The thrill of collecting trading cards is multi-faceted. You’re excited to land the cards, but now the trick is to preserve them, preferably in pristine condition. Having been around this great hobby for three decades, I’ve noticed a few things when it comes to trading card preservation and preserving trading card value.
Times have changed and rubber bands and shoe boxes are no longer preferred methods of trading card storage. Rubber bands crease and oftentimes catch the corners of unprotected raw cards as they’re being wrapped around a bundle. Over time they can even become embedded into the stacked cards so it’s best to stay away from yesteryear’s packing methods and up your game with some of the safer options available today.
And while shoe boxes don’t pose an imminent threat to one’s trading cards, they don’t necessarily lend themselves to easy, protective viewing of the cards either.
What other tricks of the trade can aid in preserving your trading cards? We’ll cover some pro tips below.
Preparation Before Purchase
Before you run out and purchase a slew of packs and boxes of cards at your local hobby shop or place a big order online, you need to make sure your tools of the trade are in order.
Some materials you’ll want handy are:
- Three-ring binders with dozens of nine-card pocket sheets;
- Storage boxes like the one pictured;
- Plenty of top-loading Card Savers at the ready for transferring your cards for safekeeping.
Remember, that simple move from sealed pack to your preferred method of card storage is crucial. One dinged corner or scratched card front could mean the difference between PSA Very Good 3 and PSA Gem Mint 10.
Once you have your cards sorted, it’s always best to store them in card savers and then figure out your next move. You may want to keep them all together inside a corrugated storage box, or simply any size (100-count, 200-count, 500-count, etc.) storage box before you elect to send them into PSA for authenticating and grading. The important thing is to keep them dry and out of direct sunlight for fear of fading over time. A quick online search will turn up plenty of card storage boxes and three-ring binder options.
Store in Cool, Dry Places
The point here is that warm, humid places can compromise your prized cardboard. If possible, store your cards in areas like a climate-controlled unit. If not, at least keep them away from the attic, where temperatures and humidity are sure to be less than ideal.
Also, remember prolonged contact with sunlight (or UV rays in general) can hurt your card’s condition and cause the colors to fade.
Displaying Your Cards
This is the fun part when you get to show off your cards and present them wherever you’d like. But make sure you display them properly, which means providing protective displays for your most prized cardboard gems.
Ultra PRO offers a great assortment of options including recessed card holders and reinforced collector’s albums. In fact, Ultra PRO’s one-touch magnetic holders provide UV-resistant, acid-free protection to ensure your valuable card (and autograph, if it’s signed) retains its condition while on display.
You can always get your cards graded by PSA and see them come back to you in all their encapsulated glory! PSA encapsulates every card in a sonically sealed, tamper-evident holder. The PSA holder features specially formulated plastic and an innovative design that provides protection from pressure and most damage. Once encased, you can rest assured that your cards will remain secure from further wear. The PSA holders are easily stackable and can also be displayed beautifully inside one of the company’s single card display stands, which cost just $5 each.
Never store or display your cards inside non-recessed screwdown holders or slabs because you run the risk of flattening the cards and, provided you ever want to get them graded, they may come back to you with an “altered” designation from PSA.
I found that out the hard way when I submitted a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. #1 rookie card that I had displayed in a non-recessed screwdown holder for nearly 15 years. When it was examined by PSA’s graders, it possessed shiny corners which meant it had been stored inside a non-recessed screwdown holder. Translation: it was altered.
If you have a pretty big collection of signed cards, it’s always nice to show them off in one of the beautifully crafted oversized displays that PSA sells on its own website. There are two different sizes to choose from (33″ wide by 22″ high or 33″ wide by 42″ high) that can proudly display between 24 and 48 cards, respectively, and both come complete with a lock-and-key mechanism on the front.
Preservation is an important piece of the collecting puzzle to remember but can also be an easy one to forget. Too often I’ve seen proud owners of vintage and modern card issues position their favorite cardboard toward sunlit areas, which will only fade the once vibrant colors of the cards over time.
Remember, whether you’re installing shelves or hooks that will secure your newly purchased display cases, always pick a wall that faces the inside of your home and not one that faces the largest window in your living room. Or family room. Or dining room. You can always position your item(s) on the same wall as the window itself; just make sure they’re not facing direct sunlight. Another way to prevent fading is to simply close the blinds and/or curtains during the day. Common sense rules when it comes to preserving your cherished trading cards. Just like signatures can fade over time, so too can the colors of your trading cards. And once you get your cards graded by the industry leader, go ahead and purchase a PSA storage box for just $10. It holds up to 60 regular size, PSA-graded cards and is ideal for storing and carrying large orders.