Sports are one of the most unifying forces in the world, and the US is home to some of the biggest names in all of sports history. Collecting memorabilia is a fantastic way to have a physical representation of a cherished memory of your favorite games or players. Some of your favorite items may hold extreme sentimental or even monetary value that families can pass down.
Some of the most valuable sports artifacts feature signatures, such as signed baseball cards or footballs. But memorabilia loses its value quickly if its condition deteriorates. For example, if the signatures fade rapidly due to environmental factors, a signed ball or jersey might become indistinguishable from a non-signed item in a few years. Here are some tips to help better preserve the integrity and value of autographed sports memorabilia.
Avoid Exposure to Sunlight as Much as Possible
Every sports memorabilia fan swells with pride as they add new pieces to their collection. It’s common to want to show off the most prized artifacts, but not taking proper precautions can quickly ruin them. Sunlight significantly harms all kinds of sports memorabilia, specially autographed items like signed football cards, helmets, or jerseys. The ultraviolet rays rapidly increase the materials’ yellowing and cause the autographs’ ink to fade. If left out in the sun too long, autographed newspapers, tickets, and sports cards could disintegrate entirely.
Collectors that wish to preserve their memorabilia for a long time should keep it away from sunlight as much as possible. If the display area has windows, putting autographed jerseys or posters in frames with UV-filtering glass is best to protect against sunlight damage. For those more serious about preserving their items in near-perfect condition, storing items in locked cabinets or safes with acid-free padding is best for preventing damage from sunlight, dust, and pests.
Store Items in Acrylic Cases
Displaying sports memorabilia in the home is safe and easy with proper precautions. It’s highly recommended that any displayed items are kept in acrylic cases to prevent excess dust or grime from collecting on their surfaces. Many options include special mounts and supports to reduce the surface area of the item that touches the case. If the displays are touched by sunlight, experts suggest rotating the items regularly to minimize fading and sun damage to one side.
Store It In A Room with Controlled Temperature and Humidity
For those with autographed collector’s cards, such as signed football cards or signed baseball cards, a cool and dry area is best to slow down the yellowing process and keep the signature intact for longer. Excessive moisture damages the cards, rapidly decreasing their value over time. The autographs on signed footballs can be weakened and start to run if it is kept in an area with high temperatures and humidity. Keeping the storage area between 68°F and 72°F with low ambient humidity is considered best for keeping the cards in peak condition.
Fluctuating temperatures and humidity are disastrous to the stability of fabric, leather, and paper memorabilia. Collectors in hot and humid climates are encouraged to get storage cases or rooms with climate and humidity control options to better protect their cherished memorabilia.
Keep Collector’s Cards Wrapped Separately
Sports trading cards are made using various materials, including paper, plastic, and metallic additions. One thing is sure to preserve their condition over long periods: keeping them separated. There are many options for plastic sleeves made for storing trading cards. These are perfect for keeping autographed cards safe from dust, folding, or getting stuck to other cards.
For example, there are plastic sheets with individual slots for multiple cards. These are very popular amongst those who collect trading card games, but also extremely useful for the sports fan who wants to preserve their collection of signed football cards from their favorite team. The sheets can also be kept in binders in a cool, dry, and dark area to prevent fading from sunlight or warping from humidity. There are also many cases designed to safely display your signed sports cards while preserving their integrity.
Take Precautions When Handling Signed Leather Items
Older leather items are prone to stains and deterioration from chemical cleaners and oils from your hands. Whenever adjusting or cleaning leather sports memorabilia, such as signed footballs or baseball mitts, always wear cotton or nitrile gloves to prevent oils from your hands from causing stains or accidentally damaging the ink of the signature.
Additionally, avoid reviving the leather with oils that try to restore its shine, as the additives may leave behind a white, mold-like appearance. To safely clean autographed leather sports items, wear gloves while gently rubbing the surface with a soft brush or cloth to remove any dirt or dust. It’s also important to protect the leather with wax- or silicone-free conditioner, applied with a soft cloth.
Safeguard Your Investment
Autographed sports memorabilia holds incredible sentimental and monetary value, whether you’re keeping signed football cards, baseballs, helmets, or jerseys. That value can skyrocket when the athlete that signed it leaves a legacy of incredible talent and passion. All purchased signed sports memorabilia should have authenticity certificates and be preserved carefully to secure its potential rising value. Taking the time and effort to safely preserve signed memorabilia can significantly benefit future generations of sports enthusiasts and the caretakers of sports legends’ history.