Like so many vintage sports card issues, the 1923-24 Paterson’s hockey set teased kids something fierce.
When candy-loving children in Canada bought the company’s “hockey bar”, they found a free trading card inside. There were 40 of them in all and if you could collect an entire set, you could mail them in and get a free pair of skates.
On the back of the wrapper was the enticement.
“Every ‘Paterson Hockey Bar’ contains a handsome photograture of a famous Canadian National Hockey League star. For the complete set — 40 different players — we will send you prepaid a handsome pair of hockey skates. We will return the set of cards to you with the skates.”
It seemed like a great deal to kids who loved to play hockey but there was one problem that became readily apparent.
One card was a bear to find.
In order to avoid having to ship dozens of pairs of skates all over Canada, Paterson’s made the card featuring Toronto St. Pat’s defenseman Bert Corbeau ultra scarce. Kids who gobbled up the bars in search of free skates no doubt grew frustrated. While it isn’t known exactly how many cards of Corbeau were printed, only a few are known to exist. All but two were redeemed for the freebies and thus were returned to their young owners with a punch hole. Only one Corbeau has ever sold at public auction and that was part of a complete set of Paterson’s cards that was purchased in a sports memorabilia auction last year for $136,538.
31 rookie cards of players who made their mark in the NHL are included in the Paterson’s set.
Collectors will have the opportunity to take a look at one of the sports collecting hobby’s most valuable and rare cards this weekend when one of those Corbeau cards goes on display at The Summit Show in Edmonton.
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