Beckett Value: Helpful, or Misleading?
A common misconception in the card collecting hobby, whether it be baseball, football, or any other sport for that matter is that Beckett Value is the “universal” price for cards. Also known as Sell Value or more commonly known as Book Value (BV), James Beckett has created a market filled with misconceptions about pricing your cards, condition, and selling your cards.
The Beckett Company (originally known as Online Price Guides) was founded by James Beckett. Beckett created the first international price guide in 1984, and later sold the company in 2005. The company makes over $14 million every year and employs 135 people. Beckett has a website, which was started in 1995 to promote the selling of sports trading cards. According to Wikipedia, Beckett.com has sold $13 million worth of cards as of 2005. With the hobby growing and the price of cards rising over the past 5 years, we can presume the number has increased, despite the failing economic times. The Beckett Company also offers grading of your cards and started a website in 2005 called Fanspot. It is the equivalent to a sports card Facebook.
The Beckett Company started price guides in 1984, where James Beckett made a guide which priced baseball cards through 1983. Beckett reached 100,000 readers in its first month, according to the website. Throughout the years, the subscription rates have risen and fallen, but they have kept a fairly steady rate over the past 26 years. In 2008, Beckett converted its four monthly price guides (which included baseball, basketball, football, and hockey) into seasonal titles.
However, Beckett is known in the collectors world as a “misguided attempt at placing a value on the always fluctuating card market” and “no longer a relevant value of sales of sports cards.”According to “Guru” an eBay “guru” who has over 18,000 positive feedback on eBay, believes that you have to take into consideration the person you are selling the card too. “As long as people realize it is only a guide. Not a true “market” value picture.” Many others are in agreement. I recently conducted a survey on a different sports card website, and the results were that many people don’t believe in the pricing of the guide, and rarely use it, if at all use it.
Beckett Price Guides can become extremely complicated when dealing with a seller who believes strongly in book value. When asked if Beckett Value sometimes creates chaos among the buyer and seller, Guru adds “I don’t think it creates much chaos if you are dealing with a rational buyer and seller who can come to an agreement on a price, not utilizing Beckett values for anything more than a starting point to cut a set percentage from.” When using Beckett value, Guru believes that you should “cut a base percentage of about 50% from the value Beckett puts on cards”. Beckett prices many cards at a fairly high market rate, and is often overpriced. Many examples can be found of overpriced book values. One example is the Jason Heyward Gold Refractor from 2008 Bowman Chrome. There is no BV for this card
However, the price for the regular chrome card is $25.00, and gold refractors are 8-15X the price of the regular card. So the price SHOULD be somewhere between $200 and $375. For some reason, I think that is why he may be having such a hard time selling the card.
As you can see, Beckett can be extremely high on some prices. However, Beckett can be extremely low on some other prices. For example, the T206 Honus Wagner is ridiculously UNDERPRICED. The Beckett Value for this is only $250,000-$350,000! This card has proven to sell for over $2.8 MILLION! So while their pricing can be off, they can be trusted as a semi-reliable source for pricing your valued collection.
Beckett is a valuable resource though. As Guru mentioned “the Beckett is still a valuable tool that can be used to gauge a value on your cards.” Beckett has continued to do its job of pricing cards to the best of their ability, and many have to understand that it won’t always be accurate. It is the Beckett Price Guide, and according to Guru, the Beckett Price Guide can be extremely useful, “Just as long as people realize it is only a guide. Not a true “market” value picture.” The card market is always changing, and it is hard to accurately price cards consistently 100% of the time. Beckett is an extremely valuable tool that when used correctly, can greatly increase your card sales and make you some extra cash.
Many thanks go out to $guru$, who provided me a lot of information. Go check his eBay page out.
Guru also has accounts on the blowoutcards.com forum (guru) and on Sports Card Forum (theguru). Over 19,000 feedback combined on all of those sites. Truly an asset to the card collecting community.