Thanks to the rookie cards of Gordie Howe and Maurice Richard–among others–the 1951-52 Parkhurst hockey set remains one of the top releases of all time. But the company followed up that initial debut with a strong issue with its 1952-53 set. With a much improved look as well as another collection of top stars and rookies, it’s one that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Like its predecessor, the 1952-53 Parkhurst set featured exactly 105 cards. But several significant differences can be found, too, which made the product better. While the quantity of cards didn’t get any larger, the actual cards themselves did. The 1951-52 Parkhurst cards measured approximately 1 3/4″ x 2 1/2″ but a year later, the second Parkhurst set had cards that checked in at nearly 2″ x 3″.
While beloved by many collectors, the artwork on the 1951-52 cards doesn’t generally impress. With its blank backs and novice imagery, they resembled strip cards produced years earlier. In 1952-53, Parkhurst significantly improved the overall look with sharper player images.
In addition to cleaner photographs inside of a thin white border, the 1952-53 set also includes replica signatures. Another improvement was that the company used both sides of the cards. Cramming all of its player information on the front of the cards in 1951-52 gave them a bit of a cluttered look. That ended with the 1952-53 edition as player names and information were found on the backs, in addition to a card number and brief biography.
The first Parkhurst set in 1951-52 featured a host of hockey rookie cards. The main reason for that is that with O-Pee-Chee no longer producing sets (they produced a few hockey sets in the 1930s, ending in 1940-41 until their return many years later), mainstream hockey cards weren’t produced for a decade. This meant that the 1951-52 Parkhurst set included the first card of many players who were actually veterans. Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay, for example, was one such player. The 1951-52 Parkhurst issue is considered his rookie card, even though he had been playing in the National Hockey League with the Detroit Red Wings since 1944.
For that reason, a major dropoff in terms of rookie cards occurred in the 1952-53 set. Only a handful of rookies exist in this release, but there is an impressive trio here led by Hall of Famer Tim Horton. Horton’s card is the top rookie card and one of the most important in the entire set. Two other big names included in the set are Bernie ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion and Dickie Moore, also Hockey Hall of Famers. There isn’t the massive roster of first-year cards here as was the case in the first Parkhurst set. Still, there are enough big names to keep things interesting with these three players.
While the rookie cards may be somewhat lacking in the 1952-53 Parkhurst release, there’s certainly no shortage of big names. Parkhurst didn’t waste much time by placing Hall of Famer Maurice Richard at the front of its set as card No. 1. Also there is the legendary Howe (No. 88), as well as Hall of Famers Alex Delvecchio, Milt Schmidt, Red Kelly, Terry Sawchuk, and the aforementioned Lindsay. And because many players had their ‘rookie’ cards in the previous year’s edition, the 1952-53 Parkhurst set contains many second-year cards of big names.
1952-53 Parkhurst Wrappers (Yes, Wrappers)
While unopened 1952-53 Parkhurst packs are next to impossible to find, one item that does surface from time to time are wrappers. Interestingly enough, Parkhurst actually used uncut sheets of its 1951-52 cards to cut wrappers for the 1952-53 packs. Because of that, the wrappers include players from that initial release.
1952-53 Parkhurst Pricing
While one of the more expensive vintage hockey sets, the 1952-53 Parkhurst cards are still reasonably affordable. Even in mid-grade condition, many commons can be purchased for $10 or less. Leading the way in terms of value are Horton, Howe, and Richard. In mid-grade condition, these cards will generally run in the $300 – $600 range. Complete sets can also be purchased without too much difficulty, too. One in mid-grade condition was recently auctioned in August 2016 for just under $3,000.
Those wrappers discussed above are also available for sale, too. One featuring a Gordie Howe rookie card from the 1951-52 Parkhurst set fetched nearly $200 at an auction.