Just as realtors may tell you the most important factors are ‘location, location and location’, sports collectors will insist the biggest value factors are ‘condition, condition and condition”. If you’re looking for the best way to store vintage baseball cards, we’ve got some ideas for you.
- Penny sleeves. These are the cheapest, most basic ways to provide at least some protection for your cards. They’re called penny sleeves because that’s about what they cost but they’re also referred to as ‘soft sleeves’ They’re flimsy little holders but they do perform a basic service… one best used in conjunction with top loaders. Be sure to buy the correct size: 3x4 works for 1957-present, standard cards.
- Top loaders. These are rigid plastic holders that are generally the most common type of holder used for single cards. Usually sold in packs of 25, these are usually less than a dime each. Put your card in a penny sleeve first, then drop it in a top loader and you’re good to go.
- Semi-rigid holders. These are sort of between a penny sleeve and a top holder. While the holder is more flexible, it has a lip at the top that allows you to remove the card more easily than if it were inside a top loader. These are what grading companies generally prefer you put your cards in when submitting (such as a Card Saver I).
- Sheets and albums. If you’re wanting to keep your cards inside an album you can look at, placing them in plastic sheets with pockets and putting the sheets in an album is certainly one way to go. An album is around $4-6. Sheets, in quantity, are very reasonable. For cards from 1957-present, nine pocket sheets are the ones you want. Oversize cards, such as the early Topps and 1953-55 Bowman, require eight-pocket sheets. Earlier Bowmans and cards from the 1940s on back, will require a different size but manufacturers make them for all cards.
- If your cards are in really nice shape, we don’t recommend a simple box but if you’re not that concerned with their condition, placing them inside the standard baseball card storage boxes is an option. You can buy them in various sizes and they will hold cards that are in penny sleeves.
- Magnetic holders. We haven’t really tested these much but they do beat the old screw down holders. When used carefully, they do provide a nice little tomb for individual vintage cards at a reasonable cost.