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How to Repair Old Baseball Cards

how to repair old baseball cards

The hobby of collecting and trading baseball cards is certainly not new. Chances are, the cards you have collected and added to your own baseball card collection have been maintained in various ways.

Baseball cards are susceptible to wear and tear throughout time, so here we will explore how to repair bent edges, fix thinning spots, and remove stains.

Each step of repairing the baseball card will require common household items, and a bit of time – the longest step is an overnight wait. To repair these common issues, you will need to have on hand the following items:

  • Lint-free cloth
  • Hair dryer
  • Rice paper
  • Adhesive
  • Cleaning solvent
  • Scissors (or cutting tool)
  • A book or small weight
  • Permanent marker

If your card has been torn, has holes punched in it, or water/insect damage, it may be time to consult a professional restorer. For the common issues mentioned above, read on for easy, helpful tips to bring your cards back to collection-worthy quality.

How to Fix Baseball Card Borders

Bent Cards

Because of the delicate nature of thin cardboard, the sharp corners on baseball cards can be warped or folded. To smooth out bent edges, you will need to find a flat, stable area for you to lay your card. If the card is damp at all, you will want to do step this outside. If the card is dry, you may complete this process anywhere on a flat surface and you may skip step 3.

1. Find a piece of cardboard to place your baseball card on.

2. Gently fold or re-bend the card edges, lay the card on the cardboard, and place a small weight that will apply consistent pressure (such as a book) on the card.

3. For wet cards, leave the card in this position (preferably in a sunny spot) for about one hour, checking dryness every 15 minutes.

4. For dry cards, you may want to leave the weight overnight to ensure the creases are smooth.

Faded or Torn Borders

For borders that have faded in color or are torn, there are three options to repair, depending on the quality of your current card and availability of materials.

Color the Borders

If your baseball card has a dark border or edge surrounding the main image, using a matching colored permanent marker to color in any missing or faded spots can give the illusion of a complete border.

Trim

Use a cutting object of your choice, and carefully trim the edges of your baseball card to clean up the look. For a more complete overhaul of the card, you may use a second baseball card from the same era.

To complete this process, you will trim off the edges of your damaged card, leaving only the image in the center. Using an intact card from the same era, you may use adhesive to stick the trimmed image on top of the complete card, thus repairing its edges.

Frame

This option requires the least amount of work but can help to prevent any further damage to the card. Getting the baseball card professionally framed and matted can give the illusion of clean edges and covers up any other imperfections you may want to hide.

Thinning Spots

Because baseball cards are made of cardboard, you may notice spots that are thin from overhandling. Thin spots on cards be repaired using rice paper or wax paper and some light adhesive.

1. Layer light adhesive onto the paper, then place the paper over the damaged spot of the card. This will add an additional layer of protection from further damage. This thin layer also adds more depth to the card, restoring it closer to its original thickness.

2. After applying the adhesive and paper, using a similar technique to trimming for adjusting bent edges, you will apply even pressure to the card and leave it overnight. When you return, you should have a smooth, transparent layer added to your card.

Baseball Card Stains

Mold Stains

Small mold stains can be removed from cards, using a few common household items.

1. First, take time to properly dry the cards. This will help prevent the mold from spreading.
Do so by placing the cards on an absorbent fabric away from direct sunlight, and use a hair dryer on a low setting to quicky pass over the cards and dry them. (Be sure to work efficiently here, as too much time under the hair dryer can make the cards brittle).

2. Use a small, hand-held vacuum or attachment to gently suck away any debris from the mold from both sides of the card.

3. Then, use a clean, lint-free cloth to wipe down both sides of the card and return it to its storage.

Baking Soda Method

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Another effective way to remove mold from your baseball cards is to use baking soda. You will need baking soda and a soft cloth. Sprinkling baking soda onto your baseball card will help soak up excess moisture which will the process of removing mold and drying your cards easier and faster.

After covering your cards with the baking soda, gently wipe them clean with the cloth.

To check the current price and availability of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, click here to view it on Amazon.

Other Stains

Stains from markers, age, and others can also devalue the cost and the memory of your treasured card. To clean, you will need a cleaning solvent (standard lighting fluid works well for this purpose) and a clean, soft cloth.

Avoid using acid or bleach cleaning solvents, as they can further damage the integrity of the card.

First, apply a small amount of solvent to the cloth, and apply the cloth (using your fingers) directly on to the stain. In small, circular motions and with very light pressure, continue rubbing the card until the stain is removed.

Allow to air dry for approximately thirty minutes, again avoiding direct sunlight and exposure to the card.

Final Thoughts

These are suggestions to help you keep your personal card collection in top visual quality. While these improvements may not always improve the value of your treasured baseball card, it can help keep it intact to complete your collection.

Keep cards in a cool, well-ventilated area and keep them dry to maintain their quality. Keep them away from direct sunlight and moisture.

While baseball cards are made of cardboard, maintaining them properly can lead to a lifetime of memories and shared hobbies. Even taking time to maintain and care for the cards is a part of the years-old hobby of collecting baseball cards. With the tips provided in this article, your cards can stay pristine for years to come.

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