About a month ago, a friend in the hobby reached out to me on Facebook. He was in the midst of a debate with a fellow collector over what the two columns meant in the Beckett Price Guides.
In my 15 years in the Pricing Department at Beckett, I’ve heard many collectors’ passionate thoughts on what exactly the two columns mean.
“The HI column is for a card in Mint condition and the LO column is for a card in lesser condition.”
“The HI column is the trade value, the LO column is the eBay value.”
“The HI column is the retail value, the LO column is the wholesale value.”
“The LO column is the eBay value and the HI column is just two times that number.”
“The HI column is the highest price the card has sold for and LO column is the lowest it’s sold for.”
“The LO column is a suggested buy price and the HI column is the suggested sell price.”
While all interesting theories as to what the columns mean, none of them are actually correct. The true answer to the question can be found in the “How to Use and Condition Guide” that runs in Beckett Baseball and in our Annual Price Guide books:
“The LO and HI columns reflect current retail selling ranges. The HI column generally represents full retail selling price. The LO column generally represents the lowest price one could expect to find with extensive shopping.”
In somewhat simpler terms, the HI column is generally the price one might find at a card store or show. The LO column generally represents the lowest price one could find where there are a lot of buyers and sellers, like on eBay or at a heavily attended card show.
The Price Guide columns are meant to guide collectors by providing a range of values for their cards. More often than not (myself included before I worked at Beckett), collectors’ eyes go directly to the HI column. Inevitably, then, we hear things like, “Beckett says this card is worth $50 but it’s selling all day on eBay for $20 to $25.”
In fact, we likely say the card is worth “between $20 and $50.” Internally, we’d say a $20-$50 card that is selling online for $20-$25 is “within range.”
The Pricing Team does their best to keep up with the pricing of millions of cards across all of the databases – the new, the old, the hot, the cold – but we aren’t perfect. Year to date, we’ve gathered and analyzed over 1.7 million secondary market sales from sources such as the Beckett Marketplace, eBay, major auction houses, and dealer and collector reports. We always welcome feedback, especially constructive feedback regarding pricing that needs adjusting.
“Your pricing is terrible!” or “The Price Guide is irrelevant,” is not constructive feedback. It doesn’t offer up anything to focus on that you’d like to be better or specifics on what could be improved.
“You book this 2003 Fleer Derek Jeter card at $50 and it seems to be selling online in the $10-$15 range,” is much better feedback that will allow us to take a closer look at the card(s) or player(s) in question to make the necessary adjustments.
Have some feedback that you’d like to offer? Please feel free to reach out me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to get your comments in the hands of the correct Senior Market Analyst.