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How To Preserve Your Sports Card Collection

Spending your sports card budget on cards instead of supplies is a lot more fun, but you owe it to your collection to make sure it's stored safely - especially if you want to show it off or sell parts of it later. Getting all those cards properly protected and put away might seem like a daunting task, but with a little organization and the right supplies, the results will be well worth the effort.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Dependent on size of collection

Here's How:
  1. Decide which cards you'd like to store as singles and which will be stored as sets. Most collectors store rookie cards, memorabilia cards and autograph cards as singles, unless they are part of a completed base set. It's probably worth storing any big runs of cards from one product together even if it's a set you haven't completed or have no intention of finishing.
  2. Sort your cards. This may seem like common sense, but it's important to have everything organized in case you need to find it later. It may behoove you to have even seemingly worthless common cards sorted numerically, just in case you need to find that late blooming superstar's rookie card once it goes from 25 cents to 50 dollars.
  3. Choose which, if any, singles you'd like to send away for grading. Not only will the grading companies encase the graded cards so you don't have to buy holders for them, but you can use the time that they are away to tackle the rest of your collection.


  1. Gather your supplies. Various companies make the white, cardboard storage boxes to store sets and bulk commons, and they come in numerous sizes depending on your needs. Albums and pocket pages are okay too, but only for sets you really want to view, and generally not for sets that have a lot of financial value. Singles call for plenty of soft sleeves and top loaders, plus snap holders for thicker memorabilia or autograph cards. Since you already sorted your cards, you should know exactly how many supplies you'll need, and you'll be able to save money by buying in bulk.
  2. Place your cards in their respective holders, handling them carefully while doing so. Many cards can show smudges or fingerprints if handled on the surface, so you'll want to hold them by the sides while putting them away. Singles can be placed in a soft sleeve before placing them in a top loader - dinging the corners is what you want to avoid here.
  3. Store your cards in a cool, dry place. Humidity and temperature extremes are the enemies of your cards. You don't need to have a special climate-controlled room for your collection, but common sense should be applied. Be sure to also avoid direct sunlight, as it doesn't take much to fade and damage your cards.

Tips:
  1. Don't forget to label your collection. All those cardboard boxes can look pretty similar when stored in the same place.
  2. Supply companies make cardboard boxes big enough to accomodate cards in top loaders and even grading holders. Ask your local dealer or check out eBay if you need some for your collection.
  3. Don't skimp when you buy supplies. It might be tempting to save a few bucks by buying cheaper holders or pages, but that's counterproductive if your cards end up damaged or faded. Sticking to products from proven companies like Ultra-Pro will give you peace of mind, and that's worth the small additional expense.

What You Need:
  • Cardboard boxes for sets and bulk base cards
  • Soft sleeves and top loaders for regular singles
  • Snap holders or thick top loaders for thicker singles
  • A cool, dry storage location away from windows

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