7 Tips for Displaying Your Sports Card Collection Safely
Did you know that the very first baseball card was created in 1865? Ever since then, baseball cards (along with other sports cards) have become extremely popular and collectors all over the world have become passionate about collecting as many as possible. If you have a sports card collection or plan on building one, you might be wondering how you should display your cards once you have them.
After all, you need to find a way to protect your cards while displaying them. If you simply put your cards in ordinary picture frames, they might sustain damage from light, dust, and other debris. So, how should you go about displaying your card collection in a safe and stylish way?
Keep reading more below to find out.
1. Try Penny Sleeves
Some people don't put much thought into storing and displaying their cards. Some might just toss their cards into an old shoebox or a drawer. This is one of the worst things you can do, no matter what types of sports cards you collect.
Not only does storing your cards in such a way make them a chore to view, but you can also damage them by cramming them into some box. Over the years, moisture might start to collect among your cards, and eventually, that moisture will ruin them. This is the last thing you want for your sports card collecting endeavors, especially if you are the proud owner of some rare cards.
Instead, penny sleeves are a good and simple option for storing and displaying your sports cards. Penny sleeves are generally very affordable which makes sense since they are very simple devices. They are nothing more than little polypropylene sleeves that you can slide your cards into.
There are a few different types of penny sleeves and you should be careful when choosing them. Some are not acid-free and they may end up damaging or degrading your cards over the years. Acid-free penny sleeves, on the other hand, should keep your cards in good shape for many years to come.
You can usually get several dozen sleeves at a time at an affordable price. The majority of them are sized according to standard card sizes.
However, there are some sleeves that are designed to fit cards that are a bit larger or smaller than the standard size. The only downside is that you may risk damaging your cards when trying to slide them into the penny sleeves.
To prevent this from happening, you can slice the top edges of the sleeve so that it is easy to slide a card inside. Another downside is that it is hard to store several penny sleeves in one place and they don't stack well. This is because the material of the sleeves often sticks together.
However, if you're on a tight budget and can't afford an alternative, penny sleeves still remain a very good choice for general card storage and display. You may want to upgrade your options, however, for more valuable cards.
2. Top Loaders
Many people often use penny sleeves along with top loaders for an extra layer of protection. However, you can also use top loaders on their own if you feel like it. Top loaders, at first glance, may look quite similar to penny sleeves, but they are different in many important ways.
To start, top loaders are very rigid. This is in contrast to penny sleeves which are thin and very bendable. As you can imagine, penny sleeves won't do much to keep your cards from bending.
Top loaders, on the other hand, can solve this problem. First of all, top loaders have wide openings at the top. This makes it much easier to insert cards, especially cards that are extra thick.
Besides that, top loaders come in all different sizes, so you won't have to worry about whether or not your cards will fit as long as you choose the right size. Of course, there is still a chance that you could nick your card when inserting it into a top loader.
What You Need to Know
You can solve this problem by first putting your card into a penny sleeve and then inserting it into a top loader. This is one of the best ways to protect your sports cards. Once your card is inside the top loader, it will be virtually impossible to damage it.
Since top loaders are so rigid, there is no chance that your cards will end up bent. Your cards also won't pick up any dust even if you store them in a dusty place (which you still shouldn't do). Top loaders also make it very easy to display your cards.
You can put top loaders wherever you want such as on your desk or on a shelf. You should avoid storing your cards in areas that receive a lot of sunlight. Top loaders cannot protect against the sun's UV rays and your cards may end up bleached or faded by the sun if you're not careful.
3. Card Savers
If you want something between a top loader and a penny sleeve, a card saver might just be the perfect solution. A card saver is not as rigid as a top loader but it is not as soft and flexible as a penny sleeve either. Instead, it is considered semi-rigid.
This kind of sleeve will prevent most cards from being bent or nicked. However, if you forcibly bend the card saver, you will still manage to bend the card inside. Even so, card savers are quite versatile and many card collectors swear by card savers over any other kind of sleeve.
As with the other card protectors, card savers come in several different sizes so you can match them to whatever card sizes you happen to have. This is especially important if you collect cards from different decades. Cards from different decades tend to have different sizes compared to our modern cards.
Whatever the case, card savers have you covered. More than that, card savers are quite affordable, so you don't have to worry about spending an arm and a leg just to keep your cards protected while putting them on display. They are also quite svelt and don't take up all that much space if you need to store them away.
The only downside is that if you try to store or display one card saver at a time, you will find that it can be a bit on the flimsy side.
4. Screw Downs
A couple of decades ago, screw downs used to be very popular for all sorts of sports cards. They are very durable and secure your cards in a way that no other card protector can. However, screw downs do come with some important downsides.
As the name suggests, screw downs involve screwing to plates of plastic or glass together with your desired sports card between the two plates. This puts a significant amount of pressure on the card in question. While this will secure your card in place and make it very easy to display, the pressure put on the card can actually damage it.
This is because sports cards tend to stick to one of the two plates they are pressed between. If you decide to remove the card from the holder, you may find that some remanents of the card will remain stuck to the glass or plastic holder. This, of course, would ruin your card.
There are some screw downs that have solved this problem by creating a small depression in the center of the two plates. This allows the card some space to breathe while still being protected between the two plates. This is a much better option since it is much less likely that your card will stick to the holder.
However, there is still a chance that this could happen. Another downside of screw downs is that they are quite expensive compared to other card holders, so you may be better off choosing another option.
Binders have long been a classic way for card collectors to store and display their cards. Binders come in all different shapes and sizes and they are very easy to label so you know which cards are in which binder. Binders also allow you to store several cards in one place which makes your storage concerns much easier.
Binders also keep your cards safe, as long as you choose the right type of binder. As with penny sleeves, some binders have sleeves that are not acid-free. You will want to avoid these binders as they are not good for archiving sports cards and will end up damaging them over the years.
Instead, look specifically for acid-free binders fit for archival use. It is very easy to display your cards in binders because you can line up the binders on your shelves however you want and take them out to flip through them whenever you feel like it. Most binders are not that expensive either, so you should be able to save some money when shopping for them.
The only downside is that binder pages are very flimsy. If you're not careful when flipping through the pages, you might end up bending some of your cards inside. If you put your cards in penny sleeves before putting them in binder pages, this can give your cards an extra layer of protection.
6. Keep Your Cards Out of the Sun
Besides keeping your cards in card holders, you will want to make sure you display your cards in safe areas. The sun is a sports card's worst enemy. If you end up putting a card in a sunny place, that card will eventually become faded and dull.
This, of course, is the last thing you want for your sports cards, especially rare or valuable sports cards. This, of course, doesn't mean that you should lock your cards in a dark closet. Instead, you should find a nice, shady place in your home to put your cards.
That way, there is no chance that your cards will sustain any kind of sun damage. If your cards are in binders, you won't have to worry about this problem too much since the cards will not be exposed to direct sunlight. However, the heat from the sun may also damage your cards or cause them to stick to their sleeves, so it is still recommended that you keep your cards out of the sun no matter what method you use to store and display them.
7. Keep Your Cards Away From Moist Areas
Besides keeping your cards out of the sun, you will also want to keep them away from moist environments. Even if your cards are stored away in sleeves or binders, if the air is very moist, that moisture can end up penetrating the card sleeve. This will end up coating the cards in moisture.
Moisture, of course, is terrible for sports cards since moisture can cause all sorts of problems like mildew, mold growth, discoloration, odors, and more. So, make sure that wherever you put your cards, you put them in a cool, dry area.
How to Store and Display Your Sports Card Collection
Storing and displaying your sports card collection doesn't have to be impossible, but there are a few important factors you need to consider if you want your cards to stay in good shape. For one, you should choose a good card protector such as a penny sleeve, top loader, or binder.
You should also keep your cards away from the sun and moisture. To learn more about sports cards, contact us here.