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View Full Version : Tips on preserving my autographed balls and bats?


markf31
05-20-2012, 02:55 PM
I'm new to autograph collecting, I've obtained only a handful of autographs so far and all are on baseballs. I've read a few articles on preserving my autographs and so I know the basics such as no sunlight and keeping my items in UV protected holders.

I would like to display my collection as I continue to collect. Are there safe ways to do this while preserving the autographs and eliminating premature deterioration? I know fluorescent lighting is also bad. Are incandescent bulbs safe? What about halogen bulbs?

Do I have options outside of hiding my autographs away in complete darkness?

mr2686
05-20-2012, 03:13 PM
The UV protection is a good start. I'm of the opinion that no light is good light, but you have to display them and enjoy them, so I'd keep the light to a minimum (especially direct sunlight) when not enjoying them or showing them off. I do have two of my uv ball cases on walls oposite each other in what used to be a closet with Halogen track lighting pointed away from them so that when lit up the light is defused. I also have a dimmer switch so that I can control the amount of light...looks kinda like museum lighting when right. Also, don't handle the baseballs without gloves or at least only handle with your fingers on the seams because the oils from your fingers will tone the leather of the ball...maybe not right away, but down the road. If you're getting sigs in person on a ball, try to control the situation by using your own pen. Some pens that these shows use are pretty much crap and some I've seen will fade faster than others. I like a Bic med point...seems to hold up nicely and not fade badly...but sometimes it's the leather of the ball itself that causes the problem.
And last but not least, sometimes the darn thing will just fade. But at least you're trying to take steps to lessen the possibility.
Hope that helps.

RichardSimon
05-20-2012, 04:22 PM
UV, no fluorescent, ordinary bulbs are ok but I don't think 18 hours a day of ordinary bulbs would be good either.
cool location with low humidity, desiccant can help.
And yes like Mike said, sometimes the leather of the ball can hurt, it is animal hide, I have two SS balls, one Hubbell, one Terry, very lightly toned when I got them, they are now and always have been in a dark dry room, and now they are colored a deep tan :(.
That is one of the reasons that my autograph collection consists of far more flat items than baseballs.

Mr. Zipper
05-20-2012, 06:26 PM
My sense is that balls tone primarily due to the processing chemicals and oils inherent in the leather. I've had balls signed at about the same time in a dark, dry, cool cabinet for 15 years. Some look the same as the day they were signed, others are darkly toned and others have ugly dark spots. It can't be the storage environment as they all had he same.

It does concern me that balls can self destruct despite your best efforts to preserve. however, regarding the ugly stains / spots... My sense is they manifest in the first 10 years or so. if the ball makes it past that point without spots, it may tone further, but hopefully do it evenly.

markf31
05-20-2012, 08:31 PM
Yes, it concerns me as well that baseballs can self destruct over time despite our best efforts to preserve them and that is one of my biggest concerns as I embark on my journey of collecting autos. Richard's point is well taken that the majority of his collection is flat items.

I'm a little torn right now, I do like the appeal of a signed ball over a flat item but the thought that 20 years from now any number of the autographed balls I acquire will become worthless.

Mr. Zipper
05-20-2012, 08:55 PM
Yes, it concerns me as well that baseballs can self destruct over time despite our best efforts to preserve them and that is one of my biggest concerns as I embark on my journey of collecting autos. Richard's point is well taken that the majority of his collection is flat items.

I'm a little torn right now, I do like the appeal of a signed ball over a flat item but the thought that 20 years from now any number of the autographed balls I acquire will become worthless.

I was surprised by Richards comment that old balls took a sudden turn. I think this is pretty uncommon. As I stated previously, I think most of the degradation from internal factors will happen relatively early in the lifespan.

For instance, a Mantle ball signed in the 80s that has retained a nice even appearance is unlikely to now suddenly develop ugly blotchy stains. I wouldn't worry too much about an old ball that has aged gracefully.

I would be concerned about paying $500 for a recently signed Koufax for example. Who knows how that will look in 15 years?

Maybe if you focus on balls that have some age to them but still look good, you will have minimized the odds of self destruction.

mr2686
05-20-2012, 09:01 PM
Don't give up just yet. Of the 100 or so baseballs I have, only 2 have faded completely (it was the ink used, not the storage/conditions), 3 have started to show some slight toning spots but sill look nice, and on 3 of them the ink has turned turquoise but look fine. All the rest are still snow white and look great. At least a third of the balls are at least 25 years old so I like my chances that they'll last awhile longer.

markf31
05-21-2012, 06:56 AM
I appreciate all the feedback gentlemen! And I do think my fears of disappearing autos on balls are subsiding some as I've had a night to sleep on it. Being educated about how to preserve these wonderful pieces of Americana and being an educated/informed collector will go a long way in ensuring I can enjoy my collection for decades to come.

Keep any suggestions/comments comming too.

RichardSimon
05-21-2012, 07:45 AM
I was surprised by Richards comment that old balls took a sudden turn. I think this is pretty uncommon. As I stated previously, I think most of the degradation from internal factors will happen relatively early in the lifespan.

For instance, a Mantle ball signed in the 80s that has retained a nice even appearance is unlikely to now suddenly develop ugly blotchy stains. I wouldn't worry too much about an old ball that has aged gracefully.

I would be concerned about paying $500 for a recently signed Koufax for example. Who knows how that will look in 15 years?

Maybe if you focus on balls that have some age to them but still look good, you will have minimized the odds of self destruction.

The turn was not sudden, it did take time. They have reached a point where they are not deteriorating further but it was the first time it had happened to me.

Scott Garner
05-21-2012, 08:04 AM
I appreciate all the feedback gentlemen! And I do think my fears of disappearing autos on balls are subsiding some as I've had a night to sleep on it. Being educated about how to preserve these wonderful pieces of Americana and being an educated/informed collector will go a long way in ensuring I can enjoy my collection for decades to come.

Keep any suggestions/comments comming too.

FWIW, the autos that I've lost on balls invariably involve black inked pens. Medium Bic blue ball point pens seem to hold fast on color and darkness for the most part.
Keep 'em out of direct light and they tend to look great. :)