Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Open Support Thread For The PWE-Impaired (Like Me)

Yep, admission is the first step to recovery. I am awful at properly packaging and shipping small amounts of cards in plain white envelopes, or PWEs as the kids call them these days, and would love to see a robust comment thread pop up here where people talk about their techniques (max. number of cards/weight, what they use for packing material to protect the cards and stay under the USPS radar, ideal SASE folding techniques for through the mail autographs and so forth). This may be the most dry subject matter I've ever approached on this site, but there are probably others aside from myself who are kinda "stuck" on this, and I know there are some total PWE champions who read my site. So, if y'all would be generous with your various techniques, which I don't think are state secrets or anything, that'd be awesome.

9 comments:

  1. I have a max of 4 (8 if really inexpensive cards) cards for PWEs and they shouldn't be THAT hard to replace (learned that one the hard way). I always put all cards in a penny sleeve (doubling up if put in the same top loader). Next, I use a single top loader for 1 card and 2 top loaders for 2-4 cards, doubling up with 3 or 4. Then, I use painter's tape over the top of the top loaders. If I use 2 top loaders, I then tape the two top loaders together end to end so they conform to the shape of the envelope. If I am doing 8 cards then I stack the two elongated double top loaders and tape them together. Then I fold a full sheet of blank white paper into thirds, put the top loader(s) inside and secure it on the three open sides with painter's tape. On the front of the sheet of paper, I write my trade note (optional). Put in the envelope with the non-taped side pointing up. Seal and send.

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  2. Also use a .69 stamp instead of a regular one and write HAND SORT ONLY big and bold on the front and back of the envelope.

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  3. For PWEs, I limit it to no more than 5-6 cards. Cards go in penny sleeves. No toploaders. I've seen toploaders tear up PWEs. I then fold the cards into a piece of printer-quality paper, folding the ends of the paper so the cards don't shift too much. I write "nonmachinable" on the front and back corner, because that's what the nice post office guy said to do. I've never had a problem with this format.

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  4. I did I lot of research on a PWE. I found that 6 usually will get through with a single envelope. I don't use a full size #10 but the smaller envelopes. Two cards per penny sleeve, back to back. Then, if you get the larger of the semi rigid grading sleeves, you can fit all 6 safely but snuggly within the sleeve. The thickness of the cards seems to protect them in transit. Now, this is based on the cards being standard thickness. If you start trying to PWE cards with a little bit more girth, you will need to adjust accordingly. Only once did I send 6 cards and get the envelopes back claiming I needed more stamps. However, this was because I put about a dozen PWEs into my mailbox at the end of the driveway and I think the PO was just being jags. When I went to the PO the next day and weighed them, they were all under one ounce. Put them in the slot and they never came back home.

    BTW - if you want to PWE to Canada or any other country, the PO sells a forever first class international stamp. Same deal - 6 cards works like a dream. I mail stuff to Dutch and a couple people in Canada with a single international forever stamp without any issues.

    Also, don't forget that stamps never expire. If you have any uncancelled stamps from years and decades ago, they are still good enough. If you want to put 49 1cent stamps on an envelope, the PO has to deliver it.

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  5. Semi-rigid card holders (Card Savers and the like) really seems to be the way to go. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be the easiest things to find, at least around here. They're flexible, so they seem to fit through the sorting machines well without doing anything to the card(s) within. If you don't want something to go through the machine, definitely add extra postage and do what Adam said above - though there's no guarantee they will actually treat it as non-machinable, of course.

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  6. I usually use those soft top loaders that you can jam 4-5 cards in. I don't know their names.

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  7. As a former postal worker, I can pretty much assure you that your "hand sort only" notice will be ignored. The rule when I left (and I'm sure it still is) is that all mail is machinable until it isn't; there is no such thing as manual mail. I mean, you know, go ahead and write it. But don't be surprised if one shows up in unrecognizable shreds some time. Don't blame the workers for that call, though; most rank and file postal workers really do care. Management mostly cares about the bottom line. And sorting mail manually costs money.

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  8. All good tips. I have an absolute ton of semi-rigids from bulk deals, trades, etc. that I've done, and I loathe them for my own cards (even more than I dislike regular top-loaders, which is a lot), so I'm happy to send them out. The other stuff (folded paper, international stamps, write "non-machinable" on it if you like but don't trust the fuzz) is helpful, too. Thanks, folks!

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  9. I've been waiting to comment until I heard what other people say. I've had lots of luck with the semi-rigids when shipping in the US, but the only ones I've sent are ones I've received. The folded piece (or two) of paper around the outside of the cards helps the envelope be less boxy which I think means if/when it goes through the machine it's less likely to be damaged.

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