For 33 years, a Canadian corn milling operation did its part to keep Canadian hockey fans collecting. St. Lawrence Starch of Port Credit, Ontario was the home of Bee Hive Hockey Photos, a “living set” if there ever was one. Now, the largest complete run of this massive issue is about to change hands.
Heritage Auctions is offering a collection of over 1,300 1933-1967 Bee Hive photos in its December catalog, with the group possibly fetching $40,000 or more by the time bidding ends next weekend.
The photos were part of a mail-in promotion by St. Lawrence Starch, which produced corn syrup, corn oil and corn and laundry starch. Customers sent proofs of purchase to the company in return for the 5×7 black and white photos, which were mounted on colored mats.
The series began in 1933 and continued through the 1966-67 season. The group being offered by Heritage includes most, but not all of them. It’s believed no collector owns a set of each photo.
The series is divided into three different groups totaling 1,028 pieces including over 600 different players, many of whom became Hall of Famers. Team and trophy cards were also included in the sets. Group 1 spans the years 1934-43, Group 2 is from 1944-64 with Group 3 consisting of photos issued from 1964-67.
This lot being offered by Heritage includes many of the set’s rarest issues including Cy Wentworth (fewer than ten known. The collection includes over 330 duplicates for a total just shy of 1,350 items.
While many Bee Hive photos bear the scars of being handled, the collection offered by Heritage is considered in Excellent condition with the older photos in better grade than the Group 3 images due to stock undulation strictly from storage.
St. Lawrence Starch closed in 1990. The property, which sits on the edge of Lake Ontario, became condominiums.
The auction for the lot of Beehive photos will close Thursday, December 10, with the entire auction scheduled to close on successive nights through December 13.