by Tom Samworth
What is considered the post-war era in hockey card collecting began with the 1951-52 Parkhurst series. With that set, yearly production of hockey cards has gone unbroken to this day. Before the Parkies set, hockey cards were produced on an irregular basis and the last major set came out over a decade before.
Despite the attention given to the 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee rookie card of Wayne Gretzky, there are three cards that have been produced in the post-war era that are fundamentally more valuable. The trifecta of hockey cards consists of the rookie cards of three of the greatest hockey players in National Hockey League history. All three cards are valued by Beckett Hockey Monthly at up to $3000.
1951-52 Parkhurst #66, the Gordie Howe rookie card. Howe’s first hockey card came five years after his NHL career began. Howe first played for the Detroit Red Wings in 1946-47 and continued with the team until the end of the 1970-71 season. He returned to professional hockey in 1973-74 with the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association. Gordie played in the WHA for the duration of its existence, finishing with the New England Whalers. He returned to the NHL for one last season in 1979-80 with the Hartford Whalers.
Over his lengthy pro hockey career, Gordie Howe won six Hart Memorial Trophies as NHL MVP and six Art Ross Trophies as the league’s leading scorer. He won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings and two Avco Cups in the WHA with the Houston Aeros. He remains the only player to play an NHL game while in his 50′s and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.
1958-59 Topps #66, the Bobby Hull rookie card. Hull began his NHL career with the Chicago Black Hawks in 1957-58 and continued with the club until the end of the 1971-72 season. In that time, Bobby won the Art Ross Trophy three times, the Hart Trophy twice and won one Stanley Cup with the Black Hawks in 1960-61. For two years, he owned the NHL record for most goals in a single season with 58 in 1968-69.
In 1972-73, Bobby Hull became the face of the World Hockey Association when he was signed by the Winnipeg Jets for $1 million. In the WHA, Bobby was MVP twice and was part of three Avco Cup winning teams in Winnipeg. When the WHA merged with the NHL for the 1979-80 season, Hull played one more NHL season split between the Jets and the Hartford Whalers. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.
1966-67 Topps #35, the Bobby Orr rookie card. Orr began his NHL career in 1966-67, therefore the stats on the back of his rookie card were blank. He played with the Boston Bruins until the end of the 1975-76 season then finished off his NHL career with the Chicago Black Hawks, playing just 26 games over three seasons.
Despite his career ending prematurely due to devastating knee injuries, Orr’s list of accomplishments is long. He still owns NHL record for most assists in a season by a defenseman (102), most points in a season by a defenseman (139) and the highest +/- of any NHL player in a single season (+124). All three records were set during the 1970-71 season. Bobby is the only defenseman to ever win the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top point getter, doing it twice (1969-70 and 1974-75). He has won more Norris Trophies than any other NHL player (8) along with Hart Trophies and two Conn Smythe Trophies.
Tom is the author of http://www.vintagehockeycardsreport.com (Vintage Hockey Cards Report). Vintage Hockey Cards Report provides information on a wide range of vintage hockey cards and the players that appear on them. One focus is to provide a real eBay pricing guide based on the winning bids of vintage hockey cards on eBay auctions.
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