Just how many autographed 8-by-10s, magazines and programs hold a special place in memorabilia collectors’ hearts? The answer to that question is obvious – a lot. Finally, there is a grading company that’s responded to the overwhelming demand to produce a plastic slab that can hold all these pieces, and more, with its latest innovation.
“We are rolling out a new large-format holder,” said Beckett grading director Mark Anderson. “This is a 9-by-111/2-inch holder. We’ll start by offering this new holder for cards, but it leaves infinite possibilities for other larger-scale items in the hobby that could never be slabbed before. The new holder is huge and will be able to hold stuff larger than a quarter-inch thick.”
According to Anderson, he expects his company to be able to start accepting oversized card submissions at the National and said BGS will most likely be making some new announcements by the end of the year for some other grading possibilities that the new holder will help enable. He also noted that BGS will be able to encapsulate autographed magazines and photos that have been authenticated through its partnership with James Spence Authentication.
“This is going to open up a whole world of possibilities for people who have the autographed items that are larger and have never been able to do anything but put a little sticker on them to authenticate the pieces,” added Anderson.
Anderson said he is surprised that no other grading company has offered a slab similar to the new oversized Beckett holder, considering the presumed high demand for that particular service among collectors. He stressed the importance of Beckett being the first company to offer the service.
“I don’t think there are a whole lot of areas that you can be the first to do something in grading right now,” said Anderson. “So, to me, this was very critical. At Beckett, we try to think ahead a little bit to think of what’s going to be the next big thing or what is untapped. I think this has legs underneath it to go quite a ways.
“We’ve been working about two years on this, perfecting the case,” he added. “I think people would probably be amazed at how much effort has gone into designing a case like this that actually works. Some people might say, ‘Well, CGC has been doing comic books close to that size for a long time,’ but with comic book holders, none of those are sonically sealed. You could take any comic holder and peal the sides apart and even reach in and touch the comic. Ours are going to be sonically sealed with an inner sleeve to absorb shock. By far, it is the biggest sonically-sealed holder that’s out there. We had to buy all new equipment big enough and powerful enough to slab these things.”
According to Anderson, the next slab the company will be offering is a 6-by-9-inch holder that will be able to hold 5-by-7-inch cards and photos. Those slabs should be available in the Fall of 2008.
* * * * *
BGS has been grading cards since March of 1999 and has already encapsulated about 6 million cards, but according to Anderson, its population report number is skewed due to customers who have gotten their cards graded by BGS with its Raw Card Review and Graded Card Review services, as well as corporate orders for card manufacturers. Because of that, the number of cards the company has graded is closer to 11 million.
Anderson said business has been very consistent and any fear about a poor economy has not affected the company’s business.
“We haven’t seen any slow down,” said Anderson. “I think there’s still a lot of excitement in the collecting world and people are continuing to chase cards to fill holes in their collections. Even our show business has continued to almost be overwhelming. We turn people away at pretty much every show we go to. A few years ago, shows appeared to be on the decline, but not any more.
“I know that there’s a lot of negativity in the collectibles world in the sense that people are worried that we’re headed into a recession, and quite frankly, we haven’t noticed any of that.”
And Anderson doesn’t expect business to slow down any time soon. If the new oversized holder takes off like he predicts, this could really change the way collectors buy oversized pieces in a very positive way.