Is UV protection really worth it?
A relatively new phenomenon has now become a common sight in the collecting world. UV protection used to be something that was only for precious works of art. Now collectors can purchase an assortment of products that feature the additive meant to keep bright lights from harming their collection. This feature does come with a slightly higher price tag, leading some collectors to question whether it is truly worthwhile.
Like anything, the answer is never as simple as yes or no. It really boils down to your collection and how it is stored. If you are a collector of mostly low-value cards, UV protection is not really necessary. However, nearly all of the Ultra Pro pages feature standard UV protection, so even base cards can be cheaply protected from harsh lights. Also, if you store and display your cards in a consistently dark space, like a closet, safe or cardboard box, UV is probably not needed. However, if your mid-to-high value cards are regularly exposed to light, it could be a very worthwhile investment.
Most retailers will make note if the product has any UV protection, but the packaging makes it very clear if it does. Also, the gold magnets featured on the newest version of the Ultra Pro One-Touch Magnetic cases are indicative of the UV protection.
We were able to run a few questions by the folks at Ultra Pro, and they graciously cleared up some of the uncertainties that collectors may have about UV protection, specifically regarding the One-Touch magnetic cases. A summarization of the questions and answers can be found below.
What is the specific level of protection offered by the UV barrier on the magnetic cases?
Ultra Pro UV protection holds 99% average blocking at 358, 369, 374 nanometers and 86% blocking at 383 nanometers. 383 nanometers is the highest UV used in performed wavelength tests. A real world application for the UV protection from Ultra Pro, would be to say it is “like applying 65 SPF sunscreen.” Although UV protection is effective, it will wear down over time. This breakdown can be greatly expedited by extreme heat and light exposure.
What is the max light level that is recommended for the display location?
The recommendation is 50 to 75 watts, while keeping in mind that this is based on using low-UV radiant lighting. The key is using low-UV. Stay way from direct sunlight and heating sources. These will break down UV barriers in a quicker period of time. Consult professionals for particular lighting type and maximum light levels, as there are many selections available for individual choices.
Will the UV protection wear down over time?
For the average use by collectors (store/home lighting), and taking into account the low-UV lighting, the UV protection should last a lifetime. The life span for harsh sun is 2-3 years. However, this is not recommended and is almost never how these products are used.
Is there a recommended shelf-life for cases that are exposed to regular light?
The cases should last a lifetime under proper lighting and 5-plus years for above-average light exposure.
Does the UV protection protect the ink on autograph cards from fading?
Yes. It blocks harsh UV rays from getting to the products, which fade color and cause yellowing over time.
UV protection is not going to result in any miracles, but it can help protect cards from the long-term damage of light exposure. Many collectors have seen how much a card can fade in only a few years, especially an autograph. The fading of an autograph has to be one of the most disappointing results for a collector, and there is now a relatively inexpensive product which can help with that issue.
Do you have any questions for Ultra Pro regarding their products? Feel free to include them in the comments section, and we will get them answered for you.