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    

1979-80 Opc Complete Set 396 Hockey Cards, Wayne Gretzky Rc1979-80 Opc Hockey #18 Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card Bvg 8.5Lehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Gostisbehere #14 Jersey Flyers Nhl1971-72 Opc Complete Set 264 Hockey Cards, Ken Dryden Rc, Guy Lafleur Rc2015 Upper Deck Industry Summit Wayne Gretzky/bobby Orr 11/15 Dual AutoBobby Orr Rc - 1966-67 Topps #35 (graded 7.0) Rare1972-73 Opc Complete Set 341 Hockey Cards, Orr, Dryden, Lafleur, Hull 1979-80 O-pee-chee #18 Wayne Gretzky Rc Psa 7Original 1954-55 Topps 1c Hockey Card Wax Pack Wrapper Nice!2005-06 Upper Deck Young Gun Hockey # 443 Alexander Ovechkin Rookie Card Bgs 102008-09 Sp Authentic Hockey # 247 Steven Stamkos Auto Rookie Futur Watch Bgs 9.51966-67 Topps Bobby Orr Rc Sgc 1Wayne Gretzky Auto 7/20 2015 Upper Deck Las Vegas SummitLehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Zack Stortini #45 Jersey Flyers NhlLehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Nick Cousins #25 Jersey Flyers Nhl1974-75 Opc Complete Set 396 Hockey Cards, Bob Gainey Rc, Scotty Bowman RcLehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Brett Hextall #16 Jersey Flyers NhlLehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Robert Hagg #4 Jersey Flyers Nhl1952 Parkhurst Hockey #58 - Tim Horton Rc1979 Topps #18 Wayne Gretzky Rookie Hof Oilers Psa 8 (oc) *520305Lehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Anthony Stolarz #35 Jersey Flyers Nhl1979-80 O-pee-chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie Graded Ksa 6 Oilers #18 1st Print RunGame Worn / Used Wisconsin Badger Hockey Jersey Size 58 Goalie Frozen Four Patch1985-86 Opc Hockey # 9 Mario Lemieux Rookie Card Bgs 9Pittsburgh Penguins Art Ross/converse Nhl Game PuckPittsburgh Penguins Art Ross/converse Nhl Game PuckLehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Petr Straka #24 Jersey Flyers Nhl1999 Eric Lindros Game-worn / Autographed Nhl All-star Jersey 1971 O-pee-chee Opc #45 Ken Dryden Rookie Psa 9Lehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Taylor Leier #23 Jersey Flyers NhlGame Worn Used University Of Denver Dakota Mermis Hockey Jersey Wcha 13-14 Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky Auto Franchise Ink 2013 Upper DeckPittsburgh Penguins Art Ross/converse Nhl Game PuckLehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Jay Rosehill #37 Jersey Flyers Nhl1979 Topps Wayne Gretzky Rookie Auto Gem Mint 101971-72 Opc Hockey # 148 Guy Lafleur Rookie Card Bvg 8.51974 Topps Hockey 3 Pack Wax Tray. Awesome!Game Worn Miami Hockey JerseyLehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Mark Alt #2 Jersey Flyers NhlLehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Andrew Gordon #10 Jersey Flyers NhlLehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Kevin Goumas #17 Jersey Flyers NhlOttawa Senators Game Worn Hockey Jersey Shean Donovan - Meigray - 2009/20101969-70 O-pee-chee #138 Tony Esposito Rookie Psa 8 Tyler Toffoli Los Angeles Kings Game Worn Hockey Jersey With Meigray Docs09-10 The Cup Wayne Gretzky Mark Messier /35 Auto Enshrinement Duals 2009 Oilers1985-86 O-pee-chee Opc #9 Mario Lemieux Rookie Bccg Graded 9 Lehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Oliver Lauridsen #7 Jersey Flyers Nhl1980 O-pee-chee Opc Hockey #289 Mark Messier Oilers Rc Hof Psa 9 Mint " Error "Sarnia Sting Ohl Game Worn Used Hockey Jersey #24 Kyle Neuber - Fighter RepairsPhiladelphia Flyers Hockey Jersey Ron Hextall Size 56 Mitchell & Ness Nhl 75thNew York Rangers Authentic Hockey Jersey White Size 54 Ccm Nhl W/ Fight StrapLehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Worn Darroll Powe #36 Jersey Flyers Nhl1979-80 O-pee-chee Opc Wayne Gretzky Rookie Rc #18 Graded 5.5 Bgs Bvg Six 6 Logo Patch /5 Wayne Gretzky Sidney Crosby Messier Yzerman Lemieux Ovechkin1979/80 Topps Complete Hockey Set (264) With Wayne Gretzky Rookie In Binder Reebok Und Fighting Sioux Hockey Jersey Adult Medium White1979-80 O-pee-chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie Bvg 5.51952 Parkhurst Hockey #88 Gordie Howe Red Wings Hof Psa 4.5 Vg-ex+ Centered07-08 Ud The Cup Wayne Gretzky Autograph Edm 18/25Lehigh Valley Phantoms Authentic Game Issued Steven Delisle #5 Jersey Flyers Nhl