Card Storage and Preservation

Today I got unbearably bored, so I decided to write an informative guide regarding collection preservation. I have seen this topic mentioned in passing here and there but feel the subject lacks the attention it deserves. So I have outlined a few of the many ways you can store and protect your collection from beginner to advanced. Enjoy.

Card Protection:

Penny Sleeves- This is the most basic in terms of card projection. These will guard against surface scratches on a card but the protection ends there as edges can be damaged and cards can easily slip out of the top.

Top loaders - These are the most commonly used and easily accessible form of card protection. Results are best used when the card is first inserted into a penny sleeve and then a top loader. This further protects the card from surface scratches that could be caused by the use of a top loader by itself.

Team Bags- These come in various sizes and are optional. Team bags are resalable sleeves that a top loader/graded card can be placed into. This further protects the card inside and guards against any starches and fingerprints a top loader my incur through use.

Screw down cases- These offer a higher level of protection and come in various sizes/thicknesses. They can be either the traditional cases or magnetic. Always, always, always use recessed cases and preferably ones that offer corner protection. If a card is placed into a slab screw down without a recess it then becomes susceptible to ink lifting of the surface. In worst case scenarios involving humidity the card can loose the entire print layer. Best used with penny sleeves.

Binders- Pretty self explanatory. These are best used for a mass storage of cards and typically hold 9 cards per page. Ultra-pro makes a binder with side loading pages with a textured back to hold the card in place, which is better than traditional binder pages where the cards can slide out of the top. When storing higher value cards it best to use a penny sleeve or deck sleeve.

Grading - These often offer some of the best protection but also are the most time consuming and costly. Here a card is sent to a 3rd party grading service where they evaluate the condition of the card then seal it in a appropriately sized recessed case. The draw backs of grading (Besides time and money) is that the card is permanently sealed and can still have slight movement within the case. However, by grading a card it typically increases the value slightly in addition to the protection.

Card storage:

Simply put any place that is air conditioned, smoke free, low humidity (40-55%) and dark will do.

Safes-Fire proof safes are great for storing valuable/rare cards as they come in a variety of sizes. If trying to store binders a larger safe will be required which can get a little pricey. ($150-200) USD) One thing to not is that safes WILL produce humid which over a prolonged amount of time can damage cards. This is were the use of desiccant (Silica gel) is a must.

Desiccant- These are hydro-absorbent substances (Silica Gel) which will help lower humidity. These are a must for any safe or enclosed area you store you cards. I recommend using aluminum reusable silica gel packs. NOT THE ONES THAT COME WITH YOUR SHOES. The aluminum packs can absorb moisture in an area of 3 cubic feet and will keep it around 40-45% humidity. Although I would advise using more than one to decrease how often they have to be recharged (Which takes 3 hours in an oven). Note: use silica gel with orange indicator beads as the blue ones use Cobalt II Chloride.

Archival Boxes- I would definitely recommend using these if your safe does not have compartments or you just want to bring order to your collection. These boxes come in a variety of sizes and are archival safe and Ph neutral so acidity will not be a problem.

Basic Things to watch out for:

Products that contain PVC, are acidic or that produce humidity.
Ultraviolet light.

This pretty much wraps up all the options available for preserving your collection. Remember to always use products that are PCV free, Archival safe and offer some level of UV protection. Ultra-pro typically makes products that fit that criteria.

Nice guide! The pictures aren’t working, or is that just me?

Thanks I can fix that once I’m home!

Excellent thread Mike! I like how you emphasize the Silica gel. My safe literally came with 15 bags and all 15 will remain inside!

So its not a good idea to PSA cards!!! This has changed my total view of PSA.

Wow,, I never new it was bad. I was going to send in some cards for the protection, but now I won’t waste the money. Thanks for the info.

Emphasis on the word could. I think your points are valid to an extent. The amount of baseball collectors here in the U.S. would of come across this issue in the 20 years PSA has been grading.

It is not a black and white situation. This is a possibility but then again when you zoom in too close everything looks blurry.

Images fixed! Alright, to address the whole PSA case thing. I can guarantee that this has never happened, and if it did we would be talking about so far down the road that you and I would not be alive to see it. Not to mention there are one two many variable in this “worst case” scenario such as: Ink type, printing method and type of card stock. Keep in mind that air (which is not inert) is far worse for your cards than anything. Hence why mold,mildew and rust exist…all reactions of moisture and air. One other thing to keep in mind is that items have been found hundreds of years latter with absolutely no protection and still in decent condition…its just a crapshoot. I have had many a squabble with my father (who curates documents and photos hundreds of years old) about the best way of preserving paper items. He has never expressed any immediate concern with the PSA cases trapping gas given off by inks. I’m not convinced that the issue with PSA would be due to ink/paper effects. I’m more concerned by the reports that there’s slight movement in the cases so actually the cards can move around.

I asked around at work (we’ve got plenty of chemists/engineers/physicists here) and they said that it would be absolutely AGES before you’d see the sort of effect you’re describing. We’d be long long dead before there was a noticeable effect (if at all).

I wish I had a fire proof safe, just for the protection. But mine is used to hold genuinely valuable things. I would need a huge safe to hold my Pokémon collection, it’s just not practical. I use bubblewrap/felt over all of my boxes/decks/books/etc. for additional protection

I definitely understand your feelings Claire. I was on the fence for ages about psa. This guy Wil who used to collect got me on them. Once you get a card in that case it is difficult to not want all of your rare cards protected in the same fashion.

Also to what you were saying about the ink, there are cards literally 100 years old that are graded by PSA. Lawsuits come in bulk over here in the U.S. If any of the 1906-1912 baseball cards displayed the signs described you would hear about it. Those 1906-1912 cards are worth a fortune, literally as much as famous artwork.

Honus wagner PSA 8 went for 2.8 Million I believe. If it cases are good enough for that card they are good enough for a card “only” in the hundreds to thousands.

Yes! That card was owned by “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky.

Also claire I forgot to mention this before, there is a re-holder option that you can do when placing an order. For example if I want to replace the case on one of my cards that is already graded I just select re-holder and they will take it out and put it in a new case.

That might be the solution to your worries :blush:

I was just going to mention that! 10-20 years from now you can always re-holder thus letting all or any trapped gases escape :blush:

Problem solved :blush:

How much does the re-holder option cost?

If it possible to get the card slabed, but not graded for cheaper then getting it graded?

Why does this option exist in the first place? Me being suspicious thinks maybe Cally is right after all…

In case you srach or beat up the case…or if it gets chewed on by a dog
That’s why they offer the reholder.

LOL! Is that just PSA because I strongly recommend a certain No. 2 Trainer Pikachu trophy exercise this option

Hahaha I’m not sure if any other company does. I do know that CTA is no longer around thus making their grade/guarantee of authenticity essentially null because they can no longer back it up.