Until the 1990s, hockey card collecting was a modest hobby enjoyed by mostly hockey enthusiasts. Amazing rookie cards, big print runs, and Wayne Gretzky playing in the US peaked interests, fueling a level of interest in hockey cards never seen before.

Whilst interest in hockey cards settled back down, the 2020 global pandemic gave people an abundance of free time and a desire to keep engaged in sports that were abruptly canceled.

Sports card collecting saw significant growth in popularity, demand outgrew supply and the price of hockey cards grew alongside it.

13 Most Valuable Hockey Cards (Round-up list)

In this guide, I’ll take you through the most valuable Hockey cards, looking at their values and what makes them so rare.

These are 13 of the most valuable cards currently valued or recently sold at auction.

Number Hockey Card Grade Price
1 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie #18 PSA 10 $1,290,000
2 1966 Topps Bobby Orr Rookie #35 Beckett 10 $276,000
3 2015 Upper Deck The Cup Connor McDavid Rookie #197 PSA 10 $228,000
4 1958 Topps Bobby Hull Rookie #66 PSA 8 $87,000
5 1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux #9 PSA 10 $78,000
6 2005 Upper Deck The Cup Sidney Crosby Rookie #180 Beckett 9 $75,000
7 1951 ParkHurst Maurice Richard #4 PSA 8.5 $75,000
8 1911 C55 Georges Vezina #38 SGC 9 $56,400
9 1951 Parkhurst Gordie Howe #66 PSA 8 $31,200
10 1923-24 V145-1 Patterson Bert Corbeau #25 PSA Good 2 $31,070
11 1951 Parkhurst Terry Sawchuk #61 PSA 8 $24,000
12 2013 Fleer Showcase Wayne Gretzky #MU-5 SGC 9 $23,400
13 2015 Fleer Showcase Connor McDavid Rookie #MU-1 Beckett 9 $22,200

1) 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie #18

1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie #18
Source

(Sold December 2020 by Heritage Auctions)

-$1,935,000 offer in March 2021

-$2,300,000 offer in March 2021

-$3,400,000 offer in April 2021

  • Grade: PSA 10
  • Card Number: #81

Coming in the number 1 spot of the most valuable hockey cards is the iconic 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie.

Wayne Gretzky is an ex-professional Canadian ice hockey player and head coach. He’s generally regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time, being the leading goalscorer, assist maker, and point scorer in NHL history.

The card features Wayne looking around skating in his Edmonton Oilers jersey. The card also has ‘Wayne Gretzky C Edmonton Oilers’ written at the top.

The card comes from the ‘O-Pee-Chee’ range, typically more difficult to find in a high grade compared to other brands due to lower quality and printing standards. The card is only 1 of 2 known to achieve a PSA 10 grading, making it extremely rare and therefore very valuable to hockey card collectors.

The card sold in December 2010 for $1,290,000 at a Heritage auction. Since then it has received 3 offers of $1.9, 2.3, and 3.4m dollars, but remains unsold.

2) 1966 Topps Bobby Orr Rookie #35

1966 Topps Bobby Orr Rookie #35
Source

(Sold February 2021 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $276,000
  • Grade: Beckett 10
  • Card Number: #35

Bobby Orr also known as Gordan Orr, is also a former professional Canadian ice hockey player. He played in the NHL for 12 seasons and is also acknowledged by many as the greatest of all time. He is the only defenceman to win the league scoring title with two Art Ross trophies and holds the record for the most points and assists in 1 season by a defenceman.

The card features Bobby looking straight into the camera in front of the ice hockey rink. The card has ‘Bobby Orr, Defense Boston Bruins’ written at the bottom in yellow and black.

The card comes from the 1966 Topps USA test set. It’s considered very rare as the information on the back of the card is in English, not usually seen in Hockey cards.

The card is graded as a Beckett 10, meaning it is pristine and making it highly sought after. It was sold at a Heritage Auction in February 2021 for $276,000.

3) 2015 Upper Deck The Cup Connor McDavid Rookie #197

2015 Upper Deck The Cup Connor McDavid Rookie #197
Source

(Sold in July 2022 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $228,000
  • Grade: PSA 10
  • Card Number: #197

Connor McDavid is a professional Ice Hockey center and current captain of the Edmonton Oilers. McDavid is considered one of the best players in the NHL alongside players like Wayne Gretzky. He was the 2015 first-round draft pick and is the recipient of many converted hockey awards.

The card comes from the Upper Deck brand, well-regarded amongst sports card collectors for producing high-quality cards containing jersey patches and autographs.

The rookie card features Connor in an Edmonton Oilers jersey, skating on the ice whilst looking on at the current play. At the bottom of the card is a rookie patch in 3 different colors and Mcdavid’s signature in blue ink.

The card isgraded as a PSA 10, with only two other known examples. It sold at a Heritage auction in July 2022 for $228,000.

4) 1958 Topps Bobby Hull Rookie #66

1958 Topps Bobby Hull Rookie #66
Source

(Sold February 2021 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $87,000
  • Grade: PSA 8
  • Card Number: #66

Bobby Hull was a former professional Canadian Ice hockey player. With his blonde hair and fast skating speed, he was nicknamed ‘The Golden Jet’. He is the only player to lead the league in scoring seven times. He was the NHL’s MVP twice. In 2017, Hull was named one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players in history.

The card comes from Topps where he was introduced by the brand during his second professional campaign. It features Hull posing for the camera in a red jersey against a green and yellow background. The card has Bobby Hull’s name at the top in white and ‘Chicago Black Hawks, Center’ at the bottom of the card in white and black.

Only seven examples are known to exist in this quality compared to 2000 Gretzky rookies, showing how rare this card is. The card is graded as a PSA 8, bested only twice in 500 PSA submissions.

The card was sold at a Heritage auction in February 2021 for $87,000.

5) 1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux #9

1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux #9
Source

(Sold February 2021 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $78,000
  • Grade: PSA 10
  • Card Number: #9

Nicknamed ‘The Magnificent One’, Mario Lemieux is a former professional Canadian ice hockey player. Mario led the Pittsburgh Penguins to 2 Stanley cups and is a 9-time all-star. He led the NHL scoring 6 times and won various awards throughout his career as a center.

This 1985 card features Mario in a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey on the ice and was released shortly after he won the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year in 1984-85. At the top left of the card is the Penguins logo. At the bottom is Mario’s name and his position in black.

The O-Pee-Chee rookie card is written in both English and French and graded as a 10 by the PSA. It’s more valuable than Marios single other recognized rookie card, a PSA 10 from Topps.

The card was sold at a Heritage auction in February 2021 for $78,000.

6) 2005 Upper Deck The Cup Sidney Crosby Rookie #180

 

2005 Upper Deck The Cup Sidney Crosby Rookie #180
Source

(Sold May 2022 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $75,000
  • Grade: Beckett 9
  • Card Number: #180

Sidney Crosby is a professional ice hockey player and the current captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nicknamed ‘Sid the Kid’, he was the first overall draft pick from the Penguins in 2005. Like the other players on this card list, Sidney is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Crosby set two rookie franchise records, beating those previously held by Mario Lemieux.

This is another card example from the Upper Deck brand and features Sidney as a rookie. The card is from the maiden entry of The Cup and features a two-color rookie patch and Sidney’s handwritten autograph on the middle of the card in blue ink. The card also has the stamped serial number 96/99.

The card is graded as a Beckett 9 with the autograph a Beckett 10. It sold at a Heritage auction for $75,000 in May 2022.

7) 1951 ParkHurst Maurice Richard #4

1951 ParkHurst Maurice Richard #4
Source

(Sold July 2022 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $75,000
  • Grade: BGS 8.5
  • Card Number: #4

Nicknamed ‘Rocket’, Joseph Henri Maurice Richard was a former Canadian professional ice hockey player. He played 18 seasons in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens and is the first player in history to score 50 goals in 1 season.

Richard retired in 1960 as the league’s all-time leading goal scorer and was named one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players in history in 2017. After tragically dying in 2000, demand for Maurice Richard cards grew.

This is an example of a rookie card from the 1951 Parkhurst issue, highly sought after by collectors. The card features Maurice on the ice in his Canadiens jersey as a right-wing. The card has ‘Maurice Rocket Richard’ at the bottom along with his playing stats from the 1950-51 season. The card is labeled as ‘NO. 4 Parkie 1951-52 Hockey Series’.

The card is graded as a PSA 10, with only five rated higher. This card example was sold at a Heritage Auction in July 2021 for $75,000.

8) 1911 C55 Georges Vezina #38

1911 C55 Georges Vezina #38
Source

 

(Sold December 2019 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $56,400
  • Grade: SGC 9
  • Card Number: #38

Born in 1887, Georges Vezina was a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender. He played seven seasons in the NHA and nine in the NHL, all with the Montreal Canadiens. Before being diagnosed with tuberculosis and passing away at 40 in 1926, Vezina helped the Canadiens to 2 Stanley Cups and 3 final appearances. He was nicknamed the ‘Chicoutimi Cucumber’ known for his calm demeanor whilst in goal.

This 1911 C55 Imperial Tobacco card is one of the first hockey cards ever produced. It features the artwork of Vezina bordered with two upside-down Hockey sticks.

The card is graded as a BGS 9, the only example known in this condition making it highly collectible. It sold in December 2019 at a Heritage auction for $56,401.

9) 1951 Parkhurst Gordie Howe #66

1951 Parkhurst Gordie Howe #66
Source

(Sold December 2019 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $31,200
  • Grade: PSA 8
  • Card Number: #66

At Number 9 is the 1951 Parkhurst Gordie Howe card. Gordie Howe was a professional ice hockey player who spent most of his 32 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. Nicknamed ‘Mr. Hockey’, he was considered the most complete player and one of the greatest of all time. He held three records for the most goals, assists, and total points until they were broken by the player featured in our number 1 spot, Wayne Gretzky.

This is another card example from the 1951 Parkhurst issue and features the artwork of Gordie in a Detroit Red Wings jersey. The card has Howe’s name at the bottom along with his playing stats from his 1950-51 season. The card is labeled  ‘No. 66 in the ‘PARKIE’ 1951-52 Hockey Series’.

The card is graded as a PSA 8, with only three rated higher. What makes this card so valuable is the way these cards were produced. The card material is fragile and the edges have been cut by a guillotine. Once made, they were tossed into a cement mixer to be randomized, making high-graded versions of this card extremely special.

The card was sold in December 2019 at a Heritage auction for $31,200.

10) 1923-24 V145-1 Patterson Bert Corbeau #25

1923-24 V145-1 Patterson Bert Corbeau #25
Source

(Sold August 2016 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $31,070
  • Grade: PSA Good 2
  • Card Number: #25

In the number 10 position is the Bert Corbeau card from the 1923 V145-1 Patterson series. Bert Corbeau was a former professional ice hockey defenceman who played 10 seasons in the NHL for 4 different teams. He was part of the Stanley cup winning Canadiens team in 1916.

The card features a portrait of Bert in a white jersey with his name and ‘St. Patricks – Toronto’ Underneath. The V145-1 Patterson series was a 40-card set, the first of 2 promotions featuring other well-known players.

Patterson decided to let consumers exchange a complete forty-card set for a pair of skates. This led to very limited production of the #25 Corbeau cards, making them extremely rare and leaving most collectors at 39/40 cards.

This card example is graded as a PSA Good 2, one of only three uncanceled examples graded by PSA. It’s one of only two graded as good with no higher examples known to exist. The card has a small puncture near the top center and some staining at the bottom.

The card was sold at auction in August 2016 for $31,070.

11) 1951 Parkhurst Terry Sawchuk #61

1951 Parkhurst Terry Sawchuk #61
Source

(Sold July 2021 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $24,000
  • Grade: PSA 8
  • Card Number: #61

Another card example from the 1951 Parkhurst series is this one featuring Terry Sawchuk. Sawchuk was a Canadian professional goaltender, playing 21 seasons in the NHL for five teams. He was a four-time Stanley cup champion and elected to the hockey hall of fame when he retired.

Sawchuk was the all-time leading NHL goaltender at the time of his death, with his record only being surpassed five times since.

His card features Sawchuk in a red Detroit Red Wings jersey with his goaltender hockey stick in his hand. His name and playing stats for the 1951-52 season are underneath. The card is named ‘No.61 in the ‘Parkie’ 1951-52 Hockey Series’.

This 1951 rookie card is graded as a PSA 8 and is 1/58 that have been graded. Only 18 have ever been graded higher.

The card sold at a Heritage auction in July 2021 for $24,000.

12) 2013 Fleer Showcase Wayne Gretzky #MU-5

2013 Fleer Showcase Wayne Gretzky #MU-5
Source

(Sold July 2020 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $23,400
  • Grade: SGC 9
  • Card Number: #MU-5

Considered the best player of all time, Wayne Gretzky needs no introduction. This is the Fleer showcase card from the same player whose rookie holds the place for the number one spot as the most valuable hockey card.

The card featured comes from the highly regarded Precious Metal Gems brand. This green-colored variant comes from the 2013-14 Fleer Showcase series. It features Gretzky in a blue, red, and white Oilers uniform against a green mural-type background. The card has Wayne’s name, number, team name, and position at the bottom in black against a yellow and blue background.

The card is graded as SGC Mint 9 and numbered #4/10. The card sold for $23,400 at a Heritage auction in July 2022.

13) 1971 O-Pee-Chee Ken Dryden #45

1971 O-Pee-Chee Ken Dryden #45
Source

(Sold December 2020 by Heritage Auctions)

  • Price: $19,800
  • Grade: PSA 10
  • Card Number: #45

Last on the list of the most valuable hockey cards is the 1971 O-Pee-Chee Ken Dryden card. Whilst he had a relatively short career, Dryden won six Stanley cups and has a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Canadian parliament and served as a cabinet minister.

The O-Pee-Chee card featured above is his rookie debut card and shows Dryden in his red Canadiens goaltender outfit with ‘Canadiens’ in purple at the top of the card.

The card is graded as a PSA 10, only one of eleven graded as Gem Mint by the PSA. The card sold at a Heritage auction for $19,800 in December 2020.

Why are Hockey Cards so Expensive?

1) The Pandemic

Tragic for most and felt all around the world, the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic led to in-person sports events being canceled for the foreseeable future.

This led to people with more money, lots more time, and a desire to keep involved with sports, leading to a big new influx of sports card collectors.

Demand for Hockey cards outgrew supply and led to the value skyrocketing.

2) Sentimental Value

Old Hockey cards featuring Famous historical players are much more than just a collectible. They feature retired athletes who once captured the hearts and minds of children growing up across the world.

They represent memories between family and good times that are often priceless, further inflating the card’s value

3) Limited Production

Most of the Hockey cards featured above are Rookie cards or cards produced many years ago. This is mainly due to the limited production of these cards back at a time when the featured players were not as famous.

As many cards are now overproduced their value decreases and makes rookie cards produced in limited quantities more valuable to collectors.

Hockey Card Buying Guide

How to Value Hockey Cards

The value of a hockey card is determined by several main factors. These include:

  • Card grading
  • Type of card (is it a rookie)
  • Players success in the NHL
  • Card set
  • Is the player still alive?

When looking to value your Hockey cards, consider the main points above. If your card is ungraded, consider getting it graded if it’s a rookie card of a well-known player or it’s from a highly desirable set that was produced in limited qualities.

If the player has long retired and is no longer alive, it may hold some sentimental value and be worth a decent amount of money.

Card Grading: PSA vs. BGS vs. SGC

When it comes to card grading, these are the three main players. Hockey cards with a high grade can be worth 10-100x more than an ungraded version of the same card, making the grade and grading company very important.

PSA: Based in California, Professional Sports Authenticator is one of the most popular and well-established Hockey card grading brands.

Cards graded by PSA tend to fetch higher prices than other grading companies. The PSA grading scale goes from 1-10, with 10 being in Gem Mint condition.

SGC: Known as Sportscard Guaranty Company, SGC is popular with vintage Hockey card collectors who like the black inserts used in the SGC cardholders.

SGC now uses the same 1-10 grading system as the PSA, moving from the 1-100 grading system used previously.

BGS: Beckett’s Grading Services is one of the most highly regarded and well-known Hockey card grading companies. The company has three different grading subsidiaries and also uses a 1-10 grading system, looking at corners, edges, centering, and the card surface.

Conclusion – Most Valuable Hockey Cards

Hockey cards are some of the most desirable and valuable sports cards on the market. Rookie cards featuring famous players, some of which still play today continue to fetch huge prices at auction.

Conclusion - Most Valuable Hockey Cards
Source

The 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card #18 was sold at auction for $1,290,000 in December 2020, making it the most valuable Hockey card sold to date. The card has received three bigger offers since, one in excess of $3,000,000, meaning it’s only a matter of time until the record is broken once more.

FAQs

How do I figure out how much my hockey card collection is worth?

A good way to keep track of the value of your hockey cards is to use Market Movers. The site keeps track of over 800,000 sports cards and presents the information in easy-to-read graphs.

What’s the difference between different condition hockey cards?

Cards are graded from 1-10 on centering, corners, edges, and surface. These scores are combined to give a final grade between 1-10 and then categorized from Poor to Gem Mint.

A poor card has noticeable defects and may be missing certain pieces. There may also be creasing throughout the card and some staining.

A Gem Mint card is classed as a virtually perfect card, with four sharp corners, sharp focus, and full original gloss.

A popular card grading company PSA has a breakdown of the different grades if you’re unsure about your card quality.

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