Thursday, December 31, 2009

Creating Your Own Graceland

A lot of people have asked me to do an article on displays, and I have always stayed away from it because of how awesome some of the creativity is in this part of the hobby. I have seen some of the coolest man-caves ever around the net, most of which make my "shelf" look like a complete cop out. I will talk about some suggesitions that I have, but when it comes down to it, organziation is always better than chaos.

First, for most of you, it would be impossible to display each and every card, so its important to have what most people refer to as their "personal collection" or "PC." Although I hate when someone uses the phrase to designate cards that are "OMG MOJO VHTG PC," the favorites of your collection should be recognized somewhere in your display. For me, I have taken my favorite cards for Adrian Peterson, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and now Percy Harvin, and used them to consitute most of the slots on my shelf. Because I have so many of their valuable cards, there isnt enough room for all of them, so I chose the ones that I thought looked the coolest, and also the top valued ones. I have each of them in magnetic snap cases, and I have yet to have a problem with that. Once my future son starts to crawl and put things in his mouth, im sure this will have to be adapted, but for now its more than adequate.

I didn’t buy these cards to sit in a box some place where they arent appreciated, and I needed some way to get them upright to be viewed with pleasure anytime I want. The way I did it was two fold, both of which I will explain here. First, because I don’t have the ability (or want) to use an entire room for display, I had to get a shelf that did what I wanted it to do. I went to IKEA and looked around, eventually deciding on a shelf that had eight cubes stacked in two rows of four. The cubes are big enough to hold a large amount of stuff, including a basketball in a lucite case. Its also short enough that I can display stuff on top, which was nice.

I set it up so that each cube slot holds one player, or in the case of Peterson two cubes, and then the bottom two cubes hold my boxes with non-displayed cards. To prop up the cards, I used ultra pro's single card stands which you can usually find at your local shop. They come in all sizes, and are absolutely great for making your display look professional. Just go into the shop, ask for card stands, and they should point you in the right direction. They come in packs of three or four, and are extremely cheap to buy a lot of. If you don’t have a shop by you, its easy to find them online, especially on eBay.

Over the years, I have collected quite a few autographed baseballs, so for my birthday this year, my wife bought me a display that holds twelve and can be hung like a painting. I picked my top 12, and hung the home plate shaped wood display above the shelf. She bought it on eBay in a cherry finish, it has a glass door that swings open, and can even be locked. I highly suggest it, because it looks amazing and is a great way to display your baseballs without all those annoying cubes.

The two toughest things to display were the mini footballs and mini helmets I have, and really, I only have makeshift explanations for what to do. For the football mini-helmets, ultra pro now makes a cube to hold them, but its just like the ball cube. I used that for my Peterson signed mini-helmet and still am pretty satisfied. For the Mauer helmet, when I first got it, I looked forever but couldn’t find anything. It doesn’t sit right because of the ear flap, and so I just left it in the box to display. The problem is that it collects dust, so I have to go in and clean it off every so often. Im sure there are designed cases out there, but I think it actually looks best still in the box. For the mini footballs, I have Percy Harvin, and a dual signed one of Stafford/Moreno, both of which are just miniaturized versions of the NFL signature footballs that you can buy at Dick's. The problem is that they don’t fit any normal dimensions of any case or cube, so I had to search forever for a case. I eventually found one on eBay that wasn’t too horrible looking, and have stuck with it. In all seriousness, ebay is the place to be for finding cases, as many hobbyists make their living creating holders for random things.

Other thing I had a tough time with finding a cheap option for were my two bats. I have game model bats signed by Kirby Puckett and Joe Mauer, and there werent many inexpensive ways to display them on the wall. For ten bucks, I found two things that hold the bats on the wall vertically, and they work great. They are hard to position without a level, so watch out, but they look cool when done right. The device is basically a wooden "C" that you hang from two nails, sized just big enough to hold a bat. The knob goes into the "C" and the rest of the bat hangs like it would on a vertical rack. Cheap and awesome, I highly recommend it.

For those of you who have a ton of stuff and a whole room in which to display it, I don’t think there is anything cooler than getting glass display cases. Although it can be expensive, there is nothing that looks better. Your local shop or card show dealers all have "guys" in the biz, so if you have built a relationship with them, they may help you get a good deal. If not, look on eBay first, but be prepared to build and be prepared to pay a lot in shipping. When you are done however, they look amazing. If you have cards to display, I would say to sway in a different direction, because who wants to feel like they are in a card stop when looking at their own stuff, right? I would say to get runners that have slots for your many cards that you can nail to the wall, or use the method I used above. How cool would it be to have a whole wall with cards done like wallpaper? Very cool. On the other hand, I think if you have a bunch of game used or signed authentic gear, the glass cases are awesome. They can really make a statement if you walk into a room and see cases filled with displays of your stuff.

What I forgot to mention throughout this whole thing is the importance of organization. Group your stuff together so that you don’t have random shit strewn about your displays. Group your cards, your helmets, and your photos all in one specific place, unless you have a lot from specific players. To have the room organized by player/team is very cool, but can get very cluttered very fast. If it looks like there is no space for new additions, there are probably too many items in that one specific display. Keep it minimalistic, as you will be just as overwhelmed as the people who come to appreciate it. Plus, it will be easier to maintain, as well.

Lastly, for stuff that isnt being displayed, keep it protected and in a non-damp non-sunlight exposed place. Sunlight is your enemy, so make sure that everything has protection. Fading is bad, as the colors will die a horrible death if left in the light day after day.

If you guys out there have rooms you would like to show, please send me them in .jpg format and ill post them on here if they are done well. My shelf will be up as soon as I have it finished from the move. I had to deconstruct everything, and not everything is back in its right place. Hope this answers all those emails I have gotten.


  1. I'm really interested in seeing a picture of your balls. Umm...the autographed baseballs...that is. Ahem. You've mentioned them before. How many do you have?

    Kid proofing is key. My daughter recently wanted to look at my UD Black Rudy Fernandez that was in a magnetic snap case. I now have get a bunch of the screw type.

  2. Cool idea - I love checking out peoples' collection displays! I'll have to organize mine over the weekend and send in a pic.

    My 'cave' is in a huge walk-in closet in the guest room (which, by the way, is decorated with retro sports gear). One of the walls is all mine (you take what you can get when you're married - which I'm sure you can attest to!). Top shelf is bobble heads and Starting LineUps, followed by team boxes and other various storage bins. Under that is a shelf for completed sets (in binders), boxes I'm opening (I do one or two packs a day), top loaders, penny sleeves, and a box of 9-pocket pages. There are a couple more shelves below, filled mostly with autographs not being displayed in the room.

    Yeah, I definitely gotta organize it all and get a pic taken.

  3. I was looking for an excuse to go to IKEA. I cleaned off a couple shelves on the bookcase for all my sports stuff, but I think they deserve their own space. My WOman cave is a music room/sports room/office that could use a little redecorating...I think I will make that one of my big projects for the year.

    Happy New Year guys!

    - msriflegirl

  4. Would love to see some badass Man Caves. I'm moving Tuesday and was thinking of starting my own. We'll see how that goes.

  5. You can see the frame I use to display my cards here: