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Bobby Orr Cards Still a Magnet for Collectors

Bobby Orr inspired several generations of defensemen, changed the way the game was played, showed an amazing and unique set of skills to NHL fans and also provided a lot of value for hockey collectors.  Next to Wayne Gretzy, Bobby Orr cards are the most popular in the sport.

Bobby Orr 1966-67 Topps USA TestTo some collectors, it doesn’t get bigger than the 1966-67 Bobby Orr rookie card.  That season he had 13 goals and 28 assists, was the NHL’s Rookie of the Year and was named a Second Team All-Star  in the end of season awards.  The ’66-67 set has has a look that separates it from all other NHL sets.   The cards have a horizontal design, with a close-up of the player as part of a scene from a game on a television, and has a wood grain border too.  They’re very similar to Topps’ 1966 football issue.

Card #35 in 1966-67 Topps, the Orr rookie is extremely valuable in high grade because of the border’s propensity to show even the smallest touches of wear.  $14,100 was paid for an Orr rookie on eBay that was graded at SGC 92 NM/MT+ 8.5.   PSA has never graded an Orr at a perfect 10.  One card was awarded a grade of 9 and another received an 8.5 from PSA.  Just 41 cards have been graded at 8 by PSA.  Clearly, high grade examples of this very popular card are very difficult to come by and many believe it to be vastly undervalued.

While the Orr is the best card from that Topps set, there are plenty of other stars so some hockey collectors make assembling, or purchasing, the entire set a goal to accomplish.  1966-67 Topps has two Gordie Howe cards, three Bobby Hull cards, Henri Richard, Terry Sawchuck, Phil Esposito and the rookie card of Peter Mahovlich.  There are 132 cards in the set.  Recently a complete set was sold for $6,236.22.  Seventeen of the best cards in the set had been graded, and the Bobby Orr card in the set was graded SGC 6.

1966 Topps USA Test Issue Bobby OrrEven more rare is the 1966-67 Topps USA Test Orr.   It is very similar to his actual Topps rookie card but was printed in much smaller numbers, and only had English on the back of the card.  The Topps rookie card had writing in both English and French, which was a requirement when it came to selling things in Canada.

How limited the Orr Topps Test card is can be seen in the PSA population report.  While 486 examples of his rookie card have been graded, only 74 of the Orr Topps Test card have made it to the grading company.  The highest grade for a Topps Test Orr from PSA is 8.5, only one card has reached that level of grading.  Eight others have been graded at 8.

There were a number of hockey sets produced during Orr’s playing career in which he has not only the most expensive card in the set but also the second most expensive, and even the third most expensive card as well.  In 1967-68 Topps, the value of Orr’s three cards isn’t far off that of the complete set for the year.  #92 is his regular card in the set, with the highest value, while he also has cards #118 and #128 for winning the Calder Trophy and being an All-Star.

Hockey fans have plenty of O-Pee-Chee cards in their collections and in 1968-69 Orr was card #2 in their set, as he was in the Topps set.  Orr had two additional 1967-68 Topps Bobby Orrcards in 1968-69 O-Pee-Chee, #200 and #214, for winning the Norris Trophy and being selected for the NHL’s All-Star team.  There is also a fun insert to collect, his 1968-69 O-Pee-Chee Puck Stickers.

Orr collectors can also try to track down other similar items from his early career.  The 1968-69 Shirriff Coins are small, plastic disks.  Orr is #5 in the set.  Orr’s 1971 Mattel Mini-Records #HK7 is also a great addition to a card collection.  The backs of cereal boxes back in the day also provided fans with Orr cards, but very few were cut out and kept then and fewer come up for sale in the present.   There are two Orr cards from 1967-68 Post Cereal.  His 1967-68 General Mills card shows Orr standing in his uniform with a blue background.  A more difficult chase would be to find Orr’s first card, 1964-65 Oshawa Generals Team Issue #1.  While everyone, including the Bruins who signed Orr to play for the Oshawa team, knew that Orr as a young teenager was a future star, few knew how great he would be and the Oshawa Team Issue set of 15 cards is a rarity today.

Collectors who want one of every Orr card, for the Topps and O-Pee-Chee sets, from his playing career will need to carefully view the checklists as he did so much on the rink that he always had several cards in every set.  In 1969-70 O-Pee-Chee, along with his usual cards there was also his O-Pee-Chee Stamps and O-Pee-Chee Four-in-One available.  As well as appearing on common cards and those in the sets for awards, Orr is on many Team Leader and League Leader cards.

1971-72 Topps Bobby OrrOrr’s oldest and most expensive cards featured posed shots, and collectors who want a bit more excitement on the front of the card can look for his In Action O-Pee-Chee from 1972-73.  A very affordable card, #58 shows Orr in front of goal with the goaltender sprawled on the ice and trying to get up.  Orr’s fast skating was evident on his 1973-74 O-Pee-Chee #30 and 1973-74 Topps #150 cards.  The best action shot on the front of one of Orr’s cards from his playing days is that on his 1975-76 O-Pee-Chee #288 card.

On June 24, 1976 Orr signed with the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent.  The move shocked many hockey fans at the time, but card collectors were also given a chance to have Orr cards with Bobby Orr 1977-78 Toppshim wearing a different uniform.  He was in Chicago for three seasons, but didn’t play a single game in 1977-78 and only managed to play 26 games, scoring 27 points.

Bobby Orr’s O-Pee-Chee and Topps cards from 1976-77, #213 in both sets, do show him skating in the unfamiliar uniform of the Blackhawks.  He had another card in the set, Topps Glossy Inserts #20.  Orr also had cards in the next two NHL seasons, and as 1978-79 was the last time he had an O-Pee-Chee card he just missed out on making the 1979-80 set an even bigger set, as that set includes Gretzky’s rookie card.

As the 1970s progressed, card production numbers went up and that has kept some of Orr’s later cards at lower prices.  He is still often the most expensive card in the set unless a star rookie appeared in the NHL that year.  In 1971-72 O-Pee-Chee the Orr card can be lower in price than the Guy LaFleur and Ken Drydan rookie cards while the Darryl Sittler and Bobby Clarke rookies from the previous year’s set can sell for what Orr’s card in the set does.

Something that shows how revered Bobby Orr is by hockey collectors is that the price of his final card produced during his playing career, 1978-79 O-Pee-Chee #300, has a comparable price to Mike Bossy’s rookie card from the same set.  Orr finished his hockey career early due to his injured knees.  He played 657 NHL games and produced 270 goals, 645 assists and 915 points.  Orr also led the Bruins to the playoffs eight times, and in 74 playoff games had 26 goals and 66 assists.

Another impressive number from Orr’s career is from the +/- category.  He never had a season when he was in the negative, and his career number is +597.  There are collectors who want to spend big to get all his cards due to numbers, and there are those who remember special plays from his career, like Orr single-handedly killing an entire penalty by skating around with the puck so the other team couldn’t get it and also his huge goals in important Stanley Cup games.

Bobby Orr cards are revered by collectors in his native Canada, in the United States and around the world, where his legendary exploits are also well known. Below is a list of the most watched Orr cards on eBay right now.

BOBBY ORR PSA 9 MINT LOT OF 2 - 1977 OPC #251 & 1978 OPC #200 HOF
9 bids - Price: $34.00 - Watchers: 26
Item # 181388219761
8 bids - Price: $81.21 - Watchers: 24
Item # 201075752475
5 bids - Price: $45.00 - Watchers: 21
Item # 181388247929
2014 Upperdeck 25th Anniversary Bobby Orr autograph
28 bids - Price: $41.00 - Watchers: 20
Item # 371046264166
1969-70 OPC - BOBBY ORR #24 (PSA 6 - EXMT)
2 bids - Price: $51.00 - Watchers: 19
Item # 371047506855
3 bids - Price: $2.75 - Watchers: 18
Item # 321388416994
08-09 OPC Premier Bobby Orr Ray Bourque /75 Auto Duos Autograph O-PEE-CHEE
7 bids - Price: $46.55 - Watchers: 18
Item # 360913127180
2011-12 Ultimate Collection BOBBY ORR Ultimate Signatures Certified Autograph
4 bids - Price: $32.00 - Watchers: 17
Item # 181388320116
Bobby Orr jigsaw puzzle 300 piece 1972
2 bids - Price: $16.50 - Watchers: 16
Item # 281313575283
7 bids - Price: $10.50 - Watchers: 16
Item # 181388256756
9 bids - Price: $26.00 - Watchers: 13
Item # 141262602198
67-68 TOPPS Bobby ORR Card 118
11 bids - Price: $10.50 - Watchers: 13
Item # 121325467007
BOBBY ORR 2011-12 SP Authentic Marks of Distinction Auto #/25 - BRUINS
12 bids - Price: $37.01 - Watchers: 13
Item # 231209571227
1966 Topps #35 Bobby Orr -NEAR MINT- condition PRO graded
4 bids - Price: $60.44 - Watchers: 13
Item # 321385342459
Bobby Orr Retired Canvas 2013-14 UD C242
5 bids - Price: $12.50 - Watchers: 13
Item # 221421674493
68-69 OPC Bobby ORR Card 2
10 bids - Price: $21.06 - Watchers: 10
Item # 121325470745
6 bids - Price: $22.72 - Watchers: 10
Item # 321387608698
2012 UD All-Time Greats Bobby Orr Lettermen Patch Auto /75 Autograph Team Canada
6 bids - Price: $57.00 - Watchers: 9
Item # 141261838801
PSA 8.5 1971-72 OPC BOBBY ORR ALL-STAR #251
5 bids - Price: $61.00 - Watchers: 9
Item # 291131737619
2012 All Time Greats Bobby Orr Die Cut Auto 27/35
7 bids - Price: $52.00 - Watchers: 9
Item # 331184243857