Meet the Founder & CEO
My name is Steve Kass and I am the founder of Technical Authentication & Grading, TAG. After sixty-five years of collecting sports memorabilia, including over 400,000 cards, my son asked me a question which prompted a 10-year endeavor that would become TAG: “Dad, I know they mean a lot to you, but have you ever considered selling them?”
I had never sold a card and had no idea how to do it. At five years old, I purchased my first card using my own money earned doing chores-- a Wally Westlake ’51 Redbacks. Since that time, I acquired a lot of cards, many of considerably more value but none more cherished by me.
I discovered that selling a card for full value, requires grading. Condition is extremely important. Since that time, counterfeiting, trimming, and substitution have become prevalent in the industry. I researched the internet and found many opinions about “best” grader, best grader for “certain era or sport” and the all-too-common complaints about all graders. I decided to determine which grading company was “best”.
I initially undertook a study (to discern from all that I heard and read) what could be relied upon as fact. I sent 100 cards to two different grading companies to grade. When the first grading company sent me my graded cards back, I carefully removed them from the slabs and resubmitted them all to the second grading company. I was surprised by the results: a significant number of cards had different grades.
So, beginning just over 10 years ago, I set out to create a technology that would address the industry’s problems with accuracy and consistency.
Well into the development process when the commitment of capital and time was growing, I decided to confirm my conclusions from the initial study, with a second, more comprehensive, study.
I sent 200 cards to one of three grading companies, then the same cards to a second of the companies and finally the same 200 cards to the third company. What I initially concluded to be problematic with existing grading, at the time of the initial study, continued to present itself. I sent the original 200 cards back to each company a second time for a fresh set of grades. Again, all three companies gave all too often, different grades for the exact card they graded previously.
I thought that the only explanation for this inconsistency was that I had possibly damaged the cards when removing them from their slab, thus accounting for the different second grade; however, this couldn’t be, as the second grade was often HIGHER than the first! I also submitted trimmed cards for 150 grades and only 12 were identified correctly as trimmed.
Just as troublesome, 8 cards not trimmed were incorrectly identified as trimmed. The probability of a correct identification of a trimmed card was almost the same as erroneously identifying a card as trimmed that was not trimmed.
I continued my efforts to develop a 100% automated grading system. Our system is called TAG (Technical Authentication & Grading) and it is an accurate and consistent card grading technology. It has robust patents and shows endless promise to be the industry’s much needed, accurate and consistent grading solution.
After: (1) spending countless hours of time in research; (2) working with over 50 engineers and programmers; (3) working with four tech companies to define and develop grading technology; (4) spending countless hours reading, studying and examining cards; (5) spending an estimated over 120,000 hours on identifying the system needs and developing them; (6) developing the business plan; and, (7) applying for, and being awarded, four patents with 134 approved Claims, the technology is now ready to introduce to the market.
I have a passion for cards. I know the joy of holding a card that is 60 years old and can remember opening the pack and recalling the smell of the pink flat juicy sheet of gum. I remember how I licked my fingers to savor the taste and feel of the slight white powder coating.
I believe that my passion for cards as a youth is shared with the passion of today’s collectors. I believe that everyone should get the same grade for a card in the same condition regardless of your stature in the industry or on social media. I believe that half point grades ignore material value differentiation. For example, assuming grading companies know the precise defects and its measurements (accurate grading) they use to grade a card, how is it possible that a grading difference of .48 points, an 8.76 (graded 9.0) and a 9.24 (graded 9.0) is meaningless to the card value when a .50 point difference between a 8.5 and a 9.0 results in multiples of value difference?
We at TAG will, over a short period of time, earn your respect. To get it, we will deliver to you a grading system that is consistent with our Mission Statement.
Our mission is to use innovation, to apply technologies, and to create for each collector: transparency, accuracy, and consistency for every card graded.