by Diane Carter
If you have purchased some great pieces over the years, it seems a shame to take them home and hide them away. What’s the point of hanging that autographed jersey in the closet or of having your best vintage display pieces sitting in a drawer? Framing sports memorabilia can make you appreciate your own collection even more.
If you’ve made some good purchases, it’s time to get the items out in the open or in a special place where you and your friends can enjoy them. Whether you think it’s time to get that man cave looking good or you just want to perk up the office with a few photos, there are many ways to frame or display all the different types of team and player memorabilia that exists.
No matter what you collect—sports cards, autographed jerseys, baseballs or bats, hockey pucks, footballs, photos, helmets, bobbleheads, or other memorabilia, there is a way to display it in an attractive manner so you can share your particular passion with others.
There are a large number of choices when it comes to display options. The size of the items and the materials from which they are made are the first considerations when framing sports memorabilia. You can hire the job out to someone who does custom framing and cases or you can purchase pre-made displays for most sports items. Many collectors prefer to create their own displays adding a personal touch.
Among the first things to consider are the items you are going to display and how to keep them safe and undamaged. For instance, if you want to encase your sports cards or autographed baseballs, you are going to have to deal with the materials with which they are made.
Cardboard baseball cards or a leather baseball, especially with a Sharpie signature, are going to be susceptible to humidity and UV rays. So are signed photos or posters, footballs, and other paper or leather products. Keep in mind that you will need to put some sports collectible items in special containers to keep them from being damaged.
If you are going to create an entire room with your collection, you will first want to draw a layout of what you envision the display to look like. One of the best things to do is to sort out the various sports collectibles by size. One of the most popular displays is a shadowbox and you can create many different looking layouts depending on the items you want to include. The most common way to display a jersey is in a shadowbox. You can get them completely finished and ready to mount on the wall or you can make your own with a matting kit, rectangular box, and Plexiglass front. If you choose this option, don’t forget to get the metal hardware needed to hang the box on the wall.
Having someone custom frame a jersey is one of the more expensive display techniques. To have it done professionally, it will normally cost a minimum of $275 and upwards. This price pales in comparison to the price many collectors have paid for autographed jerseys. Some of the major arts and crafts stores often run specials on framing. Watch for them.
If you are going to pay $900 for a Willie Mays signed jersey, adding a little more to preserve it for posterity is not such a bad investment. If you don’t want to pay to customize, you can mount the jersey to mat board yourself and display it in a pre-made shadowbox. This will get the cost down to a couple hundred or below. The easiest and cheapest thing to do in the long run, is to purchase your autographed jersey already mounted in a shadowbox for one discounted price.
When you are thinking of displaying or framing sports memorabilia, you need to consider that many of the items we treasure are made of paper, and if not properly protected can be affected by discoloration, wetness and mold. If you were the Library of Congress, you could properly store photographs and cards in archival safe storage boxes but what’s the fun in that.
Sports memorabilia collectors live and breathe the sports they love. Having a signed Duke Snider jersey or autographed Mickey Mantle photograph stuffed away is certainly not the best solution. Framing your collectibles and buying cases for three-dimensional objects like footballs or baseballs will allow you to display these items at home or at the office. You could devote a small space, an entire wall or a whole room to the layout plan.
With sports cards and photographs, make sure that you use UV protective Plexiglass or glass when putting these on display. The sun’s rays can cause fading and the ink in the signature can be broken down over the years, causing damage. Even jerseys can discolor over time if they are not protected from UV rays.
If you are particularly enthralled with a certain player or team, you can combine several different items, such as cards, a signed baseball and jersey, game ticket, etc. in one display. You can even set up a themed shadowbox with sports memorabilia from a Super Bowl game, the World Series or the Stanley Cup.
Humidity can cause a lot of damage to paper products and sports memorabilia collectibles are no different than other items. Whenever possible, keep your paper collectibles out of humid places and in a temperature controlled environment. It’s best to display a signed baseball in a case with protective acrylic or glass. This choice also offers protection from UV rays.
Clear display cases are made for graded and ungraded sports cards, footballs, hockey sticks and pucks, NASCAR collectibles and other items. These can cost under $50 for individual cases to several hundred for cases which hold up to fifty baseballs or a half dozen footballs.
Whether you want to display your favorite rookie card in the living room for everyone to see or you have autographed jerseys or Super Bowl tickets and programs to fill several shadowboxes, or even a whole room, it’s easy to get started. You can visit a frame shop down the street or look up how to frame sports memorabilia DIY (do it yourself) step-by-step online.
And remember, it’s not just about looks–framing sports memorabilia properly can keep your treasures from aging and damage while protecting your monetary investment for the future.