Whether you're looking to sell, showing off to your friends, or simply organizing your collection, properly scanning sports cards is an important skill. While it's not particularly difficult, there are some common mistakes that we see all the time. Knowing how to scan and store your cards on your computer can save a tremendous amount of time and energy. So don't keep your cards tucked away in a closet or a basement, get them out for the world to see!
Note: You will not damage your cards during the scanning process as long as you're careful and you follow all of the following best practices. However, if you're extra worried about bending, scratching, or nicking the corners of your cards, place them in toploaders first, then scan.
Choosing a Scanner
Picking the proper scanner is important when scanning your baseball cards. You should always choose A FLATBED SCANNER to perform this task. Avoid any scanners with automatic feeders in which the cards must pass through a conveyor belt system as any bending WILL damage your cards.
Many different scanners will suffice, but here are some specific models with which our clients have had success:
What DPI should I use?
DPI, or dots per inch is a measure of how detailed a scan will be. Many household scanners will be capable of doing scans at upwards of 1200 DPI, but for your purposes you’ll only need to use about 300. Make sure that you're not using more data than is necessary. This way, you’ll have smaller files that you can easily share and store.
Which file format is best?
Speaking of the output files, choosing the correct file format is important as well. Use either JPG or PNG and avoid PDF or TIFF format. JPGs and PNGs are compressed for portability but still retain plenty of the detail needed to judge condition of the cards.
Which cards should I scan?
You’ll want to scan the cards most representative of the collection’s condition. You'll also want to include key cards featuring all-star players, hall of famers, and rookie cards. If you’re unsure which of your collection's cards are most important, consult a professional. If you choose Just Collect, we'll gladly make suggestions by phone or email of which ones to scan.
Line up your cards
Lift the cover of the flatbed scanner to expose the glass scanning surface. Place your card(s) face down with the top edge against upper border of the glass.
Most flatbed scanners can hold many cards at once on the glass. If you want to scan more than one card in a single image, make sure to properly line up your cards. Line them up as if making a piece of paper out of your cards, leaving 1/4 inch of space between them being sure that there is no overlap. Carefully close the lid.
Scanning your cards
The scanner will have a “Start,” “Scan,” or “Go” button to initiate the process. When you are satisfied that your item is aligned appropriately, press the button. Your scanning has begun. The image of your item will be transmitted to a file on your computer where you can see the image of your card(s).
Organizing your files
Avoid cluttering your desktop. To make your life a bit easier, create a folder to house all of your scans, and name them properly. Within the folder, name each file using this format: [LastName.FirstName.Year.Make.Grade] or something similar. Here's an example. If you have a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle in a PSA 4 (first of all, congratulations), name it like this: Mantle.Mickey.1952.Topps.PSA4.jpg. This step is optional, but it can save a lot of time and energy if you do it as you scan.
If you want to share large groups of scans, you won't be able to email all of the files separately. Well, you will, but it will be a tremendously tedious and unncessary process. The best way to handle this is to create a Dropbox account to house all of your scanned cards. Once you've set up your account and uploaded your scans into a folder, simply send a share link to your friends and family, or to us for a free appraisal.
Using your smartphone
If you don't have a scanner, or aren't sure how to use it, you can always just take pictures of your cards using a digital camera or your smartphone. From there you can upload to Dropbox, save in iCloud or Google Photos, or email or text your photos.
Don't worry if you're having trouble with one or all of the steps listed above. There are other ways to get your cards scanned as well. Head over to your local public library and ask for assistance at the technology desk. A librarian will be happy to assist you in performing the scans, or at least getting you acclimated with using the equipment.
You could also ask a friend or a neighbor or a relative for help. Most milennials will be intimately familiar with scanning and sharing photos.
Email the Images
If you'd like to actually get an appraisal for your cards, the last step is to email your scans or photos to a professional. Make sure the images you choose are a clear representation of what you have to sell. As mentioned above, if you want to share a large group of high-res scans, send a Dropbox share link.
Want a free appraisal?
Send your scanned images in JPG or PNG format via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to include a subject and a message describing what you are sending.
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