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HOW TO STORE AND PROTECT YOUR COMIC BOOKS

As you build up your comic book collection or maybe youíve been collecting for years, one of the things that gets overlooked is ensuring your collection stays in the same shape you originally purchased them in.

Protecting your collection may not have been a priority initially, but it should be a very important part in your collecting habits as you continue to grow your collection.

Comic books are made of paper which is susceptible to a different set of elements and factors.

The first enemy is sunlight.  Natural sunlight can affect comic books forever.  The rays can age comics and can cause permanent fading and discoloring to your books.  Covers that once had brilliant shine and luster can become dull and lighter than its original look.  Paper brittleness can result from long-term exposure to sunlight.

Paper brittleness is also a result from exposure to heat.  Heat can age comic books.  Not just heat from the sun, but heat in general from a non-ventilated room or having the issues in close proximity to heating devices.    

Pollutants in the air can affect and age comic pages and are irreversible. 

Dampness from cold and dank places can affect comics as well.  

Iíve seen and held many comic books in my experience that you can easily tell by the storage.  The owners had not taken the time to provide a good area in their home for their collection and kept them in a damp attic or basement leaving the comics to have that musty smell and other noticeable signs on the covers and on the pages.

Water is an obvious destroyer of comic books as too often Iíve seen other sellersí issues that came in contact with water at some point in the issuesí lives.  Over a few years the damages start to show on the cover or pages where the water made its mark.  Wrinkling becomes evident and with the contributing factors of sunlight and heat, water damage can actually quicken the process for destruction to any comic.

Stains from other liquids like beverages or coffee or cigarettes or glues and even moisture in the air can inflict its toll on comics.

You would think with all of this around in our world how would comics survive all of these years and stay in as closed to original shape as possible.

There are obviously things that we collectors can do and purchase to ensure that the aging process is slowed down dramatically so our valued treasures will not come in harms way.

Common Things

The first thing we can do when handling our comics is to ensure our hands and fingers are clean.  By doing this simple step, we prevent the covers and bottom edges from getting trace dirt and soiling.

Iíve seen way too many issues where there are heavy fingerprints on the comics and had the owners taken a small precaution, the issues would not have accumulated those flaws.

Handling your comic with utmost care is very important and the less often you handle your books the better.  The oils on our fingers may not show in the next 10 years, but eventually they will.  If you limit the amount of time you actually hold your comic in your hands and when you do hold them in your hands, make sure the comic rests within the palms.  I still see people treating comics like itís some kind of rag toy.  Remember comics are made of paper and not very thick paper.  Handling them gently will prevent unnecessary stress and wear on the spine and corners.

Making sure your comics are not exposed to sunlight goes a long way in slowing down the aging process.  By keeping them out of the sun, you help prevent the possibility of tanning on the top edges as well as the other aging discussed above.

Making sure your comics are not stored in the aforementioned environments (dank, musty, moist and heated areas).  Comics need to be in a cool and dry area of your home and away from heavy sources of sunlight.

You should try and press out any excess air between the pages and covers as you store your books away in a protective holder (more on those in the next section).  Long-term gaps of air between the pages and covers can lead to shadowing on the borders and edges of the pages and covers due to the pollutants in the air.  Studies have shown that comic book pages towards the middle tend to not have this occur as typically air that was trapped in that area is pushed out towards the borders and edges.  By pressing out any excess air throughout the book, you do your part in helping limit this.

Keep your comics above the floor if possible by at least 18 inches to 2 feet is very helpful in case you ever encounter any flooding.  Itís not foolproof, but will be a small safeguard that you can implement.

Storage Supplies

There are many storage supplies that all collectors can acquire to provide protection and proper storing for your books when they are not being handled.

Back in the late 1960s an avid collector named Robert Bell took two pieces of clear plastic and secured them on three sides with an opening and thus was created the very first comic book plastic bag.

Since then many manufacturers have come out with similar designs and marketed them as comic book bags.

Some were made of different types of plastic like polypropylene and polyethylene.  These are still being made today under different brand names which you can find at your local comic book store as well as on the internet.  You can do a quick search for comic book plastic bags and you will find many options.

These bags however have acidic properties in its makeup and thus will eventually harm your comics in the long-term.  I recommend using them for approximately 1-2 years before replacing them with another batch should you decide to be conservative on your supplies spending.

The bags tend to yellow after housing a comic for more than a few years and can stick to your books too.

At the advent of the plastic bag, comic book boxes came on the scene.  These were made of a thick and durable cardboard and came in two sizes.  One holds 300 comics and the other 1000 comics.  There are magazine boxes that hold between 150 to 200 comics that has more room on the inside right of the issues that gives you more operating room to put issues in the box and remove from.

These boxes have acidic properties and keeping them in regular bags and in these types of boxes are meant more for short-term storage.  I recommend checking your boxes after a couple of years to see if they are aging and change them out if they are.

When storing your comics for extended periods of time, you always want your comics to stand upright vertically inside a comic book box. 

You do not want your comics to lay down flat on top of one another.  These will in a few years start to curl up leaving them in a state referred to as a ďspine rollĒ.  Another thing that happens when stacking books on top of one another is they will invariably be uneven in the stack and thus you will see quite a few issues out there that have an indentation parallel to the spine that runs from the top edge to the bottom edge of the spine.  This is referred to as stacking flaws.

There were times that even using plastic bags and a comic book box that issues would still have defects from storage.  Some comics simply started to have a curl beginning at the middle towards the right corner or the spines would take on stress.

In the late 1980s comic distributors started to market backing boards which you could slide one board right behind the comic inside the plastic bag.  The boards are made of different types of wood materials and are usually white.  Some would also come in the brownish cardboard color.

This added support provided comics the necessary support to stand upright within a comic book box and prevented any stacking and corner or spine issues.  It allowed almost uniformed alignment of multiple issues in the box.  If you remove one or a few issues, you should still be conscientious in straightening out any of the remaining issues so the entire groups of issues are perfectly lined up in the box.

These boards have some form of acidic properties like that of the plastic bags and boxes and need to be checked on in a couple of years and changed out.

There are a few manufacturers that have taken comic book supplies very seriously and produce products that the Library of Congress use to store some of the most important paper documents in the world.

One of the best producers of comic book supplies I buy from is E. Gerber Products, LLC.  They produce acid-free products made from Mylar.  They call their holders ďArchivesĒ.  This product has been proven time and time again to be the only safest product to store all paper documents including comic books without the possibility of acid properties affecting your books.

They produce acid-free boards and acid-free boxes.  All of these products can be found on their web site.  These products are more expensive than the regular plastic bags, boards and boxes you find at your local comic book stores, but if you have books that you truly treasure then thereís no reason you shouldnít invest in the best products.

They provide a thinner version of the Mylar sleeves called Mylites which is about 1 Mil thick and are a little cheaper than the Archives.  This may be an option if you have a lot of issues say 1000 or more that you want bag up and donít want to spend a lot of money on.

I store the majority of my comic book collection in their products.  For the less expensive items I use the typical plastic bags, boards and boxes that are found at my local comic book store.  I change out the bags and boards every 1-2 years to ensure the plastic bags do not become yellow and acidic to those books.  I also change out the boxes once they show signs of aging.

The books I use in the E. Gerber products I donít have to worry about at all.  I know that they are safe for a long, long time.

I have found similar Mylar products available through my local comic book store and Iím sure they are offered at yours too.  Just make sure that they actually say Mylar and guaranteed to be acid-free on their packaging. 

One of E. Gerberís competitors Bill Cole Enterprises is another great source for acid-free supplies.  They have their own design for their items and are just as good.  They produce boxes and other supplies to store your CGC books.

Iíve used some of their products before and highly recommend them as well.

You can easily compare prices between the two manufacturers and check shipping costs to your location to see what the overall total will be and make your decision, but I think you'll find that either one will preserve your valuable collection for years to come.

Insurance

If you have a very valuable collection or a large collection that youíve spent quite a bit of money on, it might be advantageous for you to insure them either with your current insurance company or an agency that deals with insuring collectible items.

You obviously value your collection and donít want anything to happen to them and having that peace of mind knowing that your collection is protected financially makes sense.

Traditional insurance companies may be tough to deal with since they have no idea on the value of collectible items like comic books and trying to convince them using various price guides may not be sufficient information that they can utilize.

Check with your current insurance company first to see what they can offer you and if they donít have an applicable plan, then there are choices you can find on the internet that will.

One such company has been insuring collectibles since 1966.  A simple Google search will find them for you.  Just type in collectibles insurance in the search window.
 
Happy Collecting!!!
 
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