You’re sorting through your cards and the question runs through your mind: What are the best hockey cards of all-time? Would it be better to have a rookie card of a modern superstar like Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin? How about going into the not-distant past with superstars like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux?
Hockey card collecting has a couple of 'holy grails'. There's the 1911 C55 Imperial Tobacco Georges Vezina (the guy for whom the best goalie award is named after now) and while it doesn’t approach the record paid for a baseball card (think T206 Honus Wagner) – the highest graded example fetched more than $115,000 in 2012, which is a very tidy sum, indeed.
In 1923-24, Paterson's Chocolates made the card featuring Toronto St. Pat's defenseman Bert Corbeau but they didn't make many. Tied in to a promotion for free hockey skates, kids who bought the candy bars found it virtually impossible to find a Corbeau. Just a few are known to exist. Is it on the list of 'best hockey cards"? That depends on your criteria.
Other cards that would likely be on most lists are the 1910 C56 Art Ross (there are two in the series), the 1923 V145-1 King Clancy and Howie Morenz, Gretzky’s rookie card with O-Pee-Chee from 1979, Bobby Orr’s ’66 Topps rookie card, Guy LaFleur’s ’71 O-Pee-Chee card (if only to gaze at the mighty sideburns he wields), goalie Jacques Plante’s ’55 Quaker Oats card (if you have the actual container, do NOT eat the oats), Bobby Hull’s ’58 Topps card (Brett only hopes to have his rookie card be as valuable as his dad’s), Gordie Howe’s ’54 Topps card (this is one case where the non-rookie card is more valuable for some reason), Mario Lemieux’s ’85 Topps rookie card, Maurice Richard’s ’51 Parkhurst and Howe’s ’51 Parkhurst (this guy’s so tough he had to appear twice). Other popular issues include goalie Patrick Roy’s rookie card with Topps in the ’86-87 set, goalie Terry Sawchuk’s ’51-52 Parkhurst card, an Ovechkin SP Authentic card (the fact that it’s signed helps) and Crosby’s SP Authentic card from ‘05.
So, if you won the lottery or had a really good legal method of getting a large amount of disposable income, these are some of the best hockey cards of all-time.