By Molly Hammond, Storage.com
Even in the age of digital downloads and fantasy leagues, baseball fans love collecting baseball cards. It’s a tradition that’s celebrated America’s pastime for more than 100 years, and for many collectors, it’s more than just a hobby—it’s a passion.
Since collecting baseball cards is often a lifelong practice, and cards are frequently shared between generations of baseball fans, it’s crucial that collectors know how to store their collections without compromising the quality of their cards.
Whether you’re looking to store your cards over a long period of time before passing them on to someone, or you just need a place to keep them during a move from an old home to a new home, self storage can be a great place to store your collection.
Rich Mueller, president, founder, and editor of Sports Collectors Daily, has been collecting baseball cards since childhood. “There’s something for everyone,” Mueller says. “Whether it’s base sets, team sets, individual players, programs…or buying a fresh pack and hoping to pull something really nice.”
Inspired by his hobby to create a website for sports fans and card collectors that would be “educational, relevant, and most of all, fun,” Mueller has become an authority on all things card collecting. Below, he shares some of the most important things to consider when storing baseball cards.
“When it comes to sports cards, condition is a tremendously important factor,” Mueller says, explaining that the difference between a high-grade and low-grade card in the vintage market can be tens of thousands of dollars. Whether you intend to sell your cards in the future or not, you’ll want to keep them as close to mint condition as possible.
Start by making sure each of your cards is protected. This can be done best with individual card holders (particularly for more valuable cards), but a D-ring binder full of protective pages for your cards will also work. Mueller suggests being extra careful when inserting cards in holders or binders so you don’t “ding a corner” as you place the card.
Cards kept in sleeves and holders are fine for display, but Mueller says you never want to leave cards or other memorabilia out in the open for too long. For storage, you can invest in boxes specifically designed to hold cards or use regular boxes with protective spacers. You may be tempted to put as many cards in a box or binder as will fit, but having multiple containers may allow you to sort and separate cards more easily.
When you store a baseball card collection in a storage unit, the last thing you want is just to stack boxes on the floor and leave. Consider setting up a set of shelves in your unit so you can keep boxes and binders of cards far from the floor. “We’ve seen collections destroyed when flood waters enter a home,” Mueller says. The same can happen with storage units in high-risk flooding areas, so it’s extremely important to keep cards up on shelves and out of any unexpected water.
Plus, shelves make it so much easier to organize! You can place boxes on the shelves by year, by team, or whatever system makes the most sense for your personal collection. No matter how you decide to arrange them, shelves will help keep your cards organized and easy to find.
When you store something as important (and valuable) as a baseball card collection, you may want to invest in some of the special amenities self storage has to offer. The most important storage feature for a baseball card collection is climate control.
Climate-controlled storage ensures that a storage unit will be kept within a specific temperature range, eliminates big swings in humidity, and allows units to remain unaffected by seasonal shifts. Without climate control, a baseball card collection is susceptible not only to whatever weather occurs outside the facility, but to changes in the humidity inside as well, which can encourage mold and mildew growth. Moisture can “wreak havoc on cards,” according to Mueller, so it’s best to eliminate it from the storage equation entirely.
If you know your card collection is valuable (or suspect that it will be someday), it’s a good idea to look into extra security as well. What “extra security” means will vary from facility to facility. Some offer individually-alarmed units; others offer gated access in addition to on-site management. No matter where you store, Mueller says, “Be certain you have an indoor unit, your locks are impenetrable, and also check the reputation of the company that owns the unit.”
The bottom line is you should feel comfortable leaving your card collection at the facility you choose—if you don’t feel that way about the first unit you see, keep looking! Your cards deserve the best.