Parkhurst returned for its third consecutive year with the release of its 1953-54 issue, tinkering a bit and welcoming some new faces who’d soon be famous, but keeping the look much the same as it had been a year earlier. As was the case with previous sets, the 1953-54 Parkhurst hockey set included a strong mix of key Hall of Fame rookie cards and established NHL stars.
1953-54 Parkhurst Basics
Parkhurst put four cards in its nickel packs, meaning a set wasn’t difficult to put together for those dedicated to buying a few packs a week. The wrapper had an offer for an album to house the cards as youngsters worked on building their sets. You can still find them for sale today.
For the second straight year, Parkhurst relied on a clean design, much improved over its initial 1951-52 release. The 1953-54 cards used clean color images, replica signatures, and a thin white border. These traits can often make things difficult for novice collectors wanting to distinguish them from the 1952-53 set since the design on the fronts is similar to the previous year.
Two changes from earlier Parkhurst sets related to the quantity of cards and the size. For the first time, Parkhurst trimmed its checklist from 105 cards to only 100 in the 1953-54 release. And for the third time in three years, the company also tinkered with the size, going to a larger card approximately 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″.
Backs of the card also sported a significant difference from the previous season. The 1952-53 backs were aligned horizontally with the vertical fronts. In 1953-54, Parkhurst made the backs vertical as well, so that they line up with the fronts (though a few fronts, such as the Maurice Richard shown here) are in fact horizontal. Backs included the player’s name, card number, statistical information, and a brief biography. Another change for the backs? For the first time in Parkhurst’s history, they printed the player biographies in both English and French – which made sense as the cards were printed in Canada with French-speaking Canadians.
The rookie lineup in the 1953-54 Parkhurst set was a step ahead of the 1952-53 release. Included were first cards of Hall of Famers Jean Beliveau, Gump Worsley, Andy Bathgate, and Harry Howell, as well as two-time All-Star Eric Nesterenko. Also there was the rookie card of Bill Dineen, two-time Stanley Cup Champion, and legendary coach Al Arbour. Arbour won an incredible four consecutive Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders from 1980 to 1983.
Parkhurst matched an impressive lineup of rookie cards with another excellent grouping of the league’s veteran star talent. Included are players such as Gordie Howe, Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard, Tim Horton, Dickie Moore, Boom Boom Geoffrion, Red Kelly, Terry Sawchuk, Alex Delvecchio, Ted Lindsay, Milt Schmidt, and others.
One unique card is No. 30 in the set, which features both Richard and Lach together. The card depicts Richard being congratulated by his teammate Lach for scoring his 325th goal – an NHL record.
Collectors of error cards will be pleased to find several of them in this set. The 1953-54 Parkhurst release ‘boasts’ at least five recorded mistakes. Dickie Moore’s No. 28 card actually features Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau instead. That can be a cheap alternative for fans wanting to add a Beliveau ‘rookie’ to their collection without the funds to pursue his regular card. That wasn’t the only case of mistaken identity in the set, either. Arbour’s No. 37 card depicts Bill Dineen while Dineen’s No. 38 is really Arbour. In addition to those mixups, No. 88 Johnny Peirson has his name misspelled on the back.
The most sought after of the error cards is No. 91 Fleming Mackell. Parkhurst didn’t bother to correct most of those other errors, but they did fix the Mackell. Mackell has three variations of his back – the initial error card with no bio, one with only a French bio, and one with both English and French bios. While the missing bio card is the most common and is not worth a significant amount, both corrected versions do have a big premium attached and can sell for hundreds of dollars. Outside of the big name rookie and star cards, the Mackell variations are among the most desirable cards in the entire set.
The set is a condition challenge, especially for those who prefer graded cards. For example, PSA’s Populaton Report includes just nine cards rated Gem Mint 10 and only 249 graded at the Mint 9 level. That’s out of more than 9,000 cards that have been encapsulated. Several cards in the 1953-54 Parkie set have fewer than 20 examples graded even at NM/MT 8 or better.
1953-54 Parkhurst Pricing
1953-54 Parkhurst sets can be pieced together without too much trouble, save for the Mackell variations. Mid-grade commons are usually available on eBay for $15-$25. Somewhat surprisingly, the Howe, Beliveau, and Richard cards in raw, mid-grade condition often sell in the $300 – $500 range. High grade is a different story. In 2014, a PSA 9 Beliveau sold for $16,730.
Complete mid-grade sets generally fall in the $2,000 – $3,000 range.
As for those corrected Mackell cards, one recently sold for just over $500 at a recent auction.