You’re killing time during the NHL season and rummaging around your attic. Maybe you’ll find those skates and see if the local ice rink is open. It’s then that you find it – your box of hockey cards. You quickly check and see – they still are in good condition, you kept them away from any excess heat or humidity. No creatures nibbled on them. Great. You’ve got a new thing to occupy yourself – finding out about pricing hockey cards.
The first thing you need to do is check the condition of the cards – are the corners and edges in good shape? Any worn corners, creases or centering issues? You could have a Wayne Gretzky rookie card, but if you tossed it around and handled it a lot, the value is going WAY down. Even the tiniest touch can lessen the value by hundreds of dollars.
If you truly do have pre-1981 cards and the corners are still sharp (or reasonably sharp if we're talking pre-1970s), be sure not to handle them much or invest in some holders to protect the best cards you've got.
How do you grade the cards? There are places that grade cards on condition for a fee such as PSA. They'll encapsulate your cards and assign them a value. Try a few at first, if you're not sure how it works. You can also examine graded hockey cards online and compare one grade to another to see the difference (you may not see much difference between an 8 and a 9 but see the difference between a 4 and an 8 and you'll understand why the difference in value between those grades is so great (collectors and graders are a picky lot). If you're curious to know the value of cards that are already graded, you can purchase a subscription of Sports Market Report at PSA.com.
Next in terms of figuring out about pricing hockey cards and what you need to know - you see how rare these cards are. Most cards from the 1980s and 90s aren't worth a lot, unless they're high grade rookie cards or scarce signed inserts of superstar players. Obviously, if it’s harder to locate and it’s a good to great player, the value is going to be higher.
So now you need to learn of good resources to get prices for hockey cards. You can use sites like this one or Beckett’s paid online price guide or see what similar cards are being offered or are being sold on eBay to see what kind of demand is out there. Searching 'sold items' on eBay is one way to see what a specific card has gone for in the last 90 days. If you're selling, dealers won't pay you full value, by the way. They need to make a profit.
After you’ve done all that research for your impromptu class “Pricing Hockey Cards: What You Need to Know” and have figured out the values for your hockey cards, you can go ahead and try to sell them if you like or maybe you can just keep them for the next generation.