How To Store Your Cards?
There are several questions that should be answered when deciding on how to store your cards?
How much space do you need?
How often will you look at the cards?
How much are you willing to spend?
What is the value of the cards?
For lower-value cards, like my junk wax collection, I only store them in cardboard boxes, which are readily available at your local card store. Because I’m meticulous about collecting (and a completionist), I sort by numerical order, so I can reference back easily if I need to. For massive sets, like Topps Baseball, Hoops basketball etc, I’ll pull the rookies and put them in a separate box, again, if some rookies pop after a slow start (made it much easier to find my Kevin Porter Jr cards, after his explosion in Houston), I’ll be able to put them in better protection.
These are cards that I opened, looked at once, and filed. I don’t have any real reason to look at these cards again unless I’m feeling nostalgic on a rainy day.
But what about cards you want to look at again and again? Pages are an option, but not the best one. Pages are great for looking, but do not provide much in the way of protection. Penny sleeves fall into this category. Not much in the way of protection, but good in conjunction with a top loader.
Obviously, for cards that have higher value, we want better protection. Of course, with better protection comes a higher price tag. Top loaders are the least expensive method of safely storing one card, but have seen price increases and shortages since the hobby exploded. Other single card options include Card Savers, which have become increasingly popular and expensive, as it is the preferred method of submitting to companies that grade cards like Hall of Fame Card Grading, Beckett (BGS), PSA and others. A quick Amazon check shows 100 card savers run in the 50 dollar range. The next level up for a single cardholder is the Ultra-Pro one touch, which usually provides UV protection to prevent your cards from discoloring. These start in the $10-15 range per holder. A final popular option for cards is a screw-down; these must be used carefully. With improper sizing, they can actually “squish” your card.
I learned this the hard way; I had a Mario Lemieux rookie card that I packed back in 1985! While I was young and didn’t understand the value of the card, it suffered a few dings along the way. Once I was older, I decided to put it in a screw-down, which was incorrectly sized. As an adult, I submitted to PSA hoping for a 3 to 5 grading. The card came back as ungradeable due to being in a screw-down for too long. This occurred in the 1990s, so screw-downs have been greatly improved in that time. Use them carefully.
Again, looking at our options, it makes sense to use the most economically viable option; for sets that have little value, cardboard boxes are the best option. Top loaders, used with penny sleeves provide good protection for more valuable cards, while one-touch and screw-downs should only be used for your most valuable cards, due to their cost.