Topps continued its pattern of a 66-card set for its 1963-64 hockey set. Like the previous year, the set was split among the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers as Parkhurst took care of the Leafs, Canadiens and Red Wings. It would be the last year for the split with Parkhurst exiting the hockey card market before the following season. And again, the “Topps” set was distributed in Canada and produced by O-Pee-Chee.
While it’s short on notable rookies, the 1963-64 set is notable for the 14 future Hall of Famers that are inside. Interestingly, only one American-born player is featured in the set.
1963-64 Topps Hockey Basics
The 66 cards in the set were broken down by teams, just like the previous year. The Bruins were featured in card Nos. 1-21, the Blackhawks held down Nos. 22-43, and the Rangers were highlighted in cards 44 to 65. Card No. 66 was a checklist. Head coaches were included for all three teams.
Unlike the 1962-63 set, the layout of the cards was horizontal for the first time, with a black and white action photo on one side and the player’s photo on the other. A solid-colored drawing of a hockey stick separated that picture from the smaller black-and-white action photo. The “blade” of the hockey stick contained the name of the player and his team.
Who’s That Guy?
The quirky part of the black-and-white photos is that only one of them — Glenn Hall (No. 23) — actually matches the players depicted in color. In fact, Topps featured several players from the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens in the black-and-white section, even though Parkhurst held the license to produces images from both teams.
Topps used a black-and-white shot of Detroit legend Gordie Howe on the cards of Reg Fleming (No. 31) and Phil Goyette (No. 58), and one of Howe’s teammate, Terry Sawchuk, on the card of Leo Boivin (No. 5). Legendary goalie Lorne “Gump” Worsley appears in seven black-and-white shots, even though he had been traded to the Canadiens in June 1963 in a deal that brought Jacques Plante to New York. Plante would make his Topps debut in the 1963-64 set.
Topps reverted to white borders for the card fronts after using blue borders for the 1962-63 set.
The card backs were printed in blue and gray on white card stock. The top of the card features the player’s name, position and team. Underneath that was a single line of statistics from the 1962-63 season. A biography in English follows on the left-hand side of the card, with a French version underneath. The right side of the card contained a scratch-off trivia question.
Rookies and Stars
Notable rookies in the set included Ed Johnston (card No. 2), Ed Westfall (No. 8) and Gilles Villemure (No. 46).
The Chicago Blackhawks duo of Bobby Hull (No. 33) and Stan Mikita (No. 36) highlight the set’s most coveted cards, along with Plante (No. 45) and the set checklist (No. 66).
Grading and Prices
There have been 8,231 1963-64 Topps hockey cards graded by PSA, but only 17 have come back as gem mint. The highest grades for Hull, Mikita and Plante are PSA 9. Only one checklist has been submitted for grading, and it came back PSA 7. The one PSA 10 card of Johnston sold for $1,195 in 2014.
One of the tougher cards to find in high condition is that of Rangers coach George “Red” Sullivan. Only two of the 103 cards submitted grade as high as PSA 8.
SGC has graded 792 cards from the set, and none have been given gem mint status. Only 19 grade as high as 96 and 40 are at 92.
Complete 1963-64 Topps hockey card sets generally sell for $500-$1,500 depending on condition but the top-rated set on the PSA Set Registry sold for $12,030 through Mile High Card Company in 2012. It carried an 8.434 GPA.
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