When sending off your cards for grading, whether it be through an intermediary service like Black Label Grading, or directly – the safety of those cards in transit will be a top priority.
Customers have to put their trust in large courier companies like Fedex, UPS and Royal Mail to get their cards to their destination safely. This can be an incredibly scary thing, especially for new members of the trading card community.
Most collectors and legitimate intermediaries will insure their cards for peace of mind in case of loss or theft. That’s a great start, but we still want to ask the question “what else can be done to ensure your cards don’t get nicked, squashed or tampered with on route to their destination?”
The answer may lie in the packing of these high-valued collectible items. How we pack our cards to protect them on route is a very good question, and certainly one we get asked at least once a day by prospective customers. It’s an area that we can control and should be putting care into – after all, some of these cards are worth more than the average house in the UK (£251,500 if you didn’t know)!
We asked David Longman, Director and Owner at Gradeshield, for his tips on packing trading cards securely for their voyage from post office to intermediary and beyond.
“The first thing your card needs for protection is a card sleeve, or penny sleeve as they are commonly known. Penny sleeves protect the card on three sides from dust and light handling.
Penny sleeves come in varying sizes, but for Pokémon, Magic the Gathering, Dragonball, and most Sports Cards, you will need the ‘Standard Size’ penny sleeves. These are typically 66mm x 92/94mm and leave just the right amount of breathing room for the card to be safely placed into the sleeve without it being too difficult.
Other trading card games, such as Yugioh, are better suited to sleeves slightly smaller in width, 62mm x 92/94mm.
Fun fact: Pokémon cards are the same size as classic poker cards!
Make sure you check the card size for your specific trading card before buying your sleeves!
We don’t recommend you stop here… oh no! Once your card is safely inserted into a penny sleeve, the next stage would be to place the card into an ‘outer shell’ for extra protection.
There are three types of common ‘outer shells’ for your cards; toploaders, semi-rigid card savers and magnetic display cases:
Toploaders are rigid and made from PVC. PVC omits odours which can damage cards, which means you MUST ensure that your cards are inserted into an acid free penny sleeve prior to placing into a toploader.
Toploaders are a common choice for every collector, they are arguably the best protection due to their rigidity and are small in size, meaning they fit perfectly into boxes (especially Pokémon Elite Trainer Boxes!)
2. Semi-Rigid Card Savers
Semi-rigid card savers are aesthetically pleasing and extremely slimline in comparison to toploaders, as the plastic is thinner and grips your card tight. However, due to thin plastic, semi-rigids are flexible and do bend more in comparison to toploaders.
If you are selecting to grade your cards via Beckett or PSA, the major graders request semi-rigid card savers. It is believed this is because they use a machine to cut the card out of the sleeve, without having to use their fingers to remove – potentially risking damage.
If you want to grade your cards – these are what you need
3. Magnetic Display Cases
There are varying types of display cases for trading cards, the most common being magnetic display sleeves. Most of these however are too small in size to store your card and it must be inserted sleeveless, which is risky!
After you’ve placed your cards into a penny sleeve and your ‘outer shell’ of choice, we then advise you use both bubble wrap and cardboard to protect your cards in transit.
You can also mark the contents as fragile or “do not bend”. Couriers are notorious for mishandling parcels and at the very least this warns them at a quick glance that the contents are delicate and not to be maltreated.
It is strongly recommended that you transport your cards in unmarked packaging. Trading cards are becoming more in demand, and any sign of them on a package could put your cards at risk of theft.
Finally, if you are selling your cards to another individual over eBay or privately, we highly recommend adding a pull tab to the outside of the penny sleeve so that it can be easily remove from a toploader or semi rigid card savers, as the buyer may wish to insert the card into a binder or their own choice of card protection. Toploaders are fantastic at protecting your cards, but it can be incredibly fiddly to remove a card once it has been inserted.”
Gradeshield supply high quality trading card protection products including semi-rigids and pull tabs. Gradeshield’s semi-rigids do not sweat, which means the plastic does not stick together which can cause your cards to become stuck or bend at the corners.
Shop Gradeshield’s protective products here: https://www.gradeshield.co.uk/