Preservation of Pokemon Cards.

by Pikkdogs ~ January 13th, 2011.

As many of you probably do not know, I am in the Masters of Library Sciences Program at Wayne State University.  In short, I am going to school to be a librarian.                  

Why should I care about that?

You shouldn’t.

So why are you telling me this?

Well, if you will let me finish my story, I’ll tell you.

Anyway, last semester I was in a class that was being given a presentation about the preservation of books.  While I was listening to what kind of things can ruin books, I was thinking of how this kind of stuff can apply to cards as well.  After class, I went online and learned a lot of stuff about card preservation.

While I will admit that I don’t practice great preservation, it is an important concept to anyone in the game.  Preservation is one of the most important things about maintaining a card collection, no matter how big or how small.  In this article I will tell you why you should preserve your cards and how you can do it.

Why You Should do It.

There are two main reasons to preserve your Pokemon card collection.

  1. To preserve its value for trading purposes                                              
  2. To preserve it to pass on to a younger generation.

Even though you may not care about keeping your cards in mint condition, a lot of people out there do.  They are not going to want to buy your damaged cards.  The last thing you want is your poor preservation techniques getting in the way of getting a good deal on a trade.

One great thing about Pokemon is that you can share it with a younger generation.  Whether it is your son, daughter, cousin, niece, or nephew; Pokemon is a game that people of all ages can enjoy.  If you do not have children yet but will in the future, you can preserve your collection for later.  It is a great thing to be able to pass on one of your passion to another generation, that is why preservation is important.  But what good will it be when you go on to play with your son in 10 years, and find that your collection has been damaged by a flood?

For both of these reasons it is important to store your Pokemon cards in a good manner but how can you do it?  Before we answer this, we should look at what we can protect our cards from.

  1. Wear and Tear–  This is perhaps the most common damage done to cards.  Whenever you play with or touch a card you have a chance at damaging it.  There is a good chance that this card will still be playable after this damage, but its trade value will plummet.
  2. Water Damage– My favorite story of water damage is from when I was in college.  My roommate used to play Magic, and would routinely leave tins filled with cards all around the apartment.  One day he decided to put a tin in a windowsill, later he opened the window.  One thunderstorm later he had a tin full of worthless cards.  Water is a  big threat to cards, whether it comes from a leaky roof, an open window, a water glass, or a flood; you must protect your cards from them.  Water can easily make your cards unplayable.
  3. Smoke damage– This one is easy, don’t smoke in your house.  If you do your cards will get yellow spots on them.
  4. Damage from food– Another one, that is easy to fix.  Don’t eat any food by your cards.  You can stain them, or make them sticky, or a lot of other things that aren’t good for card.  Food can either make your cards un-tradeable, or un-playable.
  5. Sunlight– Overtime, Sunlight will start to fade your cards, and you don’t want to have to play with a bunch of faded cards.                                                  

How do we do it?

So now we know what can hurt your cards.  How do we keep them safe?  Here are a couple suggestions

  1. Store all of your important card singles in a three ring binder.  If you use a basic three ring binder and basic plastic pages, you can store a lot of cards for a low price.  Make sure you don’t shove too many cards in one slot, that can damage your cards.  If you don’t overflow the binder, it can be a cheap good way to store your cards.
  2. Use Screw and Non-Screw Holders.  You know these, these are like plaques.  This can be an expensive way to store cards.  It is also one of the better ways, because it protects the cards from dust along with water, food, and smoke.  I would recommend this for only your most prized cards, like ones that are autographed.  Of course when a card is in this holder, it is no longer playable when its in the holder, so this is not a good strategy for all cards.
  3. Pack them, and store them in cardboard card boxes.  Don’t just throw them in a shoebox, though.  Pack all of your cards individually in sleeves and toploaders, and then in specially designed card boxes.  This will keep them away from outside influences like sunlight, smoke, and food.
  4. Put whatever you use in a plastic storage container and store in a cool dry place.  Put all of your binders and boxes in a plastic storage box, to protect it from water and dust.  Then put your container in a cool dry place where it won’t be subject to temperature changes or floods.  Ideally you would also be able to store them in a place that is free of air pollution, but this is not always possible.                                                   

What not to Do

Now you know what to do, just for reinforcement, here are some things that you should not do.

  1. Store decks with a rubber band.  The band hurts the cards, and does not protect it from the elements like a deckbox does.
  2. Eat/smoke while playing the game.  Its not a good thing to do.  It hurts the condition of your cards.
  3. Not using sleeves.  Even though I don’t like sleeves, they are a must for anyone that wants to have some trade value in their cards.  They are worth the investment.

Now you guys know a little bit about preservation  enough to have your cards keep their value, and know how to keep your cards for the future. If you guys have any other preservation secrets, or horror stories, please put them in the comment box.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

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  • Anonymous

    Nice guide to the galaxy reference! 4’th book I think. I agree that binders are bad though. RUBBER BANDS = BAD. Kid at league bent his whole luxchomp in half with it LOL!

    Keep it up!

    • Anonymous

      rubbers bands on a luxchomp deck, ouch!

  • TheRadu

    I personally work at a library for rare books from the years 1400-1800 CE(well technically our oldest is 400 CE) And there is one thing I know is really important in the preservation of books and cards. I’d honestly say its probably the biggest source of damage and that’s a high or highly variable humidity level.

  • Thanks very much with this wonderful blog;this is the kind of thing that keeps me checking day.

  • Www Pizzapat

    Is keeping your cards in a binder with two cards per slot back to back bad?

    • Anonymous

      I would say that it is not the best strategy, but it probably will not hurt your cards.  Just make sure there are no more than 5-6 cards in one slot.  I am famous for jamming 20 Interviewers Questions in one slot, breaking the slot entirely and causing the cards to go every which way. 

      You can store the cards back to back, just don’t jam too many cards in there. 

  • Antonio

    I have all my cards in a plastic Ziploc but they’re never moved and kept in the garage. Is that ok for now or should relocate them? Any tips for people to broke to buy sleeves?

  • morella

    If I were to keep, and save Pokemon booster packs without opening them to sell for future times, would the cards inclosed all be safe? I’m mainly worried about damage from the acidity of the cards inside.