Sunday, May 19, 2013


cleaning and storage

Personally I do not clean cards as it could destroy their resale value. However I know many people who do and I am often asked the best way to clean them. According to popular opinion the following methods have worked for other collectors.

For modern cards with plastic coatings the best thing appears to be alcohol free (sensitive skin formula) baby wipes to remove general dirt. Avoid alcohol or lotion-based wipes as they can remove the ink. To tell if your card is plastic coated hold it sideways to a light source and it will have a sheen to it. Uncoated cards are dull.

For earlier cards (linens and uncoated) the best way to remove dirt is with a very soft gum eraser. If the dirt is heavier then use the side of a credit or ATM card to gently rub the dirt off. You can use a fingernail, but there is more chance of damaging the card. Don't use any moisture on these cards or they will warp.

Gold cards - to restore the shiny gleam and remove dullness with your gold cards (either gold bordered cards or fully gold ones) use a weak solution of cloudy ammonia. DO NOT use this on your silver cards, it will tarnish them!

Plastic cards - some fully plastic cards like Kems, Cruver All Plastics, Northbrook and Lady Nor Plastics where the card is fully made of thin plastic then a weak detergent solution and a damp cloth is the best way to clean them.

For all types of cleaning, do not rub the cards, just gently wipe - they are made of paper and they will wear (except the plastics of course!).

Old adhesive albums and card removal:


Sometimes you will find an album of cards (like the ones above) that have been put into old adhesive photo albums (common in 1960's-1980's). The best way to remove these is to let the glue deteriorate by drying out. Remove all of the plastic pages then hang the album over dry warm air (ducted heating is great). Put squashed paper balls inbetween pages to keep them all open like a fan. Over time the dry air (not wet heat) will dry the glue to the point that the cards can be easily removed. Test by lightly bending the pages and the cards should lift. Do not attempt to use your fingernails to lift them, you'll just damage the cards.

Glued-in cards: 
Sometimes cards have been glued into paper albums. Hopefully these will be a paste-type glue and not resin or epoxy based glue. Cut out the cards from the album and gently peel as much paper off as you can. For plastic-coated cards you can get a damp cloth and place it to the back of the card. When the paper absorbs the water it will loosen the glue and you can peel the paper away. If this doesn't work then the glue is probably resin or expoxy based and you can't remove those safely.


It is important that you store your swap cards correctly otherwise you will destroy their re-sale value (and a little piece of history!). There are 2 main ways to store and display your cards, either in paper albums or in plastic pages.

PAPER ALBUMS have either adhesive photo corners or pre-cut slots. Although paper albums create a nice backdrop for the cards (especially the ones with black pages and multiple Victorian style cut paper borders), over time permanent indentations appear on the card corners and this will affect re-sale value. Paper albums also do not protect the cards from wear and dirt, you'd be surprised how much wear can occur just by turning the pages!

PLASTIC POCKETS OR PAGES. These are the best choice as they not only protect the cards but won't cause indentations. Make sure the pages are archival safe (acid free) because vinyl pages can stick to the card surface and cause inks to "bleed", especially if exposed to heat, cold or humidity.

The main supplier of these type of pages is UltraPro, but they only come in 9 pockets per page which annoys many collectors as pairs or sets of 4 can't be displayed neatly. They are also a little too wide for regular sized cards (fit wides nicely though) and if you tip your folder the top row tends to fall out.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.