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The short answer to the question, “What does POP mean in sports cards?” is that “POP” is short for “population,” which refers to the number of cards that have received a particular grade from a grading service.
Sports cards are often graded by third-party companies like PSA, BGS, and SGC (to just name 3) that evaluate the condition of the card based on factors such as centering, corners, edges, and surface condition.
These companies assign a grade, usually on a scale of 1 to 10, with higher grades indicating better condition.
For example, a card graded as Gem Mint 10 may be referred to as a “pop 1” if it is the only card to have received that grade from the grading service.
On the other hand, a card graded as Near Mint 7 with multiple copies in that condition may be referred to as a “pop 100” if there are 100 cards with that same grade according to the grading service’s population report.
Knowing the population or “pop” of a card in a particular grade can provide collectors with information about the rarity and desirability of a card in a specific condition, which can affect its value in the sports card market.
So are you looking to see what the “pop” report is for your graded card? Here are links to the following pop report pages online from the major grading companies.
To see how the value of cards can increase based on the grade and how scarce that grade is, check out this post here for rare BGS Black Label cards.
Other hobby acroynms commonly used
- PSA: PROFESSIONAL SPORTS AUTHENTICATOR – a leading grading and authentication company that specializes in sports cards and other collectibles.
- BGS: BECKETT GRADING SERVICES – a popular grading company that assigns a numerical grade to sports cards based on their condition.
- RC: Rookie Card – the first sports card of a player released during their rookie season, typically considered more valuable than other cards of the same player.
- SP: SHORT PRINT – a card that is produced in smaller quantities than other cards in a set, making it more difficult to find.
- SN: Serial Number – a unique number assigned to a sports card, which can affect its rarity and value.
- AU: Autograph – a signature from a sports player on a sports card.
- SGC: SPORTSCARD GUARANTY CORPORATION – a grading and authentication company that specializes in sports cards.
- RPA: Short for rookie patch autograph cards. More on RPAs here in this post!
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“Population reports” refer to the number of cards at a certain grade. Which translates to the number of people who arbitrarily decide to grade a card and choose a particular company to do it and the count of how many were given that grade. This has no real meaning to the actual number of cards that exist in that condition. It’s just a count of random decisions by people. Adjusting the overall value of a card based on that is ridiculous.