If you collect trading cards, you know a few things. You know that collecting cards is fun, especially when you get that rare card you’ve had your eye on. Perhaps more importantly, you know how important it is to keep your cards in great condition, even if you’re an active collectible card game (CCG) player.
So, how do you store your cards in a way that keeps them in great condition?
Sort Your Collection
You will want to have your collection in some kind of order, so that when you want to find a specific card, you can do so easily.
Many sets of cards don’t have an obvious sorting order, so you will need to decide what works best for you. Here are some ideas, based on types of cards.
For sports cards, consider sorting first by team, then by player. That would mean all players for one team would go together. Within each team, sort the players in alphabetical order.
For game cards, it might get a little trickier. I’ll use Magic: The Gathering as an example, since I once had a huge MTG collection. I sorted first by color, so all the reds together, all the blues together, and so on. I sorted lands separately, by color type, and artifacts, which have no color, alphabetically. Within the colors, I then sorted by instants, interrupts, creatures, and so on, and alphabetically within each of those. So, in the greens, instants would come first in order from a to z, then interrupts from a to z, and so on.
If card rarity is important to you, consider putting them at the beginning of each section, before the a’s.
Binders or Boxes
What is the best medium for containing your cards? Is it binders, or boxes? Binders are find if you want to be able to flip through pages to look at your cards. Keep in mind though that for their storage capacity, binders are expensive. A quality binder that stores 360 cards will cost you about $30. If you have a significant collection, that will add up quickly!
If you want to store as many cards as possible safely together, go with boxes. These 800 count boxes don’t get too heavy and you should be able to find them for between $0.99 and $3.00. If you don’t mind a box getting really heavy, you can purchase one that holds up to 5,000 cards for between $2.99 and $10.00.
What you save on boxes though, you’ll likely spend on sleeves.
While binders come with built-in plastic sleeves to protect each card, boxes do not. Those plastic sleeves protect your cards from dirt and moisture whether you’re looking at them or they’re in storage.
However, you can purchase individual sleeves for your cards before putting them in boxes. A pack of 25 sleeves will run you about $5.00, which is probably what each of your cards costs. If you’re serious about protecting your cards, though, and have a collection of thousands of cards to store, boxes and sleeves work best.
Catalog Your Collection
This could be the most tedious part of the process of storing your cards, or it could be really enjoyable.
Make an inventory, or catalog, of all your cards. A spreadsheet program, like Microsoft Excel, is great for this, and a good time to work on the catalog is while you’re putting your cards in sleeves and then into the boxes (or, if you’re using a binder, while you’re putting your cards in each one). For each card, you can include the name, the specific set, how many copies of it you have, and so on. Each binder, box, or row can be one sheet in an Excel workbook.
If you’re in a hurry, you can skip this, but if you have time, it’s worth having a list of each card you own.
Even a huge collection of cards doesn’t have to take up a lot of room. You can probably store yours easily on your shelves or in a corner of your closet.
If you live in an area that gets humid in the summer and dry in the winter, avoid storing your card collection in your garage. Dry weather will, over time, sap the moisture from your cards, and humid weather can make them damp. A set of cards going between these extremes over the course of years can end up in bad condition.
If you choose to store your cards in a self storage unit, we recommend getting one with climate control. Such units rent for about 25% more per month than regular units, but the temperature and humidity are kept within a safe range for your cards and other important items.
We hope the tips here help you protect your card collection, so that you can enjoy it for years to come.