Beckett Grading Standards and General Guidelines
Have you ever wondered what criteria are used by Beckett in determining the grade of a sports card? This guide provides the detailed information which will help you understand exactly how Beckett renders its card grades.
Centering: 50/50 all around on front. 60/40 or better on back.
Corners: Perfect to the naked eye and Mint under magnification.
Edges: Perfect to the naked eye and virtually free of flaws under magnification.
Surface: No print spots. Flawless color, devoid of registration or focus imperfections. Perfect gloss, devoid of scratches and metallic print lines.
Gem Mint 9.5
Centering: 50/50 one way, 55/45 the other on front. 60/40 or better on back
Corners: Mint to the naked eye, but slight imperfections allowed under magnification.
Edges: Virtually Mint to the naked eye. A speck of wear is allowed under intense scrutiny.
Surface: A few extremely minor print spots, detectable only under intense scrutiny. Deep color, devoid of registration or focus imperfections. Perfect gloss, devoid of scratches and metallic print lines
Centering: 55/45 both ways on front. 70/30 or better on back.
Corners: Mint upon close inspection. A speck of wear is allowed under intense scrutiny.
Edges: Virtually Mint to the naked eye. Unobtrusive specks of chipping on the borders are allowed.
Surface: A handful of printing specks or one minor spot. Very minor focus or color imperfections. Clean gloss with one or two tiny scratches barely noticeable to the naked eye. One faint, unobtrusive metallic print line is allowed.
Near Mint/Mint 8
Centering: 60/40 both ways or better on front. 80/20 or better on back.
Corners: Sharp to the naked eye, but slight imperfections allowed under close examination.
Edges: Relatively smooth borders. Specks of chipping visible to the naked eye are allowed.
Surface: A few minor print spots. Very minor color or focus imperfections. Solid gloss with very minor scratches detectable only upon close inspection. Or a subtle metallic print line.
Near Mint 7
Centering: 65/35 both ways or better on front. 90/10 or better on back. Very slight diamond cutting is allowed.
Corners: Very minor wear on two or three corners is allowed.
Edges: Slight roughness, minor chipping or very minor notching is allowed.
Surface: A few noticeable print spots or minor speckling is allowed. Minor color or focus imperfections. Very minor border discoloration. A very minor wax stain on back. Solid gloss with a few minor scratches detectable upon close inspection. A few metallic print lines.
Excellent Mint 6
Centering: 70/30 both ways or better on front. 95/5 or better on back. Slight diamond cutting is allowed.
Corners: Fuzzy corners, but free of dings and fraying.
Edges: Moderate roughness, moderate chipping or minor notching is allowed.
Surface: Noticeable print spots. Minor color or focus imperfections. Minor border discoloration and color or focus imperfections. Minor wax stains or extremely subtle ink marks. Relatively solid gloss with minor scratches, but devoid of scuffing. Noticeable metallic print lines.
Centering: 75/25 both ways or better on front. 95/5 or better on back. Slight diamond cutting is allowed.
Corners: Four fuzzy corners, a touch of notching or a minor ding is allowed.
Edges: Noticeable roughness - but no layering. Very slight notching or noticeable chipping is allowed.
Surface: Noticeable print spots. Minor color or focus imperfections. Minor border discoloration. Minor wax stains or very light ink mark. Some gloss lost from surface with minor scratches, but devoid of scuffing.
Very Good/Excellent - 4
Centering: 80/20 both ways or better on front. 100/0 or better on back. Moderate diamond cutting is allowed.
Corners: Slight notching or layering, or moderate dings are allowed.
Edges: Readily chipped or notched and/or slightly layered.
Surface: Heavy print spots. Hairline creases. Moderate color or focus imperfections. Moderate border discoloration. Moderate wax stains. Very light ink mark or tape stain. A good deal of gloss lost from surface. Very minor scuffing or an extremely subtle tear in the form of a touch of broken surface paper.
Very Good 3
Centering: 85/15 both ways or better on front. 100/0 or better on back. Moderate diamond cutting is allowed.
Corners: Slightly rounded or noticeably notched corners with slight layering is allowed.
Edges: Heavy notching, moderate layering or heavy chipping is allowed.
Surface: Heavy print spots. Very minor creases. Noticeable color or focus imperfections. Noticeable border discoloration. Noticeable wax stains. Light ink mark or tape stain. Very little surface gloss. Minor scuffing or a very minor tear.
Centering: 90/10 both ways or better on front. 100/0 or offcut on back. Noticeable diamond cutting is allowed.
Corners: Noticeably rounded or heavily notched corners with moderate layering.
Edges: Severely chipped, notched or layered.
Surface: Severe print spots. Noticeable creases. Noticeable color or focus imperfections. Noticeable border discoloration. Heavy wax stains. Moderate ink mark or tape stain. A surface devoid of gloss. Noticeable scuffing or a noticeable tear.
Centering: 100/0 or offcut on front or back. Heavy diamond cutting is allowed.
Corners: Heavily rounded or heavily notched with noticeable layering.
Edges: Destructive chipping, notching or layering.
Surface: Severe print spots. Heavy creases. Severe color or focus imperfections. Heavy border discoloration. Severe stains. No original gloss. Heavy scuffing or a severe tear.
Please note that Beckett Grading Services provides final grades in half-point increments (i.e., 10, 9.5, 9, 8.5 etc.). Cards that are assigned a grade with a half-point increment typically share characteristics from both the level above and the level below the actual grade given.
Determining the final Grade
The overall numerical grade is not a simple average of the four report card grades. Beckett Grading Services uses an algorithm which determines the final grade using the 4 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.
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.
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).
Autograph Grading Scale (5 through 10):
10 - A beautiful, boldly signed autograph that appears nearly perfect to the naked eye. Under normal viewing, it looks like an aesthetically- pleasing autograph.
9 - This is a signature that is also very pleasing, but has slight imperfections that barely detract from the autograph. Very light bubbling or micro scratching is allowable, but no yellowing, fading, or smearing. Positioning should be nearly perfect - with just the very tips of a letter or two cut off or hidden.
8 - At this level, some flaws begin to stand out slightly. Signature is still solid and pleasing, but might be somewhat bubbled throughout, or have areas of minor scuffing/scratching that detracts from the aesthetic beauty of the signature. Only lightly visible yellowing or fading or smearing is allowed. A cut signature may only have 10% of the signature hidden (or missing, when referring to a sticker autograph). Only a very small tip of the signature may run off or bleed onto the edge.
7 - Flaws are evident, including heavy bubbling throughout, noticeable scratching, minor but noticeable yellowing or fading, small but obvious portions of smeared ink. Up to 20% of a cut autograph may be hidden, or 20% of a sticker auto may be missing. A portion of the signature may run off the card or may bleed onto the edge.
6 - Heavy flaws are easily visible and highly distracting, including bubbling to the point of portions of the autograph being essentially invisible, extremely distracting scratching, yellowing or fading, or significantly smeared ink on multiple areas of the autograph. Up to 35% of a cut autograph/sticker may be hidden/missing. Several letters of the signature may run off the card, bleeding onto the edge or opposite side of the card.
5 - Very heavy flaws that highly distract from the autograph, including portions of the autograph being completely removed or invisible, catastrophic scratching throughout the entire autograph, extremely heavy yellowing, massive fading of the entire signature, smeared ink throughoutthe entire autograph. Over 50% of a cut autograph/sticker may be hidden/missing.
Analyzing Beckett's Grading Standards can take a lot of the guesswork out of determining the real condition of a sports card. Remember, when looking at auctions, 80% of sellers do not calculate a card's centering into the condition. As seen in the above standards, the centering is just as important as the corners, surface, and edges. In order to accurately apply these standards, it is recommended that you examine cards under 20x magnification (which will also allow you to detect counterfeit cards).
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