Sports cards have been around for a long time. Some baseball cards from the deadball era of baseball can fetch millions of dollars. While hockey cards may not be that expensive, the rare ones featuring legendary players have commanded a significant price as well.
As with almost anything in life, the most rare items are also the most expensive. And this includes cards for players of ice hockey, the national sport and passion of Canada. Here then is a list of the top ten rarest hockey cards in the world.
1. Wayne Gretzky, 1979 O-Pee-Chee BVG 9.5 – $94,613
He is known as The Great One, for he is probably the greatest hockey player ever to play the game. He is the leading point scorer in the National Hockey League. He actually has more assists than any player has points. He is still the only player to accumulate at least 200 points in one season, and he did it four times. He had 14 consecutive seasons when he scored more than a century. He also won the sportsmanship award in a game where fighting is an integral part. When he retired in 1999, he held 40 regular season records, 15 playoff records and 6 All-Star game records. So it is just appropriate that he also holds the record for the most rare and most expensive hockey card ever, as his rookie card with the Edmonton Oilers is valued at more than $94,000. He also played for the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers.
2. Bobby Orr, 1966 Topps PSA 9 – $47,600
Bobby Orr played 12 years in the NHL, ten with the Boston Bruins and two more with the Chicago Blackhawks. He revolutionized the defense position by using his speed to make plays and score points. He is the only defenseman to have the scoring title. In his 12 years, he was adjudged Best Defenseman for eight. He was also the Most Valuable Player three times. A year after retiring, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the age of 31, the youngest at that time.
3. Gordie Howe, 1951 Parkhurst PSA 9 – $17,980
He is known as Mr. Hockey, and he has a registered trademark for it. He played for the Detroit Red Wings and the Hartford Whalers, as well as the Houston Aeros and New England Whalers in the World Hockey Association. He played in the NHL for five different decades from the 1940s to the 1980s. He has four Stanley Cup rings, six MVPs and six Art Ross Trophies for leading the league in scoring. He was also awarded the NHL Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. The Parkhurst card is considered unique because it was issued using thin paper stock and is smaller than today’s cards.
4. Mario Lemieux, 1985 O-Pee-Chee BVG 10 – $14,500
He played 17 seasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins over a period of 22 years. He was actually already in the Hall of Fame when he decided to lace up his skates again. He is a gifted scorer who won two Stanley Cups, an Olympic gold, a World Cup and a Canada Cup. He was three-time regular season MVP, two-time playoff MVP and six-time scoring champion. He became principal owner of the Penguins in 1999 after buying the team out of bankruptcy. He is the only one to have won the Cup as player and as owner.
5. Gordie Howe, 1954 Topps SGC 96 – $13,200
This 1954 card from Mr. Hockey is a mainstream issue compared to the 1951 Parkhurst. It is also valued a bit less than the 1951 release.
6. Georges Vezina, 1911 Imperial Tobacco PSA 7 – $13,200
His full name was Joseph Georges Gonzague Vezina. He was the only goaltender that the Montreal Canadiens knew from 1910 to 1925, minding the net for the team for seven seasons in the National Hockey Association and nine more in the National Hockey League. He played 327 consecutive games in the regular season, as well as 39 games in the playoffs. His calm composure in front of the goal earned him the nickname of Chicoutimi Cucumber. He allowed the fewest goals scored by an opponent for seven seasons. In 1918, he earned the distinction of being the first goaltender in the NHL to record both a shutout and an assist in the same game. Unfortunately, he died in 1926 because of tuberculosis. The Vezina Trophy is now awarded every year to the most outstanding goaltender in the league. His card is the oldest to make it to the top ten.
7. Bobby Hull, 1958 Topps PSA 8 – $13,000
The man known as The Golden Jet is probably the greatest left-winger in ice hockey history. He had the most feared slapshot in the NHL. He was the scoring champion three times, and he won a Stanley Cup ring. He played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets and the Hartford Whalers. He attempted a comeback with the New York Rangers, but withdrew before the season started.
8. Guy LaFleur, 1971 O-Pee-Chee PSA 10 – $12,300
He was one of the game’s most popular players, so popular that he had two nicknames. English-speaking fans called him Flower, while French-speaking fans called him Le Demon Blond, or the blond demon. He played for 17 seasons over a span of 20 years for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques, winning five Stanley Cup rings along the way. LaFleur is the leading scorer in the history of the Montreal Canadiens, winning three scoring titles in the process.
9. Jacques Plante, 1955 Quaker Oats SGC 84 – $12,000
His career spanned an astounding 28 years, Plante was one of the game’s foremost innovators. He played for the Montreal Canadiens for ten years, winning six Stanley Cups, including five consecutive victories. He retired in 1965, but returned in 1968 to play for the St. Louis Blues. He also played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers. Plante pioneered the use of the helmet mask for goaltenders.
10. Bobby Orr, 1966 Tops USA Test PSA – $10,600
The second card from Orr, this one contains an English-only text at the back of the card, compared to the more expensive one at number two that has English and French text.