14 July 2015

Pull Tab Awareness Week: How I Package Single Cards for Protection and Buyer / Trader Convenience!

The Baseball Card Breakdown blog just reminded me that it is Pull Tab Awareness Week, which calls for people shipping cards back and forth to quit damaging cards and ruining top loaders with inferior packaging methods. In light of that, I am going to re-post my method for shipping cards in a way that protects the card and prevents those nasty patches of Scotch tape (or worse, packing tape!) and adhesive that basically ruin a top loader forever. I posted this tutorial before, but it was buried under a post about a Josh Reddick card, and I don't know if anyone actually got down far enough to read it.

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.


  1. Thank you for your valiant assistance, my friend!

  2. I typically use those jacked up top loaders with all of that cruddy scotch tape stuck to it that I receive in the mail as my very own shipping supplies. I know that it's cheap... and not exactly what collectors want to see when they open an envelope. But as long as it's in good shape and protects the card, I can't bear to see it go to waste.

    The good news... is I definitely use pull tabs, painters tape, and team bags. I'll try to remember the strip of paper idea the next time I ship out too.