Where there are baseball cards, you’ll find toploaders (or “top loaders” if you need some space).
It’s like boys and dogs, football and tailgates, or Mondays and coffee.
While collecting baseball cards without ever using or even encountering a toploader is possible, your hobby experience will be greatly enhanced by their presence, in most cases (pun intended).
Using toploaders will keep your cards safer, make them easier to move around, and even improve their appearance.
But with so many options available, which toploaders are the best fit for you?
As with many subjective questions, the answer depends on several factors. In this article, we will cover all the necessary information so you can choose the best toploaders for both you and your cards. But before we dive in, let’s start with the basics.
What are Toploaders?
In the world of sports cards, toploaders are rigid card holders that enclose three sides, leaving the top edge open for inserting a card. Hence the name: “toploaders.”
A standard toploader card holder consists of two clear PVC sheets attached to each other by narrow strips of spacer plastic along the side and bottom edges. These spacer strips create an air gap between the sheets, allowing you to slide the card in through the top.
How to Choose the Right Size
When considering which size toploader you need, two components are important: traditional card dimensions like height and width, and card thickness from front to back.
Back in the old days of the hobby, most cards were essentially just pieces of cardboard with similar thickness. But as the hobby evolved, card thickness became more varied.
Today, cards range from traditional consistency to thicker chrome cards, memorabilia cards, and rookie auto patch cards.
To avoid damaging your cards, it’s crucial to use the appropriate toploader size. Let’s explore the most prevalent options for both height and width, as well as thickness.
Toploaders: Height and Width
The most common toploader size, used about 99.99% of the time, is 3″ x 4″. This size perfectly accommodates most baseball cards manufactured since 1957, which measure 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. Additionally, it fits well in modern 800-count and monster boxes.
If you’re a serious tobacco card collector, you may prefer the less prevalent size of 1 7/16″ x 2 5/8″. This dimension better suits classic cards like T206s and E90-1 American Caramel cards.
Apart from these sizes, there are various specialty options available, ranging from 6″ x 9″ for photos and cards up to about 5″ x 8″, to 9″ x 11-1/4″ and 11″ x 14″ for larger magazines and photos, depending on thickness. The 8″ x 10″ size is often used for autographed photos.
Toploaders come in a wide range of thickness options to accommodate different card types. For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on the most common thicknesses used for 3″ x 5″ toploaders.
A 35-point toploader, measuring 35/1000ths of an inch thick, is considered the “standard” model. It securely holds a standard baseball card while allowing easy insertion.
If you have chrome-like or other premium cards, a 55-point toploader, which is 20 points thicker than the standard, is a suitable choice.
For thicker cards like Panini Prestige or jersey cards with added bling, a 100-point or 130-point toploader will get the job done. And if you have super-thick patches or other memorabilia cards, you’ll need the 180-point option.
When Should You Use Toploaders?
Not every card needs to be stored in a toploader. It’s important to consider the value and characteristics of your cards, as well as your specific needs. Here are some instances where toploaders are a great choice:
- Cards that are valuable or special to you and need extra protection.
- When you’re transporting cards and want to prevent damage from shifting.
- Cards you want to display flat on a table or wall.
- Adding price tags to cards for selling purposes.
- To maintain a consistent look and storage size across a large collection.
On the other hand, there are situations where using toploaders may not be ideal:
- Very rare or highly valuable cards require alternative storage methods.
- Common cards with minimal monetary value.
- When you need affordable storage solutions for a large number of cards.
- Cards that are susceptible to sticking or coming apart, such as foil cards from the 1990s.
- Autographed cards or cards prone to transfer issues.
- Long-term storage where archival preservation is essential.
Keep in mind that toploaders, while effective for many purposes, may not be the best choice for true archival preservation due to the PVC material used, which can emit acid and damage your cards over time.
Where Can You Buy Toploaders?
When it comes to purchasing toploaders, online platforms like Amazon offer a wide selection of options. While other sources like direct orders from manufacturers or local card shows and shops exist, Amazon provides convenience and accessibility.
There are several popular brands to choose from, including UltraPro and BCW. However, alternative brands have also gained prominence, such as TitanShield.
When considering off-brand options, it’s wise to research product quality and customer reviews for a better purchasing experience.
To streamline your search, here are several brands of toploaders available on Amazon:
- BCW toploaders
- Ultra Pro toploaders
- Card Titan
For more information on toploaders, visit Ratingperson.
So, whether you’re looking to protect your valuable cards or display your prized collection, toploaders offer a versatile solution. Choose the perfect fit for your sports cards and enjoy hassle-free storage and transportation.