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How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007 at 9:11 PM

Kevin Saucier  (Login only_child)

 
Soaking:

The subject of card soaking has and probably always will be a topic of heated debate. It is considered by some to be altering a card, others deem it perfectly acceptable and there are those who think it lies somewhere in between, a so-called "gray area." Whatever the decision, this will always be a questionable practice and up to the individual collector.

Soaking consists of completely immersing a card in water in an attempt to enhance the appearance. Soaking can be done for various reasons; to remove excess paper or water based glue, remove/reduce surface wrinkles, improve the look of creases, straighten a slight corner bend or just to spruce up the appearance and clean a card.

Although it is not suggested or implied that card soaking is an acceptable practice, many collectors do it regularly. The procedure has been posted on many public websites and it is not a closely guarded secret. It is for that reason that a step-by-step guideline for soaking a card is described below. Please note this is only one of many ways to soak a card and several other tested variations are known to exist. It is often done at great risk and the possibility of destroying any card is always present. The procedure listed is for training purposes only and should not be attempted without understanding the risks involved:


1) Grab a flat bowl or lid that fits your card. Make sure it's deeper than your card and again, flat.

2) Diistilled water is preferred by most and can be purchased for a few bucks at most local markets. Contrary to some beliefs, in some areas tap water works fine as well. Whatever the choice, pour it into the container.

3) Now "the leap of faith." Put your card in the water in one fail swoop, making sure it's completely covered. Don't inch it in slowly or you run a slim chance of staining it. Hold the card down with a finger or cotton swab and let the cardboard soak up the water for a minute or so. The entire card must be immersed even if a small corner is all that needs attention, if not it may stain. It's all or nothing.

4) You can leave the card in for a few minutes or up to several hours depending on the cardstock. Just make sure it's saturated. (I soaked a card for three days and damaged it beyond repair, I have also soaked on for a week with no problems).

5) Carefully remove the card from the water. Since years of handling may have caused soiling the card, it may be perfectly normal for the water to look a little discolored or yellowed.

6) With a napkin standing by, put the card in between and push gently to dry up the excess water (pat-down stage).

7) At this point some will place the card in between the pages of a large book but it may lead to the card warping if not properly attended. Not only that but the book pages may warp as well. Another method is to try the following:

Put the card in between a different napkin or double folded paper towel and place this in between two smooth sided boards big enough to hold the card in a napkin. Put a 5lb weight or more on top. Since one gallon of water weighs about 8.35 lbs, you can use a filled gallon water container as your weight. Many put the card between the pages of a heavy book, this will at times warp the card. A very smooth 1" x 4" board works the best. If you cut them 8" long you can dry two cards at once. Stacked boards can dry as many as six at one time.

8) Let it sit for about an hour, then put the card in between a new napkin. Again, some prefer a double folded paper towel. Put it back between the boards and place the weight back on top.

9) Wait for a day and check the card. If the card is still a little damp, put it in a new napkin and give it some more time. At some point the card will dry, it should then be completely flat and look brighter and cleaner with vivid colors.

10) Taking the card out prematurely may lead to warping or bending. If that happens, just re-soak.


Although it may be difficult or virtually impossible to tell if a card has been soaked in water, there are some clues that may be left behind. If the card has been soaked too long small bubbles may develop on the pictures surface, when dried these become surfce wrinkles. It may also become so clean that the natural tone may have been washed off. This may give the card an overly clean, almost bleached look. This will, of course have an affect on the edges as well. Under a halogen light look at the edges for a loss of natural tone and a brighter than normal appearance. Since the card was more than likely immersed in water, the natural tone and clean look with be throughout the entire card.

Card doctors will often take advantage of the acceptable limits of soaking granted by some and use it to make alterations. Look for creases that may have been pressed down by some type of utensil or devise. This can be on any part of the card or on one or more of the corners. A card that has had a wrinkle or crease pressed out will often have a shinny spot located on the cardboard surface. This is because the fibers have also been pressed smooth by the weight of the devise. Many collectors have concerns about these blemishes being removed because there are instances where the surface wrinkle or crease has, for some reason returned, at a later time. A card with just a small wrinkle only visible under a light can have its value dramatically reduced. Creases can reduce the value even further.

Soaking can also minimize the amount of any pencil lead and/or indentations of a card that has been written on. Under the light, angle the card surface at various positions and inspect the card for very light dents, pressure points, faint writing or marks. Some types of glue and paper that may be stuck to the surface can also be washed from a card. Examine the card for dull or glossy spots left by glue residue. Check very closely for any small scraps of paper that may still be adhered to the card or actual loss off paper from the card itself where glue or tape may have been removed or pulled off.

A sure sign to tell if a card has been soaked is to very closely inspect.....ah, I can't give away all my secrets .

Enjoy!



Kevin Saucier

 
 Respond to this message   
AuthorReply
D. C. Markel
(Login WhenItWasAHobby)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 9:25 PM 

So what's your next tread? How to trim cards? How to power erase?

 
 

Kevin Saucier
(Login only_child)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 9:34 PM 

"From Leon: October 14 2007, 7:54 PM Kevin If you would like to cut and paste the info into a post here it would be greatly appreciated."



Well Leon judging from the very first follow-up post, I guess it's not greatly appreciated. Can't wait to see what's next. Looks like I may end up deleting the info...even though it's been posted by others here before.


Kevin Saucier

 
 

Mark L
(Login Mark_VL)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 9:38 PM 

Kevin, some of us are slow readers, so please be patient. I think this sort of information is very valuable. Thanks for sharing.

 
 

Josh Adams
(Login vintagewhitesox)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 9:39 PM 

Kevin,
Thanks for posting. Some of us actually appreciate it.

 
 

Matt E.
(Login babybingbaseball)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 9:42 PM 

I thought the thread was well written and very informative.
As always a tough crowd.






 
 

leon
(Premier Login leonl)
Network 54 Moderator

Kevin

October 14 2007, 9:44 PM 

I appreciate you posting the info and most others do too.....regards

 
 

T206Collector
(Login T206Collector)

This is not new stuff

October 14 2007, 9:51 PM 

I have relied on these tips in the past, and have myself posted them. There is really nothing new here.

I'm not sure why it was necessary to post these guidelines again. For whatever it's worth, PSA and SGC slab soaked cards, even when it is obvious that soaking has occurred. I've owned countless examples in both holders where you could easily see glue residue on the reverse of a T206 card that had been soaked out of an album. The card might not grade higher than a 4, but this type of alteration is accepted by PSA and SGC. If you don't like that, bring it up with your favorite local grading company.


 
 

Matt E.
(Login babybingbaseball)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 9:54 PM 

Maybe the information Kevin posted was new to some board members who have not owned countless examples.

 
 
Matt
(Login MSW1)

THANK YOU

October 14 2007, 10:07 PM 

I often thought of emailing you asking for tips on soaking - I very much appreicate you coming forth with this. If I may be so bold as to request your nest lesson to be on what chemical to add to the solution to remove ink?
thanks!

 
 

Kevin Saucier
(Login only_child)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 10:15 PM 

"The card might not grade higher than a 4, but this type of alteration is accepted by PSA and SGC. If you don't like that, bring it up with your favorite local grading company."


Yep that's true! PSA, GAI and SGC all consider soaking acceptable.

__________________________


"There is really nothing new here."

Sure there is. My way is better, I use boards and napkins instead of paper and book pages

__________________________


"If I may be so bold as to request your next lesson to be on what chemical to add to the solution to remove ink?"


You may....but I won't



Kevin


    
This message has been edited by only_child on Oct 14, 2007 10:20 PM


 
 
Paul
(Login PaulPaulPaul)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 10:20 PM 

Are some card stocks more appropriate or less appropriate for soaking? For example, an N162 is on very different stock than a 1972 Topps card. Do you have a list of which stocks are easily damaged by soaking?

 
 

MVSNYC
(Login mvsnyc)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 10:29 PM 

thanks for answering my question kevin...very detailed explaination.

MS

 
 

Kevin Saucier
(Login only_child)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 10:29 PM 

"Are some card stocks more appropriate or less appropriate for soaking? For example, an N162 is on very different stock than a 1972 Topps card. Do you have a list of which stocks are easily damaged by soaking?"


Awesome question! I've probably soaked every card from every year, from thick stock to thin paper and stamps. Soaking is not recommended for photo-type cards, such as postcards, OJ's, Bell Brand's, Kelloggs etc...they crack and spiderweb.

For some reason that I have yet to figure out, the card stock used on the 48-49 Bowman and Leaf cards will sometimes create their own stains and spots...from out of nowhere.



Kevin


 
 
sagard
(Login sagard)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 10:34 PM 

I believe my profs used to suggest that is an exercise best left for the student.

 
 

Paul S
(Login p_spec)

How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 10:41 PM 

Ever since I've heard about soaking I've wanted to try it on my T206 Bender portrait (see back scan below.) Or, should I wait until you post your crease removal thesis?(kidding!)
Seriously though, my stupid yet real question is: Why doesn't the embossed ripple pattern that all paper towels/napkins seem to have leave some kind of squished ripple pattern indented in the card while it's being pressed dry?




    
This message has been edited by p_spec on Oct 14, 2007 10:42 PM


 
 

Kevin Saucier
(Login only_child)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 14 2007, 10:51 PM 

"Why doesn't the embossed ripple pattern that all paper towels/napkins seem to have leave some kind of squished ripple pattern indented in the card while it's being pressed dry?"



The world may never know.

I just know it has never left it on any card I have ever soaked. I prefer to use a paper towel double or triple folded. Double for larger cards and triple for the smaller sized cards.


Kevin

 
 

T206Collector
(Login T206Collector)

I have found that

October 15 2007, 10:18 AM 

...high quality printer paper works very well in absorbing the moisture from a card left over after a good soaking. Treat the paper like the paper towels in Kevin's instructions and it will be fine. And no fear of dimples or whatever.

Also, I do not think this will work on 1972 Topps cards. It definitely works on T206 cards, which are lithographs and are not hurt by the water, so long as it is applied evenly throughout the card, as Kevin reminds us.

There was a posting a year or so back about which cards would and which cards wouldn't survive a good soaking. Since I have only soaked T206 cards, I do not have any idea what other cards this would work on. But I would find that thread before I started soaking my Goudeys, Old Judges or Play Balls...

 
 

henry moses
(Login 1880nonsports)

just another thought....

October 15 2007, 2:56 PM 

or two... WET paper damages easily - handle carefully. DO NOT use paper towels as they have texture. I use typing or printer paper. CHANGE the paper OFTEN in the first few hours. I put a LOT of weight on the drying cards. DO NOT stop even when the card(s) look dry. WAIT a few days to prevent curl and such.

 
 

Kevin Saucier
(Login only_child)

Re: How to Soak a Card....and what to look for

October 15 2007, 3:39 PM 

"DO NOT use paper towels as they have texture."


Sure you can...plus it works faster and dries better. You are right though, waiting an extra day or two can't hurt.

Also on smaller cards I use a top loader to scoop them up from the water, then place it on the pat-down paper towel standing by.

 
 
 
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