Interview with Andy Broome
By: Shane Salmonson

Andy Broome has been collecting cards for over 40 years. About half of that time has been spent grading cards for a living. Working for one of the largest card grading companies in the industry, Broome has been the Senior Vintage Card Grader for Beckett Grading for the last 13 years. Andy was kind enough to give us a quick sneak peek into the life of a card grader.

BU: When were you first introduced to trading cards?

AB: It was at a gas station in East Ridge, TN in 1983. First pack ripped and I guess the rest is history.

BU: What do you collect currently?

AB: I have changed the focus of my collecting this year and narrowing down what I am going after. In cards, I am currently working on my Victor Starffin player collection and 1909-11 E90-1 set.  Outside of cards, the rest of my time and money go into my comic art and autograph collections.

BU: How is it working as a card grader?

AB: The honest answer is that it is not for everyone. I love it but it is tedious and monotonous. The hours are long at times, either here at the home office or at one of the many shows/events each year.  Those hours sitting under a bright light and loupe looking at someone else’s cards all day can be tough at times but it’s a pretty cool job at the end of the day, all things considered.  It takes years of experience and skill to be consistent every day.  If you are cut out for it, you can’t imagine doing anything else.

BU: How many cards do you handle each day?

AB: That is really impossible to say. Every day is different and presents different challenges. Some cards require research and take much more time. Counterfeit and altered cards take longer to assess and authenticate. There can be a big difference day to day if you are just talking strictly numbers.

BU: Do you still get excited when you see amazing cards?

AB: Of course! Although admittedly, after grading professionally for nearly 20 years now, I have become jaded but there are still cards/items that get me excited. One of the things that excites me most is discovering a new counterfeit or a new alteration.

BU: Speaking of counterfeits, how often to do you see counterfeit cards?

AB: Everyday……every single day!  Counterfeit cards are a big problem in the hobby. But it has been a problem for 30 years. Now, the technology has not just gotten better but it has become cheaper and more accessible.

BU: What are some things collectors can look for to avoid fakes?

AB: More important than what to look for since each card issue is different, is what to know. The more educated you are as a collector and a buyer, the less mistakes you will have to eat. Handling cards is a great way to start learning. Start collecting cards you are interested in, say T206 cards. Buy yourself the proper tools like the right type of loupe and study those cards. You will catch 99% of fakes when you have handled and studied the same cards you are buying. The T206 Wagner was printed on the same sheets as common cards. Become familiar with common T206 cards and you can spot a fake Wagner a mile away.  Remember, if you have a deal that seems too good to be true……it probably is, so be careful!

BU: Do you have any tips for collectors looking to get cards graded?

AB: Be wise with your money. Not every card needs to be graded. Culling your cards for only the best in appearance to your eyes and not submitting the rest will keep you from wasting money on grading cards where grading will not increase their value.   We recommend you first find cards in your collection that have value.  It might not be worth sending in a card for grading that is worth $10, when you are paying $15 to have it graded.  Take the pile of cards that have “value” and look them over first with your naked eye.  If a flaw stands out, you might not want to send that card.  After that, take a magnifying glass out and skim the cards looking for flaws.  Doing this will save you time, money, and frustration.

BU: Could you summarize the grading process for us?

A majority of our submissions are received in our Dallas office.  Cards come into the grading HQ in Dallas. Each submission is verified and accounted for. They are then sent to invoicing where we separate the order by service date and collect payment.  After Invoicing, the Verification Team checks each card and enters the card’s info into our system. This is where your identity is separated from your cards. Each card is in a holder with a label that carries coded information and due dates. Once this is done, job numbers are established, deadline dates are set, and cards move into our vault (to wait for their time to be graded) or right to the graders to be graded  Once grades are assigned, the submission then moves to the labeling station where grades are entered followed by a trip to the slab department. Once your card is sealed in our holder, they are packed and shipped back to you!   That’s an abbreviated version of the process

BU: Any cards you have graded that you will always remember?

AB: The big 3 for me that I have graded would all be T206 cards. The Wagner, the Doyle NY error and the Ty Cobb backed Ty Cobb. There have been so many amazing cards that I have handled over the years but those 3 will always stand out.

BU: Any grading myths you have encountered?

AB: One myth I amazingly still hear is that cards can be switched out during grading. I literally have never seen or heard of this actually happening. Bottom line, I know with us it isn’t a concern because of the security we have in place and the quality of people we hire. Besides the intense security that is required and tracking process we have in place, it really comes down to a card just isn’t worth messing with. We are all long-time professionals and honestly, we have more important things to worry about. I’m not giving up a dream gig over any card. And that includes 5 and 6-figure value cards.

BU: Anything else you’d like to say to the collectors reading this?

AB: That I love each and every one of you!  Might sound strange but the collectors are what keep me excited!  I get to come to work and look over your prized items which is an honor! I would also like to say if you have a question about the grading process, please ask us. Myself as well as the entire company are active on social media and are happy to answer questions.

Andy Broome
Senior Vintage Card Grader, Beckett Grading
Twitter: @cardgrader