Walking Through the BGS Process

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Want to tour the BGS facilities? Well, unfortunately due to security, we just can’t let you in. But we can take a virtual tour .

Let’s imagine we are one of your trading cards for a moment and take the tour through the grading process.

So, let’s get packed into a box and dropped off in the mail and head to Beckett Grading Services in Dallas, Texas!

Beckett Grading Services (BGS) receives the box from the delivery person. The box is placed with many other boxes from around the world that are received everyday.

One by one, each package is opened and logged into our system. The cards are counted against the submission form. Once everything is logged and matches up, the cards and paperwork are placed into a bin and locked away with other bins ready for the next step.

Those bins still locked into secure transport cabinets are transported to the BGS invoicing department. It is here where your order is calculated, the guaranteed turnaround time is established and the due date is set. Your payment is processed and you have been sent an email letting you know everything is moving right along. From here, each bin containing an invoiced order is transported to our vault. Each order patiently waits for the next step in the BGS process, the verification department.

It is the verification department where some important things happen.

Once the bin is received in verification, the expert verifiers ensure each card is identified properly. When you filled out your submission form, were you not 100% sure what year a particular card was from? No problem! That is one of the jobs of our verification team.

Once each card is properly identified, a unique sticker is produced for that card. That sticker contains the unique submission number, a unique serial number for that card, a barcode, the due date and a place for graders to assign grades.

This is where any personal identification information is removed from the order. This ensures the graders are receiving an anonymous bin of cards to grade.   All those rumors of graders knowing whose cards they are grading are eliminated with this step. The bins are now returned to the vault to sit with hundreds of other bins that share the same due date. Next, it is on to the graders!

Each morning, the vault is opened and a secured transport cabinet is filled with the orders that are next in line for grading.

The grading staff, comprising of a staff of senior graders and junior graders, receive bins of orders to grade.

The grader will take a card from the bin, carefully remove it from its holder, and begin examination. The card is examined first to determine its authenticity and that is has not been altered. Once the card has been deemed to be authentic and unaltered, the condition is assessed. If a card is deemed to be altered, the card will either be sent back to the customer with a note stating what the alteration is, or if the customer has chosen to have altered cards encapsulated, the card will be encapsulated and the label will read “Authentic- Altered.”

For modern cards, each card is graded by assigning a numerical grade to each of the four subgrade categories.

Those four subgrades are:

Centering

Corners

Edges

Surface

The overall numerical grade is not a simple average of the four subgrades. BGS uses an algorithm which determines the final grade using the four sub grades on the front label of the card holder. The lowest overall grade is the first category to observe because it is the most obvious defect, and the lowest grade is the most heavily weighted in determining the overall grade.

For example:

Centering = 9.5

Corners = 9.5

Edges = 9

Surface = 8

Final grade = 8.5

The reason that this card received an 8.5 is that even though the Surface grade was an 8 (the lowest grade overall), the 9.5 grades on Centering and Corners were strong enough to bring it up a full point to reach the 8.5 level.

Another example:

Centering = 9.5

Corners = 9.5

Edges = 8.5

Surface = 9

Final grade = 9

Upon first glance, it may appear that this card should’ve received a grade different than a 9. The most this card could receive was .5 (or one-half grade) above the lowest sub-grade. The Edges were the lowest in this case, hence, the card received the overall 9 grade. Even though Centering and Corners received grades of 9.5, a key point to remember is that the minimum requirement to receive a grade of Gem Mint is to have at least three grades of 9.5 and the fourth to be no less than a 9.

Also, please note that the final grade rarely, if ever, exceeds two levels above the lowest of the four characteristic grades. For example, if a card has characteristic grades of Centering 10, Corners 6, Edges 10 and Surface 10, the final grade will be a “7” (of which is exactly two grading levels above the lowest characteristic grade).

The graders use is a 1-10 scale:

1 – Poor

1.5 Fair

2 – G (Good)

2.5 –G+

3 – VG (Very Good)

3.5 – VG+

4 – VG-EX (Very Good-Excellent)

4.5 VG-EX+

5 – EX (Excellent)

5.5 – EX +

6 – EX-NM (Excellent-Near Mint)

6.5 – EX-NM+

7 – Near Mint

7.5 – Near Mint +

8 – Near Mint-Mint

8.5 – Near Mint-Mint +

9 – Mint

9.5 – Gem Mint

10 – Pristine

A Pristine 10 with all four subgades of 10 is what is known as a BGS Black Label Pristine. This is the highest possible grade combination and is “holdered” with a black label with gold type.

Once each card has been assigned a grade, the cards are placed in a custom BGS inner sleeve and placed with the rest of the cards in the bin. The bin is now sent to the next step in the BGS process, the Labeling department.

It is here in the labeling department where the labels that will go into the BGS encapsulation with the card are created. The labels are placed with each corresponding card and the bin is now ready for the final step in the grading process, “Slabbing.”

The encapsulation department encases the cards and labels inside of the BGS holder, or commonly called a “Slab” in the hobby. Each card and its label are placed in the bottom half of the proper size holder. A top half of the holder is placed over the top and the entire encapsulation is placed inside of the ultrasonic welding machine. This ultrasonic machine applies an ultrasonic frequency to certain parts of the holder that are designed to make contact with each other and weld the plastic completely. This solid weld seal around the holder ensure the holder is tamper and water resistant.

Each card now safely sealed in the BGS encapsulation is now placed into a bag to protect against scratching and are placed back into the bin.

Your cards have had quite the journey so far. But we have one more stop before your cards reach you. The cards must now be packaged and shipped. The shipping department checks each card before securely packing them for the trip home. Once they are logged into the system as shipped, you will receive an email letting you know the process is now complete. In this email, you will receive any tracking information and a link to see what the final grades are!

It is a detailed process that takes many dedicated and passionate people to get your cards graded and encapsulated safely and securely and back to you. It is a process BGS has been doing everyday since 1999.

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26 comments

  1. dominic 1 March, 2018 at 10:24

    I have received cards that are not in the proper size slab. The card is a lot thinner than the huge slab it was placed in. The card jiggles around when moved or lightly shaken. Plus, why is the Auto grade on the front and sometimes on the back? Why can’t you make it consistent?

  2. Larry Fassauer 2 March, 2018 at 10:09

    I agree with Dominic on those questions. But I also notice on a recent slab I got the card graded a 10, but the slab they put it in is terribly scratched bad. You would think with the price they charge they would give you a slab that wasn’t tore up.

  3. Dale 25 March, 2018 at 08:45

    If I were to get a card autographed, then send it in to be graded, would it be considered to be an altered card and sent back? I have a few items i want to get graded and the autograph authenticated.

  4. Frank Chiaramitaro 29 March, 2018 at 06:26

    I need help, i submitted some cards to be graded a while back and I wanted to bump up the service I chose and no one i’ve called has been able to help me, I was wondering how I would be able to change to choose the 10 day service, thanks

  5. Bradley Schwab 2 April, 2018 at 14:12

    Does Beckett accept reviews on cards Beckett has already graded? Is the process the same as it would be if i were sending in PSA graded cards for review? i bought a michael jordan 886-87 rc graded mint 9, and sub grades are 9.5, 9.5, 9 and 8.5 which was it’s surface grade. i cant see it missing any gloss, color, and wanted to get it reviewed to see if it would be considered a gem mint grade.

  6. Julius Mixon 18 April, 2018 at 10:57

    I just sent my cards to be graded. I got no receipt when my credit card was charged, no email saying they received my cards, no email saying the process was complete and no tracking number. And I paid for two days then around. I’m not rushing them at all because I know grading and slabbing takes time, but email communication with updates would be nice

  7. Kevin Corblies 21 April, 2018 at 23:02

    How much is it per card to be graded? What should they be in when shipped type of holder? How many cards can be sent for grading at one time? Thank you!

  8. Tom 22 April, 2018 at 13:29

    How are others supposed to know the answers to the above questions if all you do is refer them to the BGS team?

    • Ryan Cracknell 22 April, 2018 at 17:02

      @Tom — For a couple of reasons. 1) This part of the site is monitored primarily by the editorial team. Rather than acting as a go-between where things can be lost in translation, there’s an easy way to get personalized questions answered as well as offer a means to keep the dialogue going if needed. 2) Sometimes answers aren’t one-sized-fits-all so questions need to be addressed based on specifics on what people are looking for.

  9. Starlord_ashes 13 May, 2018 at 01:49

    What happen when some cards are revealing themselves as fake copies during your process ? Are they destroyed directly or are they sent back to the owner with some good information ?
    Thanks

  10. Jeff Gallwey 19 May, 2018 at 11:55

    This was a great article, I truly appreciate the insight into the grading process. I’m wondering if you could update or expand on this article to talk about how non-guaranteed submissions are handled ? For instance where do they sit in line ? Do all guaranteed orders always have to be processed first ? Is there anything that advertises current estimated wait times for these types of orders ?

  11. John Hund 2 July, 2018 at 18:09

    Hello, I would be interested in how to train to be a card grader. What is the process that your graders go through and how long does it take? Also, I am in California. Does Beckett have a grading center in multiple locations? Would they provide training to anyone? Thanks for your time

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