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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The eyes of a BGS grader – Loupes and magnifiers

It is one of the most repeated questions from people that want to learn how to look at cards and possibly get better grades, what kind of loupe or magnifiers do you use at BGS?
When you are shopping for a loupe to use for grading cards, one will find there is a sea of options and brands. I will say that I am loyal to certain brands with other products but loupes are not one of those products. What is more important is getting the right features. My main loupe that I travel to cards shows with has the right features. I can’t tell you the brand as after nearly 14 years of everyday use, any markings and logos have long since worn away.
So, let’s go shopping for a loupe that is fitting for professional card grading.

Power of magnificationBBYZnK8CQAIcIrJ
The first thing we are looking for is the power of magnification of the loupe. This will be designated by a number like 10X, 20X, etc. We are looking for a 10X, or 10 power magnification. This is the standard used by all professional graders of cards, coins and gemologists. Anything more is overkill. That’s not to say I don’t use stronger in certain instances. I have a 22x I use and a stereo microscope that is 40x to 60x. These are rarely used in everyday grading. The 10x will be your workhorse.

Size of the lens
This one is preference more than function but I recommend a lens with a diameter of 20mm or more. A tiny lens is harder to see through and can have more distortion.
But most of your distortion will come from the type of lens inside the loupe and the…

Lens quality
This is what separates the $5 loupe from the professional model. When reading about loupes, you will see things like doublet and triplet. (If you don’t see these terms, move to the next loupe.)
We are looking for a triplet. This means there are 3 elements in the lens, or 3 lenses that are cemented together. A triplet design is what we have to have in order to have a achromatic lens. This means a lens that is corrected to limit the effects of chromatic and spherical aberration.
For the layman, that means we have a loupe that will not distort the image of the card through the lens and will not give a false color. Ever use a cheap single or doublet lens and you will see a weird bent and distorted image and a yellow/blue halo around the edge of the lens. This makes it difficult to grade a card. Makes it impossible to grade something like a diamond where color and distortion change the grade and the value.
Yes there are achromatic doublet lenses, but we aren’t talking about a large amount of money to upgrade to a triplet lens. I won’t use less.

I recommend a folding loupe or a loupe like a Peak brand that will come with a case. I have both but my go-to loupe is a folding loupe that has a small leather case. Find a design that suits your usage.
I said before, I have no loyalty to brands when it comes to loupes (maybe a lens company wants to change that and make me a custom loupe to endorse…).
I will recommend a few different good loupes in different price ranges. Expect to spend $30-$60 for the right loupe but it will last you a lifetime. My everyday loupe is over 13 years old. It has graded cards for a living everyday for those 13 years and has logged over 180,000 miles flying to card shows to grade. It’s still ticking.
My opinions are based on grading cards professionally day in and day out. What is good for me may not be best for you.

From www.belomo.us/

1. The Hastings Triplet made by Bausch & Lomb is a great loupe and very popular but the lens is too small for me. Price: Around $40.00
2. BelOMO 10x triplet is a loupe made in Belarus. It is comparable to the Hastings and one distributor sells a package deal with both loupes. The Belomo has a larger 21mm lens. A nice option with the features you are looking for at a reasonable price. Looks and feels like that no-frills Soviet-era construction. Probably a good thing to be rugged when traveling to card shows and shops. Price: Around $30.00.
3. Peak #1983 Scale Loupe 10X is probably the Cadillac of loupes for grading. These loupes are a fixed unit, not a folding loupe. These have a much larger viewing field and they have a measurement scale inside the loupe. These will set you back in the $100.00 range but are top of the line optics from Japan.

The above few loupes are in no way an exclusive list. There are so many different options, it will be easy to get overwhelmed when shopping for a loupe online. Don’t worry about brand. Shop with the criteria you need and the loupe you need will be found.

A closing note about lighted loupes
Lighted loupes are a great idea in theory. We grade in a curtained off room at the booth at card shows so the lighting is poor at best. We have to have a good lamp for sure. It seems lighting at shows is never very good. Coin shows you see dealers with lamps at their table. While it is an additional expense for electricity at shows, it is nice to have if you are spending big money and really need to see the cards.
My opinion on lighted loupes is there isn’t one out there yet that I like. The light stick loupes that look like a magnifier on a flashlight usually have s ingle lens that has very poor optic qualities. Unusable for card grading. Peak makes one as well but I do not like it. There is at least one company that makes folding loupes with a built in LED light. These are closer to useable but the only ones I have seen are on low quality doublet lenses. Just not quite the quality we need. When someone makes a 20mm or larger triplet achromatic lens with a built in LED light, call me. I’m a buyer and a promoter for a loupe like that.




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The Tale of two Doyles

Poor Slow Joe Doyle.

A pitcher for the New York Highlanders (now known as the Yankees) and the Cincinnati Reds over a 5-year career would be all but forgotten if his legacy depended solely on his baseball skills. The nickname “Slow” doesn’t conger up thoughts of a Hall of Fame ball player.

Larry Fritch card from his museum.
Larry Fritch card from his museum.

But Slow Joe does hold a place in the hall of the baseball card Hall of Fame, if and when such a place is ever established.  You see, the American Lithograph company got their Doyles mixed-up. Slow Joe had a cross-town rival by the name of Larry Doyle, Larry played for the New York Giants (now located somewhere west of the Mississippi.)

The lithograph boys saw a photo that was tagged “Doyle” and assumed that the image had to belong to Larry Doyle since they probably never heard of Joe. So, the card of Joe was captioned: “Doyle, NY Nat’L.”

T206 Slow Joe Doyle error.
T206 Slow Joe Doyle error.

Seeing how American Lithograph was located in Manhattan, some quick-witted baseball fan (probably a fan of the Highlanders) noticed the mistake and the league designation was removed from the card caption. Since a lithography stone was already cut, it was easier and cheaper to simply remove the league and not replace it with the proper “Amer.” league designation as that would require the cutting of a new printing stone.

But, like all great baseball card mysteries, a hand-full of the error cards got out. The card did not become widely known until the early 1980s when dealer Larry Fritch advertised to buy any examples of this card.

The card today is one of the rarest cards in our hobby commanding 6-figure prices when one of the approximately 7 known does go to auction.

The rest, as they say, is history. But there is a pre-history to this error. This wasn’t the first time this same error had happened. The T206 Doyle error can only be found with a Piedmont 350 back. That means it was in the second series of cards. That would mean it was released in late 1909-early 1910. The American Lithograph would have been working on card designs in 1909.

In 1908, the Rose Company began issuing postcards featuring baseball players. Known as the PC760 set of 1908-09, the cards feature Horner Studio photographs inside a circle upon a baseball diamond. One of the more striking cards features Honus Wagner with the same photo used for his T206 card. There is also a card of Eddie Plank that uses his T206 photo.

1908-09 Rose Postcard
1908-09 Rose Postcard

It is assumed that when the Rose Company began compiling their checklist, the Doyle they would use was to be that of Larry and not of Joe. They apparently received the Horner Studio photo of Joe, the same photo that would be used to create his now famous T206 card. It could even be possible that the Horner Studio had the photo tagged wrong, causing all the confusion for the less knowledgeable person.


Whatever the reason, the Rose postcard featuring the photo of Slow Joe Doyle is captioned: “DOYLE New York N. L.”

There is not another Rose postcard in the set picturing Larry Doyle.



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