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”)

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    

Vintage Hockey Cards Lot - 1968-69 Opc Complete Set - Parent Rc, Orr, Hull, Howe2013-14 The Cup Gretzky Lemieux Team Canada Signature Renditions Auto Sp 1/15 ! 2013-14 National Treasures Buried Treasures Auto 4/5 Gordie Howe Red Wings1979-80 Opc O Pee Chee Wayne Gretzky Sgc 96 (9) Mint 50/50 Hof Rc Rookie Oilers1960-61 Topps Hockey #14 Stan Mikita Rookie Psa 61979 1980 O-pee-chee Rookie Card - Wayne Gretzky # 18 Wayne Gretzky 2013-14 The Cup Upper Deck Program Of Excellence Auto 10/10Mark Messier Wayne Gretzky & Charles Fazzino Signed & Artwork W/ Steiner Coa Robitaille & Roenick 13-14 Ud The Cup Dual Auto Nhl Shield Logo 1/1Mario Lemieux 2012-13 Ud The Cup Limited Logos Auto/patch /25 Sp1979 80 Wayne Gretzky Opc O-pee-chee Ksa 9 Mint+Authentic Martin Brodeur Event/game Worn Home Jersey Reebok Coa Nhl EnterprisesLe Blanc Nordstrom Raanta 13-14 Ud The Cup Nhl Shield Trios Rc Triple Logo 1/12013-14 Upper Deck The Cup Program Of Excellence Auto Wayne Gretzky 01/10Mario Lemieux 2009-10 The Cup Crosby Tribute Auto Signed Patch. #9 Of 10 Bgs 8.52013-14 The Cup Wayne Gretzky Scripted Sticks Autographed Stick Card 11/3513-14 Upper Deck The Cup Scripted Sticks Wayne Gretzky 7/35 Game Worn Western Michigan Hockey JerseyWayne Gretzky 18 1979-80 O-pee-chee Hockey Card Aca 711 12 The Cup Enshrinements Tripe Auto - M.messier/w.gretzky/p.coffey 3/101968-69 Shirriff Hockey Nhl Coin Carol Vadnais Oakland2013-14 13-14 The Cup Jaromir Jagr Mario Lemieux Signature Renditions Auto /151979 Topps Hockey Complete (264) Card Set ... Nm-mt+ / Mint ... Gretzky RookieGame Worn Western Michigan Hockey Jersey2013-14 National Treasures Booklet Nathan Mackinnon Rc Nhl Shield Logo Patch 1/109/10 Nhl Reebok Buffalo Sabres Tyler Myers Game Worn Jersey 58+Vintage Viceroy Nhl Puck Set Of 20Gordie Howe "mr. Hockey" Autographed Detroit Red Wings Signed JerseySidney Crosby 2013 14 National Treasures Nhl Gear Triple Stick Jersey Patch 6/102013-14 The Cup Scripted Sticks Auto Stick Wayne Gretzky Rangers 22/35Game Worn St. Johns Flames Hockey Jersey2013-14 The Cup Dual Scripted Sticks Auto Wayne Gretzky Jari Kurri 13/151986/87 Topps Hockey Wax Box (36 Factory Sealed Packs) Patrick Roy Rc?1969-70 Opc O-pee-chee #138 Tony Esposito Psa 9 Mint Rc Rookie Not Bgs BvgWayne Gretzky Signed Autographed Team Canada Puck - Upper Deck Coa2013-14 The Cup Scripted Sticks Dual Auto Wayne Gretzky Jari Kurri Sp #'d /152013-14 Ud The Cup Jonathan Huberdeau Rookie Auto Patch Card Black #2/3! Nhl TagGame Worn Umass Hockey JerseyGame Worn Drew Bailey Early 2000's Alaska Hockey Jersey Ccha Size 542013-14 The Cup Hockey Honorable Numbers Mario Lemieux Penguins Patch Auto 2/611/12 Panini Dominion Greening / Condra Rookie Ensigns Dual Nhl Shield Auto 1/12013-14 The Cup Hockey Sidney Crosby Scripted Sticks Relic Auto Redemption (sc)Chris Bourque 2012-2013 Providence Bruins Pre-game Bear Jersey(203) Base Card Lot Of 13-14 Ud The Cup /249 Gretzky Crosby2012-13 The Cup Ray Bourque Patch Tag Auto Black 1/1 Sig Boston Bruins1980-81 O Pee Chee Opc Hockey Unopened Wax Pack Graded Psa 91964-65 Topps Hockey #94 Dave Keon Psa 7 1979-80 Opc O-pee-chee Wayne Gretzky Rc #18 Ksa 6.5 Enm+ Hof1985 O-pee-chee Mario Lemieux #9 Hockey CardVntg 90s Starter Nhl Mighty Ducks Of Anaheim Mens Jersey Sz L Mint ConditiionNew Reebok Ncaa North Dakota Fighting Sioux Authentic Hockey Black Jersey 54Vtg 90's New York Islanders Fisherman Ccm Jersey Retro Nhl Rare Logo Alternate1979-80 Topps #18 Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card RcRico Fata Authentic Hartford Wolfpack Ahl 9/11 Tribute Jersey, Size 56, Rare1976-77 O-pee-chee Opc Hockey Complete Set (396) Nm To Nm-mt ConditionWayne Gretzky Autographed Signed Oilers Jersey With Ga Coa And Matching Hologram1985 Opc Wax Pax Mario Lemieux Rookie Showing On Back! Psa Mint 9 The Holy Grail13-14 The Cup Wayne Gretzky BrillianceNathan Mackinnon 11/25 Autographed Rookie From Upper Deck- The Cup Hockey Series2013-14 Ud Ultimate Collection Hockey: Brendan Gallagher Gold Rookie Auto #47/99