Why I choose BGS/BVG instead of PSA
The reason might be simpler than you think.
Sunday morning I posted the attached picture to my Twitter account. I had been trying for a long time to take a decent picture of my “Card Wall” display case which contains many of the jewels of my rookie/vintage collection.
The case contains 55 cards, all of which are graded by Beckett (Vintage) Grading. And the question about my grading preferences was asked again. And then it dawned on me that I never really explained here on my blog why I choose BGS/BVG instead of PSA.
One look at my bio may lead you to believe that my former affiliation with Beckett Media may have something to do with it, but in reality my loyalty to Beckett Grading began more than a decade before I penned anything for Beckett.
It started in 1999 during the grading card craze. PSA at the time was the big boy in the grading industry and many other small “grading” companies came along, most of which offered nothing more than slabbing your card for some fee. The quality of work really didn’t matter. They all had some fancy three-letter abbreviation and offered some plastic encapsulation, but the reputation of grading companies is built on one main thing: trustworthiness. In other words, does the grade you issue a card carry any value among collectors?
As you can guess, many of those fly-by-night operations didn’t last long as their services really offered nothing to collectors but a special plastic holder. Beckett started the Beckett Grading Services branch of the company right about that same time and to me, their product caught my eye for two reasons: First, the holders seemed superior to the PSA ones. Second, I didn’t have to join a club to get my cards graded.
The belief in my mind at the time was that I had to pay money to join the PSA club in order to even have the opportunity to get my cards graded. I also didn’t like the fact that the cost of services varied depending on the value of the card.
With BGS it was simple. You want cards graded? Package them up, fill out a form, pay a flat fee per card regardless of value and wait. There were no clubs. No hoops to jump through. It seemed simple. And it was.
Oddly enough my first order was a bag of mixed results. I got solid grades on my key submissions (1997-98 Topps Chrome Refractor RC Tim Duncan (9); 1998-99 Topps Chrome Refractors RC Vince Carter (9) and 1998 SP Authentic RC Randy Moss (9)) but there were some quality control issues. I had two cards in that first batch that came back damaged. Not the cases, but the actual cards! At some point during the encapsulation process, the edge of the card got caught in the area of the inner plastic sleeve where the plastic is heat sealed closed.
I complained and basically got the cold shoulder. It left a bad taste in my mouth, but I sent another submission a year later and had no problems. And truthfully, I have now sent dozens of orders in over the last 17 years and have not had any issues.
When it comes to grading, PSA and BGS are the two authorities. And everyone has their own opinion as to which is better for certain cards and why. Each also has a loyal following. Most modern stuff gets slabbed by BGS, likely because of the superior (in my opinion) cases and the existence of sub grades, whereas PSA continues to have a large market share of the vintage slabs.
On the resale market PSA still draws better for vintage cards which of course leaves me in an interesting predicament as it pertains to my collection. While I have a fair amount of modern stuff graded by Beckett Grading, I also choose BVG for all of my vintage cards. And I do this knowing that the cards might be “worth more” if they were in PSA holders, if for no other reason collectors of vintage seem to prefer PSA’s services.
What it all really comes down to is what you like. If you are a collector – and not a reseller, flipper, investor, etc. – you buy what you like, not what the next guy likes. Because really the only person you need to impress with your collection is the person you look at in the mirror.