Displaying your collection

Part of the fun of my career is the interaction with fellow collectors. I enjoy sharing my experiences and opinions about collecting and educating others.

Of all the questions I get from collectors, there are a few that I get on a regular basis. One of those regards the displaying of our collections.

I thought I would publicly answer a recent email I got from fellow collector Charles.

Charles asks:

My issue is that I am worried about the exposure to light and sunlight. I have a large master plan of utilizing shadow boxes to display smaller items like trading cards, but I don’t want the yellowing to occur, vivid colors of any cards to leach out or an auto to fade away.

Many of my cards are in one-touch cases with UV protectant or slabbed as graded cards. I also found UV glass that I can put into the shadow boxes, but this can get pricey. Also, I am not entirely confident that these measures will truly protect the cards, posters, etc.

Do you display your items? If so, do you have any experience with ways to display items that does not compromise preservation?

Well Charles, I do in fact display a portion of my collection. I have a number of items on display in my studio, or as some call it, my man cave.

I too have worried about UV damage. I have conducted my own tests over the years with autographs, particularly signed baseballs. While some inks are better than others for autographs, and we all have our opinions, I can tell you that all the pens I tested faded at least some under fluorescent lights. These were typical lights found in an office building.

I cannot attest to other grading companies because I do not know their chemical makeup of plastics used, but I do know Beckett holders do offer UV protection. No holder will offer complete protection. In fact, a high level of UV protectant in plastic will cause the plastic to appear yellow. So there is a balance between UV protection to a certain degree and the visual appearance of the slab. Adding UV protection to the plastic is also an additional production cost.

There are many options for the protection of an individual item but I looked for a more overall protection option when it came to my items on display. Having an item framed is costly enough but adding UV blocking glass really increases the cost. And what do you do with items such as bats, gloves and complete uniforms?

My room happens to be longer than it is wide. It has one window to the outside world and a window that opens to the entry way of the house. I use incandesant lighting that points upwards towards the ceiling. More specifically, floor lamps that have shades that point the light upwards, not outwards. I also have incandesant lighting in a ceiling light fixture. I have no LED, halogen or fluorescent lighting anywhere in or near the room. I used to keep the shades and curtain closed all the time but I decided that in the dark was no way to live.

What I had to do was to somehow filter the UV coming through the window. What I found was a product you can purchase at stores such as Home Depot and Lowes. The product is a solar film that you apply to the inside of your window. What I found is that not only did it block a large amount of UV but it also cooled the room considerably.

The film was not too difficult to apply myself and now I can leave the blinds open and not worry about my collection. I have framed cartoon art, autographed photos, signed balls, bats and even a uniform on display on a full-size mannequin. I do not use scientific equipment to measure any changes, but I do check items periodically against items that remain stored in dark, cool storage. While nothing can block 100% of the UV coming from light sources, the film is a cost effective method of greatly reducing damage to your collection.


Links I like

I’m asked all the time about the loupe I use. I own several different loupes for different jobs, but this loupe is my current favorite for traveling to card shows around the country. This one has all you need to grade cards.

Now that Bill Mastro has admitted to doctoring the PSA 8 T206 Wagner, you should read the book that told the story if you haven’t already.

Are you following me on Twitter? Follow to see great stuff from behind the grading curtain! Follow along at @broomewithaview


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About Andy

King of this tiny hill.

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