Collecting While Stuck at Home | How Sunlight Damages Your Cards4 min read


In this new, limited blog series, “20 Ways to Collect While Stuck at Home,” we offer ideas for enjoying your collection at times when a standard hobby experience is not possible. Illness, financial constraints, or any number of factors might temporarily keep collectors from participating as they normally would, but that does not mean that their hobby needs to be put on hold. 

One of the keys to maintaining and preserving one’s collectibles is finding safe storage and protective presentation options. Whether you have cards or autographs or autographed cards, it’s imperative they are placed in safe places and inside safe holders.

Toward that end, one particular kryptonite when it comes to cards is sunlight. Direct sunlight is the worst. Over time, sun-drenched cards can fade and even become brittle. The sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays can wreak havoc on your card collection. So, now that you find yourself with some bonus time at home, this is the perfect chance to revisit your card collection, and how you’re taking care of your wares.

After all, now that you’ve landed that 1981 Topps Joe Montana #216 rookie card you’ve had your eyes on – in PSA Mint 9 condition, no less – it’s time to make sure it stays that way.

Protect Your Collectibles

card saversIt seems easy but requires practice. When you start cracking packs, it’s important to place the cards inside either clear card sleeves, card guards, card savers, recessed holders or nine-pocket card sheets inside 3-ring binders. This will help preserve their condition, but not if you leave them exposed to sunlight. Kitchens are known for being light and bright, so whatever you do, don’t leave your cards lying around on the kitchen table.

After providing some handling protection to your cards, it’s time to store or display them. Just make sure they’re not exposed to direct sunlight. Don’t hang a 48-card display case across from your living room window. That would be a big no-no. Over time they will be zapped of their robust colors and that certainly won’t help with your pursuit of securing a high grade from PSA.

Sunlight provides the most powerful source of UV light, and while direct sunlight is bad for collectibles, even ambient sunlight causes some damage. For that matter, even artificial light in your home, over a prolonged period of time, can lead to fading. Find a wall or mantel or a display cabinet that does not face a window.

Staging Your Wares

Since no one has unlimited space with which to display their favorite cards, it’s always best to store them in one of the previously mentioned options (i.e., card savers) and then figure out your next move. You may want to keep them all together inside a corrugated storage box, or any size storage box (100-count, 200-count, 500-count, etc.) before sending in your favorites to PSA for authenticating and grading. The important thing is to keep them dry and out of direct sunlight.

For presentation purposes, one of the best things you can do is position your cards or autographed baseballs, photos, etc., behind some sort of conservation glass for safe keeping. Think of what museums and art galleries do with some of their more coveted pieces of art. Basic glass protects your items from dust and handling, but it doesn’t protect them from harmful UV rays or boast any kind of anti-reflective properties. Conservation glass, meanwhile, blocks up to 99% of UV light rays so that way your cards are protected against fading and should retain their original colors much longer. This is particularly true for aged baseball card issues such as T206, Cracker Jacks, Play Ball and Goudey. Conservation glass is a standard option at most quality framing shops, so it is not difficult to find.

Bottom line: Think before you present. Selecting the perfect wall, shelf, display case or mantel to show off your collection is of utmost importance, especially when something normally as comforting as the sun can turn out to be your cards’ worst enemy. Presenter beware.

COMING SOON: This beautifully crafted custom card frame from PSA provides UV protection from the sun. Stay tuned for more details to follow.


Posted by Terry Melia

Terry Melia is a hobby veteran who has served in various PR, marketing and content roles for industry movers and shakers including The Upper Deck Company and SCP Auctions and is currently working as PSA's Public Relations and Content Specialist.

1 thought on “Collecting While Stuck at Home | How Sunlight Damages Your Cards4 min read

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.