If you’re new to the hobby, it may seem as if PSA Grading services have been around for as long as Topps or Donruss or bubble gum, but the truth is, the authentication giant hasn’t always been around. In fact, they’re a couple years younger than fellow trendsetters Upper Deck.
Here is a brief history of PSA grading, with an emphasis on their gigantic hobby impact …
- David Hall, who owns a coin grading service called Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), decides to expand into the burgeoning sports card and memorabilia by founding PSA, or Professional Sports Authenticator.
- eBay is founded as an online auction house, where consumers can offer their wares to each other, selling to the highest bidder. Sports cards are an early staple of the site, but the real fireworks still lie ahead.
- Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire chase Roger Maris’ single-season home record of 61 to fuel not only a diamond revival after the 1995 strike, but a surge in interest in the hobby — cards, balls, jerseys, newspapers featuring the duo and other stars fill PSA’s coffers.
- PSA grades one million cards in a calendar year for the first time.
- Amidst the dot-com boom and the growing demand for card authentication and grading, PSA competitor SGC (Sportscard Guaranty) enters the fray to take on their long-established competitor.
- Capitalizing on their decades-long hobby profile, Beckett establishes Beckett Grading Services, or BGS, to offer collectors and investors a third major grading option.
- PSA’s parent company, goes public, traded on NASDAQ as CLCT.
- Joe Orlando becomes president of PSA, a post he will hold for some 20 years, shepherding the company through some trying times, but also through periods of tremendous growth.
- In March, and facing a months-long backlog, PSA announces that they are suspending most of their services indefinitely as they work to catch up with the piles of cards that have already been submitted for grading.
- Collectors Universe agrees to a $700-million buyout bid by an investment group led by collector and tech entrepreneur Nat Turner.
- Orlando steps down as PSA president.
- In October, PSA announces Kevin Lenane as their new president.
- In February, PSA announces the return of their regular service, ten months after suspending the same and beefing up their staff to work through monumental backlogs.