A Guide to Trading Cards, Storage and Grading
As a dealer of trading cards and an avid buyer of accessories I hope that this guide will help you achieve everything that you want when it comes to investing your money and time in to collecting trading cards. There are many different genres of cards out there and to go with them many different types of accessroies such as binders and sleeves to keep them in tip top condition whether you are selling them on or keeping them until a later date. You must remember that the cleaner the cards, the more money you are saving within your pocket.
Now, there are many different types of cards that you can collect. Each type of card has a different value depending on the quality and the quantity created by the makers.
Base Cards - These can typically range from a set of 50 - 200 normal cards that are described as common. You will find when opening a pack of fresh cards out of a packet you will recieve up to 6 of these, they come in large quatities within each packet. You may also find that these are the cards which you will recieve plenty of duplicates from. They aren't worth much but if you have a complete set then you could make some loose change (depending on the manufactorer and the subject).
Autograph Cards - They take after their name. Manys sets include these rare cards, usualy printed in certain small quantities which contain the signature of a famous sporting star, actor, actress or even comic artists. Dependant on the autographee they can fetch up to £/$100's. The smaller the quantity which was produced the more money, the higher quality the card the more money.
Jersey/Clothing Cards - These types of cards contain small cut of frames of clothing worn by actors, actresses or famous sporting stars. Due to the size of the clothing items in reality they can be rare as only so many can be made. Usualy you will find that jersey cards which contain more than just 1 colour of material (part of a crest, stitching or a name) can fetch more money.
Rookie Cards - These are special cards which are brought out in each set of sporting cards, noteably Baseball, Basketball, Hockey and American Football. Many of these cards are limited to a set limit (of of 999). You will find that these can fetch in the double digits dependant on the sports star.
Preview Cards - These are issued before the official release of a card set, they explain in small detail what the set may contain and may even include a small example. Some of they preview sets or made out of 9 cards and are limited to around 500 sets (possibly more). The lower the number the more money you are likely to recieve. Somtimes you may even find a set that has printing errors, these are worth a look in.
But many dealers don't just think about the cards, they also take in to consideration the condition. You have to make sure that when you sell a trading card that what you are saying is truthful. Below is a small list of trading card conditions and how they would be described, you can use these words within you listing title or description.
10/9.5 - Mint: Exactly as issued, no folding edges. Usualy taken from the packet and stored. Alignment is bob on.
Excellent: Clean back and front, including edges, sharp edges and sharp corners.
Very Good: Clean back and front, may have dirty and softened edges/rounded corners. No creases.
Good: Blemished edges, rounded corners and may contain one crease.
Fair: Creased, dirty or with damage to the backs and possibly some picture surface missing.
1/1.5 - Poor: Badly creased, dirty or with sufficient damage to backs and front. Alignment may not at all be correct.
If you would like to have your card graded by a professional you can do so, however this will cost you. They grade cards depending on seperate issues which include; alignment, text, picture quality, edges and corner sharpness. However, if you have a 'rare' card I would suggest having it professionaly graded in order to get the most money as you can for it.
Everyone in an ideal world would love for their cards to stay in imaculate condition all year round, but unfortunately if you would like to keep your cards safe from other members of the family or the natural elements you have to take percausions. In this section I will be explaing the different types of card protection and how they could help you keep your collection safe. Remember, these are not nessecary but its worth a while to take a look in.
Binders/Folders - These items have been around for many years now and they are simply used to keep all of your cards in one place. You will find that many card sets come with their own binder (included with first purchase or available seperately) and will raise the amount of money which you will recive upon selling. These binders tend to come with around 3 - 5 pocket sleeves so that you are ready to get going.
Pocket Pages - As mentioned above are used to store cards within a binder/folder. Pocket pages have holes punhced in to the sides exactly like plastic sleeves do for storing papers and documents. Each pocket page will hold 9 cards (if single) or 18 cards (if placed back to back). You can buy these from many accessory stockists on eBay ranging from all prices, if you want to present your cards in a smart fashion invest in pocket pages.
Individual Card Sleeves - Described exactly as it says on the tin. These small sleeves provide protection for singal cards of your choise, although you can store up to 3 cards of regular size if you wish. Modern day sleeves are crystal clear and do not use PVC, practically safe for any type of cards including those use by gamers. Packs come within 100 sleeves and can be found from stockists on eBay. The special thing about these is that they can fit inside anysize toploaders without the tight fit.
Toploaders - The next step in ultimate protection. These are commonly used for protecting the more rare cards in a dealers collection and fit cards from the late 1950's to present (up to 3" x 4"). They are made entirely out of plastic, however you will notice a small slit at the top of the loader. This is where you drop your card. Because of its durability your card will be forever protected from stains, damp and even damage from falling or being bent. They also range in thickness meaning that cards ranging from 15pt to 30pt can be protected. Toploaders tend to come in packs of 25 and once again they can be bought from stockists on eBay at different price ranges.
If you have a jersey, autograph or limited edition card I suggest in investing in these items as I have done to help make sure your collection stays safe.
Storage Boxes (cardboard/plastic) - It may sound slightly common but they are made for the purpose they were intended for, storing large quantities of trading cards. They hold from 25 cards to almost 5000 and allow for pile up storage. These item can be made out of plastic or cardboard, each serves a great purpose. If you have a large bulk of common or set cards you can store them in an orderly fashion without much hassle (unless you want to organise them by year and manufactorer). The boxes also come with folding lids which protect your cards at every angle.
With this in mind I hope that you go on to collect and preserve your cards for the next generation of collectors. If you found this guide to be helpful please let everyone else know and rate it, if you would like to ask any questions please do not hesitate to ask me. Thanks!