COVID-19 Temporarily Halts Grading at PSA, Beckett; SGC Continues

The Coronavirus has forced two popular grading companies to cease card grading operations

Bobby Wallace PSA Graded T207Babe Ruth Beckett BVG 1933 GoudeyThe Coronavirus pandemic has already affected card collectors with shows being canceled and, presumably, some budgets being put on hold. Now, the latest twist is that card grading operations are being halted.

Of the three major grading companies, PSA was the first one to shut down a few days ago, citing California’s and New Jersey’s Executive Orders for businesses to close to combat the spread of the virus. On Tuesday, Beckett reportedly contacted customers indicating that their grading operations would be on hold, too.

Currently, SGC, the third of the major grading companies, is remaining open for business. Even if they have to close ultimately, they are said to have a plan in place to still continue working.

That would seemingly position SGC well to potentially pick up some new business. After all, if they are the only grader in town, they should receive some submissions they might not have otherwise.

Collectors do, of course, have their preferences. And I suspect there are many PSA and Beckett users that are so committed to their services that they may try to wait things out as opposed to sending their cards to SGC. Additionally, even some collectors that may be willing to use SGC still may put grading orders on ice either due to funds being short or being fearful that their cards may be stuck there if a closure is indeed necessary. Still, if SGC remains open, that would be quite beneficial to them and help them attract new customers.

Babe Ruth W511 Strip Card SGCDepending on how long this lasts, it’s worth pointing out that SGC could see some significant submissions, too. Auction houses rely on grading companies to provide, in many cases, some very quick turnaround times to consignments needing authentication or grading to meet auction deadlines. Those items, often, can be very valuable and high profile. If auction houses continue operations, it’s quite possible that SGC will have the opportunity to grade some very unique and valuable items. Auction houses, of course, already use SGC. But if they are the only alternative, that should mean an increase in submissions and the chance to review some very important cards.

The other noticeable effect here is that, the closures of PSA and Beckett will make grading delays even more bogged down. For a while, grading companies have had more work than they know what to do with and the time off will only make delays much more significant. How much, obviously, will depend on the amount of time off. Plus, even though those companies have made announcements of their closures, you can bet that not everyone will get the memo and additional orders will continue being shipped there, backing things up even more.

While things look good for SGC right now, this obviously isn’t great news for the industry as a whole. All industries are helped by having competition and, even beyond that, overwhelming a single grading company with submissions isn’t a great thing, either. The last thing anyone needs is for SGC to see a significant backlog due to increased submissions.

There are clearly more concerns related to COVID-19 than card grading, of course. But hopefully things return to normal as quick as possible.

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