One of the most important factors in determining the value of a baseball card is its condition. Even the slightest defect, visible only under a loop, can dramatically impact the value of a card. This article will cover the best baseball card holders and the best way to protect your baseball cards.
The basic protection product is called the penny sleeve, whose name is derived from the fact that they are typically sold in packs of 100 or more at a very low cost. It is best to purchase ones that indicate they are 'acid free' to avoid the possibility of damage to the card stock over long term storage.
While some collectors leave their inexpensive cards exclusively in penny sleeves to save both cost and space they are most often paired with the next line of defense -- the top loader. The top loader gets its name from the fact that the card is inserts (or 'loaded') from the top. They're less than 20 cents each in quantity. While cards can be placed in top loaders without penny sleeves it is not recommended. Both top loaders and penny sleeves are manufactured in various sizes to accommodate most card stocks, including thick cards that contain memorabilia swatches.
One alternative to the penny sleeve/top loader combination is called the semi-rigid holder. The semi-rigid has two advantages -- the first is that it is more economical and the second is that they take up less storage space. The drawback, however, is that it is less sturdy than a top loader. Semi-rigids are often used to store vintage cards that have irregular storage, standard card stock, and are not regularly handled. They cost about ten cents each.
In the 1990s and early 2000s the sturdiest baseball card holder was the screw down. These large holders had been four screws and a single screw. Over time the screw gave way to the one touch magnet holder. The magnet kept the holder closed with less pressure than the screw and allowed the card to be more easily removed to be examined raw during a transaction. While sturdy, they do take up a large amount of space and are quite heavy when carrying long boxes full of cards. You can usually find them for $2-3 each.
For favorite individual cards you'd like to display, you can purchase a baseball card stand.
If you have a small collection of cards to display, there are also wall display cases that allow you to show them off. The displays for graded cards are popular if you have a smallish number of high value or popular cards of a favorite player.
If you want to organize your less valuable cards in stacks but want to keep them safe, the stackable plastic boxes are still around and still popular. They come in both two-piece and one-piece hinged styles.
One of the first holders for baseball cards is still in use. The nine card sheet in the three ring binder. These binders have been a staple of hobby shops and shows for more than three decades. Priced at around $15 for a box of 100, these are excellent for displaying complete sets, but they do not afford as much protection as the other holders mentioned in the article. There is also the danger of overfilling the binder, which can damage the cards contained within.
Determining the best baseball card holders really depends upon your needs, but these options will help you decide what's best to protect your collection for the long haul.