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How to Organize and Store Your Sports Card Collection

how to organize and store your sports card collection

When it comes to organizing and storing your baseball cards, the first step will be to figure out how you want to order them. After that, it’s a good idea to make a list of what you have before using card boxes to group them better for easy locations.

How you order your cards is up to you, but it’s always a good idea to pick a way that makes sense to you. As for a list, most people either create a database or use a pre-made one online. These are useful for a card seller or just a collector.

No matter what, one thing everyone should do with a card collection is organize and store the cards in protective covers and boxes. There are a number of smaller decisions with that, but let’s get started on the first step and go from there!

Collect and Gather Your Cards in Order

The first thing you’ll have to decide on is how you want to order your collection, which is a personal choice. Everyone has a different method to their madness and organizing your cards is no different.

Most of the time, the order is done by team or multiples of one player or the latter in the former. You might also organize them by rookies versus hall of famers, autographed cards, numerical order via serial numbers, or the basic alphabetical option.

Create a Database

There are generally 2 routes people take when it comes to keeping track of the cards in their collection: a spreadsheet or a database. Spreadsheets are pretty easy to make and keep up with for the most part, you just have to label the columns and remember to add cards.

There’s not much of a difference between a spreadsheet and a database, except that one is mostly done for you. There are several online databases that have up-to-date information on every card that comes out.

Since baseball cards are constantly and consistently coming out, a database is worth considering because some of them are free and let you search cards to add to your collection with a single click. 

Why Would a Database Help?

One of the most common questions asked by baseball card collectors is whether they need a database or not. Think of it this way: If you can’t remember if you have a specific card or multiples of something, do you really want to go through a box every time?

Whether it’s a database or a spreadsheet, they’re much more convenient. While they are more useful to a seller to know what cards are worth or what’s coming out, a collector will also know what they’re missing from a set or team. Overall, any collector should have a list of their cards.

Store Cards in Boxes (BCW) and Card Sleeves

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It may seem like it would be easy to put your cards in boxes, but this is actually where the most decisions happen. The first thing to choose is if you want to buy a pre-made box or one that you put together yourself for slightly cheaper.

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

Card Sleeves for Protection

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The most important part of collecting cards is keeping them safe, so it’s a good idea to invest in some form of protection. The most basic one is a card sleeve, which is the thin plastic that basically just keeps your cards safe from water or minor tears and scratches.

Every card should at least be in the card sleeve, also known as a “penny sleeve” because they’re so cheap. The next best is a toploader, which is a thicker plastic coat that will keep them from bending.

One of the biggest mistakes that first-time card collectors make is forgetting to put the card in a card sleeve before they put it in a toploader. Not only will this offer dual protection to the card, but it will make sure that your card doesn’t slide inside the toploader.

The ultimate protection for cards is the magnetic case, which is a hard case that completely encapsulates your card. These are more expensive and are usually limited to autographed or otherwise rare cards, especially ones that you plan to have graded.

To check the current price and Availability of Ultra-Pro Top Loaders, click here to view them on Amazon.

Divide Cards in Boxes

The last thing to do before dealing with the card boxes is to use dividers within the boxes. Once again, this is something you’ll want to invest in for your collection because sets and teams will be even harder to keep track of as your collection grows.

Dividers can also be used to separate common cards from rares and, the best kind, chromatic cards. While you may be able to keep track of which box a card is in, most card boxes can hold hundreds or thousands of cards so dividers are necessary to save time.

Card Binders

Binders are another useful and cheap option to store your collection with a few differences. Most of the time, binders allow you to see cards in pages without having to pull any out and have sleeves to put the cards in.

It’s still a good idea to put a “penny sleeve” on your cards before sliding them in place, but binders are also very limited. Card boxes come in all kinds of shapes and sizes to hold multiple types of cards and protective covers.

Binders are a one-size-fits-all storage, which means magnetic cases and sometimes toploaders won’t fit. On top of that, binders usually hold significantly less cards which means you’ll probably have more binders that take up more space in the long run.

Still, they’re a good option for anyone that’s just starting their collection or if you want to store a specific set separately from the cards in a box.

Organize and Store the Card Boxes

While not nearly as complex as organizing the collection itself, it’s still important to decide how you plan to organize your boxes. Like the dividers, you might want to have one box dedicated solely to rares, chromes, or autographs while the commons are all to themselves.

Safe Storage

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Keep in mind that baseball cards are just a thicker paper at the end of the day, which means they’re susceptible to aging and moisture. If you truly plan to protect your collection, it’s a good idea to have climate-controlled storage to avoid humidity-related damages.

Magnetic cases are a lot better about keeping cards safe, which is why they’re so useful for special cards, but the other sleeves don’t do much to stop temperature or natural age. Air control is pretty much your best friend to keep a collection safe.

To check the current price and availability of Ultra-Pro Magnetic Card Holders, click here to view it on Amazon.

Label Your Boxes

The last step that might not seem useful to some is to label your boxes. If you’ve only got enough cards in your collection for a couple boxes, labels may not seem necessary but what about when your collection grows?

Once you’ve gathered cards for a few years or even decades, you’ll have an expansive assortment of boxes and cases. It’s easy to keep track of 2 boxes, but what about 10? Instead of having to open each one, labels save time.

You can either purchase adhesive labels and fill them in or write a label with a marker. Either way, putting a lasting label on each box can help. If the box is full of commons you might just write “commons,” or if it’s all cards of one team you could label it with that team name.

Final Thoughts

You’ve probably spent years amassing a baseball collection worthy of flaunting, so why wouldn’t you want to make sure that your cards are protected and organized properly? Hopefully by this point you have a better understanding of how to go about that.

To recap, you should start by deciding on an order that makes sense to you. The personal factor is important, because everyone organizes things differently based on how they think. Once you’ve got your order, it will help you create or join a database for your cards.

The last step is to simply protect and store your cards, which can be done with a sleeve, toploader, or magnetic cases for the rarest of your collection. At the end of the day, you should be able to preserve your newly organized baseball card collection!

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