of the Hockey Card
Made in Canada Hockey Cards have been in existence
long before baseball cards and football cards were
produced here. The very first hockey
cards came out over 130 years ago. In 1879
and 1880 various card sized drawings depicting "Ice
hockey" or "Eishockey" appeared. One American
card called the game "Ice Polo" and depicted a game
between Cottage City and Providence.
As the 19th Century drew to a close many more
photos and cards appeared depicting various hockey
clubs and colleges in Quebec and New England.
The first sets that actually featured named players
were made available in cigarette packs from 1910
- 1913. These three "C" sets (C-55,
C-56 and C-57), measured 1 1/2" x 2 1/2".
They featured colour portraits of the leading hockey
players of the day. The top teams in that
day were from Quebec, Ottawa, Montreal and Renfrew
- which was a club team from Vancouver. Some
of the names of the players in these sets have a
familiar ring with anyone who follows the NHL today.
Names like Georges Vezina, Fred Cyclone Taylor,
and Art Ross are some examples. These
ended with the outbreak of World War One, and during
the war years the only hockey memorabilia to be
seen would be from American colleges.
Following the Great War, the West Coast featured
the first revival of hockey cards with Victoria
and Vancouver producing sets. Other Western
Canadian sets and American sets followed into the
20's. The first National Hockey League
set called William-Patterson appeared in 1923 featuring
players from Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton
and Boston. Here is where the first cards
of Howie Morenz, Aurele Joliat, and King Clancy
More food and candy manufacturers came on
board as the 20's progressed with the object that
if you collected the whole set, you would send the
set in where they would stamp it and return it along
with at. From these, the O-Pee-Chee Chewing
Gum company prevailed due to better looking cards.
O-Pee-Chee continued to produce cards up until 1940
when due to the 2nd World War, production ceased.
Before they stopped, names like Eddie Shore, Charlie
Conacher, Ace Bailey, Turk Broda, Toe Blake, Elmer
Lach and Syl Apps appeared on cards.
Hockey cards like this did not reappear until
1951 when Parkhurst Products was the lone issuer
for the next three years. Topps and O-Pee-Chee
rejoined the hockey card promotions, and again due
to having more interesting and colourful cards which
became more popular, Parkhurst backed out of hockey
card production in 1964. By 1968 Topps and
O-Pee-Chee were the dominant supplier of hockey
cards in North America. Topps supplied the
U.S. market while O-Pee-Chee supplied cards across
Canada. O-Pee-Chee continued as a major supplier
of hockey cards until 1995 when they announced they
were discontinuing production and distribution and
handed over the responsibility to Topps.
Many issues faced Topps such as competition
from other brands, and an overall destruction of
the hobby market due to overproduction in the early
1990's by all brands. Some of the other
brands that appeared in 1990 were primarily Upper
Deck, Pro Set and Score. Poor quality,
superior competition, and a host of card errors
caused Pro Set to back out by 1993. Of the
new brands, Upper Deck achieved the most success
with their white stock paper and interesting photography.
Other brands came and went through the 1990's, but
Upper Deck was the one brand that remained constant.
Another change that occurred during the 1990's
was the more common use of insert and parallel sets,
as well as one brand now being licenced by the NHL
and NHLPA to produce more than just one set per
season. These series of events could
be called the dark days of hockey card collecting.
Over production in the early 90's, more sets on
the market in the mid-90's, and harder to find inserts
and parallel cards in the late 90's shook out a
lot of good collectors who got fed up trying to
keep up with collecting every card of their favourite
player or team. Thus card companies have had
to respond with more and more "limited issue" releases
and higher end products to make up for the shortfall
in what was once a brisk market.
Since the lockout of 2005, Upper Deck is currently
the only licenced producer of NHL hockey cards.
Topps does not produce hockey cards anymore, and
Pacific has gone out of business. In The Game
has signed individual contracts with retired players
to use their names and likenesses on hockey cards,
and they also have contracts to produce cards of
players in the CHL junior leagues, the AHL and Hockey
Canada. In The Game cards are not licened
by the NHL or NHLPA.
Many collectors have now narrowed their collecting
to just a few players, or perhaps just one set per
year. With these adjustments over time, we
now see as the new millennium progresses, more and
more former card collectors coming back. Some
only collect food issues such as releases from McDonalds
or Kraft, others only collecting "Hall of Fame"
players, or only collecting cards from before 1990.
With all the changes in the hobby over the years,
and especially in the last 15 years there are really
"no rules" about card collecting. One can
decide for themselves what they would like to collect.
Some only collect autographed cards or what is called
"game used" cards, where a piece of the players
jersey or equipment is embedded in the hockey card.
One European collector I know just likes to collect
one card of every player who has ever played a game
in the NHL and it does not matter which brand of
card the player is on. Other collectors
that shop here are determined to get every card
ever produced of a certain player such as Wayne
Gretzky, Patrick Roy, Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux,
Raymond Bourque, Ron Francis or another favourite
So if you are new to hockey cards, or are just
returning for the first time in years, enjoy browsing
through the site, and remember there are no rules
regarding what you collect. You may just want
to place a small order at first to see how things
go, and then place more orders as time goes on.
We have been online since 1996 and have no plans
of going anywhere, so you can shop with confidence
here if you like, and we look forward to hearing
Canadian Hockey Cards
Hockey Canada - CHC -