The dormant Pack War blog by Corky used to do a neat series of "things done to cards (so you don't have to)" or something like that where he'd bury a card in the ground for a year to see what happens to it.. stuff like that.
Along those lines, I wanted to do some first-hand experiments taking a look at the effects of sunlight on trading cards.
Back on 2/28/2021, I placed a duplicate of Tony Gwynn's 1989 Upper Deck in a window that gets a lot of direct sunlight, curious to see how faded it'd get after a year. I took a photo a year later on 2/28/22:
Not too long after putting the 89UD card on the windowsill, I got creative with another "card in the sun" idea. This time I blocked part of the card to try to limit the sun-bleaching to a certain area. I wanted to make a 1990 Donruss card look like there was a "vision beam" from Tony's eyes. I'm sure there are more interesting things that could be done with this concept (like, stencil out a Padres logo over the card or something?), but hey, it's just a rough test.
Finally, I've been intrigued by how the ink on Topps Retired autographs seems to vary with cards on the secondary market. This auto-per-pack product had 3 releases, 2003-2005, and has been a collecting focus of mine for years, as regular readers know. I've busted my share of this product over the years and every "pack fresh" Retried auto I've ever seen features a signature in bright blue Sharpie, though I've seen several on the secondary market that have duller blue ink, often close to black, and sometimes even ostensibly "black ink" autos that have faded significantly. Funny thing is I don't recall ever seeing any faded blue autos (or bold black ink autos), so this effect is most likely due to sun exposure.
|Experiment begun 2/1/22 - no difference in ink
[... time passes ...]
Wrapping up here, a takeaway from this post is to be careful when displaying cards. Ha, "no duh", but the sun can potentially do a number on them before too long. Even in a place that gets much less sun than a windowsill can still do damage over time. For me, with any cards I'd be concerned about replacing ($$$/low print run/etc), I try not to display for long. Maybe put a nice card on the display shelf for a couple weeks, focus a satisfied glance on it occasionally during its "time in the sun" (if you'll excuse the phrase), and then file it away in the dark for storage after a bit. And just like rotate cards out like that. One idea I've thought of but haven't really gotten around to is to take a photo with some of my best cards laid out, then use the photo as my desktop background pic or something... then you get to admire the cards frequently while the actual cards are safely stored away. Another strategy is to cover up cards on display during the time you're not actively appreciating them, like drape a little cloth over a card when you're not actually hanging out in that area. Humblebrag, but I like to put a pack of sticky notes or something over my Roberto Clemente autograph when heading out at the end of the day when I've got it displayed at my desk at work. It's not in a spot that gets much sun, but still.. don't want that baby fading! (though in that instance, it's a pencil autograph, and the effects of sunlight on pencil seems like a whole 'nother experiment.)
Thanks for reading... Hope this post was informative and entertaining so those 3 baseball cards weren't "destroyed" in vain! :)