It is what everybody is after… the prized Beckett Grading Services (BGS) ‘Black Label’. But, if you’re new to the world of trading cards, or haven’t dealt with Beckett before, you might be asking yourself one question – “what on earth is a ‘Black Label’?”
Beckett introduced the ‘Black Label’ in 2014; an exclusive label for customers whose card(s) scored 10 on all four subgrades. It’s a label given to a slab where the card has scored an absolute pristine 10; a card that is perfect in every way.
A slab with a ‘Black Label’, a pristine 10, will surely be worth a pretty penny. In fact, Beckett details a case where a ‘Black Label’ 2014 Bowman Chrome Kris Bryant card sold on eBay for more than double the amount of previous BGS 10 copies.
However, it’s important to note that Beckett do have some limitations surrounding their ‘Black Label’. It can only be awarded to modern cards. That means cards dated pre 1980 cannot receive a ‘Black Label’ – so it’s best to check the date on the cards you’re planning on submitting before pinning your hopes on the ultimate BGS 10.
So how do I achieve a ‘Black Label’?
Good question! A BGS ‘Black Label’ can be quite tricky to get. That’s what makes it so sought after and valuable when it is achieved.
‘Black Labels’ are exclusive to BGS slabs. So, the first thing you need to do is choose Beckett as your grading company, and then decide whether you are going to send your cards direct or use an intermediary service, like Black Label Grading.
Next, you need to choose the cards you believe could be ‘Black Label’ worthy. Your card must be pristine across the board to achieve the perfect 10. This means it must achieve a score of 10 (out of 10) on corners, edges, surface and centering.
Now, we are not graders ourselves, but we have seen enough cards to eliminate those that certainly wouldn’t stand a chance. Here are our top areas to watch out for when inspecting your cards:
Whitening and chips
Check for whitening and chips. Look very carefully as even the smallest nick will eliminate your chances of getting that ‘Black Label’. Whitening is where the cards colour has worn from the edges and the inside of the card is exposed which appears white in colour.
Centering up and down, left and right
Check your centering on both the front and back of the card. Is one border slightly larger than the other? For some cards this is easy to identify, for others it can be trickier.
Are the corners cut perfectly. The cut may differ across trading cards, with some square cut and others rounded. Pokémon cards typically have a rounded edge – the smoother this corner the higher it is likely to grade. Any obscurities or imperfections in the cut may cost you that pristine 10.
Finally, check for any abrasions to the surface. We commonly see print lines or surface scratches on holographic cards – it can be easily done! We recommend getting out that torch and checking your card at all angles to try and spot anything unusual on the surface.
So that’s it, our tops tips on how to achieve a ‘Black Label’. It’s time to start looking through your cards with your magnifying glass and detectives’ hat on.
We do urge you, however, not to be disheartened if through your best efforts, a ‘Black Label’ isn’t achieved. Because although a ‘Black Label’ is like passing your driving test with no minors, it’s certainly not the be all and end all. In fact, most cards will achieve an increase in value from any grade given by Beckett. That’s because BGS have been in the industry for years, arguably one of the top grading services on the market to date. A graded card from Beckett provides a stamp of authenticity and automatically adds value to your collection.
If you’d like to find out more about how to get your cards graded through BGS, get in touch today.