Insanity over a Pristine Jordan rookie!

19 08 2009

I won’t get too deep into this subject because I am not a Michael Jordan fan, basketball collector, or a supporter of grading services in general. To those who grade your cards, more power to you and your collection. Now, take a look at a 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan Gem Mint 10 which sold for $7,000+. Not bad, right?

The very same rookie in Buyback form and with an autograph hit eBay and sold for a very respectable $8,200+. If I were a Jordan collector, this would be the Holy Grail of my collection, not the regular Fleer copy. The Fleer original can be had for a few hundred dollars if you can find a trusty seller and don’t mind a card that’s not graded. Gasp!

Now, have a look at this Fleer Jordan rookie graded by Beckett, which received a Pristine 10. With 8 days left in the auction it has over 40 bids and is pushing $60,000 dollars. The seller even added an image of the Beckett the card was featured in. One can only imagine how much kickback Beckett will get from this sale.

Assuming the card keeps getting bids and somehow reaches $100,000, is there really that much difference from that card and a BGS graded copy that sold for well-under $400 dollars? Yes, there are minor imperfections but isn’t collecting about enjoying the player on the card and not the technicalities?

Is the card with the sharpest corners and perfect centering really worth that much more?

Advertisements

Actions

Information

24 responses

19 08 2009
Tim

You have to remember, Mario, that this card is also one of the most counterfeited rookie cards so having it graded just adds to some level of comfort that it’s real. Being a Pristine 10 helps it that much more.

19 08 2009
Mario A.

Oh yeah, that’s why I mentioned finding a reputable seller if you buy it raw.

Still, even the graded copies with high grades don’t come close to this recent auction.

19 08 2009
Paul

This craziness helps a lot of sellers with raw copies that look good because there has to be a few people looking to get a 10 on theirs.

19 08 2009
Thomas

You have to realize that the kind of people who want a BGS10 Jordan are a different type of people than just want a Jordan RC. This is the best possible RC of the best player in basketball history (at least in the public’s perception). There are people all over the world with more money than they know what to do with, and they would have zero interest in this card if it weren’t the best possible one in the world.

A question to ask yourself is if you had that kind of money, Bill Gates-type money, what would you collect? Would you collect?

19 08 2009
jesse

crazy!
Id rather just get some ruth, gehrig, and williams auto.

19 08 2009
Ricky

With BGS 10’s it comes down to exclusive rarity.. For any given card, from what I’ve seen there’s usually no more than a few 10’s.. By a few, I mean like less than 5.. It’s not the same as a PSA 10, which there would definitely be more of.. That’s why it’s accepted that a BGS 9.5 = PSA 10.. So anyway, this is the very first BGS 10 Jordan RC, so it’s literally a 1 of 1 right now.. And judging by the rarity of the card, there’s a possibility it will be the only 1 of 1..

Now I don’t mind grading, although I’m not gonna be the one who would ever pay 10-20x more than the going price cuz a card is a 10.. But the companies are flawed to some extent which is really shady.. I’ve told this story a few times already about the Pujols Bowman Chrome RC.. Some guy had a BGS 9.5 and he kept sending it back in for another look.. The card did have a minor flaw that coincided with the proper 9.5 grade, but he sent it back in DOZENS of times, paying the fee over and over again.. Now I dunno who he knew in there, or what kind of influence he may have had, but they finally gave it a 10.. This outraged many people cuz it was only the 3rd or 4th 10, and the card absolutely should have stayed a 9.5.. And instead of commanding a market value of around $3K, he sold it for over $30K.

19 08 2009
ToddUncommon

This is the part about Beckett in recent memory that chafes the most. When asked to address what would appear to be ethical conflicts of interest, you get one of several answers:

1- No answer (no problem exists if you don’t acknowledge it)
2- “Don’t worry, just trust us” (not good enough)
3- “How dare you! That’s ridiculous!” (best defense is a good offense)

Notice that none of them answer the real question of, “OK, you want me to believe you, give me a reason. Tell me how, exactly, in the US state that gave us Enron, you have safeguards or measures in place to protect us, the collector / consumer?”

In the interest of full disclosure, I own graded cards from the big three (PSA, BGS, SGC), and a handful from the lamers (GAI and so on). I also have submitted cards to BGS directly for grading. I like the product (slab) that protects the card, have generally been pleased with the rate and timing of service, and can’t have too many complaints about the grades I’ve received. For each instance that they’ve hosed me on a grade, they also have graded a card a bit better that I would have assumed, so it’s averaged out.

Having established personal experience to evaluate the situation, that gets to my point(s):

1- Producing what once was the hobby Bible, and still is a useful if not wholly accurate reference, and then providing a service that in turn deliberately influences that reference is a conflict of interest; even if assumed to be unintentional and on the up and up.

2 – BGS supposedly provides a premium “ours go to 11” grade of Pristine, which carries with it an assumption of better than nearly any Gem grade from some other service. Given that grading is ridiculously subjective, what *exactly* is the criteria of awarding a Pristine vs. so many that are 9.5, yet short of a 10? Saying “trust us” remains too ambiguous, and not good enough in today’s world and hobby.

3 – Outside forces seem to have an influence on the grading – even if that is incorrect. Grading revenue has to be in the toilet these days. A glut of existing submitted cards are in the market (anyone want an 1985 McGwire? As a coaster?), a suffering economy, and a still over-competitive market for service dollars. What better way to re-promote the service by publicizing a zOMG!-inducing Pristine 10 with a six-figure auction for a modern era card. This in turn leads Joe Collectors to a moment of, “Holyshiznit! That’s like the T-206 Wagner of my lifetimez! I gotta see if mine card I gotz can nailz me a tenz!1!!1eleven1!3!!”

4 – It doesn’t help that among all of the grading services, they have the most cluttered assortment of grading ridiculousness available. BGS, BVG, BCCG, GGUM, Raw Card Review, and so on. I’m waiting for DVDA, FGSFDS, and LOLWUT services to show up before too long.

I don’t blame Beckett for trying to generate buzz, press, and business.

However, I sure would like to see some straight talk out of Dallas for once.

Oh, and one more thing for Beckett. Please get your website out of beta (http://beta.beckett.com/). It looks stupid every time I visit the site.

19 08 2009
Gellman

What Todd said.

19 08 2009
JBob

What Tood said!

And aswell, Is there an established 1mm off center is a .5 point deduction scale? Or is it all just opnion, I’d really like a very detailed look behind the scenes at a grading company. It needs to be like an olympic competetition as an industry. Certain imperfections and magnitudes of those perfections are agreed upon to make certain deductions. Those are then detailed and diseminated to the public.

19 08 2009
R-

I didn’t read all the comments but you have to consider the “Big swinging Unit” mentality that acquiring a card like this has on people. The same people that buy the 100K BMW when they can buy a 25K model…because they can. If I could, I would.

19 08 2009
David

How can the card surface get a grade of 9.5 but the overall card get a 10? For a card to be a perfect 10 shouldn’t all the grades be a 10? Thats just what I think.

19 08 2009
Tim

@David…I have 2 Pristine 10’s from BGS that have just one 9.5 (one was surface, the other was corners). Not sure of the formula used though.

19 08 2009
mfw13

As several people have already pointed out, card grading is a joke. All of the grading companies have a financial incentive to both inflate grades and to give preferential treatment in the form of higher grades to high-volume submitters. At the same time they are very secretive about the qualifications and training their graders receive (I asked Joe Orlando for information about this several times when I was active on the PSA boards and he refused to divulge any information).

Also keep in mind that while you can objectively describe a card condition, putting a value on it (i.e. giving it a grade) is an entirely subjective matter. Some people care more about corners, some about centering, some about surface gloss, etc.

I’ve gotten several bargains on vintage cards with gorgeous fronts that have received low grades because of gum/wax stains on the back (which do not matter to me).

Also keep in mind that back in the 80’s, when the hobby really first started to grow, there were five main grades (Mint, Near Mint, Excellent, Very Good, and Poor)…now most of the grading companies have 17-19 grades. It’s gotten to the point where it’s become self-defeating as the difference between grades has become meaningless.

Yet just like with many of the other areas of the hobby, people are willing to foolishly pay through the nose to worship the concept of artificial scarcity. No doubt their are quite a few more “perfect” Jordan’s out there that people haven’t bothered to get graded, and whoever ends up owning this one will take a huge financial bath when the next one hits the market.

19 08 2009
Shaun

Card grading is a lot like comparing GPAs. There’s nothing wrong with having a 3.0, but everyone wants to have the 4.0 simply because its the best (whether you deserve it or not). Card grading in itself is fine and dandy. Paying a fee to have someone give their opinion about the card’s condition and placing it in a special holder to ensure that the card remains in that particular condition is fine. The problem is when people start being anal about small differences in the grading and population reports and all of that hoopla.

Sure, you send in a card one day it gets a 10 and the next day it gets a 9.5. Get over it. Unless you have a computer doing the grading under perfect conditions every time, you are going to have issues like that. It doesn’t matter if its Beckett, PSA or God knows what company, it is going to happen. Anything that involves humans making a judgement call (biopsy results, x-ray films, football yardage measurements, etc) will have this error. Understand what the general grade means and enjoy the card! If you are bidding on something and realize that a card with a 9 gives you all you are looking for, be happy and ignore the 10’s going for ridiculous prices. Just like with GPAs, your head will be in a much better place if you take a step back and grasp the bigger picture.

19 08 2009
Ricky

I agree with Shaun.. I’ll also say that I don’t think the grading process is that unstable where it’s like a crap-shoot with guys just pulling a number out of a hat to come up with grades.. It’s a pretty straight-forward process not based on opinion for the most part.. They look at centering and physically measure to see if it’s within the given tolerance.. They look at corners and edges under a microscope to look at the sharpness and check for imperfections.. And they examine the surface also under magnification at an angle that they can also check for imperfections.. The guys that do it obviously are trained and do this for a living, so I’d imagine imperfections stand out clearly.. And for every imperfection, the card loses a pre-determined number of points..

Problems arise however when a certain card may get preferential treatment cuz of who sent it in.. And this is where the system loses credibility.. That Pujols card I mentioned had an imperfection on a corner that warranted a 9.5.. But after the guy kept sending it back in they finally gave it a 10.. That increased the value 10-fold from $3K to $30K and the guy promptly sold it.. Could the guy have maybe known one of the graders, and given him a kickback after the sale? I wouldn’t be surprised..

19 08 2009
Thomas

I made a killing when the grading craze first hit. I paid the $100 for a PSA membership and bought a bunch of boxes of UD Czech hockey for $50 each and sent in dozens of Kariyas and Palffys, selling the Kariya PSA 10s for $140-200. It was one hell of a racket back then.

What grading did for the hobby was make so much of that junk wax actually desirable again. Sure, the guys who had all that wax sitting there looking to get rich one day (only to be thwarted by over-production) never made back what they paid, but you could go to a show and buy a box of 1990 Fleer and actually pull something that might have a shot at bringing in more than a nickel.

The idea that you could send in commons and have them come back a PSA 10 and sell them for $20-30 was great.

Unfortunately, like every great fad, people overdid it and the market was flooded. You can no longer sell a Chris Therien jersey for the $60 you could get for a 97-98 UD Therien jersey, just like a PSA 10 Topps Darren McFadden RC isn’t worth the cost of grading.

I wish we could get back to those wild days. It would bring the price of wax back up, and make some of these worthless commons actually worth something again. I remember when I used to rifle through my commons, looking for something that might grade a 10. As it is, I just throw my commons away as I break product.

19 08 2009
mfw13

The fact that there are now seven different grades for Near Mint and above (7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10) tells you all you need to know about how pointless grading is.

19 08 2009
jesse

for sure mfw13, its getting pretty ridiculous… I mean for the same price as a 10 you could get private lessons from mike and a 8… odd

20 08 2009
mfw13

And you probably couldn’t tell the difference between the “8” and the “10” unless you looked at them under a microscope anyway!

20 08 2009
jl

How I knew that the grading system was becoming a joke. Back in 2002 I sent in a printing plate for shits and giggles, it came back a 7. How in the hell can a plate be graded, it is metal. That’s when I knew they would grade anything for the price of grading. A card is worth what you want to pay if it is a pristine 10 or a mint 9. If it was someone that I collected I pay less to get more.

20 08 2009
Shaun

Why exactly can’t a printing plate be graded? I recently pulled one that still had some ink on it and some scratches on the surface. A plate without the ink and scratches is obviously in better condition than the one I pulled, even if they are both made of metal.

20 08 2009
jl

The point of a printing plate being graded it is not a card, it has no charcter of a card, it is the plate that makes the cards no gloss, no sharp coners impossible to grade centered with out a center point, it is a plate I just wanted to see what the grade would come back, I was surprised.

23 08 2009
bichettecollector

I would love to get my hands on some cards graded PSA or BGS 1. Does BGS have a grade of 0.5? 1’s have to be more scarce than 8’s and 9’s. I’d pay $2.00 for a BGS 1 ’89 Donruss Bichette RC, but wouldn’t take 8’s or 9’s if they were giving them away.

17 09 2009
jordan 57

BGS GRADING…FK JOKE.. I HAVE 11 BGS 9 JORDAN ROOKIE 4 9.5.. ALL VERY WELL CENTERED BUT NOT 1 RECIEVED 9.5 FOR CENTERING. GO TO EBAY CHECKOUT ASASSINATOR’S 9.5 CENTERING (BS). 70/30 CENTERING MAYBE 80/20 ASKING FOR 6K. I’LL BUY ALL THE PSA 10 AND SGC PRISTINE WITH 100K.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: