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What does BGS pristine mean?

Getting the grading vocabulary right can be confusing. Especially, because grading companies “kind of” use the same wording. But there are differences when talking about scales and labels. So what does BGS Pristine mean? Moreover, is it similar or equal to a PSA 10? So let’s have a closer look and find out!

Answer:

In short, a BGS Pristine is the highest grade possible on the Beckett 1-10 grading scale. Therefore, BGS Pristine is a card with 50/50 centering on the front and 60/40 percent or better on the back, mint corners, perfect edges, flawless coloration, high gloss perfection and no scratches or print lines. Moreover, a BGS 10 comes with a gold or black label in the holder. But a black label is only issued if the card is a “10” in all sub-grades (centering, corners, edges, surface). Otherwise, a gold label is issued if one of the four areas is a 9.5.

Do you wan’t to learn more about Beckett grading?

Topics of this blog post:

  • Beckett grading scale
  • Beckett grading labels
  • What is the difference between a BGS Pristine 10 and a Gem Mint 9.5?
  • Is a BGS Pristine 10 better than a PSA 10?
  • Is a BGS Gem Mint 9.5 a PSA 10?

Beckett grading scale

When it comes to card grading, each grading company relies on their own grading scale and wording. Beckett makes use of a 1 to 10-point grading scale including half point increments and colored labels. For instance, a is called “Pristine” at Beckett whereas it is a “Gem Mint” at PSA. So let’s dive into BGS basics.

BGS grading scale:

  • 10: Pristine
  • 9.5: Gem Mint
  • 9: Mint
  • 8.5: Near Mint-Mint+
  • 8: Near Mint-Mint
  • 7.5: Near Mint+
  • 7: Near Mint
  • 6.5: Excellent-Mint+
  • 6: Excellent-Mint
  • 5.5: Excellent+
  • 5: Excellent
  • 4.5: Very Good-Excellent+
  • 4: Very Good-Excellent
  • 3.5: Very Good+
  • 3: Very Good
  • 2.5: Good-Very Good
  • 2: Good
  • 1.5: Fair
  • 1: Poor

Beckett grading labels

Beckett is one of the big grading players that is using colored labels to highlight the overall grade. In contrast, PSA and CGC are only using one label type. But what does each label color mean?

  • Black Label: only for “perfect” Pristine 10 graded cards
  • Gold Label: for Pristine 10 and Gem Mint 9.5 graded cards
  • Silver Label: for Mint 9 and Near Mint-Mint+ 8.5 graded cards
  • White Label: for or all other graded cards

Furthermore, a BGS graded card comes with a report card on the back of the holder to display its strengths and weaknesses for centering, corners, edges and the surface.

What is so special about the BGS Pristine Black Label?

In 2014, Beckett introduced the ultimate “Black” label, for the ultimate card, for the ultimate collector.

BGS Pristine Black Label:

According to Beckett, “a Pristine 10 with all four sub-grades of 10 is what is known as a BGS Black Label Pristine. This is the highest possible grade combination and is “holdered” with a black label with gold type.”

Source: Beckett.com

According to BGS, pristine collectors where looking for an “elusive” BGS pristine since 1999. Now the tricky quest is possible. However, the black label is for modern cards only and not valid for cards that are older than 1980.

What is the difference between a BGS Pristine 10 and a Gem Mint 9.5?

When it comes to grading there are clear guardrails given for a BGS 10 and a 9.5. Main differences can be found in centering and surface qualifiers. For example, a BGS Gem Mint 9.5 has more threshold for centering and surface than a BGS 10. However, both grades fill the rank for the highest grades at Beckett and come with the gold label.

BGS 10BGS 9.5
CenteringFront: 50/50 percent
Back: 60/40 percent or better
Front: within 50/50 -50/45 percent
Back: 60/40 percent or better
CornersPerfect at first look and Mint under magnificationMint at first look but slight imperfections under magnification
EdgesPerfect at first look and nearly free of flaws under magnificationVirtually perfect at first look and mostly free of flaws under magnification.
SurfaceFlawless coloration. High gloss perfection. Focus is impeccable. No scratches or print lines. No printing imperfections or spots.Color is rich and deep. High gloss perfection. High focus. No scratches or print lines. A few minor print spots only detectable under magnification.
Comparison of BGS Pristine 10 and Gem Mint 9.5 grading requirements (BGS Source)

Is a BGS Pristine 10 better than a PSA 10?

In most of the cases a BGS Pristine 10 is a better (more perfect) card than a PSA 10. Why? Mainly because Beckett’s grading requirements are harder compared to PSA’s when it comes to a 10. For example, PSA is allowing more variance in centering and slight imperfections in print-quality as as long as the “overall appeal” of the card is not impaired. In contrast, BGS is not allowing variances and imperfections.

Comparison of BGS 10 and PSA 10 grading standards:

BGS 10PSA 10
CenteringFront: 50/50 percent
Back: 60/40 percent or better
Front: 55/45 to 60/40 percent
Back: 75/25 percent
Corners
and Edges
Corners: Perfect at first look and Mint under magnification

Edges: Perfect at first look and nearly free of flaws under magnification
Four perfectly sharp corners

Edges: No information
SurfaceFlawless coloration. High gloss perfection. Focus is impeccable. No scratches or print lines. No printing imperfections or spotsSharp focus and original gloss. Free from staining of any kind. Allowance may be made for a slight printing imperfection, if it doesn’t impair the overall appeal of the card
Comparison of BGS Pristine 10 and PSA 10 grading requirements (BGS Source; PSA Source)

On the other hand, higher chances do not generally mean that a PSA 10 is less perfect card as the compared grading standards are minimum requirements. In other words, there are PSA 10s out there that would easily cross grade to a BGS 10. Lastly, it is still really hard to receive a PSA 10 grade.

Is a BGS Gem Mint 9.5 a PSA 10?

A BGS 9.5 is slightly better than a PSA 10 as centering requirements are harder. However, it is neck and neck for the three other guardrails (corners, edges and surface).

BGS 9.5PSA 10
CenteringFront: 50/50 to 50/45 percent
Back: 60/40 percent or better
Front: 55/45 to 60/40 percent
Back: 75/25 percent
Corners
and Edges
Corners: Mint at first look but slight imperfections under magnification

Edges: Virtually perfect at first look and mostly free of flaws under magnification
Four perfectly sharp corners

Edges: No information
SurfaceHigh focus. High gloss perfection. Color is rich and deep. A few minor print spots only detectable under magnification. No scratches or print linesSharp focus and original gloss. Free from staining of any kind. Allowance may be made for a slight printing imperfection, if it doesn’t impair the overall appeal of the card
Comparison of BGS Gem Mint 9.5 and PSA 10 grading requirements (BGS Source; PSA Source)

Again this does not generally mean that a PSA 10 graded card is not comparable as grading standards reflect minimum requirements.

Conclusion

To sum up, “Pristine” is the highest grade possible at Beckett. Moreover, you hit the jackpot if you receive a Black Label, as this is really hard to get. When comparing Beckett and PSA, grading standards for Pristine and Gem Mint cards are higher at BGS.

Do you prefer Beckett or PSA? Please let me know in the comment section below!

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