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Full Version: Complete Beginner's Guide To Graded Cards
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(I did not create this guide, I have only edited it since I had someone ask for it again, hope it helps you, PS my comments are in parentheses)

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CARD IS WORTH GRADING? I thought this knowledge would really help collectors with their grading needs/problems. I use a few tools to check my cards with. The first thing, and most inportant thing is to keep the card as clean as humanly possible. Cleanliness is next to Godliness in the grading biz. THERE IS NO DOUBT ABOUT THIS WHAT-SO-EVER!!! This is the #1 rule! PERIOD. You have automatically kicked yourself out of the grading equation without this rule. CARDS MUST BE CLEAN! But do not clean your cards. ( I disagree here, I know many people that wipe cards with the cloth used to clean sunglasses and I have myself and it helps just have to do it carefully) Make sense? I didn't think so. I will explain what I mean. When I say a card must be clean, I mean having penny sleeves and toploaders readily available BEFORE you even sit cross-legged on the floor to open your packs/boxes. This should be "ceremonial" for lack of better words. You don't want to have to move or get up to go get proper protection for your cards when it is too late. You can RISK just the slightest bit of damage by doing so. Once the slightest bit of damage is done, the card is no longer grade-worthy. From pack to top-loader should mean just that. From pack to top-loader. There are several inexpensive things you will need to check your card. Here is a checklist of what you will need.

1.) A bright overhead light with a magnifier.

2.) You will need a black light. You will know why in a minute. You can buy a blacklight bulb by its self and use it in an old lamp. The bulb will cost less than $5.00 and are easy to come by at any Home Depot or similar store.

3.) You will need a 6X or better jewelers loop. This is about $30-$50 for a TOP QUALTY jewelers loop. (Prices have really dropped on these, you can get an amazing one with a light for $3-$5 on eBay) You know you have a top quality jewelers loop when you can see a spec or dirt/sand DEEPLY imbedded in the grooves of your fingerprints. I highly recommend you don't sacrifice the quality. It is a one time investment as long as you don't lose it. Make it a good one.

4.) You will need an Omnigrid. An Omnigrid is a tool that is used by people who sew fabric. It is used to check accuracy in measuring when someone is sewing. It is a hard, clear piece of plexiglass/plastic with thin black lines going acroos and down that you hold over the cloth to check accuracy and measurements in your fabric. I recommend the 6X6 size for easy handling with your card. These can be had at a sewing/fabric shop for only a few bucks. $4.00 at the most. You will see why you need this IMPORTANT tool in a minute.

5.)You will need a CLEAN felt cloth about the size of a hankercheif or napkin. This will cost $1.00 or $2.00. You might possibly get a scrap one for FREE at a sewing/fabric store. MAKE SURE IT IS CLEAN! Grab a couple if you can. You DO NOT want to use a substitute cloth. Not even if the substitute cloth is clean. The reason being is that some fabrics have "micro-abrasions" on them that can scratch your card. A felt cloth is the best thing that I personally have ever found. (So here it contradicts itself about the cloth but like I said you do want one for sure.)
(I would suggest blasting the cards with a can of compressed air if you have one handy, there's always one by my computer. Getting as much dust off before wiping will help, especially with foil or chrome cards. - per mrgonzodad)

The 4 characteristics we are looking for in card grading is centering, corners, surfaces and edges. I ALWAYS shoot for BGS 9 or better. I will not send a card made from 1982 and back to Beckett for regular BGS grading. I will for BVG though. ( I personally think SGC or PSA would be better for vintage grading) And I will not send in a card that I don't believe will come back a BGS 9 or better. It is just a waste of time and money as far as I am concerned. The next thing you want to think about when grading is "process of elimination" so your not grading all these cards with a fine tooth comb for no reason. Another thing to keep in mind is that less than 1% of all cards produced are worth a BGS 9 or better. Hence why the Beckett guide is ONLY A GUIDE to Near Mint cards. And the first step is to take the clear plastic Omnigrid and place it over the card. This will tell you with AMAZING accuracy just how well the card is centered. It works on borderless cards too. The Omnigrid puts an imaginary border over a borderless card so you can see if other characteristics in the card are even on all 4 sides. Things to check for are lines on the card that might serve as a guide for you. Company logos are the best choice. See if the logo sits PERFECTLY in the lines of your Omnigrid tool. If a line on the Omnigrid tool covers up any part of the logo, your card may be about 51/49 centering. Which is still very good. I highly recommend practicing on cards already graded by Beckett with a BGS 9.5 or better so you develope an eye for accuracy. To get a BGS 9 or better, centering MUST be 51/49 or better! 50/50 centering means you are on your way to BGS 9.5 or BGS 10. You can also practice on cards that perhaps don't have a player worth sending in to be graded, but the card is a good "dummy card" to practice with. AND so you know what Beckett is looking at. This is very important folks. This truly does take a talented eye.

The next thing you want to check is the surface of the card. You will need your magnifier and loop as well as your 2 lights for this process. The black light helps with detecting finger oils/prints on the card. SOME manufacturing flaws are easier to detect under a blacklight as well. THESE WILL BE FOUND BY BECKETT! Make NO MISTAKE about it! And such things as minor print lines and small printing errors show up better. You will need the regular light to compare differences in how things show up on your card. Finger oils/prints as well as small specks on top of the card can be wiped away with a felt cloth. PAY ATTENTION!: When you go to wipe away fingerprints/oil or any debris off of the card, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you GENTLY wipe from the center of the card towards the edges. You DO NOT want to do this backwards from what I just told you. You put your self at risk of damaging the edges of the card. AGAIN, practice these instructions on lesser common cards BEFORE you do this on a card you really like. You will be sorry if you don't. You also don't want to take away from the gloss on the surface of you card. A clean felt cloth will not hurt the surface of your card. You want to look for ANY KIND of flaw and imperfection you can find. Remember that MINT IS MINT! Every little detail matters and counts. Don't try to kid yourself into thinking it doesn't. That will be a costly mistake.

Next we are going to grade the edges and corners of the card. You will need your jewelers loop and your regular bright magnifier light for this. DO NOT sacrifice quality in this step by just checking it with the naked eye. This is a very easy step to take. It is the easiest of them all. Take your jewelers loop and inspect AND critique ANY kind of blemish what-so-ever. Dents, dings, chipping, bends, creases and small tears are considered "no-no's". The corners and edges should be RAZOR SHARP! You should be able to imagine the card being made of metal and being afraid to touch the edges and corners too hard or you will bleed. Make sure they look just that sharp. And remember that Beckett will see the same thing you see. You are not going to get it past them. Corners and edges cannot be fixed without altering the card in some way, shape or form. DO NOT cut your card to give it nice edges and corners. Beckett knows the routine/drill and will not grade your card. If your card has past these 4 inspections, you have just found a mint or better card worth sending to Beckett. You have saved yourself time, money, headache and aggravation by using these steps.
One of the easiest and best guides to understand out there.
Hello everyone,

I'm a new member and I'm getting into collecting football cards. This is a great read because I'm interested in bgs graded football cards!
(02-15-2013, 01:39 PM)nfldur Wrote: [ -> ]Hello everyone,

I'm a new member and I'm getting into collecting football cards. This is a great read because I'm interested in bgs graded football cards!
Welcome to the forums.
awesome guide... make it a sticky!!!Smile
(02-15-2013, 01:42 PM)ZeroDave Wrote: [ -> ]Welcome to the forums.
Thanks! I've been looking at some sets and I think I'm going to start with playoff contenders and topps chrome.
wow thanks! this helps me alot as im just starting to do this
This is a great guide and is simple to follow! However I would like to point out that it is still possible to judge your cards without any of this stuff. I always pregrade my cards before a submission just for fun to see how close I am and I have never been more than .5 off on a grade so far using just my eyes. I think I might go buy one of those grid things though as it certainly sounds helpful. The best part is the 1% being mint cards because that is so true. So many people think every card they get should be mint when that's not even possible. Everyone would find that out too if they actually went through their collections and inspected each card.
best guide around, they should sticky this!
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