It’s not revolutionary, just a different way of looking at things. Think about this: Scoring 100 goals in a National Hockey League season would be legendary. However, if someone scores 100 goals in a season but the rest of the top ten all score more than 80, is 100 really that legendary?
Transversely, if someone scores 60 in a season, it’s a decent total but it’s been done before and probably will be forgotten in a year or two. However, if the rest of the league can’t get past 35 goals, I’d say it’s a pretty exceptional feat.
Same goes for the value of hockey cards. In this study, we took the top card in each set between 1951-52 and 1979-80 (including all Parkhurst and Topps when both released a yearly set but not including Topps once O-Pee-Chee came into the picture) and factored it against the value of a common card in each’s particular set.
The results weren’t overly shocking. In the top four cards, three of the greats were where they should be, including the 1979-80 Wayne Gretzky RC, 1966-67 Bobby Orr RC and 1958-59 Bobby Hull RC. It was the number two spot and one absentee that’s a little eye-catching.
At 400 times the value of a common card, the 1978-79 O-Pee-Chee Mike Bossy rookie card is the second highest in this category, next to Gretzky’s rookie card from the following year. Pushed all the way down to the eighth spot was the 1951-52 Parkhurst Gordie Howe rookie card. Part of the $3,000 trifecta of the modern age of hockey card collecting, Gordie’s RC placed well below the RC’s of Orr and Hull.
Down at the bottom of the list are three cards that are less than 20 times the value of a common card. At the bottom is the Gordie Howe 1964-65 Topps hockey card at just over eight times the value of a common. This is the famous, or infamous – depending on your personal view – Topps Tall Boys card. This is what it is simply because a common is valued as high in this set as any other in the modern history of hockey cards.
The 1959-60 Parkhurst Maurice Richard hockey card is next at 10 times more than a common. My take on this is that the NHL was simply stale that year. It was an end of an era with the Montreal Canadiens dynasty coming to a halt. A sort of parity had swept over the league, with the exception of the poor Boston Bruins, and there was a glut on rookie cards for the teams that Parkhurst covered.
At 16.7 times the value of a common, the 1961-62 Parkhurst Dave Keon rookie card was the best the set could offer. Keon was a good player and found his way into the Hockey Hall of Fame. However, he wasn’t a great player and his major claim to fame is his long standing feud with the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.
Take a look at the numbers below and get out of it what you will. Note, this is for player cards only and does not include checklists. Also, in a few years, there is more than one player with the highest value. I simply picked the player I liked the most…