Monday, July 30, 2018

Blue Tape and Pull-Tab Awareness Week 2018

Shark Week was last week, so you know what that means... It's time once again for Blue Tape and Pull-Tab Awareness Week! It's the week when we collectors rally together to bring awareness to best practices for proper sportscard shipping.

I'm working on some fresh related content for this week, but for now, here's a copy & paste of last year's post.

It's one of the biggest plights for the sportscard collecting enthusiast of today:

Scotch tape.

Specifically, irresponsible usage of scotch tape to protect cards.

Don't get me wrong, tape is a must-have item for anyone who ever ships cards. A piece of tape over the opening of a top loader prevents the card from slipping out and potentially being damaged in shipment. At some point we've all been the victim of a negligent newb card seller who just throws a top-loader into a bubble mailer willy-nilly (or worse yet, a PWE) and you open to the horrific sight of the card poking out, with a dinged corner or two. A few cards secured between a couple pieces of protective cardboard by some tape is also a good way to keep them safe from the rigors of interstate travel.

But too often, the person mailing the cards doesn't take a moment to think about the recipient. I'm sure you've been in the frustrating situation many times: spending what seems like several minutes chipping away at a piece of tape with your fingernail, trying to free your newly obtained card(s). Such a pain! You could also use a knife or scissor blade to cut the tape, but you run the risk of slipping and cutting in too far, potentially damaging the card. And either way, if it's a top loader, now you've got a trashy-looking top loader with a cut-up piece of tape on it.. time to get your fingernails involved again. Depending on the tape, it could take just a moment, or it could be on there so badly (chipping off in tiny brittle bits, or not coming off at all) that the card holder is essentially ruined. Even in the best-case scenario, some Goo Gone is usually needed to remove the sticky tape residue.

This disheartening scene could easily be avoided!

All the sender needs to do is spend two seconds to fold over a tiny piece of tape, creating a handy pull-tab. This pull-tab makes it super easy for the recipient to grab hold of the tape and peel it off in one efficient motion. No dangerous blades or fingernail frustration needed!

And Blue painter's tape is the best tape to use! It costs a little more than regular clear scotch tape, but it comes off so easily and residue-free that your recipient will love you for it! For you thrifty types out there, know that blue tape can be reused several times! If somebody sends you a card with some blue tape, put it aside to use again later with someone else. In fact, here's a look at the desk in my card room in the height of blue tape bloom:

I'm well-stocked on second-hand blue tape! I should probably develop a less tacky-looking solution one of these days. But yeah, I use plenty of blue tape and have never had to actually buy a roll of it.

Now let's do a quick "how to" on pull-tabs.


Step 1: Apply tape to one side.

Step 2: At the end of the remaining tape, fold over a piece about a centimeter long, with the sticky part being stuck against itself, creating a non-sticky pull-tab roughly the shape of a square.

Step 3: Apply the remaining tape to the other side.

  • You can also double up on the pull-tabs to make opening cards later even easier. Just follow the above process for each side of the tape you apply.
  • It's also nice to write "pull" on either the tab itself or on the protective cardboard with an arrow pointing to the tab. This is helpful for individuals who might not immediately recognize the tab you've thoughtfully created for them.

Advanced Pro Tips:
  • To go that extra mile, consider putting a little piece of paper over the top-loader opening, and tape it on (with pull-tabs, of course!) This will help prevent the rare but tragic occurrence of the card sticking to the tape. This is especially a good idea with old vintage cardboard (more prone to sticking and being damaged than today's cards) or when using extra thick top-loaders, such as with relics or other fat cards.
  • Tape can be avoided all together with the use of a team bag secured over a top-loader. Some people, like fellow blogger RAZ (check out his method here), go all out and use blue tape, a paper buffer, and a team bag. Bless these heroes!

A+++++ transaction!!! Would deal with again!

  • Don't make the tab so big that there's not enough sticky part of the tape left to get a secure seal. You want at least a half-inch of sticky part remaining to ensure that the tape holds during transit. If you've got limited tape length to work with, it's better to have a "too small" pull-tab, than "too big". Even if it's too small, at least the recipient can have a good start for his or her fingernails.
  • If you write "pull" to identify the tab, be sure to write gently. Writing too hard could damage the card.


Step 1: Pull tab.

Step 2: There is no step 2; you're done, bro! Throw away the tape that easily came off (or if it's blue tape, consider sticking it somewhere to reuse later), and enjoy your new card(s) and pristine top-loader!

It's just that easy! How has this not caught on? It's so easy to do and so handy for the person getting the cards!
I've heard the argument "When you buy a card, you're not buying a toploader or other supplies, only the card." By that logic, you have dinner at a restaurant and expect them to dish out the food directly into your hands. No, of course it's expected that they'll provide a clean plate and any necessary utensils for your food. Buying a card online similarly should imply that the seller will provide adequate service when packaging and shipping the card.

Thanks for reading and thank you for your commitment to excellence in packaging sports cards!


  1. True confession time...I always use blue tape but I sometimes forget to create a pull tab. Working on that.

    Hey...what's that Richie Allen piece on the wall?

    1. I admit even I sometimes will be in a rush and forget pull tabs! The annual Awareness Week helps keep me sharp.

      As for the Allen, it's the original "match print photo" from the back of his 1971 card that I picked up a few years ago from the Topps Vault. You can get a better look at it in this post.

  2. I think Ebay should run a "Use blue tape and pull tabs on all sales and get back your listing fees" promotion for the week. I feel like most bloggers I exchange cards with use blue tape, but those Ebay sellers... ARGH.

  3. It's totally thanks to Blue Tape and Pull Tab Awareness Week that I started using it. As a newb once myself, I didn't know, and freely secured my toploaders with scotch tape. Thanks to this blog more!

    1. That's great to hear! A true success story for the cause!

  4. I've been trying with pull tabs but it's not second nature yet. But definitely only use blue tape.

  5. Card collectors and blue painters tape companies around the world rejoice just around this time every year... and you deserve all of the credit.

  6. ONLY painter's tape, blue as my first choice. After joining this community four years ago, I learned quickly the proper way to trade! I sometimes fail at tabs however.