By William Lai aka xelloss1012

Over the years that I have been collecting hockey cards, Beckett has been the pricing guide many people use to gauge the value of their cards for trading via book value (BV). Some traders are steadfast on the use of Beckett pricing, whether it is the printed magazine or the online price guide (OPG). However, I have noticed the following flaws in their pricing guide, specifically their OPG:

They rarely update BVs on a set/subset after the first month or two after release. This causes the following issues:
The listed BV is stagnant and could be considerably different (and likely less) than what it originally was if the card has been in circulation for more than a year. I find most sports cards (at least in hockey) tend to lose a lot of their value after the season they were printed (especially after the first few months) unless it is short-printed card on an all-star player like Crosby or Ovechkin. Common inserts are usually the hardest hit, usually about 75% or more. An example of a limited overvalued card is the 2005-06 Upper Deck Ice #101 Gilbert Brule. Once a highly-touted rookie draft pick that is still trying to find his game in the NHL.

Another case is where the selling price is much higher than the listed BVs due to demand and especially if the card is short-printed. Here are a couple examples:
This is the case for the 2008-09 Montreal Canadiens Centennial Habs Inks and dual autos (#/50), AKA Signatures (#/25), and Induction Inks (#/25). An example for a regular Habs Inks of a popular player was Jean Beliveau’s auto, which started out originally selling at $50.00, but quickly soared to about triple this price in a few months due to the limited printing of the set. Another example is a card I won for less than $40.00 was Bert Olmstead’s Induction Inks. Within months, you could not get that card for less than $100.00 (which is still well under what Beckett listed it at).
When the 2009-10 Upper Deck Young Guns rookie card for John Tavares came out, Beckett undervalued the card and no one could get the card on eBay for anything less than $80.00.
In the case where a subset that is not an extremely low print run (i.e.: #/25 or higher) and no pricing was issued or only on a certain few, they forget that the subset even existed and fail to ever update the data for it.

There are also major pricing discrepancies for a specific card or subset that are not corrected in a timely manner. I am not talking about small errors, but of the egregious variety that they obviously absorb if you have common and sufficient knowledge in sports card trading or selling:
2008-09 OPC Materials Triples 3F-FCM Crosby/Malkin/Fleury and 2008-09 Upper Deck Fab Four Fabrics FF-ASG Crosby/Thornton/Sakic/Lecavalier were at one time for several months devalued to about half of their normal value (BV $120.00 to $50.00) due to some horrible error until it was finally brought to their attention…

Currently, all except the Crosby and Ovechkin from 2005-06 Upper Deck Rookie Threads have at least doubled in value for no apparent reason. This even includes players that are not close to all-star caliber (Eric Nystrom) or players that are not even playing in the NHL currently (Niklas Norgren and Alexander Perezhogin). The values before that remained relatively the same up until at least February 2010. The erratic BV changes were brought to my attention when I tried to trade for a plain Rookie Threads and noticed the BV was extremely high. Both Phaneuf and Lundqvist jumped from BV $30.00 to $80.00 on a mediocre season while their Young Gun rookies have not moved up to attest to any demand.

Currently and for at least a year, this player’s Young Guns rookie card is still erratically overpriced: 2005-06 Upper Deck Hockey #472 Barry Tallackson (BV $25.00). Tallackson has only played 20 games in the NHL and only ever scoring a single goal and a single assist combined in all of those games.
Things that Beckett can do to improve their pricing guide:

Take pricing feedback from all members, even if they do not have a pricing subscription. This is something I found frustrating since I have various useful eBay auction pricing data that I cannot enter due to this restriction.
Audit their own pricing guide at least a few times a year to check for extreme pricing mismatches or irregularities.

One thing that people mistakenly do when they first use a Beckett pricing guide is that they mistake the high value for an actual selling value for the current time. This is actually probably the current trading value while the low value is the potential selling value (about 40% of high, 50% or more if it is a card of a star player). This primarily applies to decent rookie cards of star players or memorabilia (auto, jersey pieces, etc.) on top-level star players (i.e.: Crosby). eBay final listing values tend to correlate with this. This calculation formula does not apply to common base cards, non-rare inserts, and other common cards.

Another source to use for pricing is finished eBay auctions. However, this data does not guarantee that the next similar item will be about the same value in cases where it is a short-printed card. Furthermore, the demand for a specific can greatly fluctuate month to month on the auctions. My personal example is a 2008-09 SP Game Used Authentic Fabrics triple jersey/patch #/10 of Markov. One month, I paid $40.00 for the card and the following month, I won another one in the same print run for only $8.00.

In the case of a low print run (#/15 or less), the first auction is usually (but not always) the highest price since the sale on a similar card tends to taper out slightly or drastically…
i.e.: 2008-09 UD Black Cold War Canada vs. Russia 12 swatch. First one went for around $560.00, while subsequent ones sold for about 400.00-500.00 as more time passed by….

If using a pricing source like completed eBay auctions for a specific sports card where is it not a very low print run (#/25 or higher), do not use the highest and lowest values in the calculation for an average and note if the shipping fees were a factor in the final auction value. I have seen shipping as ridiculously high as $7.00 from the U.S. to Canada for a small bubble envelope, a top loader, and about $1.23 USD in postage.