From action figures to sports memorabilia, your collectibles are priceless. But even as you clean them, treasure them, and keep them safe from harm, did you know that you could be exposing them to severe damage daily?
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight can do real damage to your memorabilia. Even if you don’t notice it right away, it can have a serious effect. Fading of signatures, cracking, peeling, and discoloration can decrease their value over time as the items lose their original look.
Let’s walk through all the ways you can protect your most precious collections from dreaded UV damage — from storage tips to UV-protected display cases.
Why Is UV Protection So Important?
When an item is exposed to UV rays over a long period, it can end up with serious damage. This is especially true if the items are left unprotected outside of a box or glass case.
Up to 80% of the sun’s rays can pass through clouds, which means that living in a rainy or cloudy area won’t save your collectibles.
A collectible exposed to sunlight can start displaying signs in as little as a few months. After one year or more, you might notice serious signs of fading or damage. It all comes down to how much sunlight is coming through the windows and what kind of protection measures you have in place. The bottom line is that any UV light can do serious damage even through a window or on a cloudy day.
What Does Sun Damage Look Like?
Sun damage can manifest in ways you might not expect. If you aren’t protecting your memorabilia, you can expect typical color fading and yellowing of plastic.
But too much sunlight can also create more severe damage, like warped plastic and deep wrinkles. Once the damage is done, it can be hard to reverse. Focusing on prevention is the best way to keep your items safe from sun damage.
Most collectors want their items to stay pristine, and it’s easy to see why. The slightest amount of damage can cut down on its value. A bit of sun damage might not render it completely worthless, but it can cut down on your item’s true value.
Tips for Storing Your Collectibles Away From the Sun
The facts are clear: UV damage is serious business. Is there any way to protect your collectibles from the slow and seemingly inevitable sun damage?
There are some do-it-yourself methods that can extend the lifespan of your collectibles, if not keep them isolated from UV rays entirely.
1. Keep Them Completely Hidden
The only way to completely protect your items from UV damage is to keep them in absolute darkness. The ideal storage condition would be kept in a box and stashed somewhere completely dark, like a drawer or a closet.
You can still put them on display shelves to admire whenever you want, but they should be kept behind a door that you can close when they’re not in use.
2. Keep Them Away From Direct Sunlight
It’s not always possible (or desirable) to keep your items locked away entirely. After all, what’s the point of collectibles if you can’t put them on display?
That being said, even ambient light can damage your collectibles over time.
The next best thing is to keep them away from direct sunlight. Look for a room in your house that doesn’t have any windows or natural sunlight exposure. If there is a window, keep them on a shelf facing away from any sources of light.
3. Don’t Avoid Just Sunlight
It isn’t only sunlight that can damage your memorabilia. Some forms of artificial lighting can also create damage over time.
It’s important to take a look at your lighting setup. LED lights are typically safe as they don’t produce ultraviolet light and produce as much heat as incandescent lighting. Ultraviolet lights, however, emit the kind of radiation that can cause damage at high levels.
4. Maintain the Right Temperature and Humidity
In addition to sunlight and artificial lighting, there’s also temperature and humidity to worry about. While UV damage is part of the equation, heat can also cause warping and fading in some collectibles.
It’s critical you store your memorabilia in a cool, dry place. Ideally, you should aim for a room temperature around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity should be between 35% and 45%.
Any temperature fluctuations in the winter or summer could be putting your collectibles at risk. Make sure you monitor their storage places regularly to ensure the temperature is right and there isn’t any moisture buildup that could cause molding or other damage.
5. Cover Them With Curtains
It can be hard to strike a balance between protecting your items and showing them off. It isn’t always easy to hide your cherished items in the back of your closet — but you don’t want them to fade either.
There’s a solution that falls right in the middle. If you’re displaying your items on shelves that might be exposed to sunlight, you can always build a set of curtains around them. When you’re ready to view your items, you can draw them back. Once you’re done, cover them again to avoid any ambient damage from the sun.
Protecting Your Memorabilia With a Display Case
Aside from locking your memorabilia into darkness for the rest of your life, there’s only one other way to protect your items from the sun. That’s where UV-protected display cases come in.
If you want to keep your items safe but still put them on display, it might be time to consider a display case. Any kind of display case can keep your items safe from the usual risks like dust, grime, dampness, fingerprints, spills, and more. But specialty UV cases are manufactured with UV protectant additives. This industry-standard additive helps block UV rays from hitting the product.
This is the strategy most museums take to keep their priceless pieces safe from damage. Putting them behind glass that blocks up to 99% of UV light rays will keep the colors fresh for longer — preserving the item’s original value.
While all of this is a huge step forward in protecting your collectibles, it’s still important to take preventative measures. Keep an eye on the temperature and humidity inside the case and keep the case away from windows or other sources of direct sunlight. 99% protection goes a long way, but it’s important to take the utmost care if you want your items to last for decades or longer.
The Bottom Line
UV damage is something to take seriously. No matter your reasons for collecting, whether it’s financial or sentimental, caring for your memorabilia properly is essential. It won’t just keep them looking fresh; it can maintain their value for many years to come.
While there are some ways to restore your items, not all damage is reversible. The only way to truly keep your collectibles pristine is to prevent the damage from occurring in the first place.
It’s time to invest in a UV-protected display case to preserve their condition while keeping them on display where they belong.
Ready to take the next step towards preserving your precious collectibles? Take a look at our crystal clear display cases for items of all sizes. All of our cases have a UV protectant case option. Feel free to call us at 1-800-951-1551 with any questions you have.