Jun 14th, 2022
In 2014, Beckett Grading Services introduced the Black Label 10 as a new standard of a pristine card. Black labels are a rare designation for a card that is completely flawless in every measurable way. It means that all your sub grades (corners, edges, surface & centering) were all given a 10/10 grade.
As you might imagine, these grades are extremely rare but when they are granted, the value of the card enters a stratosphere that no other grade can come close to.
To illustrate here are some popular card values from cardladder that explain the disparity between the next highest grade (PSA 10) of value better than I can:
|Luka Doncic 2018 Panini Prizm #280 Green Prizm Rookie RC
|2018 Panini Kaboom Football Patrick Mahomes SP #27
|2003-04 Topps Chrome #111 LeBron James Rookie Card
So these three well known cards on average increase 1239% when graded BGS 10 vs PSA 10. While this value increase is of course extremely attractive, it is also indicative of the extreme scarcity of the BGS 10 grade.
For starters It should be noted that the BGS 10 grade can only be given to modern cards. Modern cards are defined as post 1980 cards. So if your card is from before that, it’s not possible.
If your card is modern you need to analyze your card with an extremely critical eye. This is how BGS will look at your card. Assume ANY imperfections, no matter how subtle, will disqualify the card from Black Label consideration. Here are some tips on how to do that for each of the BGS sub grade categories:
Examine the card surface from all angles. Having great lighting and examining the surface with the light reflecting on the card is a quick way to notice any scratches, scuffs, discoloration and print lines. Again, if BGS 10 is your goal ANY presence of these no matter how small, should have you lowering your expectations.
What you are looking for here is completely flawless edges with sharp, square guts. One thing we have found helpful is using a blacklight for examining edges and corners, particularly on cards with a dark color. This is because imperfections will reveal themselves here as white fuzz that is sometimes undetectable to the eye and a blacklight will make these more pronounced.
Having a strong understanding of the particular line of cards centering is really important here. A lot of card lines have an asymmetrical design. This makes it more difficult to assess the centering on all four sides. It’s helpful if you have some PSA 10s or BGS graded cards with 10 centering sub grade of the same line as a reference point. A general rule of thumb, in our experience, is you are looking for AT WORST a 55/45 margin (left vs right or top vs bottom) for a consideration of a 10 sub grade. We have even seen some that meet that criteria get 9.5 sub grades. So really, 50/50 should be your goal if your goal is a 10.
Like I mentioned earlier, these corners have to be flawless and cannot be touched in any way. Use your blacklight and possibly a jewelers loupe to really inspect those corners for any sort of imperfection.
Once you have determined you want to submit your card to BGS and shoot for a Black Label grade, the next step is to actually do the submission. A major key here is wiping down the card carefully with a microfiber cloth to ensure no temporary peice of lint or smudge is considered during the grading of the card.
I find that it’s always good to envision a BGS employee coming into work on a Monday. Perhaps a little disgruntled. Maybe he/she’s even hungover and dreading his job that day. He walks into his desk and sees a few hundred cards on his desk and he knows he has to grade each of them before he can leave that day. In other words, the grader is a human being. They are going to be making some subjective decisions about your precious cards. Like any human being, they are subject to their emotions. Anything you can do to make it easier for them to grade your card, is going to increase your chances of getting the grade you are hoping for. So keep this in mind when preparing your cards for any grading company, whether it’s BGS, CSG or PSA.
Once you have prepped the card, I recommend collectors keep a log of what you expect the card to be graded as and the grade it actually receives. This will help you understand how accurate your personal assessments are and allow you to set the proper expectations when you submit your cards on your own.
Diamond Elite Cards can help you with all your BGS submission needs including preparing your cards to ensure the highest grade possible. If you are hoping to get a BGS 10 Black Label designation and would like help doing so, visit our BGS Submission page to learn more about how we can help you.