Sports Collectors’ Guide to Protecting Against UV Damage

Today we are shining a light on UV rays: what UV rays are, how they can damage (or ruin) your valuable collectibles and how you can protect against damage. We’ve seen nearly all collectibles lose some value if a signature or item has shown fading.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of radiation that is emitted by the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and some halogen, fluorescent, and incandescent lights. Photolysis is the chemical reaction that takes place when UV rays break a compound molecules of a chemical compound, causing fading when the ultraviolet radiation breaks the chemical bond of color molecules of the item.

Sunlight provides the most powerful source of UV light, and while direct sunlight is bad for collectibles, even ambient sunlight causes some damage. Artificial light in your home, over a prolonged period of time, can lead to fading as well.

UV radiation is harmful since it has the power to damage pretty much everything in your collection— art, photographs, autographs, magazines, newspaper, leather, rubber, fabrics, etc. You may notice the effects of UV damage when you see your collectibles starting to fade, get brittle, or over time, bleach out. Once damage from light has occurred, it can never be reversed. There is considerable impact to the value of collectibles with sun damage so great care must be taken to minimize the risk of damage before it happens.

Did you know that a display piece that is exposed to direct, harsh sunlight can fade in as little as a few weeks or months, even if it’s in a glass case?

UV Index Ranking

The UV Index was created to help you make informed decisions about how much time you should spend in the sun. It tells you how strong the sun’s UV rays will be. The higher the UV Index, the greater the strength of the sun’s UV rays and radiation impact to your collectibles.

Sports Memorabilia Display Cases UV Protection

UV index ratings are from 0 to 11, low to high. If you are living in a location or time of year with high UV ratings, you certainly need to be more conscious of how to protect your items from damage. Most phones today will have a UV index rating for your current location.

Or, search for your current UV index with the EPA UV index search 

UV index can vary by a number of factors including the time of day, time of year, cloud cover, altitude, location and surrounding surfaces. The higher the UV index, the greater the potential for damage to your collectibles, and the less time it takes for harm to occur.

The ideal setting for valuable sports memorabilia is a cool, dark and dry place, and in a protective case. A finished basement or “man cave” is ideal with little no natural sunlight with LED lights.

Our 6 Tips For Protecting Your Sports Memorabilia Against Damaging UV Radiation

    1. Avoid Sunlight - Make sure your collectible never faces direct sunlight. If the complete absence of light isn't possible, ensure that sunlight is limited to the bare minimum. Look for a deep shelf or display cabinet that at least obscures direct sunlight.

    1. Sports Memorabilia Display Cases UV Protection
      Use LED Lightbulbs – While direct sunlight is the worst for fading and damage, incandescent lightbulbs and fluorescent lights can also emit low amounts of UV radiation.  LED lightbulbs emit the lowest amount of UV radiation against all other light options. This is a quick and easy fix.

    1. Choose Acrylic Plexiglass Display Case over Glass Display Case - It's not always possible to avoid sunlight. In these scenarios, in particular when you are concerned about indirect sunlight, make sure to use acrylic plexiglass rather than a glass case. The plexiglass is much lighter and reflects more UV radiation that falls on it, thus preventing exposure to UV and discoloration of your piece. On Memorabilia Displays, we carry Perfect Cases, which has two different UV protections: 50% and 100% UV protection.

    1. Cover the Direct Light Source – If you are not able to move your display piece, you could hang drapes or shade your windows to block daylight and lessen direct sunlight exposure.

    1. Look for UV Protecting Display Cases – Check the product listings for a UV protection. Conservation glass blocks up to 99% of UV light rays so that your display items are protected against fading and should retain their vibrant original colors much longer. Memorabilia Displays is proud to offer many conservation glass options, and you’ll see this clearly noted in the product description. If you see a display case on our site or across the internet with no specific % of UV protection, that doesn’t mean there is no UV protection. This is most common with acrylic products as an UV additive is likely there, but there can’t be a % of UV protection from harmful UV rays to call out.

    1. Sports Memorabilia Display Cases UV Protection
      Apply Film Protection To Windows or Display Cases – There are some great peel-and-stick film options on the market that you can apply to your outdoor windows or to the outside of a case or frame. This is an inexpensive and easy solution that offers 99% UV rejection of UVA and UVB rays. Acrylite OP-3 and Plexiglas UF-5 are two commonly used acrylic sheets that are lightweight and shatter-resistant. There are many brands on the market, this is one we have tried and can recommend, Window Film and More.

We at Memorabilia Displays are passionate about protecting valuable – and sometimes priceless – memorabilia. We offer the best display cases on the market with the highest levels of UV protection and many other features to meet your unique needs. Make sure to check out our product listing information to review if the case has UV protection. You can always chat with us directly if you have any questions about a specific product’s UV protection if it isn’t stated.


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