One of just two copies of Wayne Gretzky’s 1979-80 Topps rookie card to be awarded a PSA 10 grade will be on the market later this month.
Heritage Auctions will offer one of them in its Summer Platinum Night Auction and it’s expected to sell for a record price.
Overall, Gretzky’s rookie card isn’t rare. PSA alone has graded about 8,600 of them in the past 20 years. In the year of issue and beyond, a huge number of packs have been opened. However, it’s prone to less than ideal centering and touches of wear that are magnified by the blue borders that were part of Topps’ design that season. Landing a high grade example has been an aggravating challenge for collectors and dealers. Not only have only two 10s been awarded but just 127 have rated Mint 9.
Heritage sold the other Topps Gretzky rookie for $720,000 in December 2020 and took in an offer to owner for $1.22 million in April of last year. In May of last year, PWCC brokered the $1,050,000 sale of the card Heritage will have up for auction.
There are only two PSA 10 copies of the O-Pee-Chee version printed in Canada as well. One of those sold in December 2020 for $1.29 million but Heritage says it’s had offers since then as high as $3.4 million. Heritage also brokered a sale of the other OPC copy for $3.75 million.
PSA has graded about 9,100 O-Pee-Chee Gretzky rookies with 91 rating a 9 along with the two 10s.
Heritage says publicity from those sales spurred owners to rediscover and submit hundreds of Topps and OPC Gretzky rookie cards in hopes of a high grade, but so far, no others have rated a 10.
“While it would be impossible to make any definitive guarantees, the fact that the huge volume of raw Gretzky’s submitted between our December 2020 auction and today failed to produce a single Gem Mint 10 rating strongly suggests that further access to that top tier will be forever barred to future applicants,” Heritage states in its auction preview.
The auction is set to open July 29 and will close over a two night period, August 20 and 21.