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.

LEAFS 11-12 Rookie Anthology Hockey 12Box
LEAFS 11-12 Rookie Anthology Hockey 12Box "LIVE" Case Break
$10.50 (2 Bids)
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PANTHERS 11-12 Rookie Anthology Hockey 12Box
PANTHERS 11-12 Rookie Anthology Hockey 12Box "LIVE" Case Break
$9.99 (1 Bid)
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1991 TOPPS STADIUM CLUB HOCKEY BOX 36 PACKS NEVER OPENED
1991 TOPPS STADIUM CLUB HOCKEY BOX 36 PACKS NEVER OPENED
$12.40
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RANGERS 11-12 Rookie Anthology Hockey 12Box
RANGERS 11-12 Rookie Anthology Hockey 12Box "LIVE" Case Break
$28.00 (7 Bids)
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Brett Hull Fleer Showcase 14-15 Sky Box Premium 116/299
Brett Hull Fleer Showcase 14-15 Sky Box Premium 116/299
$0.75 (1 Bid)
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Claude Giroux Fleer Showcase 14-15 Sky Box Premium 165/299
Claude Giroux Fleer Showcase 14-15 Sky Box Premium 165/299
$0.75
Time Remaining: 36m
Jonathan Bernier Fleer Showcase 14-15 Sky Box Premium 150/299
Jonathan Bernier Fleer Showcase 14-15 Sky Box Premium 150/299
$0.75
Time Remaining: 36m
RED WINGS 11-12 Rookie Anthology Hockey 12Box
RED WINGS 11-12 Rookie Anthology Hockey 12Box "LIVE" Case Break
$13.95 (4 Bids)
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3-BOX LOT 2017 vintage PACK SEARCH 90+ UNOPENED HOCKEY CARDS kadence cards
3-BOX LOT 2017 vintage PACK SEARCH 90+ UNOPENED HOCKEY CARDS kadence cards
$34.99
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Buy It Now for only: $69.99
2-BOX LOT 2017 vintage PACK SEARCH 90+ UNOPENED HOCKEY CARDS kadence cards
2-BOX LOT 2017 vintage PACK SEARCH 90+ UNOPENED HOCKEY CARDS kadence cards
$19.99
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SABRES 11-12 Rookie Anthology Hockey 12Box
SABRES 11-12 Rookie Anthology Hockey 12Box "LIVE" Case Break
$9.99 (1 Bid)
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SHARKS 11-12 Rookie Anthology Hockey 12Box
SHARKS 11-12 Rookie Anthology Hockey 12Box "LIVE" Case Break
$9.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 45m

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