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 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.
You can see Gretzky rookie cards for sale on eBay here and the most watched Gretzky card auctions of all types here.