History of Hockey Cards

As with other trading cards, hockey cards got their start as inserts into packs of tobacco and candy around the turn of the 20th century.  Early hockey cards weren’t organized into sets as later cards were, and are very difficult to find in near mint or mint condition.

The production of trading cards declined sharply after World War I, and did not regain momentum until the early 1930’s. In 1933, the first mass produced hockey set was produced by Canadian manufacturer O-Pee-Chee.  O-Pee-Chee produced cards until 1941, when production again declined due to World War II.

As with other major sports cards, hockey cards took off in popularity once again during the early 1950’s. Largely due to the decade-long break in production, sets from the early 1950’s are among the most popular hockey sets of all time; primarily due to the high proportion of rookie cards for players who began their careers during the war years.

ParkieslotAnother Canadian company, Parkhurst, was a major player in the hockey card industry between 1951 and 1957; but was challenged beginning in the mid-50s by trading card giant Topps which began its long run of NHL sets.  By 1964, Topps had partnered with the old O-Pee-Chee company and forced Parkhurst out of the market.  Topps/O-Pee-Chee essentially monopolized the hockey card industry for the next several decades, finally losing their monopoly in the 1980’s.  Hockey cards were almost as badly affected by the ensuing “Age of Overproduction” as baseball and football cards were, and O-Pee-Chee did not survive the decade as an independent company.

OPC and Topps both produced the most sought-after hockey card of all-time, the 1979-80 Wayne Gretzky rookie card.  Valued anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands, depending on grade, the Gretzky rookie remains an icon for collectors around the world.

Following the 2004-2005 season, the NHL chose not to renew its license with Topps, instead signing a five-year exclusive contract with rival Upper Deck. Upper Deck in turn revived the O-Pee-Chee brand in 2006, and today produces the vast majority of hockey cards under the Upper Deck, O-Pee-Chee, SPX, and SP Authentic brands.

Upper Deck’s The Cup has proven to be a hit among collectors of high-end products or those looking for a big “hit” among the rare autograph memorabilia cards inserted into the $300-500 per pack product

Other entries dot the hockey card periphery over the last two decades including a series of cards featuring mainly minor league and retired players that is produced by In The Game.  Collectors of baseball cards may not realize it, but the history of hockey cards is just as rich.

2005-06 Upper Deck Victory Factory Sealed Hobby Hockey Box
2005-06 Upper Deck Victory Factory Sealed Hobby Hockey Box
$57.85
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Box Of 1992-93 Fleer Ultra Hokcey Cards NHL Unseal Box 36 Unopend Packs
Box Of 1992-93 Fleer Ultra Hokcey Cards NHL Unseal Box 36 Unopend Packs
$14.99
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SEALED 1991 CLASSIC DRAFT PICK 4 SPORT BOX HOCKEY BASEBALL BASKETBALL FOOTBALL
SEALED 1991 CLASSIC DRAFT PICK 4 SPORT BOX HOCKEY BASEBALL BASKETBALL FOOTBALL
$300.00
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1991 SCORE HOCKEY YOUNG SUPERSTARS (40) CARD BOXED SET LINDROS/JAGR
1991 SCORE HOCKEY YOUNG SUPERSTARS (40) CARD BOXED SET LINDROS/JAGR
$2.00
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1990-91 Upper Deck Hockey Set Lots of Rookies in Box
1990-91 Upper Deck Hockey Set Lots of Rookies in Box
$6.99
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1987-88 Topps Hockey Empty Box with Wayne Gretzky Box Bottom
1987-88 Topps Hockey Empty Box with Wayne Gretzky Box Bottom
$9.99
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2015/16 Upper Deck O-PEE-CHEE HOBBY BOX & NHL 2015-16 O-Pee-Chee BLASTER BOX
2015/16 Upper Deck O-PEE-CHEE HOBBY BOX & NHL 2015-16 O-Pee-Chee BLASTER BOX
$34.99
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1992-93 Upper Deck Hockey High Series Hobby Case (20 Boxes)
1992-93 Upper Deck Hockey High Series Hobby Case (20 Boxes)
$299.99
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1990 TOPPS HOCKEY ==SEE DESCRIPTION==
1990 TOPPS HOCKEY ==SEE DESCRIPTION==
$8.49
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CAM FOWLER 10/11 PINNACLE ICE BREAKERS ROOKIE RC ARTIST PROOF
CAM FOWLER 10/11 PINNACLE ICE BREAKERS ROOKIE RC ARTIST PROOF
$5.00
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2005-06 UD PARKHURST HOCKEY RETAIL BOX
2005-06 UD PARKHURST HOCKEY RETAIL BOX
$40.03
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1990-91 OPC Ray Bourque MINT Box Bottom Card
1990-91 OPC Ray Bourque MINT Box Bottom Card
$4.99
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