Home videotapes blew up in popularity overnight. What once was impossible to give away is now turning into a guessing game of what will be a hot ticket item. VHS grading companies are now a thing, with rumors of CGC looking into starting their own VHS grading division. But is this the new way? Will graded VHS last as long as graded comic books — and more importantly — is this a stable investment arena?
From the outside looking in, this seems like a bold new venture to turn a quick profit. VHS grading is barely two years old but has taken the graded collectors market by storm. As we said earlier, CGC may be looking to jump into the pool. Beckett also announced they would be getting into VHS grading as well. While in the comic grading scene the big two are CGC and CBCS, VHS grading has VGA, VHSDNA, and IGS — to name a few.
While this is exciting new territory, there are a few things I’ll point out. The life expectancy of most VHS tapes will vary but expect up to a 20% deterioration over a 10 – 25 year period. How tapes are stored plays a huge part in their life (just like comics). I recently tried to watch an X-Files VHS my dad bought me in 1994, and despite the tape being stored in my closet, the cassette was blank — maybe this is a mystery best left to Mulder and Scully! But while the inside guts of a video cassette won’t hurt your grade, parts fall apart over time. Plastic weakens. We have not yet seen what a 100-year-old untouched VHS looks like because we simply aren’t there yet.
Paper, on the other hand, can and will deteriorate over time. Element exposure and storage play a huge part in the life of the paper, which is what most VHS cases are made from. Having airtight containers can help the preservation of paper (and the VHS overall).
VHSDNA describes their cases as:
“We use a museum-quality acrylic, that’s 99% UV protected. We seal each case by hand and add a special unique tamper-proof serial number sticker to each encapsulation to insure your collectible is not only tamperproof but will withstand the test of time. We’ve also doubled down on protection by double encasing the VHS. We call it the “case within a case.””
Investment Grading Services (IGS)
IGS doesn’t give much detail on their VHS cases, but they do go into detail on the grading process, saying, “We visually and physically inspect each case. We have our graders inspect under different lighting and multiple angles. We also feel every inch by fingertip to help inspect for damage.” Plenty of grading criteria can be found on their site.
Video Game Authority
VGA goes into great detail on their cases and overall has the most in-depth FAQ I’ve found among all three grading companies.
What Would I do?
Between the three I would probably send my items to VGA as they also have experience with grading unique items such as action figures and video games. But at the end of the day I don’t think there is a gold standard grading company with VHS, and even with Beckett and CGC possibly entering the scene I don’t see that changing. This is to the benefit of the collector as it will force grading companies to constantly push for improvement.
As stated earlier, we are still in the VHS grading infancy. We have not seen the true potential of this industry if there even is one. Prices are hitting new record highs frequently, and unlike comics, we don’t know if things such as new TV shows or movies will help or hinder the value. While I am hopeful for a solid outcome, only time will tell for this collecting niche. For now, enjoy it for what it is, and if you like collecting VHS, then hell yea! Celebrate what makes you happy.