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How to Preserve your Sports Memorabilia

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Last month, I contributed an article about what to watch for when starting your sports memorabilia collection. This month, I'd like to explain how to preserve a new piece once you've acquired it. When it comes to sports memorabilia, 

Autographed Football

the longer the relationship lasts, the happier—and sometimes more profitable—it will be. Plus, the more work you put in at the time of acquisition, the less you'll have to mess with anything down the line.

Cards, Newspapers, and Posters

Paper goods like baseball cards, newspaper clippings, and signed posters are extremely delicate, especially after years of aging. If left exposed to the elements, paper is easily folded, crumpled, and curled. Stains and water damage will quickly devalue your pieces. Pieces left out in the sun are subject to fading (which can be a problem if your paper good is autographed), and sometimes even total disintegration. When it comes to any paper-based memorabilia, the same general rules will always apply:

  • Frame It: Framing paper goods is essential to their preservation. It allows them to keep their shape, protects them from smudging by fingerprints and other stains, and provides an excellent means of display. A glass or plastic cover will also protect your pieces from fading, or at least slow the process down.
  • Keep It Cool: Even after you've framed your paper good or archived them in an album, they are still subject to damage and wear. You would be surprised how sensitive the ink on some paper goods can be to high temperatures. Keep everything in a cool place so that when the time comes to remove the item (either for sale, appraisal, or maintenance), the ink doesn't bond to its glass or plastic cover.
  • Keep It Dry: Humidity is paper’s worst nightmare. Excessive moisture will compromise the integrity of your paper goods and greatly decrease their value. If you live in a particularly humid part of the world, try to localize all your memorabilia to a climate-controlled area of your home.

Jerseys and Uniforms

Similar to paper goods, it’s also a good idea to frame any jerseys or uniforms you wish to include in your collection. Again, framing serves two main purposes: to protect your goods from the elements, as well as to display your memorabilia for all to see. Framing a jersey in a frame or shadowbox is fairly straightforward. After purchasing a frame of the appropriate size, all you’ll need is a pair of scissors, some sturdy cardboard, and a needle and thread: 1. Cut the cardboard into roughly the shape in which you want to display the jersey (e.g. folded, sleeves extended, etc.). 2. Insert the cardboard into the jersey, and cut out any excess pieces that may be showing around the collar or sleeves. 3. Using the needle and thread, carefully sew the edges of the cardboard to the back of the jersey. Make sure you don’t accidentally sew through the front of the jersey, as this will affect its appearance. 4. Set the jersey against the backing board of the frame, and secure the glass or Plexiglas front.

Balls and Equipment

Say you have an autographed baseball, mitt, or some other piece of sports equipment that can’t necessarily be stored in a picture frame. The rules are the same: they must be kept out of direct sunlight, and stored in a cool, dry place—especially if they bear a famous 

Autographed Baseballs

 player’s autograph. If you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars, you could even go so far as buy a custom case for a particularly valuable piece of sports equipment, like a signed ball or helmet.

Whether you’re tracking the career of a professional player or team, or simply collecting memories of a family member’s achievements in sports, taking the necessary precautions to protect and preserve sports memorabilia is crucial! It increases value, as well as enjoyment, for generations.

Joseph Carney is a sports fanatic, and loves writing about anything competitive. His degree is in health and wellness, and he also freelances as a personal trainer. Joseph keeps up to date on the latest in sports, health, and fitness.

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