The Effect of Light on PSA Graded Cards

This topic was brought up again today on the thread about toning. I have actually been performing an experiment in hopes of answering this question. I originally posted it on this thread after the topic was brough up in October. I guess it's time to post some results. Tomorrow will be 2 months since this experiment began.

Here are the preliminary results. In each case, the scan on the left was done on October 5, 2003 and the scan on the right was made this evening, December 4, 2003.


I placed 8 - 1970 Topps PSA graded baseball cards in 4 locations around my home:


1. Office window sill - exposed to direct sunlight for about 3 hours each day: #12 John Hiller - card front exposed to light source, #200 ALCS Game 2 - card back exposed to light source.

image

image



2. 3rd Bedroom window sill - never exposed to direct sunlight: #277 Paul Doyle - card front exposed to light source, #477 Orioles Rookies - card back exposed to light source.

image

image



3. Bulletin board in office - exposed to 60W light bulbs for ~8 hrs each day: #58 Dave Marshall - card front exposed to light source, #254 Camilo Pascual - card back exposed to light source.

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image



4. Exterior of house, southern exposure, on roof outside master bedroom - exposed to direct sunlight all day, wind, rain, etc. : #93 Rick Renick- card front exposed to light source, #53 John Kennedy - card back exposed to light source.

image

image


Several observations on these results so far:

I was surprised that the cards exposed to only morning sunlight (location #1) were affected as much as the cards exposed to sunlight all day (location #4). I was also surprised that the cards not exposed to direct sunlight at all still showed significant fading in just 60 days (location #2).

I was not at all surprised by the results of the 2 cards only exposed to artificial light (location #3). I have many cards exposed to artificial lighting and have not seen any effect over the years.


Notes:

1. The cards in location #4 were outdoors exposed to sunlight, heat, rain, wind, birds, insects, etc. I actually washed these slabs in the sink prior to scanning. That said, they do appear to be fairly waterproof.

2. The cards in location #1 were taped to the inside of a window facing east with white miniblinds behind them. Curiously, the side of the card not exposed directly showed quite a bit of fading as well.

3. In general, the front of the card fairs better than the reverse, presumably due to the difference in card stock between the front and back? or the gloss on the front?

Any other thoughts or comments?


On another note, I will be taking orders for those rare "blank back" cards that pop up every once in a while. If you would like one, send your requests now - shipping time will vary based on weather conditions over the next few months in south Florida. image

JEB.

Comments

  • I am quite shocked at how quickly and dramatically the backs of those cards faded.....
    I am actively buying MIKE SCHMIDT gem mint baseball cards. Also looking for any 19th century cabinets of Philadephia Nationals. Please PM with additional details.
  • Nice research JEB
  • Very interesting results Jeb. Your study was well thought out and executed. Obviously our cards are best left in the dark. Some companies make holders to display PSA cards. I shudder to think what my icon card might look like if I left it in a sunny spot!

    image


    image
    Frank

    Always looking for 1957 Topps BB in PSA 9!
  • It looks like the flips held up pretty well.
  • I do find the slightly faded back of the Pascual interesting considering the light source for that one.

    Almost four or five years ago I was out at a flea market (Cowtown in NJ) and a guy had PSA graded modern stuff out on a table, presumably all morning long on a crisp but sunny fall morning. 1991 Ultra Favre PSA 9 is the only one I can remember now, but I always thought that was interesting, as well as remarkably stupid.

    I guess it is best to assume that any light source is bad for the cards in the long term, either natural or artificial.


  • << <i>I do find the slightly faded back of the Pascual interesting considering the light source for that one.

    Almost four or five years ago I was out at a flea market (Cowtown in NJ) and a guy had PSA graded modern stuff out on a table, presumably all morning long on a crisp but sunny fall morning. 1991 Ultra Favre PSA 9 is the only one I can remember now, but I always thought that was interesting, as well as remarkably stupid.

    I guess it is best to assume that any light source is bad for the cards in the long term, either natural or artificial. >>




    Brumbach,

    I can not conclude from the scans that the Pascual card has suffered any ill effects from the light source that it has been exposed to. A much longer analysis will be necessary for artificial lighting. Although the card was scanned under the same conditions (i.e. same computer, same room, at night, lights out, scanner lid open, etc.), slight variations in the final scan are possible. From my scans, I just don't see any noticeable difference that would suggest fading in 2 months time.

    Your point about the guy at the flea market is interesting. I forgot to mention this in my original post. On October 6, 2003 (the day after I placed these cards), I checked on the 2 cards in location #4 - exterior, exposed to sunlight all day. The back of the #53 John Kennedy card had significantly faded in one day. Based on my recollection, I would say that most of the damage that is evident in the scan was done in that first day, although it has gradually faded even more over time.

    JEB.
  • Is it just the scan, or on the second card (Doyle) did the light actually make the yellow in the Angels completely go away and turn white?
  • I also saw a dealer at a local outdoors flea market with SGC cards on display on which the labels looked like they had turned black from the sun or whatever. The labels were completely unreadable so you just had to guess what the grade was. The cards were also somewhat faded.

    They were some decent cards from the 30's too, which made it a little more tragic.
  • Virtualizard...

    Hey JEB...Nice work!!!

    One note is that the card stock used for the 1970 Topps baseball cards does not contain groundwood fibers.... So instead of darkening the paper the light sorce actually bleached the printing inks out and lightened the paper....

    Very cool!!!.....

    You are now officially in the "Baseball Card Science Club"...(Zardoz is the Professor....)




    Now...Go practice with your prewars...LOL



    Larry


    I LOVE FANCY CURRENCY, pretty girls, Disney Dollars, pretty girls, MPC's, ..did I mention pretty girls???

    email....emards4457@msn.com


    CHEERS!!
  • that was great experiment Jeb.


    so the holder its not UV proof apparently... but even if it were, would that be enough?

    what about other kinds of radiations from the sun? gamma? etc
    "Women should be obscene and not heard. "
    Groucho Marx
  • Hey try that with a PSA 10 Kelloggs card and see how many cracks you can put in it.

    or try it with any PSA Gem Mint 10 card

    lol
    Jery's T206 set: Looking for PSA 6's & 7's!
  • I remember reading on the Pro website that they have a UV protective holder.They promote the quality of the holder like it could survive cracking the earth's atomsphere or a Nuclear diasater leaving the card uninjured.I think it even said it's the same plastic designed by NASA.Seriously.


    Jeb,great experiment did the light really change the 277 Angels letters colors?


    Larry,your amazing.Just amazing.I never knew anyone to research the ingredients that a card is made out of.

    In your next book you should discuss the "Wood chipless" variation.image

    Sign me up for the seminar.image




  • Great job JEB!


    I was thinking that some of the other companies advertised their holders to have UV protection. It would be interesting to see how a gai and an sgc card held up to direct sunlight for the same amount of time.


    Wayne
    1955 Bowman Football
  • I'm also interested in the 277 front -- if the front sides of '69's age the same way, it could be very interesting!
    Dr S. of the Dead Donkeys MC


  • << <i>I'm also interested in the 277 front -- if the front sides of '69's age the same way, it could be very interesting! >>



    imageimageimageimageimageimage

    I see a rare, and previously unknown, complete set of 664 white letter variations in my future. image

    JEB.
  • Jeb-
    Great Job!

    You need to submit your research to Brucemo and his website on strange but helpful expierments....anyone remember reading about putting a PSA card in a Paint shaker at Home depot?
    I like my #1 Current Finest 1911 T-205 Gold Borders Set! image
  • SouthsiderSouthsider Posts: 1,063 ✭✭✭
    Great experiment.
  • On all the fronts the yellow ink is being burned away. What's more curious is the yellow ink on the back is what holds up better than the blue. I guess the varnish's protection is spotty. This all makes sense in some way as the light from the sun is yellow, so I guess the frequencies match up some how. Man, chemistry and physics class was a long time ago. I'm going to try this myself and I have a perfect candidate. I've got a 1975 PSA 5 Cliff Johnson that has a red and yellow border. In a month it should be magenta and white.

    Of course, I should've known this already because I have a 1959 Clemente (yellow border, red letters) that sat in a shop display case for years. The price sticker's former location is clearly visible due to the small rectangle of unfaded yellow left by its shadow.
    WANTED:
    2005 Origins Old Judge Brown #/20 and Black 1/1s, 2000 Ultimate Victory Gold #/25
    2004 UD Legends Bake McBride autos & parallels, and 1974 Topps #601 PSA 9
    Rare Grady Sizemore parallels, printing plates, autographs

    Nothing on ebay
  • roastedcat...

    I think experimenting with a Kellogg's 10 is a great idea!!!

    You'll need to send one right over to Zardoz......... He already has his Kookie Kellogg's labratory set up for just this event!!! His basement is full of those wild and wacky machines...




    mrc32...

    I DO remember that paint shaker experiment....What a hoot!!! Thanks for bringing it back for a laugh!!





    Larry
    I LOVE FANCY CURRENCY, pretty girls, Disney Dollars, pretty girls, MPC's, ..did I mention pretty girls???

    email....emards4457@msn.com


    CHEERS!!
  • Great research. I've always suspected UV rays being a problem. When I get my artwork framed I always pay extra for the UV protection glass. Something like this should be put in the SMR to alert collectors, especially those that have display cases hanging on the wall or card shop owners.
    Looking for Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels in PSA 8 or better
    My Halos Project
  • gregmo32gregmo32 Posts: 2,747 ✭✭✭
    I have an SGC card that also experienced the black ink in the label "running" throughout the label portion of the holder. I just noticed it recently and found it very strange - now I am wondering if it is one of a group that I had left in my trunk (of my car) for an extended period without realizing it. That would make it the heat as opposed to the light that is the problem.... Anyone else seen this?
    I am buying and trading for RC's of Wilt Chamberlain, George Mikan, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, and Bob Cousy!
    Don't waste your time and fees listing on ebay before getting in touch me by PM or at gregmo32@aol.com !
  • So what does that say for those of us who use display cases? I have a Pennzoni housing many T206 cards that is approximately four feet from a circular window on a perpendicular wall. This window isn't covered by anything but it never receives direct sunlight. Should I be concerned about the possibility of fading?
    "We don't own these cards, we just hold them for awhile." -- Jay of Quality Cards
  • aconteaconte Posts: 1,938 ✭✭✭
    pinhigh,

    I would say yes.

    aconte
  • UllrUllr Posts: 175 ✭✭
    gregmo32:
    You're right it is heat.
    I work at a ski resort and when guests put their childrens ski jackets in the clothes dryer the lift tickets turn black.
    collecting '67 & '75 red sox + baseball HOF autographs
  • magellanmagellan Posts: 1,954 ✭✭
    We now know quite a bit about what heat and light combined will do to certain 1986 cards.
    Topps Heritage

    Now collecting:
    Topps Heritage
    1977 Topps BB 8+
    1957 Topps BB Ex+-NM
    All Yaz Items 7+
    Various Red Sox
    Did I leave anything out?


  • << <i>We now know quite a bit about what heat and light combined will do to certain 1986 cards. >>




    How do we know that about 1986 cards? I haven't tried any of these yet, did I miss something?

    JEB.
  • JEB,

    It's been 8 months since you conducted this experiment. What I would like to know, which would probably affect many collectors, is how much longer did you keep the cards in area #3 and what was the prolonged effect? The bleaching caused by the sun is extraordinary but expected. It is the common every day light bulb that I want to see results for. At the National this year I saw many vendors with very bright bulbs spotlighting their high end cards.

    Please give us an update on the affect of the average household lightbulb on our prized possessions.
  • magellanmagellan Posts: 1,954 ✭✭


    << <i>How do we know that about 1986 cards? I haven't tried any of these yet, did I miss something? >>



    How about a link to that Bill Buckner auction?

    As far as light bulbs effect on cards, it seems there were some comments on another thread about that fairly recently. I can't for the life of me come up with where.
    Topps Heritage

    Now collecting:
    Topps Heritage
    1977 Topps BB 8+
    1957 Topps BB Ex+-NM
    All Yaz Items 7+
    Various Red Sox
    Did I leave anything out?


  • << <i>JEB,

    It's been 8 months since you conducted this experiment. What I would like to know, which would probably affect many collectors, is how much longer did you keep the cards in area #3 and what was the prolonged effect? The bleaching caused by the sun is extraordinary but expected. It is the common every day light bulb that I want to see results for. At the National this year I saw many vendors with very bright bulbs spotlighting their high end cards.

    Please give us an update on the affect of the average household lightbulb on our prized possessions. >>




    As far as I can tell, the common 60 watt bulb has no effect over 1 year. That's all that I can say at this point. I have had this card in my office, exposed to 60W bulbs for about 8 hours a day for about 10 months. The scan on the right was done a few minutes ago:

    image


    JEB.


  • << <i>How about a link to that Bill Buckner auction?... >>




    Sorry, I forgot about that. But I was thinking about my other thread on the effect of heat on PSA and SGC graded cards when you mentioned the '86 card.

    Here's my 1986 Topps "slightly charred" example! image

    JEB.
  • JEB,

    Thank you for your quick reply. I think that the fact that there is no discernable difference after that span of time should encourage many collectors to put their cards on display without fear of deterioration of the card.

    Please don't tell me that you still have those cards floating in your pool though.


  • << <i>...Please don't tell me that you still have those cards floating in your pool though. >>




    I do! They look awful, but never suffered any water damage. As much as sunlight affects PSA slabbed cards, water does not. I have seriously abused the 5 cards that have been in my pool for the past few months, but none of the holders has allowed a drop of water inside. I'll post some scans tomorrow.

    JEB.
  • mariotownmariotown Posts: 517 ✭✭
    Referring to the heat test above...
    At what point do the PSA holders melt? Any ideas?

    Anyone have any experience with how well "fire-proof" safes really work or how hot housefires can get? I'm looking into getting a safe and wonder what would be good to buy.
    I collect PSA 10 Cal Ripken, Jr. cards.
  • mariotown,

    JEB beat you to it. Check out this old thread:

    The Effect of Heat on PSA and SGC Graded Cards
  • How the hell did that Mantle get an 8 with that piss poor centering????
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