Population reports are data sets that track collectibles graded by individual grading firms. Each offers insight into their rarity and distribution among collectors. By analyzing these reports, collectors can identify the scarcity of each asset; allowing them to come to conclusions about their value. Population reports are a wealth of information when analyzing the assets you already have and ones you would like to own in the future.
Grading agencies like PSA, Beckett, WATA, CGC, and SGC use population reports as a sort of "collectible census" to keep track of graded items' rarity and conditions. They meticulously record each item they grade, noting its condition, category, and any other defining characteristics. Each time an asset is sent to one of these firms to be graded, it is recorded in the population report for other collectors to analyze. By maintaining these detailed population reports, they help buyers and sellers navigate the sometimes untrustworthy nature of collectibles markets.
Collectors can access population reports through the websites of grading agencies like PSA, Beckett, WATA, CGC, and SGC, where they're often available for free or sometimes offered through a subscription service. Those linked below are free for anyone to take a look!
These reports guide collectors to their desired collectible's rarity and value. To interpret a population report, collectors can look at individual items, say “1999 #58 Pikachu Red Cheeks Shadowless PSA 8”, in order to understand the rarity of an individual card. You can also research assets more broadly–by category, athlete name, Card Set, etc… Once you have an idea of the supply of an asset, you can then surmise the item's relative value by comparing the population figures; although this must be done with an eye towards demand as well, as it is an equally important factor in the value of an asset. With this knowledge, collectors can confidently negotiate deals, avoid overpaying for items, and spot hidden gems in the wild.
The value of a collectible based on its population report can be influenced by several factors, including its condition, rarity, and demand within the market. Although just because an asset is rare does not guarantee a high imputed value. The population report merely serves to give a snapshot of supply at a moment in time. It's essential to remember that a collectible's value is not solely determined by the population report; collectors must also consider factors like historical significance, cultural relevance, and the whims of the market. If collectors are able to accurately predict these factors, population reports will allow them the information they need to profitably grow their collection.
Video game pop reports differ from other categories in that they are broken down in such a way that represents video games as opposed to a broader list of filters. WATA breaks everything down first by console–you can search for games under anything from the Atari 2600 to Xbox 360. Then you can drill down into the “state” of graded games within each console: Sealed (factory sealed), CIB (complete in box), and Cart (loose cartridge). With Sealed being the most rare, followed by CIB and then Cart.
After being broken down by state, you can drill down into each title. Although, one title will have several different “variants”; each of which is a different printing of the game. For example, each of the below is a unique variant of “NES Super Mario Bros.”. These variants are then broken down again by overall grade (from 1-10) and seal grade (from C+ to A++).
Each variant of a single title can go for wildly varying prices. In the above, “*Made in Japan, Hangtab - NES-GP - NES Code '' is among the most valuable variants. Due to its rarity, only 7 of the 205 total population, but also since it is from a relatively early printing period before the NES completely took over the North American console market.
Comic book population reports are organized in a way dissimilar to other assets. Firstly, by “series title” and “issue #”—these two delineate the graded book from different ones in the series and from alternate series’ altogether.
Once you search by those two parameters, you are met with a list of titles attached to different ‘publisher’, ‘year’, and ‘issue date’.
Each publisher is wont to stop and start a series as fan interest waxes and wanes, so for a popular series you will see many different issues, albeit with the same issue #. Clicking into an individual title will give you a detailed look at the population of the asset; broken down not only by grade, but by label as well. The label of the book is a signal as to how we should interpret the grade. CGC assigns the following labels to their graded comic books:
Signature Series (Yellow)
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