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The Definitive Guide to Display Cases for the Discerning Collector

As a collector, you know that one of the biggest joys of your collection is getting to look at your favorite items and show them to others. A collection that you can’t see isn’t as magical as one that’s well-displayed. 

However, your collection is also valuable, emotionally and monetarily. It’s vital that you protect it correctly if you’re going to keep it where you can see it every day. That’s why so many collectors turn to display cases to keep their prized possessions safe, sound, and on display in their homes or offices. 

There’s more to display cases than merely showing off your collection, of course. A good case can protect your collection and highlight its best features. Here’s everything you need to know about display cases, why you should use them, and how to choose the right one for you. 

The Purpose of Display Cases

Despite the name, display cases have more than one purpose. A good one can and should do multiple things at once. Here’s what great display cases accomplish for serious collectors:

  • Protection. Many items that people collect are fragile. There are various reasons for this, but in general, people like to collect rare things. Items can be rare because not many were made, or because plenty were made but only a few survived. Either way, a good display case should help protect your collection from anything that might damage it. 
  • Storage. If you have more than a few items in your collection, it can quickly become complicated to store them all. Many collectibles are irregular in shape or shouldn’t be hidden away in damp, dark places for too long. Most display cases can be either stacked or hung on the wall, so you can open up a whole new realm of potential storage space for your favorite possessions. 
  • Display. Finally, displaying your collection is still one of the primary purposes of a display case. You should be able to clearly see your collectible in its case, so a crystal-clear face is crucial. It should also be the right size and shape so it shows off your collection as well as possible. 

The Risks of Keeping Collectibles Unprotected

You may not realize it, but your home is full of potential dangers for your collectibles. 

  • Dust. Leaving your favorite memorabilia sitting out on a shelf is an excellent way to encourage the items to collect dust. While dust on its own may not actively harm your collection, it can certainly make it less impressive. Dust quickly collects and can gum up moving parts or obscure fine details. Plus if you have to clean the dust off paper, paint, or metal, you can accidentally damage your collection. 
  • Light exposure. Leaving your memorabilia in direct sunlight is an excellent way to bleach it beyond recognition. Signatures, bright colors, and fine detail can get damaged by natural light if you don’t use the right case.
  • Air exposure. Two of the most dangerous substances for fragile objects are water and oxygen. Two of the five main components of air are just those two things: water vapor and oxygen. Water can break down paper and natural substances, while oxygen can cause corrosion and break down inks. 
  • Accidents. If you have kids, you invite friends over, or you’re just clumsy from time to time, home accidents are inevitable. Leaving your collectibles out in the open puts them at risk of getting knocked over and broken. 
  • Loss. Many collectibles are relatively compact. If you’re one of the tens of thousands of people who collect coins, stamps, or model cars, you’re likely aware of just how easy it can be for one of your prized items to disappear when you’re not looking. Keeping your collection unprotected makes this all too likely. 
risks of not protecting collectibles
risks of not protecting collectibles

Benefits of Keeping Memorabilia in Display Cases

The benefits of keeping your collectibles properly displayed and protected are many. First, you get to see the things you’ve worked so hard to collect and show them to your friends. Second, the right display case can keep your memorabilia safer than it would be anywhere else. 

Third, collections that are kept decaying in storage or left to fall apart on an unprotected shelf can quickly lose their value. Keeping your collection well-protected and on display allows you to preserve your investment while still enjoying it. 

Most Common Types

There are as many types of display cases as there are collectibles you might want to display. Here’s the breakdown of the most common types you might choose. 

Sports Display Cases

Sports have been around for centuries, so there’s plenty you might want to collect. Sports display cases are designed to show off everything from signed, game-winning balls to jerseys worn by your favorite player. These cases may have stands, hooks, or shaped exteriors to showcase items as well as possible. 

basketball display case

Toy Display Cases

From action figures to Funko Pops to Rubik’s Cubes, there are plenty of beloved toys you might want to show off. Toy display cases are shaped to fit the toys they’re intended to hold, so they can come in many shapes and sizes. You can also get toy display cases with mounts to keep your toys steady and upright. 

Sneaker Display Cases

The world of collectible sneakers is growing daily. Many sneaker enthusiasts consider their collection for display only, which means they need a way to show off their kicks without putting them on their feet. Shoe display cases are longer than they are tall, and taller than deep, to show off the shoe without exposing it to too much air. 

Diecast Display Cases

Diecast collectibles like cars are a perennial favorite. These small-scale collectible display cases come in sizes from 1/18 to 1/64 scale, so there’s bound to be a case to fit the car you want to show off. 

car display case

Common Case Sizes

There are almost as many case sizes as there are collectibles to put in them. Each type of collectible comes with its own dimensions that need to be accommodated by the case. A jersey display case will obviously have very different dimensions from a baseball bat case, which will differ from a baseball case. 

For diecast objects, you can look for cases in sizes like:

You can also find cases that are designed to fit specific objects, like balls, mini helmets, and even bobbleheads. It’s simpler to search for cases made for the item you want to store than by specific dimensions in many cases. 

Best Display Case Features

You obviously want to show off your collectibles as well as possible. Good display cases will include unique features that make this easier. Features you can look for include:

  • Sturdy material to protect memorabilia from all types of damage and wear
  • Mirrored bottoms to show off underside details
  • Mirrored backs to give a better view of collectibles stored along a wall
  • Stands to hold up unstable items
  • Stackable designs to display multiple items on top of each other
  • Options to customize the display to your décor, like using patterned bottoms or wood trim

Every object has its own display needs. Taking the time to find the cases that show your collection to its best advantage will make you happier with your items for years to come. 

Best Types of Collectibles to Store in Display Cases

There are plenty of memorabilia types that you might want to preserve in a case. Here are just a few of the most common types of collectibles that are best stored in a protective display case:

  • Balls. There’s no wrong answer as to whether you want a case to display baseballs, basketballs, or footballs. Using a case keeps these pieces of history from rolling away and getting lost. 
  • Dolls and action figures. Collectible action figures and dolls have been around for decades. The right case can help them stand on their own so you can admire them at their best.
  • Shot glasses. Whether you collect shot glasses from your travels or you look for rare, important pieces of glass, the right shot glass display case can show off your collection safely. 
  • Toy cars. From Hot Wheels to Indy to Matchbox cars, there’s no end to the toy cars you can collect. They have their own distinct sizes, so a Hot Wheels display case won’t be the same as the one you’d use for Matchbox cars. 
  • Beanie Babies. Soft and friendly, Beanie Babies were a hit collectible for years. If you have one you want to show off, a case can help your favorite Baby stand up straight while on display. 
  • Funko Pops. If you like modern pop culture, you’ve probably run into a few Funko Pops. You might even be one of many people who’s building a Funko collection that needs the protection of a case to keep the box from getting damaged. 
  • Legos. Lego builds are fun to make and look at. Protect these fragile builds by storing them in a Lego display case, so you don’t lose or step on any pieces. 

Plastic vs. Glass

There are two main types of clear display cases: glass and clear plastic. Both types allow collectors to easily show off their favorite items without leaving them open to the air and damage. However, that’s where the similarities stop. There’s a big gap between glass and plastic display cases, and choosing the right one makes all the difference. 

Glass display cases have a long history. Through the 19th century, glass was the only transparent material available, so it was the de facto choice for display cases. High-quality glass can be perfectly clear and reasonably strong, so it could protect collectibles from certain kinds of harm.

However, modern plastic display cases have some significant benefits over glass. For example, glass is notoriously fragile. Most glass cases will shatter if they’re dropped from more than a few inches. Instead of protecting the objects they hold, they can actually damage them in the case of an accident. 

Modern plastic display cases are much less fragile. Instead of shattering, they can withstand a drop of several feet without suffering more than a crack. That keeps collectible items protected instead of being dropped into a pile of broken glass.

Plastic display cases are also much lighter than their glass counterparts. It’s easier and safer to stack multiple plastic cases on top of each other or to put many on a single shelf. There’s less risk that the weight of the cases will overwhelm your display location. Glass cases, on the other hand, can become very heavy, especially if they’re designed to store larger objects. 

Finally, glass cases are much more costly than plastic. With modern injection molding techniques like the ones used by the plastic case masters at Pioneer Plastics, it’s simple to produce crystal-clear cases in any shape and size while keeping them airtight. Glass cases, on the other hand, require special care in production and shipping that quickly adds up. Even a small flaw in the manufacturing process can make them leaky, leading to damaged collectibles in the long run. 

Protect Your Prized Possessions

You’ve put in the time and effort to build a collection worth being proud of. Now, take the final step and protect your prized items with a case that meets your needs. With a crystal-clear plastic display case from Pioneer Plastics, you can keep your collection safe from time and the elements while still keeping it in plain sight. 

The right display case is just a click away. Find the case that fits your needs, whether you collect dolls, balls, or cars. Pioneer Plastics makes every size and shape of display case that you could need.

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