Photo Top Loaders - Safely Store your Collectible Autographs November 23 2021
WHAT ARE TOP LOADERS?
They are a very convenient storage solution: sleeve-like items that usually have only one open side.
They are usually made of Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC, which is chemically non-reactive/inert. It is rigid and resistant to water and corrosion as well as being dent-resistant.
Top loaders can basically do three things for you:
- Protect. Keep your paper collectibles safe from scratches, water and most damage, including being folded, creased and cracked.
- Store. You can store your collectibles so that they have no contact with each other – they cannot stick or cause damage.
[Photo] Autograph in a photo top loader branded with Tamino Autograph sticker
- Display. Top loaders can be mounted on a holder or small easel, and used to safely display items at home, or at a fair or exhibition.
- Transport. To carry a collectible paper item, it is always advisable to transport it inside something rigid that will avoid creases and cracks. Top loaders are perfect for that purpose.
Top loaders are a popular and safe way to store collectibles on paper – such as sports cards, signed and unsigned photos, letters, documents, and even signed posters. They also come in thicker formats that can store booklets, magazines, and even small books.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
Here are some pros and cons of this storage solution:
- Rigidity: they are quite rigid and protect your valuable items from being accidentally bent or folded
- Transparency: the contents can be clearly seen.
- Availability: they are easy to find and purchase, and they come in many different sizes.
- Branding: they can be labeled or branded with your name or logo, using stickers or a heated metal stamp that leaves a permanent mark on them. These have to be ordered separately because top loader manufacturers do not provide either of these.
- Cost: they are not very cheap unless purchased in packs of 10, 25, 50 or 100 (depending on their size). Even then, you can expect to pay a dollar or more per top loader.
- Unreliability for brittle material: remember that three sides of a top loader are closed or sealed, and you are inserting your item into the only open side. If you have very brittle or fragile material that can crack if forced slightly into a top loader, then top loaders are not for you. Removing an item from a top loader can also be stressful – both for the collectible and for you.
- Lack of UV protection: top loaders offer almost no protection against UV light, so to avoid any discoloration of your collectible items, they should always be stored away from sunlight.
BRANDS AND AVAILABLE SIZES
There are many different brands of top loaders. Here are three top brands of photo top loaders available on the US market. We chose these three and recommend them personally: we have used them here at Tamino Autographs, and still use them.
Founded in 1981, BCW supplies, manufactures and sells top loaders made of PVC (or polyvinyl chloride) with no plasticizers or stearates that can, in the long run, damage your paper collectibles.
BCW manufactures top loaders for:
Photos in the following dimensions: 4x6, 5x7, 6x4, 6x8, 6x9, all the way up to 12x36 inches. They mostly come in packs of 25.
Trading cards, 3x4 and 3.5x5 inches with different border colors and varying PVC thickness.
Comics and magazines sized 8.1x 11.25 inches, with a thicker interior in which to place a magazine or a newspaper.
Large formats, from 14x17 inches up to 32x45 inches, with many different sizes
Other formats: for tickets, currency, pennants, stock certificates, and even 33 and 45 RPM records.
Ultra Pro also manufactures and sells album pages, cases, boxes, protective sleeves, holders, and many other collectible storage solutions.
Their top loaders come in a wide range of sizes, from 3x4 inches to 24x36 inches for signed posters, as well as very large top loaders sized 29x43 inches.
Cardboard Gold manufactures and sells top loaders in sizes ranging from 4x6 to 24x 30 inches. Although their range of sizes is slightly more limited than the other brands, they are equally high quality and are recommended by us. Cardboard Gold also offers storage solutions for collectible magazines, music records, sports cards, bats, pennants, tickets, newspapers and more. They frequently run discounts and special offers.
6 x 9 inches Top Loaders by Cardboard Gold
Other brands include PYP, Vulcan, Hyarvat, StoreSMART, Pristine Mint, Toupeone and more. Most of these are available at Amazon.com and other marketplaces (see below).
WHERE TO BUY PHOTO TOP LOADERS
Besides the websites for the three manufacturers listed above, you can also find them at Amazon.com, eBay.com and Etsy.com. Walmart also carries them, as well as TheCollectorStore.com.
They tend to be quite a bit more expensive if purchased individually, so we recommend you buy them in packs of at least 25 units.
[Image] Pennant Top Loader
Always bear in mind that the size advertised on the pack label is the inner size, which means an 8x10-inch top loader is slightly larger than that inside and should be able to store photos or documents that are exactly 8x10 inches.
Photo top loaders are a great way to store your photos and collectible papers – a good alternative to framing your items or keeping them in protective sleeves inside binders.
Top loaders themselves can be kept together inside binders or in boxes. They don't require a lot of extra storage space for your collectibles and they are a fantastic storage solution as long as you keep your items away from direct sunlight.
[Image] Stand for Top Loaders
We hope this short guide will help you make the right choices and better protect your valuable autographs.
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