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I am trying to make my Pokémon cards last for as long as possible, so I am storing them in soft sleeves and then again in hard sleeves. These hard sleeves are kept in a shoebox.

I know that old paper always decays with time no matter what we do (just look at the original US Constitution even after spending a fortune trying to preserve it).

Does anyone know how long these cards are expected to last?

Edit: For clarity, the cards will not be played with, just stored.

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  • "are expected to last" as in "how long does Pokémon build them to last for", or, "How long can we realistically think Pokémon cards might last"? – Joe Mar 5 at 18:51
  • This is probably too broad and/or opinion based. You should specify if you intend to play with the cards or just store them in a vault, at least. – L. Scott Johnson Mar 5 at 18:57
  • Also, you say that you are storing them in a shoebox, but where is this shoebox? Is it in a cool environment? Does it have a lot of humidity? These facts will also affect how long they will last. – Joe Kerr Mar 5 at 20:46
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This depends very much on the what paper stock was used to print the cards. There are paper documents far older than the US Constitution (papyrus written with carbon ink dating back to the Egyptian dynastic period?) still in pretty good shape, and paper books and periodicals printed a decade ago that are going to pieces.

Beyond that, the ink (the main point of deterioration in the Constitution and moreso the Declaration of Independence -- which was written with pokeberry juice for ink) can deteriorate as well.

Pokemon cards are/were printed on thoroughly modern paper card stock, but as far as I'm aware no special care was taken to use acid-free paper or archival inks, so while it's a guess, my guess is we might reasonably expect well-stored cards to last anywhere from thirty to a hundred years. Some of the oldest ones are nearly twenty years old now; if you have a few of those first issues, you might be able to estimate better from their condition than I can from first principles.

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Based on the condition of baseball cards dating back over 100 years, it's possible the cards could last that long or longer. See this list of rare, old cards for example - there are several from over 100 years ago that are still able to get a PSA 7-8 grade, and look like they're in quite good condition.

Beyond that, it's unlikely we'd be able to say how long they'll last; the foils, in particular, cause issues due to the foil bending the cards. Most cards from the early days are still possible to find in fairly good condition, so hopefully this won't be a problem for perfectly stored, non-played cards, for a fair while; but as holofoils become far more common, it will impact more cards.

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