Wednesday, March 11, 2009


For many in the card hobby, Beckett are an institution – though of course what sort of institution depends on your point of view.

There are those that take Beckett’s word as gospel – that the prices they put in their magazines are realistic card values, which one should take heed of when selling or trading cards.

Of course there are an increasing number of people who see past this and realise that Beckett’s values are a crock of shit. All one has to do is look at sale prices on ebay to realise that in most cases the real value of cards is way less than half of “book value”, and in many cases less than a quarter of “book value”. The value of a card is only what someone wants to pay for it – not what some magazine says it is. I mean you don’t see magazines stating the value of a share is $X with people then trying to sell it by saying “This share has a book value of $X”. No the stock market determines the price of a share, just like the market determines the value of a card – and the value of cards is nowhere near what Beckett says they are in 99% of cases.

Now some people make the somewhat legitimate point that Beckett is a guide only. How people use it is up to them. One doesn’t have to buy and sell cards at the price Beckett says – if you can find it cheaper, great. If someone is trying to sell a card in a shop at Beckett price, which you think is too high, then feel free to go onto ebay and buy it at a cheaper price.

However, as Helen Lovejoy says “Won’t somebody please think of the children?!”

You see, there are sellers, including many hobby shops, that do use Beckett price as gospel and sell there cards at this price. When asked why, many will say “Because that is what it books for.” They aren’t using at as a guide, they are using it to set the price of their cards. Sure, in some cases sellers may budge on the price and lower it (though rarely to what the real market value of the card is) – but this clearly shows how unrealistic Beckett values are and how they can be exploited by unscrupulous sellers. Now again you may say, that if you know the price is higher than what it really sells for, then don’t buy it. Go on ebay and buy it at a cheaper price.

But it isn’t this simple for children – those few that still actually collect cards. That is because most can’t just go on ebay and buy the card at the cheaper market price – they don’t have credit cards and in most cases don’t have access to their bank accounts to link to paypal, or their parents won’t allow them do it.

They are thus faced with buying most of their singles from a hobby shop. Now most children, when they are faced with an adult telling them that the value of a card is $X and the adult can then point to this “value” in a magazine, won’t have the knowledge or the ability to argue that the book value isn’t an accurate reflection of the market value of the card. Can you imagine yourself saying this as a 10 year old saying this to a shop owner who can point to a card’s “value” in a widely used magazine?

Children don’t have the ability to access ebay in the same way adults do, and don’t have the ability of knowledge to argue against “book value” that adults do. They are thus at the mercy of what a hobby shop does and tells them.

So what Beckett is doing is providing inaccurate information that they know actively aids dodgy sellers in ripping-off children. In essence they help unscrupulous people steal from children. Is it any wonder why more children don’t collect cards when they are so dramatically over-charged if they want to buy cards from many hobby shops, thanks in large part to Beckett? On top of that, how many do you think will continue to collect cards once they find out what their cards are really worth and they have been ripped-off?

Here’s a suggestion Beckett. If you want kids to start collecting cards and continue to do so, you don’t need some nonsensical “Be a card geek” campaign. What I suggest you do is stop actively participating in ripping children off, and start putting realistic card values in your magazines.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article, havent heard many people talk about it from this POV, but its true - novice collectors and children have this happen to them all the time, saw it at my LCS on friday, Shaq insert card from 92-93 sold for full book of $15, which while isnt a ton of cash is a good site more than what this PSA9 version fetched on ebay:

    Anyway glad to have found your blog, feel free to check mine out at