What’s the Deal with the Columns in the Price Guide? – Beckett Pricing Insider

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This edition of the Beckett Pricing Insider is sponsored by MVP Sports Collectibles.

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 bfleischer@beckett.com and I’d be happy to get your comments in the hands of the correct Senior Market Analyst.

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Brian Fleischer

A collector since 1986, Brian has spent the last 15 years working as an Analyst in the Beckett pricing department. A vintage baseball card collector, he also collects vintage European soccer cards and pre-war Fordham University sports memorabilia. Have a question? You can reach him by email.

2 comments

  1. richard martin 5 December, 2018 at 09:28

    You left out the “often heard complaiant”, if the listed price for a card seems low it’s because Beckett wants to buy them up for resale.
    Stupid but true.

  2. Brian Fleischer 5 December, 2018 at 12:45

    If that were the case, Rich, I would have hammered the Trout Update RC and retired long ago!

    In all seriousness, that is a complaint that I have heard. I wouldn’t say I’ve heard it “often'”, but it’s something that has been brought up.

    In my 15 years with the company, I can’t think of any time that Beckett, as a company, has purchased cards on the secondary market to resell. Many employees are collectors and purchase unopened boxes and singles, but I can promise you that we’re not trying to manipulate Price Guide values so that employees save some money.

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