Some say the First Nations peoples of Canada introduced the world to ice hockey as we know it today. Others claim the source of the sport was a game called hurley, played in Windsor, Nova Scotia in the late 18th century.

Whatever its origins, hockey is a uniquely Canadian sport. During most of the 1800s, some form of hockey was ubiquitous north of the 49th parallel, and by 1875 the first indoor hockey game was played at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal. In a harbinger, perhaps, of things to come, rules were established a few years later.

By 1885, there were enough amateur hockey players in Montreal to form a league, which spawned a championship played during the city’s annual winter carnival. The Governor General of Canada, Lord Stanley of Preston, eventually purchased a silver Sheffield trophy for the winners, and thus, in 1893, the Montreal Hockey Club became the first team, amateur or professional, to claim the Stanley Cup.

Professional 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. Imperial Tobacco promptly issued the first hockey cards for the 1910 and 1911 seasons.

After a drought of two decades, Canadian chewing gum companies O-Pee-Chee and Ice Kings issued hockey cards in 1933. The Ice Kings set only lasted one year, but OPC, as the company is known, made hockey cards until the early 1940s.

After World War II, Parkhurst produced hockey cards, and continued to do so until 1964, but its licenses limited its output of cards—in some years it only made cards depicting players on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. Topps got into the game in 1954. By the late 1960s, OPC had resumed its association with hockey by distributing Topps cards with its name on them.

Other hockey collectibles from the 1960s were the plastic coins made by Shirriff, a maker of jelly desserts and puddings—these coins often featured the Salada Foods brand on them...

Shirriff was not the only dessert company to produce what are now considered hockey collectibles. In 1970, Dad’s Cookies published a series of 144 vertically shaped cards featuring players like Bobby Orr, Tony Esposito, Jacques Plante, and Jean Beliveau. The cards are a bit of a curiosity since each player posed for his photo wearing an NHL Players uniform rather than his team uniform.

Signed hockey memorabilia is another favorite of hockey fans and collectors. Autographed, game-worn jerseys from Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe are highly prized (for both players, the older the jersey, the better). Game-used signed hockey sticks are also popular, as are team-signed sticks.

Pucks are in a class by themselves. Some just bear the player’s signature, while pucks from 1972 and 1973 that were used to score a goal were cataloged and authenticated by the NHL—these pucks are usually signed and dated, and come with a certificate from the NHL.

In terms of printed matter, official NHL Hockey Guides are collectible, especially those from 1930s through the 1950s. And if you can find them, the 8-by-10 photos given away as promos by Bee Hive Golden Corn Syrup from 1934 to 1967 are terrific collectibles. More than 1,000 different photos were produced during the promotion’s 34 years. Find one with a player’s signature, and you’ve got a unique vintage hockey collector’s item.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

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    

2015-16 The Cup Legends Of The Nhl Booklet Patrick Roy Brodeur Hasek Auto 1/91979 O-pee-chee Hockey Wayne Gretzky Rookie Rc #18 Psa 7 Nrmt (pwcc)1985 O-pee-chee Hockey Mario Lemieux Rookie Rc #9 Psa 9 Mint (pwcc)1966 Topps Bobby Orr Rookie Rc Bvg 6 Psa No Reserve2005-06 Upper Deck Sidney Crosby Young Guns #201 Hockey Rookie Card RcMario Lemieux Signed Game-used Stick - Mario Lemieux Foundation1975-76 Mike Keenan Whitby Warriors Original Game Worn Durene Hockey JerseyGame Worn Used Hockey Jersey - Eric Gelinas - 2014-15 New Jersey Devils RetroAhl Milwaukee Admirals Game-worn Jersey Black Reebok Edge #20 Daniel BangVtg Detroit Vipers Home Game Worn Hockey Jersey Sears Used 1995/96Nhl Hof Original Six Autographed Signed 16x20 Photo 6 Sigs Gordie Howe Psa/dna1980 Usa Olympic Hockey Team Autographed 16x20 Miracle On Ice 20 Bob Suter Auto2010-11 Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Game-used Goal-scored Puck -malkin AstJean-luc Grand-pierre Home Game Worn Columbus Blue Jackets Jersey Hockey Used 01Mario Lemieux Signed Inscribed Pittsburgh Penguins Puck-mario Lemieux FoundationAlex Ovechkin Washington Capitals Game Used Hockey Gloves - Solid Use (team Coa)2012-13 Alexander Beauregard South Carolina Stingrays Game Worn Hockey JerseyBobby Orr Signed Bruins Winter Classic Jersey (coa Jsa)Vintage Art Ross/converse Pittsburgh Penguins Puck (1969-1977) Rubber Crest Game2016-17 Jimmy Vesey New York Rangers Game-used Goal-scored Puck -2nd Career GoalMario Lemieux Signed Sports Illustrated -miracle On Ice-mario Lemieux Foundation2016-17 Jimmy Vesey New York Rangers Game-used Goal-scored Puck -3rd Career GoalMario Lemieux Signed Sports Illustrated - 2nd Coming - Mario Lemieux FoundationMario Lemieux Signed Sports Illustrated - Mr Hockey - Mario Lemieux Foundation1979 O-pee-chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card Psa 8 Nm-mt2015 Sp Authentic Hockey Connor Mcdavid Rookie Rc Auto /999 #226 Psa 10 (pwcc)1979-80 Topps Hockey # 18 Wayne Gretzky Rookie Psa 8 Nm-mt Card1969-70 O-pee-chee Opc #61 Gordie Howe Hof Psa 9 1985 O-pee-chee Opc #9 Mario Lemieux Penguins Rc Rookie Hof Psa 9 Mint 2015 Sp Authentic Hockey Connor Mcdavid Rookie Rc Auto /999 #226 Bgs 9.5 (pwcc)1951 Parkhurst Gordie Howe Rc Rookie Psa 3 Nr No ReserveWayne Gretzky Rookie Card Opc Ksa 8.51967-68 Topps #113 Bobby Hull Psa 91967 Topps Hockey #92 Bobby Orr Hof Boston Bruins Psa 8 Nm-mt1979 O-pee-chee Opc Hockey #18 Wayne Gretzky Oilers Rc Rookie Hof Psa 6 Ex-mt 1979 Topps Hockey Wayne Gretzky Rookie Rc #18 Psa 7 Nrmt (pwcc)1979-80 O-pee-chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie #18 Bvg 5.52011-12 The Cup Wayne Gretzky And Bobby Orr Trophy Cuts Au #1/1!!! Bgs 9.5!!!Chicago Blackhawks 1958-64 Art Ross National Hockey League Tyer Rubber Co. PuckWayne Gretzky Autographed Puck; Framed Photographic Shadowbox Display Last Game1967 Topps Hockey #113 Bobby Hull Hof Chicago Blackhawks Psa 9 MintOle-kristian Tollefsen Road Game Worn Columbus Blue Jackets Jersey Hockey Used1969-70 1969 Topps Hockey Complete Set Ex Nice Looking 132 Cards Bobby Orr2008-09 O-pee-chee Hockey Complete (1-800) Retro Version Card Set1958 Topps Hockey Bobby Hull Rookie Rc #66 + 1959-60 Topps Hockey Card #47 (two 2016-17 Upper Deck Tim Hortons Nhl Jersey Relics Connor Mcdavid Bgs 9 ,1:1800Wayne Gretzky Signed Autographed Oilers Ccm Jersey W/ Wga Coa & Gretzky Hologram2015-16 Ud The Cup Wayne Gretzky Foundations Quad Jersey Auto 6/15 Oilers Goat!1979 Topps Wayne Gretzky #18 Rookie Hockey Card Rc Massive 350 Hockey Card Lot Auto Patch Rc Insert Rare Short Print Young GunsDetroit Red Wings Gordie Howe Autographed Signed Red Jersey "mr. Hockey" Psa/dnaWayne Gretzky And Jaromir Jagr Autographed Final Game Program; Ny Rangers2016-17 Upper Deck Hockey - Auston Matthews - Young Guns Rc Bgs 9.5 Gem Mint2007 Inked Sweaters Wayne Gretzky 5/10 Auto Patch Kings2015-16 The Cup Wayne Gretzky Enshrinements On Card Auto Sp (10/25)1979 O-pee-chee Wayne Gretzky #18 ... Graded Psa 41933 Goudey World Wide Gum Ice Kings Hockey #23 Harold Oliver Psa 8 Pop 42014-15 Masterpieces Auto 76 Wayne GretzkyWayne Gretzky Signed Campbell All Star Jersey (coa:gai Gv850808)World Championship Hockey 2011 Game Worn Jersey David Rundblad Sweden Zsc Lions