beckett-grading
| | |

Beckett Card Grading (A Collector’s Guide) BGS, BVG, BCCG

All Vintage Cards content is free. When you purchase through referral links on our site, we earn a commission. Learn more

Beckett has long been a powerhouse in the media business. 

It’s monthly price guide magazines are synonymous with card collecting from the 80s and 90s.

Beckett Card Grading was launched back in 1999 and remains among the top tier of today’s card grading companies. 

In this piece, we review the history of Beckett Grading and explore some of the details of its different card grading options.

What’s The Background Of Beckett Grading?

Beckett Media was launched in 1984 and started with a physical magazine price guide and corresponding annual price books.

If you grew up in the 80s, Beckett was synonymous with card prices. Beckett was the de-facto standard for determing card values at the time. I have fond memories of waiting for the next month’s Beckett to arrive.

EVERYONE carried around their Beckett magazine at card shows.

beckett-mattingly

Ruth Icon

Looking for help valuing or selling your cards? All Vintage Cards has been dealing in vintage sports cards for over 30 years. Please see our BUY LIST before sending in an inquiry.

Name(Required)

A 1988 Beckett Magazine featuring Don Mattingly. Beckett price guides left such a lasting impression on me, that I can distinctly remember this issue. 

Beckett decided to leverage their brand by launching a card grading business, Beckett Grading Services (or BGS) in 1999.

At the time, PSA was still the king of the sports card grading business and a new competitor (SGC) had launched only a year prior. 

In 2001, Beckett also launched Beckett Vintage Grading (BVG) to create a separate grading entity devoted to cards dated from 1981 and prior. 

Beckett should dump BVG and focus on one grading entity. To this day, collectors remain confused by the two different grading divisions.

Oh and then there is Beckett Collectors Club Grading (BCCG) which was launched as a low price, high volume grading service in comparison to both BGS and BVG. IT has however been recently shut down by Beckett

In our sports grading tutorial, we discussed some of the differences between Beckett and PSA, but I’ll review it again here.

So, as a recap, Beckett Grading is a subsidiary of Beckett Media

Beckett Grading consists of…

beckett-grading

Beckett Grading Services (BGS)

Becket’s Largest and Most Popular Grading Division, Modern Cards Issued from 1981 to Present. Offered with and without subgrades.

bvg

Beckett Vintage Grading (BVG)

Beckett’s Vintage Card Grading Division, For Cards Issued Prior to 1981. Does not offer subgrades

bccg

Beckett Collector Club Grading (BCCG)

Beckett’s Lower Tier, High Volume Collector Grading Service 

note this service was recently shut down by Beckett

How Does Beckett Grade Cards?

Beckett grades cards using a standard 1 to 10 point scale, with half grades included.

For BGS, Beckett offers card grading with subgrades or no subgrades.

Subgrades are the four part scoring system that Beckett uses to arrive at its final overall grade.

subgrades-beckett

BGS Subgrades on a Barry Sanders rookie card

The four subgrades are: Centering, Corners, Edges and Surface.

Becketts scores each subgrade (from 1 through 10) and then derives an overall grade based on the four different subgrades. 

The best possible overall card grade that BGS offers is a 10. 

 To make it even more confusing, Beckett offers two different 10 grades, Pristine 10 and ‘Black Label’ Pristine 10.

What Is The Difference Between BGS Pristine 10 and Black Label Pristine?

In 2014, Beckett introduced the ‘Black Label’ Pristine 10 grade, which is a card that scores a 10 on all four subgrades. According to Beckett’s grading statistics, since their introduction, less than 1% of all cards graded have earned a Pristine, ‘Black Label’ grade.

yzerman-rc-black-label

A Beckett BGS Black Label Steve Yzerman rookie card

A graded card can also achieve a Pristine 10 (with only a Gold label) which is a nearly flawless card that has achieved one non-10 subgrade.  

lebron-pristine

A Lebron card in a BGS slab with a Pristine 10 grade from Beckett

Cards graded a BGS 9.5 (Gem Mint) or BGS 10 (Pristine) have a gold colored label.

Silver labels are affixed to cards graded either a BGS 8.5 or BGS 9, whereas the remainder of BGS graded cards have a white label.

Note there had been some speculation in the past that a former BGS employee was getting access to a large number of black label cards

Beckett (BGS) Grading Scale

BGS 10 Pristine – Black LabelBGS 10 Pristine – Gold LabelBGS 9.5 (True Gem) – All 9.5 Subgrades BGS 9.5 (Gem Mint)BGS 9 (Mint)BGS 8 (Near Mint-Mint)BGS 7 (Near-Mint)BGS 6 (EX-Mint)BGS 5 (EX)BGS 4 (VG-EX)BGS 3 (VG)BGS 2 (Good)BGS 1 (Poor)

What’s The Difference Between PSA and Beckett Grading System?

The major differences between Beckett and PSA are two fold.

First, PSA does not offer sub grades, as Beckett (and CSG) are the only two major graders to offer subgrades. 

Second, PSA’s top grade is Gem Mint (PSA 10).  PSA does not distinguish between Pristine and Gem Mint cards the same way that Beckett does. 

Recall that Beckett’s Gem Mint grade is 9.5. The hobby has latched onto the ‘True Gem Mint’ Beckett 9.5 terminology, which is simply a BGS 9.5 with all 9.5 subgrades. Note ‘True Gem’ is not an official Beckett term.

PSA does allow cards that are slightly off-center to earn a PSA 10 grade but not to exceed 55/45 to 60/40 in the front or 75/25 on the reverse.

Thus, PSA 10 cards can sometimes be slightly off-center, which makes a black label Pristine card a differentiator for Beckett Grading. 

PSA-10-Jordan

A PSA 10 Jordan that is slightly off-center and would never earn a Black Label grade from BGS.

Distinguishing between a PSA 10 and an equivalent Beckett BGS grade is a complicated task. In theory, a card with a PSA 10 grade could fit into any of the top four BGS card grades.  

A PSA 10 that has flawless centering might very well be Black Label worthy.  Or it might be slighly off center and equivalent to Beckett’s Gem Mint (9.5 grade).

bgs-vs-psa

A PSA 10 could be any one of Beckett’s top grades.

Typcially, it is up to the eye of the beholder to determine what a PSA 10 card is worth. Certainly, those that appear slightly off-center will not warrant any sort of secondary market premium.

How Much Does Beckett Card Grading Cost?

Similar to the other grading companies, Beckett was slammed with demand during the pandemic, forcing them to shut down their two lower priced (Economy and Standard) grading services.

Currently, Beckett is offering either Express or Premium grading.

The base pricing for the two grading services are as follows:

Express: $150 (or $100 with no subgrades)Premium: $250 (or $125 with no subgrades)

Beckett Grading is also priced based on a declared value for the card, which determines the level of insurance needed.  

In addition, to the insurance cost, there is a return shipping cost. 

So for a card that is worth $1000 or less, the cheapest method of grading with Beckett (and with subgrades) will cost you close to $200. 

This makes Beckett Grading highly prohibitive in terms of pricing for most collectors. 

See Beckett’s Submission Form For Most Card Grading Pricing Details

Evaluating Beckett Grading Prices vs PSA and SGC?

Beckett has not reopened its lower priced grading options (although that could change soon).

Thus, its pricing it most cases is cost prohibitive for collectors. 

Beckett’s Express grading ($100 with no subgrades) is now on par with PSA’s lowest cost grading options.

To add subgrades on the Express level costs another $50.  Beckett’s subgrades do add a premium to the overall card’s value, yet it truly depends on the overall value of the card.

Using our Sports Card Grading Calculator can provide an example of the pricing differences:

For a $2000 card, the costs breakdown as follows:

PSA: $199SGC: $150BGS: $189

What Are Beckett Grading Turnaround Times?

Beckett has been notorious for very slow turnaround times, especially during the recent pandemic boom over the last few years. I’ve had reports from some collectors that are still awaiting shipment from orders sent in at the economy level over a year ago. 

Beckett does have a card grading turnaround tracker listed on its website and the expected wait times as of this writing are as follows:

Premium Submissions Approximately 10-15 Business Days
Express Submissions Approximately 15-20 Business Days

For collector commentary, I also encourage you to check in on this running thread, where there are more frequent updates.

Does Beckett Grading Have A Population Report?

Beckett does have a population report which you can find here. It is unfortunately, far inerior to the population report data offered by PSA

The search function on Beckett’s pop report is abysmal. For example, if I type in 1980 Topps under basketball, nothing appears. You would have to enter 1980-81 Topps in order for anything to show up. 

It is clear that Beckett has not invested much time or capital in the data part of its grading business.  Something that PSA has excelled at. 

How Do I Submit My Cards To Beckett Grading?

Beckett offers an online submssion system or you can print out Beckett’s grading submission form and fill it out by hand.

I must say that I’ve only submitted to Beckett once, but I did find their online submission form very confusing.

For some reason, when I search for a card, the page is all jumbled…here is an example…to select a card, you need to check off that checkbox…but on my screen it shows up in the wrong column. Not sure what’s going on here. 

To see how Beckett’s online grading submission system is supposed to work, this is a good, quick review of the grading process.

How Do I Lookup A Beckett Grading Cert?

Collectors can look up the serial number on the front of the Beckett slab to help verify authenticity. 

To see how this works, here is a 1961 Fleer Wilt card, graded by BVG (or Beckett Vintage Grading).

wilt-61

We can see that the serial number is 0005990997

By visiting this link here we get the following info, showing that this card was indeed graded by Beckett back in 2008.  They have graded a total of 148 copies.