How to clean a Magic card

A couple of months ago I bought a mystery box of mostly early 2000s era bulk.

I was well acquainted with the old owner 15-20 years ago, when we both were a part of the Vintage - and later Legacy - scenes in Gothenburg. We also had a common interest in punk music and beer, so a few of my finest memories of our friendship are away from cardboard. I'm particularly fond of recollecting one hungover morning circa 2005, when he woke up on the floor of my tiny dorm room to find that Suburban Commando was serendipitously live on my equally small TV. We called a number to a supposed pizzeria (which I was never able to actually locate), and magically got delivered two of the best kebab pizzas I've ever had. It was an afternoon of Mike's special kebab, Hulk Hogan, and re-runs of Red Dwarf (Stoke me a clipper!) that perfectly encapsulated a slice of the best of what my early 20s could offer. A hundred years prior no king could eat that well, nor enjoy such entertainment.

These days we're older. 

We hadn't talked for well over decade, but happenstance had me bidding on a few cards on an auction that turned out to be his. He reached out when he realized, and we did some catching up. We both had kids now, we both had moved away from Gothenburg to different Scandinavian capitals, and we both lived with a different pulse than fifteen years prior.

Long story short, he didn't play Magic no more, and had sold most of his valuable cards on the auction. But if I wanted to dig through the 15 kg of draft bulk still in his storage, he would be happy to send it to me for a nominal price.

Sweet. I should note that his asking price for the lot was "Zero, or, I mean, you can pay for the postage. And if it isn't only a pile of crap, feel free to give me something for it if you feel like it."

Turns out a few draft commons from Masques era are kinda sough after these days, so some reparations were offered.

One thing with finding old bulk, or generally a pile of old cards, is that a lot them look like this:

Early 2000s cards aren't as bad as mid 90s cards though. In the mid 90s, sleeves were banned from most tournaments and we played outdoors using high grit sand paper as play mats.

One thing that was popular in the mid 90s was to "touch up" any scuffed black borders with black ink - a practice that is wildly frowned upon these days. I guess mainly due to the fact that a card altered in such a way can never be professionally graded, and pretty much any store today would hence grade such a card as "poor". I personally don't really care that much; I'm not into graded cards, and from a purely nerdstalgic perspective inked cards are a historical curiosity of sorts. So if I'm getting a discount on an otherwise fine Wrath of God because some dude in '94 decided to ink a scuffed corner, I'm good with that.

That said, I would strongly recommend anyone against inking their cards, especially these days. And in particular if there are any vague plans of trading or selling them at some point in the future.
But while I'm against painting over damage on cards, removing dirt is another ballpark. We used to play our Revised cards sleeveless on packed mud in 1995 after all, and very few people seem to have opted to clean said mud.
This is a dirty card.
Such memories it holds <3

Anyway, cleaning a dirty card is very simple. 
  1. Find a Q-tip
  2. Dip the Q-tip in the tiniest amount of water
  3. Carefully swab off the dirt with said Q-tip
Slow and steady.


That's a fine-looking Dragon, Lou.
Now to ink the back... (NB: Please don't ink your cards.)


  1. Das is Ace Rimmer! haha i fucking love red dwarf :)

    1. Was für ein Kerl! :D

    2. Haha, easy top5 episode!


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