Before he’d turned 20, he’d played in 126 games, scored 76 goals and had 144 assists to his credit for a total of 220 points. He turned 55 on Tuesday and hasn’t played in a game since the 1998-99 season but he still holds about five dozen NHL records. Still considered the greatest of all-time, the Wayne Gretzky rookie card is still the gold standard for modern hockey collectors… and business is booming.
Gretzky has two official rookie cards, both from the 1979-80 season. The O-Pee-Chee version, printed in Canada, is far less plentiful than its Topps brother but both have seen significant price increases in recent years and in some cases, large bumps in a matter of months. Like many vintage rookie cards of Hall of Famers in every sport, Gretzky rookie cards have been a very good investment. Because of counterfeits, most collectors stick with graded examples.
O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card
A PSA 9 OPC Gretzky rookie card sold late last year for $23,962 via Mile High Card Company. Another sale was reported at $30,000 last summer. Just three years ago, you could have found one fairly easily for $4,000-$5,000. While even the earlier price may seem high for a card that was distributed in an era when cards were rarely tossed out, high-grade examples of the OPC Gretzky are rare with fewer than 65 rated mint or better on PSA’s Set Registry.
Sales of NM/MT (8) OPC Gretzky rookie cards have been all over the board but have generally soared to a price of $2,500-$3,000 over the past several months. There have been sales at $3699 and $3750. Five years ago, you could have bought one for under $1,000.
If you’re looking for a cheap Gretzky rookie card, the Topps version is probably your best bet, but prices for the American made example have also climbed to new heights so that’s a highly relative term.
Topps Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card
A mint (9) Topps Gretzky card was readily available for under $1,500 three years ago. Now? $6,000-$9,000 is the going rate, with most of that incredible price increase happening in the last two years through two eBay sellers who have offered a few of them.
Sales of NM/MT (8) Topps Gretkzy rookies have jumped from $600-$650 just a year ago to the $900-$1,000 level as of this writing. Three years ago, they were selling for about half that amount. However, the increase is small enough to make one wonder if 8 and 8.5 type cards might offer the best bang for the buck. Michael Jordan’s NM/MT graded rookie cards were steady but very slow growers for a long time. Now, they’ve taken on new life as collectors and small investors are priced out of the mint and gem mint market.
You can still own a very respectable Topps in a ‘7’ (NM) grade for around $400.
The only PSA 10 OPC Gretzky sold in 2011 for $94,163, a $14,000+ increase from its last sale in 2006. If sold again, the owner would likely reap a sizeable profit. There is also only one Topps Gretzky rookie graded 10.