A Million Baseball Cards

Canton Crew

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Sep 17, 2004
Pagosa Springs, CO
OK, so not a million, however, I have a customer who wants roughly 250 individual baseball cards (the 1958 season) mounted in one frame. Can't talk him out of it and money is no object.

In the past we have done fewer cards and other such small items by using small mylar corners on two opposing corners - works great, less filling. Obviously, this time that will be both time consuming and difficult, as we will be using a fabric faced matboard (size will be in the 50" X 70" area)which does not like to hold the corners without additional glue. And, oh, did I mention it was 250 cards that we'd have to line up nearly perfectly?

Any suggestions on how we could better approach this project? Is there an alternate way of doing so many cards archivally? I am stumped.

No, can't talk him into smaller frames - it's all the cards in one, or say goodbye to an excellent customer.
You could begin with UV filtering acrylic, after
advising the client that his cards will still
fade. If the cards are set in windows that have
been cut with reverse bevels, sized so that the
opening of each window will be slightly smaller
than the dimensions of the card, the edges of the
window can serve to secure the card, in place. The
cards can be laid into the openings with the
window mat laid face down and Mylar can be secured
to the back of the mat, with 3M 889, to keep them
in place. The spaces between the windows will have
to be thick enough to keep the mat rigid enough
to avoid flexing and the window should be supported at all times, once the cards are loaded.
Most importantly, make a mock up, first, so you
can be sure of your allowances and intervals.

Mylar encapsulation for each individual card. Then you can ATG individually to the back of the mat if you are cutting openings. If you are not cutting openings you could float each with the corners to an individual beveled board showing a boarder and then attach that with ease to your fabric.
When mounting a large number of small cards I have cut openings in 2 ply rag the exact size of the cards to act as a sink. Then cut a window mat marginally smaller than the card size to retain them. Using a CMC this is easy to do, a great time saver, archival, reversible, and good looking. Here is an example:

I recall reading (possibly here) about creating horizontal mylar "shelves" to slide the cards in.

Copies, if legal would be a better way to preserve the originals.

Try a few searches.

I think I understand the design to be a top mount, not a window mat...correct? Lining that many items up using corner mounts would be begging for failure.
I made a display of collector cards (Superbowl) where I folded MylarD into envelopes and put each of the cards in one (you may be able to get prefabricated mylar envelopes for collector cards). This allowed for the safe handling and mounting of the cards without any taped edges showing as in traditional encapsulation. I then used an industrial strength foam backed mounting tape to mount the jacketed cards to the backing. I made a jig from a center measuring straight edge and foam core blocks to space the cards evenly.
Give yourself ample time to complete this job, and take out mental health insurance before you begin
It's a good thing price is no object. A lot can be done for $10,000 and up (thats just $40 per card!).
How about this.. Get those good quality collectors card holders, prefferably the rigid type that screw together in the corners. Build tracs on your backing board by adhereing strips of foam bd for the trac then a slightly wider strip of your mat board over that to hold the holders. Then just slide them into position. Then when they're in position use a little pin or something into the foam bd (not visible behind the mat bd strip) to keep it from sliding side to side.
"Then you can ATG individually to the back of the mat if you are cutting openings."

Can't say that I agree with this advice. ATG is not an appropriate adhesive as it will allow the card to eventually "crawl".

Better to listen to those credentialed (Like Hugh or Jim)who teach/advocate an adhesive that is acrylic based like 889.
This is PERFECT! Just took in an order for 2 frames of 51 cards each before xmas and I was going to mylar each one. But the two-ply sink mats sounds even better and I am doing the Happy Dance! Thanks, guys!
Two-ply sink mats?

I think 4-ply would be needed, not only for its stiffness, but to provide a long enough bevel to hold each card without some of them popping through their windows. Opening dimensions would be critical here; a variance of 1/32" could be too much.

________/===========\_________ (mat thickness)
--------------------------------- (clear film on back by #889 tape)

For a job like this, Hugh's mounting suggestion seems most practical. However, it would be much better to keep the size within the limits of a CMC. Cutting all of those openings manually would be a mess...and where will you find fabric-faced matboard larger than 40" x 60"?
Jim, I think 2-ply spacer with a 4-ply window is what is meant here.
Is there a way to break out each team into a separate window, this way you could do your mounting (of what ever type) in a workable size.
If not i would corner the cards individually to a 2-ply backing then you could go a bit more aggressive mounting the 2-ply to the fabric.
We're talking about two different mounting methods (at least).

The method I believe Hugh described -- one I have used several times with good results -- would require only a window mat lined with a sheet of clear film.

The reverse-bevel of a very-carefully-sized mat opening retains each card. That is, the card is contained within the thickness of the 4-ply window mat. It does not protrude above or below the mat. The card is retained by the mat bevel above, and by the clear film underlay below. That's what I tried to depict in my little drawing up there.

Andrew's suggestion a shallow sink mount of 2-ply would require a bit less precision, but more time & material.

I still like Hugh's mount better. It's simpler -- provided the reverse-beveled mat openings can be cut accurately enough...

1. Cut the reverse-bevel openings.

2. Lay the mat face down and position the cards in the openings.

3. Install the clear film sheet with doube-sided #889 tape.
What keeps the thin card from sliding down the reverse bevel between the mat and film? If it did that couldn't it also get into the tape?
Jay's concern is well founded. The possibility he
outlines is one that must be addressed, whenever
pressure-sensitive tape is used with Mylar to make
packages. The two-ply sink that has been mentioned
would address this and since expense is not an
object, that could be included with the reverse
bevel design or used with windows with traditional bevels. The two-ply sink layer must be thoroughly adhered to the window layer, since two ply is more likely to warp than four-ply is and warping in the two-ply layer can create space, into which the cards could fall. Even high quality pressure-sensitive adhesives do not have an infinite bond potential, but they have shown the ability or preform well in framing applications. Alternately,one could glue strips of two-ply to the back of the mat, to lock the cards into their settings, but care must be taken to ensure that no glue touches the cards. Hot melt glue could be extruded around the mat pockets and strips of two-ply could be bonded to the hot melt with heat, applied to the back of the two-ply.
As in all cases in which new techniques are to be
used, they must be tested in mock up, before they
are employed.

3M #889 double sided polyester tape (or 3M #415) will hold the clear film to itself or to another surface, so long as:

1. There is very little stress on the bond (no problem in this application), and

2. The adhesive area is thoroughly burnished.

Strength of the bond is a big issue when adhesive is in close proximity to an item of value, which is why the adhesive should be carefully selected. A common mistake is to use ATG, which should never be used with clear film mounts -- it is too thick to hold the film tightly to the board, and its gummy nature allows it to migrate, elongate, or ooze (for lack of a better word) without provocation.

To mount the cards I would locate the openings 3/4" apart, and put strips of the tape on all edges of all openings. That is, make a cris-crossing horizontal/vertical pattern of tape strips. Peel off the release papers and lay on the clear film. Then burnish, burnish, burnish with a bone folder or other suitable tool.

Or, if clear film & double-sided tape still seems frightening, one could serve the same purpose by gluing a matboard to the back of the window mat. If removal were necessary later it would be a bigger job, but the cards would still be in a non-invasive & protective mount.

Excuse the ignorance but why use mylar. Why not just substitute the mylar which I understand is behind the cards, with rag board or rag foam core?
Originally posted by HB:
[qb] Why not just substitute the mylar which I understand is behind the cards, with rag board or rag foam core?
This from a post long ago and far above:
"...if clear film & double-sided tape still seems frightening, one could serve the same purpose by gluing a matboard to the back of the window mat. If removal were necessary later it would be a bigger job, but the cards would still be in a non-invasive & protective mount."

To that I would add that PVA glue or starch paste (dried under weight) are the adhesives of choice for a board backer, not double-sided tape. As JPete noted, it would be impossible to burnish the pressure-sensitive bond throuugh a 4-ply board.

What if the customer decides to change one later? :mad:

If clear film is used, the backs of the cards would be visible and the film could be neatly trimmed to release one card without disturbing the rest of the assembly.

If any solid board is used, trimming out one card would be have to be done blindly -- it's just more risky that way.

There are several "good" ways to do almost everything in framing. The difference between a "good way" and "the best way" is in consideration of the "what if" details. That includes thinking about and planning for the benefit of future work on the framing.

Some framers consider that kind of thinking to be beyond their province; after all, "it's just a frame". Personally, I'd like to make it the best frame it can be -- especially when it costs no more.

HB: Just buy the roll of clear film and be happy. :D
"Some framers consider that kind of thinking to be beyond their province; after all, "it's just a frame".

Well I guess you have it. WOW.

I think the fact that this thread exists and the participation is so high, proves that there are plenty who want to do things properly. To assume that you are in some elite group is just to much.

Jim you say " Then burnish, burnish, burnish with a bone folder or other suitable tool."

I'm thinking that was in response to the concept of the card sliding between the mat and film. To me, many of the cards WILL slide down the reverse bevel and rest right on the edge of this tape line.

I'm not a fan of having any kind of plastic between the image and the glass. I think it shows 100% of the time and is usually to ugly to have pride in. Sometimes it’s unavoidable and in that case it is what it is.

Why not put them in one of the plastic pockets designed specifically for cards and hang them with #889? The tape will be above the card. The card rests at the bottom of a plastic seam instead of a tape. With this method you might put bendable points on it and tell the customer that they can remove the back and actually swap the cards out themselves.

Why wouldn’t that work?
To Jim's previous question about the suitability of 2 ply sink, the reason for 2-ply is that it is same thickness as the card. So after cutting opening to axact size of card, the 2 ply sink is mat is adhered to 4 ply base mountboard for rigidity ... in the example I illustrated the cards were solely retained by cutting a window mat slightly smaller that the cards.

Yes tolerances are important but using a CMC that's no problem ... just run a test mat (one opening) till you figure the exact dimensions.

The other benefit of the approach I illustrated is that the window mat has normal bevels not reverse bevels which I think makes for a more pleasing presentation.

Of course you could always combine methods ... 2 ply sink mat cut to exact size of cards, adhered to 4 ply mountboard ... sit the cards in their sinks ... apply Mylar sheet over the top adhered to the spaces between the sinks with 889/415, then hinge a window mat on top. There's no way that cards will slip, and if any one card has to be removed just remove that section of Mylar.

The use of additional Mylar overlay might be appropriate for very large applications but, as illustrated in my earlier post, for a more normal sized application cards are held securely in a 2 ply sink by just cutting window mat slightly smaller than cards.
Man, I'm still thinking about cutting 250 openings into a mat..... What happens if you screw up on opening number 249..... Oh the humanity!!!!