Serious sports collectors know that if they want memorabilia to last, they need high quality display cases. If they do not, their items will end up damaged by exposure and handling. The damage that results is often permanent and can ruin a treasured collectible.
Those new to collecting, or who just want to preserve an autograph may not know that their items are at risk until it is too late. For most people, it can be heart breaking to watch the quality dwindle away. This is why choosing the right case is so important.
Top Signs Of UV Damage To Memorabilia
The best place to begin is to understand what UV damage is, and know the top signs of it. This will make it easier to identify issues before they become a bigger problem and ruin the memorabilia.
The first thing to look for is yellowing. Yellowing is one of the easiest signs of damage to recognize because the color of the item begins to change. It may begin as a faint discoloration but may spread over time.
Vintage collectibles tend to have more yellowing than newer ones due to improper storage or heavy use. Sports Illustrated issues are especially vulnerable as ultraviolet exposure will age them.
Autographed jerseys or sports balls may become discolored as well after too much UV exposure. The color may fade or change, making parts of it appear uneven or worn out. Depending on the exposure, the autographs may fade completely or become difficult to read.
The only way to limit discoloration is to store items in museum quality display cases to protect them. It will also prevent other common issues such as stains, scuffs, tears, and fingerprints. Any combination of these problems will lead to your memorabilia looking worn out or ruined.
Immediate storage may not be possible if you do not have a spare case ready to use. If that situation applies to you, the next best option is to order one as soon as possible. In the meantime, you may need to use a protective sleeve or other means of storing it.
Fading is a big concern when it comes to preserving memorabilia. Just as discoloration can damage the material, fading will reduce the visual quality. In some cases it may result in autographs fading completely from the jersey or sports ball.
To reduce fading, some opt to store delicate items not only in a good display case, but also to limit light exposure. You can find examples of this at museums as they put fragile and delicate items in dim areas to limit exposure.
Brittle material is another sign to look out for. Fabric may become stiff as it gets brittle, or it may begin to fray at the edges or shed fibers. Stitching on sports balls may start to come loose or snap apart once it becomes brittle enough.
Brittleness in these items sometimes means that they have dried out. Balls are often prone to this after heavy ultraviolet exposure as they dry and begin to crack. Once this occurs, they may begin to flake or peel apart as they continue to age.
If you have noticed any of these signs, even faint ones, you need to act fast to prevent them from getting worse. If you don’t, then your favorite mementos will continue to age, fade, and fall apart right before your eyes.
How Do I Stop This From Happening?
One of the biggest questions that collectors have is how to keep their precious items from fading or aging. The simple answer to this question is to always use a high quality storage method with ultraviolet protection.
It is important to note that while many of the leading cases with this feature do protect items, you still need to limit light exposure. For example, do not place the case where it will receive a full day of sunlight, or under high intensity lights.
You may still use natural light in rooms with the case, but always check it at different points in the day to make sure that none of it is direct. If there are periods of direct light, move the display to another location in the room.
Diffused natural lighting is another thing to look out for in rooms. Diffused sunlight may come through sheer or semi-sheer blinds or curtains. It may not appear to be as bad as direct light, but it can still cause damage over time.
It is always a good idea to check displays from time to time to see if there are any signs of ultraviolet exposure. If you do begin to notice signs of it, take note of the potential source, such as an open window or high intensity lights.
High intensity lights also include florescent lights. Many overlook this when they put their sports memorabilia on display because they do not realize that it can damage them. This is critical to consider if they will be on display in an office or bright lit area.
How Can I Tell If It Has Ultraviolet Protection?
The best way to tell if your case features ultraviolet protection or not is to look for documentation or information on the model. Many list the type of protection or quality of it in the description, or may have more information available.
A reputable seller will be able to provide documentation or literature about the quality of their products. We include literature with our museum quality products that explains the benefits it has to offer. This also includes information about recommended products for decorating or cementing.
The first thing you may notice when looking at a UV case is the difference in cost. Many of the higher quality options come at a steeper cost due to the manufacturing process.
Many considering the tempting option of a cheaper quality model, or even adding UV film themselves. While this can save you money in the short term, it comes at the expense of the long term quality of your autographs and sports mementos.
Another thing to watch out for is low quality materials passed off as high quality ones. True ultraviolet acrylic will have a slight tint or hue to it. The acrylic may have a blue, green, or amber hue, making it easy to tell if it is well made or not.
Last, but not least, you should also inspect the material itself. We engrave each of our museum quality products so that you know you are buying only the best. The engraving lets you know that it offers the protection your sports collectibles need.
Whether you are a serious collector or just want to show off a few items, always look at all the options before making a choice. For many, that means displaying memorabilia in museum quality display cases to make sure they last for years to come.
Author: Michael Azif
President of Sports Display Cases. Sports enthusiast of sports memorabilia and display cases.