Do you consider yourself a collector? Whether you go for the traditional sports memorabilia like baseball cards—or rugby jerseys—or are more interested in the obscure, like collecting walking stick medallions, caring for your treasures means investing in their value.
Knowing What You’re Buying
Before getting into the details about how to best preserve jerseys, balls, cards, programs, posters and whatever else you can think of that’s sports-related, it’s important you know the difference between “memorabilia” and “collectibles.”
Memorabilia: Any items that are signed by an athlete that can be authenticated through documentation and/or certified by a reputable memorabilia dealer.
Collectibles: Any item that is a replica, imitation, or unsigned, or containing signatures that are not authenticated.
Based on these definitions, it’s easy to see why memorabilia is considered to have greater financial value. Collectibles offer more personal value.
If you want to get the biggest bang for your buck with memorabilia collections, then it’s important to take the necessary steps to preserve its worth.
Encase of Exposure
Exposure to the environment is a definite no-no for maintaining integrity. This means enclosing items into some kind of protective case, such as glass or acrylic. Frames are another effective enclosure, especially for photographs, posters or programs, and even jerseys. However, it pays to go to framers who specialize in preserving memorabilia because they will know which mattes and background materials are less likely to inflict damage. For example, papers high in acid will age your items.
If you have too many products that framing everything isn’t a logical option, then there are other protective storage systems. Plastic sleeves are okay, but look for ones that do not contain PVC, otherwise you run the risk of autographs rubbing off. Roll up posters and store them in acid-free tubes. Keep them loose, though, so they stay crease-free.
NEVER laminate memorabilia. That is the kiss of death in terms of maintaining value.
Weather or Not
Even after you encase your valuables, environmental elements can still affect their worth. Keep your memorabilia out of direct light. UV rays, such as those from the sun, will do long-term damage. However, fluorescent lighting also can cause fading, albeit at a slower rate. If you want to shine a spotlight on your precious pieces, go with a 60-watt light bulb.
Water is another no-no, and there is no coming back from water damage. If you’re not displaying the treasures on shelves or hanging them on walls, but rather storing them in boxes, then make sure the boxes are airtight. Also, keep the boxes up off the ground.
Finally, whether your memorabilia is out for all to see or securely stashed away, the room should have consistent environmental factors, especially humidity and temperature. Spikes in either factor can weaken their integrity.
And as authentication is key when dealing with sports memorabilia, when it doubt have it checked out by an expert before you invest time and money in preserving it.