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Beckett Media – A Good Value to Those Who Value Baseball Cards

August 19, 2008

by William Szczepanek

Beckett Baseball Card Grading SystemWhat did people do before Beckett came along and produced a periodical that informed people of the value of their baseball cards? Most likely the value was whatever you could get from a dealer or from someone at a card show.  There were no grading systems and the value of the card depended primarily on the demand at the time.  The Internet did not exist and you were limited to getting opinions at card shows.  Very few dealers existed. Now people can by a monthly magazine and watch the value of their cards change, or maybe not.

Along came Beckett Baseball Card Monthly.  I would check out values in this magazine on a regular basis, watching values go primarily up, but occasionally down.  There were a lot of up and down arrows back then. Beckett stopped producing a monthly magazine recently because it felt that the demand was not high enough. Oh well, knowing the new value every month was a little overkill anyway. But something has happened over the years.  Card values don’t seem to be changing much.  In fact, cards from the fifties and sixties haven’t changed much in the last ten years.  Common cards are now lumped into one overall number and the rest is left to the condition of the card.  But hasn’t a lot happened in the last ten years. War? Pestilence? Inflation? Hasn’t there been some inflation in the prices of other goods and services ― like oil, or cardboard?  Maybe the value of cards has stabilized since so much computer analysis is now being done to determine the exact value.  I don’t think so. That Honus Wagner card seems to continue to rise in value every year, even though not much has occurred to affect the value. Honus isn’t much more or less popular than he was 100 years ago, but his card sure is.  That’s because the card value is based on its market value, or what someone will pay for it.

Could it be that it’s too much work to analyze all those cards every month?  Do you think that Beckett has a captive audience and that producing a magazine every month with just about the same information would actually be highly profitable? In fact, it seems that the $9.99 price is devoted to primarily the new card sets for the past year, with even the new cards just published last year having very little change in price. You would think that a card value for a Ken Griffey Jr. or a Barry Bonds for Topps 2006 would have changed for good or bad, famous or infamous, in the past year, but no ― the values are still the same.

Now, I can understand that it might be difficult to evaluate the gazillion cards that have been produced each year over the past twenty years.  Just accounting for them is a full-time job.  So, I can understand that Beckett can’t do all that work.  But can’t they even change the pictures that are used from one year to the next of the cards in their magazine?

Since my evaluation of The Greatest Baseball Card Ever gives a great deal of significance to the Beckett value I have a stake in their numbers being relatively accurate.  However, since the numbers have changed very little since I began doing my own evaluations in 2007, I have had to give less significance this year to the Beckett value.  If the same holds true next year then I will do the same.

Now, Beckett could be basing the price in their magazine on the card evaluations they get paid to do through Beckett Grading Services.  Or, they could get the prices that cards go for on Ebay.  But, are the prices on Ebay driven by the values in Beckett Monthly?  They should be if the Beckett values are valid. But then what’s affecting what?

As the Beckett values become more suspect my job becomes harder and harder to the point that I don’t have enough time to do all this checking of values based on my parameters.  Gee!  Do you think Beckett has the same problem? Maybe that’s why they are for sale ― again.

I truly hope they or whoever buys them can focus on getting the values correct. I don’t need to have prices on a monthly basis. I wouldn’t think most people would. Once a year would be fine, or just update the values on the website and publish the magazine quarterly or yearly.  It would be nice to see the numbers change over time, too.

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