Why I choose BGS/BVG instead of PSA

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It’s been asked of me many times: Why do you 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.

6 Responses to “Why I choose BGS/BVG instead of PSA”

  1. I agree with you to do what you like as a collector. We need more collectors and less sorry funded dealers that only want to flip cards as quickly as they can not caring to put the extra effort in to actually market and sell their cards for a fair price that makes it possible to sustain the collectible market. It seems too many semi professional dealers need to be the lowest price so their card sells right away so they can pay their rent or pg&e bill. I am already amazed when I see autographs selling for.99 on eBay. These same players command$75-300 at shows yet hall of famers consistently sell for $7-10 on eBay. I guess that is good for the true collector but it is disappointing to the collector that may need a few bucks and cannot get a shop or a dealer to have the ability to offer a price worth taking. My only fear is the hobby will loose collectors which could trickle down to manufacturers not having enough sales to continue creating new cool cards for the collector that remain. As for grading neither beckett nor psa have a grading standard or a scientific methodology to their grading. The inconsistencies are so bad I chose not to grade my cards at all. I will start to grade cards when there is a consistent grading scale that adheres to the long time published grading standard that psa has on their website and the hobby has used for almost 30 years. If you want to see just how far they have deviated from it, google 1-10 grading standard and you will see what I mean. I don’t have to agree with the grades grading companies give as long as they are consistent. We have not ever seen a company that can do that. If you send the same card in ten times in a row, the grade should be the same ten times in a row.

    • You’re fears on what the hobby has become in terms of rip and flip is spot-on; I totally agree.

      As for your views on grading, it’s al;ways been subjective. Humans are the people grading the cards. There will be error; and not everyone will agree on the grade. That said, the hobby has determined that the grades doled out by both PSA and BGS are the most trustworthy of the grading companies out there. Grading isn’t for everyone. I choose to do it for my vintage stuff for three reasons: 1) To authenticate my card; 2) Give me some idea what grade the card is in the eyes of the people who do grading, 3) preservation and display purposes.

      • Those are all good reasons to grade and most important protection of your cards. Beckett is the best for that. I look forward to future insights. Have a great day.

  2. It makes sense that there would be some (slight) variation on the grades of a certain card from the “human factor” that you mention. But the thing that I don’t get is the difference in values of the exact same card & grade by different companies, or the populations of that grade.
    This is why I call grading mostly corporate corruption of a simple hobby. If a card grades at 10, to me it should be the same high book value as a Mint raw card. The only difference between the two is the plastic case. Encapsulation should not increase the value by 500% in my opinion. If I break out that graded card from its prison, is it still worth the inflated price? Still the same card that was said to be the grade…
    But regardless, a Mint 10 should be the same as a Mint 10 (or 100 or whatever scale is used). It’s irrelevant who graded it since if you’re a grading company, you should be qualified to give grades. (The same standard grade like Mike said above). Different values between different companies negates the whole point of grading. The idea is to lock in a rating on a universal scale to eliminate debate on a card’s condition etc. To make all the standards different for each company (and their corresponding values) makes the whole process moot.
    And it’s also irrelevant that 20 people happened to choose to send to one company vs. five that chose the other. Are the five more valuable because there is a lower population of that card at that grade? Doesn’t seem logical. But I’ve seen that in ads for graded cards – low population as a selling point. Seems to me the higher population would be more valuable because it is apparently more accepted by submitters.
    Just my opinion looking in from the outside….

    • I get what you’re saying. And believe me, grading isn’t for everyone. One major reason to get cards, especially vintage, graded is to ensure their authenticity. So many people alter cards. It’s sad.

      The lower population is a selling point because it’s that perceived rarity that so many people live and die with in this hobby. A lot of people want to say they have “the only” or “one of just 5 copies.” Reality is some people care about rarity; and others don’t.

      Also, people have “registries” with PSA or BgS. Basically they collect one set t player, or any other theme, and have every card faded by a certain company. There are competitions/contests based on this. It’s a much smaller segment of the hobby, but this is what drives prices for certain cards on certain grades by certain companies.

    • I believe we need to address the accepted published grading standard that has been available to collectors for over 20 years and is available on psa’s website. The major problem is the grading companies do not follow their own published guidelines. My best advice to collectors is to ignored the number on the encapsulation, accept if it is from a reputable company with a guarantee that the card is authentic and judge the grade and value yourself. I have seen so many cards misgraded I don’t have faith in the current grading guidelines being used in the industry today. If the leaders in the grading community cannot tell the collectors the basis for grading a card, the grade means nothing. Second beware of the high end grading bubble to burst soon. My personal feeling, I would never pay an extreme premium on a graded card. I have seen 6’s and 7’s graded by the major companies that are nicer than graded 8’s and 9’s. And most of the time, there is no difference between a 9 and a ten other than grading companies population control the top grades to create a false premium. If you are rolling in money and it makes you happy to spend a lot of money on your cards and you do not have eyes of your own to see the condition of a card by all means spend that cash but if you are a collector that loves sports and love your collection just have fun, support your local shops and favorite dealers, that love the hobby as much as you do and collect cards. Bring the innocent fun back to collecting.

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