How to Handle Old Baseball Cards

how to handle old baseball cards

If you collect baseball cards, then you may have some rare old cards in your collection. These cards are only worth money if they are in mint condition, so you will need to handle them carefully in dry conditions. How you handle them could reflect how much a buyer is willing to pay.

Making sure you store those valuable cards the right way is important as well. When you take the time to ensure that your baseball cards are handled the right way, it will help preserve their condition. This will make them more attractive when you put them on the market, and you will be more likely to receive high paying offers.

Even the slightest bend or smudge can make a valuable baseball card worthless. If you have any old baseball cards in your collection, this guide will go over how you should handle and store your cards to preserve their condition and what you should avoid doing. 

Handling Old Baseball Cards

How you handle your baseball cards will have a huge impact on their condition and how much you can sell them for. You can’t just handle them like any average item. This is what you should do to keep your old baseball cards in top shape:

Clean Hands

Don’t even think about handling old baseball cards unless your hands are clean. If your hands are sticky or oily, don’t go near those cards. Always wash your hands and make sure they are completely dry before handling the cards.

Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid putting any type of moisturizer on your hands before handling the cards. If any bit of residue from the lotion transfers from your hands to the cards then it could affect their value.

Cotton Gloves

Ideally, you should attempt to handle old baseball cards as little as possible. However, when you do need to handle them it’s important to make sure your hands are as dry as possible. If your hands get sweaty, even slightly, then you should wear cotton gloves when handling the cards.

Cotton gloves will ensure no moisture from your hands gets on the old baseball cards. If you do use moisturizer often, then you will be better off wearing cotton gloves every time you handle the baseball cards.

Clean Surroundings

Before you begin handling your baseball cards, make sure the surface you plan on using to sort your cards on has been thoroughly clean. There should be no dust, crumbs, or spills nearby that could come in contact with the baseball cards. After cleaning down the surface, always make sure it has been completely dried off before setting any cards down.

Storing Old Baseball Cards

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While handling your valuable baseball cards the right way is important, how you store them also plays a huge role in how much they will be worth when you want to sell them. You can’t just store them in anything you have available, like a shoe box or photo album. Improper storage is just as harmful as handling the cards the wrong way.

If you have valuable cards in your collection then they should only be stored in either approved storage boxes or card sleeves. When your cards are protected by card sleeves, then you can safely store them in a shoe box. 

However, if your baseball cards are not in protected sleeves, then they must be kept in a tamper proof storage container. Look for a container that is plastic and also has two pieces of plastic welded together. This will ensure extra protection for your valuable cards and is how the Professional Sports Authenticator stores their cards. If the plastic is clear, you will still be able to read the cards as well.

We recommend using these BCW Baseball Card Storage Boxes to store hundreds and even thousands of baseball cards. It is the most cost and space effective method for storage.

What To Avoid When Handling and Storing Old Baseball Cards

While there are certain things you can do while handling and storing your baseball cards to keep them in perfect shape, there are also things you should avoid doing. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s very important to make sure your old baseball cards are always kept dry.

Now that you are more familiar with how you should be handling your cards, these are some things you should avoid doing.

Direct Sunlight

You have probably heard that you should stay out of the sun, it’s also important to keep your baseball cards out of direct sunlight as well. If our cards are exposed to direct sunlight often, they will fade over time. The picture will no longer have the same quality. The cards may also become brittle as well.


It’s not a good idea to bring your cards out on a hot summer day. When the heat starts to rise, the humidity levels usually do as well. Humidity is actually one of the biggest destroyers of baseball cards. The worst part about humidity is that it can make the baseball cards smell really bad as well.


Only handle your cards in dry conditions. If they come in contact with water, the cards will get destroyed. They will distort in shape and color, and they will be more likely to tear as well. The most important thing to keep in mind when handling old baseball cards is to make sure the area you are working in is clean and dry.

Extreme Temperatures

Extreme temperature changes can also do damage to your card collection. It’s not necessarily the heat or the cold that will cause damage, but when the temperature changes drastically there is usually exposure to condensation.  This is something you will want to avoid exposure to or else you will risk warping the card and ruining their image.


While smoking won’t ruin the color, picture, or shape of your baseball cards, it will seriously decrease their value. Why is this? The odor from cigarettes sticks to your cards and as they get older they begin to smell more like an ashtray. Many interested buyers will be turned off of your collection as soon as the smell hits them. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you have been collecting baseball cards since you were young or recently inherited a relative’s collection, you may be surprised at how much some of the old cards are worth. However, if they are exposed to the wrong conditions their value could go down over time. This is why it’s incredibly important to make you use extra caution when handling your card collection.

Everyday habits could actually bring down the value of your card collection. You should never handle your baseball cards without making sure you have a clean and dry workspace. Your hands should also be clean and dry, but ideally you should be wearing cotton gloves to preserve the cards’ value.

Remember, moisture is one of the worst things for baseball cards. Not only can it ruin the card’s appearance, but it can also affect the smell. Once a baseball card collection starts to smell, it is no longer worth money. Always keep your old baseball cards as dry as possible when handling and storing your collection.

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