to be the biggest release in the hobby. We are curious about what will replace it once Panini loses the rights. Will it be Topps Chrome all the way? Either way, we will be here tracking it.

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is the emeritus editor of Cardlines. He continues to write for several hobby outlets, including this one and Cardbase. He collects primarily vintage baseball and soccer and has a weird obsession with 1971 Topps.

In his spare time, Shaiel is sobbing into his bourbon when the Mets lose and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In a past life, Dr. Ben-Ephraim was a political science professor, journalist, and diplomat. But cards are more fun.
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