A Brief History on Hockey Trading Cards and Their Nostalgia

Few types of trading cards are as nostalgic as Hockey cards. Even though they aren’t as old as other trading cards, they carry a rich and interesting history. One that’s filled with both nostalgia for the game and for the personal events and stories that individuals create pursuing the hobby.

The First Hockey Cards

The first true hockey cards were printed in the early 1900’s and actually precede the NHL itself. Some will argue that there were hockey cards produced in Canada during the mid 1800’s, but these weren’t trading cards as we know them today and were more similar to art than a trading card.

Cards were first featured in cigarette packs, gum and candy in an effort to boost sales similar to how other sports cards began. However, hockey cards quickly became prized amongst collectors who loved the sport. Early card sets were released between 1910-1913, then again in 1924-1925

1911 Rare Imperial Tobacco Company Hockey Cards

1911-1912 Imperial Tobacco’s Hockey Cards

Things start picking up

Hockey cards really exploded in popularity during the 50’s with brands like Shirriff Desserts, York Peanut Butter and Post Cereal printing cards and other collectible items. Parkhurst got into the scene in 51’ and Topps in 54’. Strangely enough, many card manufacturers didn’t make any cards during the 55’ and 56’ season, but manufacturing resumed again in 57’.

1960-61 Shiffiff Hockey Coinds

1960-61 Shirriff Hockey Coins

The 50’s are considered one of the most prized decades both due to their rarity and the chance to get rookie cards for a lot of the era’s greatest players. Many will have also heard of the story of the Parkhurst cement mixer and point out that many cards of this era suffered from quality issues, making a pristine copy that much rarer.

1954-55 Topps NHL Hockey Card

1954-55 Topps NHL Hockey Card

1950's Hockey Cards

1950’s Hockey Cards

Recent History

Interest in hockey cards has continued to grow fueled by a surge in popularity on media over old card’s worth. Many new collectors have entered and old collectors have revisited their collections and picked up the hobby again. This resurgence in interest caused many old collections to come to market and has enabled collectors to find cards they otherwise wouldn’t.

1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Doug Risebrough

1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Doug Risebrough

Topps was the primary provider of hockey cards until the lockout in 2004-2005. After the lockout, Upper Deck became the sole provider of hockey trading cards.

Wayne Gretzky

Personal Experiences That Fuel Nostalgia

Many collectors will consider the art of building their own collection to be more significant than the cards themselves. The value of personal experiences has directly affected the trading cards leading them to become one of the most nostalgic types of trading cards. You can often find decades-old players in new packs as they remind collectors of their experiences when they were younger.

This has made for an incredibly personal and incredibly nostalgic hobby, and because of that, it’s history will never fade away, instead being cherished by collectors both old and young.

Listen to Michael Landsberg’s memorable story of his Hockey Card collecting

Just getting started or looking to increase your collection?

A new Canadian Exclusive features the best new talent in the NHL. It’s the first chance for many collectors to find live rookie cards from top draft picks. Featuring team triple cards, the new set gives you the chance to get your hands on Auston Matthews’ rookie card, the highly sought after Young Guns rookie cards and more. Each set contains 11 cards per box and a 2 card bonus pack. The Young Guns rookie cards are inserted 1 in every 4 packs and the set is only available while quantities last. Get the Upper Deck Canadian Exclusive here.

2016-17 Upper Deck Canadian Exclusive