Professional ice hockey leagues formed in the U.S. and Canada in the early 20th century, with the National Hockey League getting its start in Montreal in 1910. Like baseball and football, cards associated with the sport were there from the beginning.

The first hockey cards were issued for the 1910/1911 season by Imperial Tobacco. There were 36 vertical cards in the set, each featuring an illustration of a player on the front and a handful of details about him on the back—you can’t even call them stats.

For the 1911/1912 season, Imperial got a bit fancier, framing each of the 45 players on the fronts of its second, and last, set of cards with hockey sticks. The information on the backs of the cards was also given a more ornate graphic treatment. Collectible cards from this series include Georges Vézina of the Montreal Canadiens—Vézina is one of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s original 12 members.

Ice hockey then went without player cards for two full decades until 1933, when Canadian chewing gum companies O-Pee-Chee and Ice Kings issued separate sets of vintage hockey cards. The Ice Kings set featured black-and-white photos of players, with stats and descriptions on the backs of the cards in English only.

The O-Pee-Chee cards also had black-and-white photos of players on their fronts, but the images were placed against a colored background (red, blue, orange, or green), in the center of which was a large six-pointed star surrounded by smaller stars. Importantly, the backs of these cards were in both English and French, which may have been one reason why the OPC cards, as they are known, continued to be printed throughout the rest of the decade.

Other OPC cards from the 1930s and early 1940s included a diecut series, which allowed the owner to bend the card in the middle so that it could stand up on its own. An unfolded copy of legendary Boston Bruins defenseman Eddie Shore is highly collectible. OPC also produced a black-and-white set of 100 larger 5-by-7-inch cards for the 1939-1940 season and a similarly sized 50-card set the following year.

After World War II, a card company called Parkhurst turned its attention to hockey. Its first-season cards, from 1951-1952, consisted of a tinted photograph of the player on the ...

Parkhurst made cards through 1964, but its license limited the number of teams and players it could feature on its cards—in some years, it only made cards depicting players on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.

Meanwhile, in 1954, Topps got into the hockey act, producing cards for players such as Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings. Interestingly, vintage Topps hockey cards from 1954 for Howe, even ones in mediocre condition, are valued more highly by collectors than vintage Parkhurst Howe hockey cards from the same year in better shape. By the late 1960s, OPC got back into hockey cards by distributing Topps cards with its name on it. Of these, most of the collectible ones are the checklists, which most kids simply threw away.

One curious set of cards from the 1970-1971 season is the one distributed by Dad’s Cookies. This series of 144 vertically shaped cards featured stars like Bobby Orr, Tony Esposito, Jacques Plante, and Jean Beliveau, but the cards are a bit of a curiosity since each player posed for his photo wearing an NHL Players uniform rather than his team colors.

Checklist cards from the 1970s for both Topps and OPC remain highly prized, but in 1979, a player entered the NHL who turned ice hockey and the world of ice-hockey collectibles upside down. That player, of course, was Wayne Gretzky. For collectors of vintage hockey cards, The Great One’s NHL rookie card is among the most desirable cards in the sport. Topps and OPC Gretzky rookie cards are equally collectible, mostly because they are the exact same card, except for the branding.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Non Sports Cards: Tobacco, Gum and Candy

Non Sports Cards: Tobacco, Gum and Candy

Tom Boblitt moderates this extremely deep, collaborative site dedicated to non-sports cards (tobacco, gum and candy… [read review or visit site]

Beehive Hockey Photo Museum

Beehive Hockey Photo Museum

This easy-to-navigate site contains a complete inventory of the 1,026 Bee Hive Hockey Photos (organized by team and… [read review or visit site]

Scott Petterson’s personal collection of vintage ice hockey memorabilia focuses on the history of the Portland Bu… [read review or visit site]

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1966-67 Topps Hockey Card Full Set 132/1322015-16 Upper Deck Connor Mcdavid Young Guns Ud Exclusives Rookie 29/100 #2012015 Upper Deck #201 Connor Mcdavid Rookie Rc Pop 1 Of 1 Psa 10 Gem Mint 30994aSidney Crosby 2005/06 Upper Deck #201 Young Guns Rc Rookie Sp Bgs 9.5 Gem Mint1951-52 Parkhurst Hockey Card Full Set 105/1052015-16 Leaf Superlative Jack Eichel 1/1 Gold Prismatic Rookie Auto! Holy Grail!2015-16 Upper Deck - Connor Mcdavid Young Guns Ud Exclusives Rookie /100 #2011958-59 Topps Hockey Card Full Set 66/661960-61 Topps Hockey Card Full Set 66/66Bobby Orr Psa 2 Rookie Card Topps #35 Boston Bruins 196607/08 Upper Deck Opc Premier Foursomes Auto Howe,hull,beliveau,mahovlich /152015-16 Upper Deck Connor Mcdavid Young Guns Bgs 9.5 With 1 X 10 !!!!!2015-16 Upper Deck Series One Young Guns Set 201-250 Including Connor Mcdavid 2013-14 Ultimate Collection Ryan Strome Auto Rc Nhl Shield 1/1 Islanders Sick 1967-68 Topps Hockey Card Full Set 132/1322015-16 Upper Deck Connor Mcdavid Young Guns Rookie Card Mint Condition13-14 The Cup Tyler Johnson Rookie Patch Auto 78/249 Arp Shoulder Patch 2013-14(2) Connor Mcdavid 15-16 Ud Young Guns & (1) Jack Eichel Young Guns Canvas2005/2006 Upper Deck Young Guns Sidney Crosby #201 *mint*2015-16 Upper Deck Young Guns Connor Mcdavid Rc10-11 The Cup Jeff Skinner Rookie Patch Auto 88/99 Arp 3 Color Rc 2010-112015 Upper Deck Connor Mcdavid Nhl Draft Sp Auto Rookie Sp1a Signature Young GunSidney Crosby Ud Upper Deck 2005-06 Rc Young Guns Yg #201 Great Condition07-08 The Cup Carey Price Rookie Patch Auto 79/99 Arp Rare Rc Black Auto 2007-081952-53 Parkhurst Hockey Card Full Set 105/1051963-64 Parkhurst Hockey Card Full Set 99/992007 07 08 The Cup Limited Logos Stan Mikita Seven Color Auto Patch BlackhawksOpc 1971-72 *starter Set* Of 204 Cards. Orr, Cheevers, Parent (204/264).1953-54 Parkhurst Hockey Card Full Set 100/1002015-16 Upper Deck Parkhurst Rookie Connor Mcdavid Rc Red Parallel Pr-1Connor Mcdavid 15-16 Upper Deck 1st Overall Pick Sp-1 Rc Very Rare!! $$$$09-10 The Cup Jamie Benn Rookie Patch Auto 68/249 3 Color Bgs 9 10 Auto 2009-10Opc 1971-72 *set Break* #45 Ken Dryden Rc. (o-pee-chee 71-72) Graded Psa 8 Oc.13-14 Ultimate Collection Nathan Mackinnon Rookie Auto /99 Bgs 9.5 2013-141979-80 Topps #18 Wayne Gretsky Rookie Card1957-58 Parkhurst Hockey Card Full Set 50/502014-15 Ultimate Collection Alexsander Barkov Logo Nhl Shield Auto 1/1 Panthers2009-10 The Cup Jamie Benn Rookie Patch Auto 156/249 Shoulder Logo!2015-16 Young Gun Canvas Jack Eichel #c9105-06 Upper Deck The Cup Alexander Ovechkin Rookie 4/81963-64 Topps Hockey Card Full Set 66/66Huge Vintage Hockey Lot - 116 Cards, Gretzky, Hull, Orr, Many Rookies, Stars !!15-16 Ud Series 1 #201-connor Mcdavid Young Guns Rookie Card!ssp!!79-80 Opc Wayne Gretzky Rookie Oilers Opeechee 197913-14 The Cup Wayne Gretzky Honorable Numbers Patch Auto /9 2 Color1965-66 Topps Hockey Card Full Set 128/12813-14 Ultimate Collection ,ultimate Rc Auto , 49/99 , Bgs 9.5 , Nathan Mackinnon2015-16 Upper Deck Young Guns Complete 201-250 With Mcdavid Plus Bonus Parkhurst1954-55 Parkhurst Hockey Card Full Set 100/1001979-80, O-pee-chee, #18 Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card, Bvg 51964-65 Topps Hockey Card Starter Set 83/1102009/2010 Upper Deck Black Lustrous Materials Auto Jersey Wayne Gretzky /5013-14 Ice Premieres Rookie 161 Leon Draisaitl /99 Free Shipping2014-15 The Cup Patrick Roy Guy Lafleur Jean Beliveau Triple Auto #'d 11/15 2015-16 Upper Deck Connor Mcdavid Rookie Parkhurst Red & Green 2card #pr-1*hot*07/08 Upper Deck Carey Price Rc #227 Young Guns Yg Rookie 10-11 The Cup , Rookie Auto Patch Sp , 50/99 , 1 Color Patch , Taylor Hall2013-14 Upper Deck The Cup Sean Monahan Auto Monumental Patch Rc 4/5 Flames Sick1959-60 Topps Hockey Card Full Set 66/661980-81 O-pee-chee Hockey Card Full Set 396/396

Recent News: Hockey Cards

Source: Google News

Terry Sheehan goes to Ottawa
Sault Star, November 26th

While many of his peers were flashing around hockey cards signed by their favourite players, Sheehan was flashing around an autographed glossy print of then prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. It all started when Sheehan, a bright-eyed Grade 3...Read more

Huntsville's 80-plus Hall of Fame inductees credit..., November 25th

80-plus Hockey Hall of Fame inductees Gerry Lannan, Bill Kennedy and Watt Parsons were out meeting, greeting and handing out hockey cards at the Canada Summit Centre on Nov. 21. The award is about promoting lifetime active living and honouring ...Read more

McDavid Mania Spreads as Fans Search for Connor McDavid Rookie Cards in 2015 ...
GlobeNewswire (press release), November 20th

The highly anticipated McDavid 'Young Guns' card is available exclusively in boxes of Upper Deck Series One Hockey cards at local hobby shops across the U.S. and Canada. While puck fans have been awaiting McDavid's debut into the National Hockey ...Read more

For the good of the game, bring on the bigger nets
ESPN, November 18th

It's less of a recreational outlet supported with baseball and hockey cards and books on a bookshelf and more a heavily invested custom in real time. Additionally, it's unfair to the current NHL goal scorer if you want to play the record-book card...Read more

Girls hockey: Cards' strong start continues with win over Moorhead
Alexandria Echo Press, November 17th

Alexandria sophomore Kristin Trosvig handles the puck while Moorhead's Jenna Perreault (right) tries to catch up during the second period of the Cardinals' 3-1 win on Tuesday at the RCC. (Eric Morken | Echo Press) ...Read more

RCMP seeking owner of hockey cards
Prince George Citizen, November 13th

Prince George RCMP are looking to return a hockey card collection recovered this past summer. The cards are believed to have been stolen on or before June 13 and to date the owner has not come forward. Anyone who believes they may be the owner is ...Read more

Brock Krygier brings NHL pedigree to ASU hockey, November 13th

"Kids at school would ask me when they saw hockey cards like 'Oh that's so cool,' like are you as good as him?" While Brock described his dad as a "hard-nosed winger," he himself is a stay-at-home defenseman. Todd spent some time playing defense during ...Read more

Girls hockey: Cards run record to 2-0
Alexandria Echo Press, November 11th

The Alexandria girls hockey team has gone through stretches where it has dominated its opponents on the way to a 2-0 start to the season. Advertisement. x. previous next. SendPrint. Plaza Tire & Auto. Fall Car Care Package - $39.95; Oil Change Special ...Read more