14 May 2014

Rainbow in the Dark 15: Josh Reddick Black Parallel and a Tutorial on Packing Cards for Shipping

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was having some difficulty tracking down Josh Reddick's 2013 Topps Black parallel card for my Super Rainbow. It felt like I'd seen more copies of the lower-numbered parallels than I had of this particular card, but shortly after I posted that remark one popped up on eBay and I snapped it up. It is the 22nd of 62 copies made.

My one complaint about this card is that it was shipped alone in a top loader with no penny sleeve and nothing across the top to keep it from sliding out partially. As a result it banged around inside (and outside) the top loader without any protection throughout the shipping process. There is a little bit of damage on some of the corners and edges, which is accentuated by the fact that the border of the card is black and prone to show wear more than a white-bordered card would. And since no one asked for it, here is my preferred method for shipping cards in top loaders.

First you need your card, a penny sleeve, a top loader, a strip of painter's tape with the ends folded over to make pull tabs (convenient!), a rectangle of paper that is wider than the tape, and a team bag (optional).

This part is the easy part. Put the card in the penny sleeve, then slide that assembly into the top loader. You can tap the bottom of the top loader gently on a table surface or something to get the card to settle all the way down. Don't overdo it. We're trying to prevent damage here.

There are a couple of ways to do this. You can stick the paper rectangle to the tape first and then apply the tape to the top loader, or you can hold the paper folded over the top of the top loader as shown and then apply the tape. Either method will eventually result in something that looks like the next photo.

The tape and paper are folded over the top of the card, holding it inside the top loader during shipping. Painter's tape is not extremely prone to damaging the edge of cards, but I think the paper adds a little extra security to keep the adhesive from causing chipping along the top edge of the card. Scotch (transparent) tape and packing tape are both evil and should not be used. I've seen a lot of cards damaged by transparent tape, and even more top loaders ruined by the presence of a bunch of tape residue stuck all over them. Painter's tape doesn't stay stuck all over the top loader and a roll of it can get you through quite a few shipments.

Finally, you can add a team bag to the package. I tend to use these mostly when the weather is bad or when I am shipping multiple cards in a stack. I also will use one any time I am sending an 'expensive' card that I have sold on eBay, as I think presentation counts for something when you are a seller. I put the word in quotes because that is a relative term that really depends on my mood at the time. I've got plenty of team bags, top leaders, and penny sleeves hanging around, though, so I don't usually have to outlay any additional cash to buy bunches of those for shipping cards. I just recycle the ones that come in with my card purchases.

And that's it. That is my usual method for shipping single cards in top loaders. I feel like the extra step or two is worth the decrease in potential damage when sending cards out into the world. And if it looks like you at least tried to mitigate damage, people are going to give you the benefit of the doubt when things do go wrong.

And here's another reason for me (and you) to be a fan of Josh Reddick. This was so noteworthy that it even made the local sports radio show:


  1. Nice. This should be required reading for any card seller/trader.

  2. Great tips. And love the Careless Whisper bonus.