No, not that kind of size guide, get your minds out of the gutter, geez. lol.

This post has actually been a long time coming. It’s something that’s annoyed me quite a bit in the past and, while I’m sure it’s old news to most of you, I thought a handy guide couldn’t hurt.

I’m talking about CARD sizes, specifically thickness. The sizes provided by most binder page, magnetic holder, top loader manufactures make absolutely no “real world” sense. For example, there isn’t such a thing as “180pt” card stock. If you go to a printer and ask for that, perhaps to make your own cards, they’ll look at you like you’re an alien. Even the unit of measure, “points”, isn’t really the correct term. Most of the printing industry uses “pounds” to express paper thickness. Even then there’s a difference between “Bond lbs.”, “Offset Lbs.” and “Cover lbs”. It really depends on what you’re printing.

This post is about baseball cards, so let’s assume that’s what we’re sizing. By my best guess, baseball cards (single sheet, base cards) are printed on approximately 180 lbs. cover stock. Note, that’s 180 POUND, not 180 point. 180# is approximately 20pt, or about .02 inches if you’ve got a set of calipers. Why is that important? Because your average baseball card, if you’re buying a top loader for it, is said be be about 35pt. There’s a lot of wiggle room between 20pt and 35pt. Even given that room, just to allow for a penny sleeve and some air, the smallest top loader is clearly thicker than a card. As it should be. You do need a little room to get the card in and out.

What I’m trying to say is that your CARD is NOT the same thickness as the measurement on the loader. However, that holder or top loader has just given us an important measuring stick for judging other cards.

If the actual size of a card is about 20pt, and the holder is 35pt, we can use 3o-35pt as out unit of measure going forward. With this, we can gauge thick cards for the correct sizing later.

So, a typical Topps flagship base card is (using our modified unit of measure) now 35pt.

What about relic cards?

Ah, here’s where it gets interesting. Look at the SIDE of your card. You may need a magnifying glass for this. Looking at the side of the card, count how many layers the card has. Assume each one is 30-35pt, and multiply. If you can’t see the layers, that’s ok. Take a small stack of base cards and squeeze a couple together. However many base cards it takes to equal the thickness of your relic card, that’s your answer.

For example, the Jake Peavy relic I just got has 3 layers. If I hold 3 base cards together, they’re just about the same size. 30 x 3 is 90, or 35 x 3 is 105.

Conveniently, UltraPro makes a 100pt magnetic holders and 100pt top-loaders. Bingo. I actually picked that as the example because more and more often relic cards seem to be 4 layers thick, or about 120pt, which is a much easier to find size at hobby shops and online.

Why did I mention all this? Mostly because I needed to find a way to order the right sizes of magnetic holders for my personal collection. Measuring the cards in the right way meant I was ordering what I needed, and not just guessing.

Here’s a handy table WITH examples from each size. I hope it helps you guys with your own collections.

# of layers Range in Pts Example Cards
1 35pt Thin/Regular base card – Flagship
1 (!) 55pt Thick base card – Gypsy Queen or A&G
2 75-80pt Double thick base card – Topps Unique or framed mini
3 90-100pt Thin relic or thick framed mini
4 120-138pt Average Relic
5 180pt Premium relics – Triple Threads, Letterman patches, etc.
6 200-230pt Extra thick premium relics – Bat knobs, etc.
8+ 360pt Booklet cards, etc.

* Please note the “ranges” on the point scale. Each manufacturer was slightly different, for example: UltraPro makes a 130pt holder, ProMold has a 120 and BCW makes a 138pt. They’re all relatively in the same range, some just have different thickness of plastic or more/less room around the card.

** Also, there are oddball sizes in between ranges. 150pt for example. I haven’t found anything that’s 150pt in my personal collection. Most things fit perfectly into a 120 OR 180pt holder.

*** If you’re not sure, just buy the next size up. A 120-130pt card in a 180pt holder isn’t going to hurt it. The other way around however, you might run into trouble.

As a rule of thumb, relics tend to be all over the place. That’s why I started measuring with multiple base cards. The number of cards it takes to achieve the relative thickness of your relic is a good starting place for finding protective card supplies. As I mentioned, when in doubt, buy slightly larger. I hardly ever buy a 35pt holder. Most of my cards that I’m keeping in magnetic holders are at least 55pt. If you’re buying for the future, 55pt, 120pt and 180pt are probably the three most common sizes, although personally I did have quite a few 100pt cards as well. I think this is due to thicker (50-55pt) stock being used in two layers for some relics, rather than 3 layers of cheaper stock. That also accounts for the higher end of the ranges (138, 150pt, etc).

Hope that helps!