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The Top 25 Most Expensive Hockey Cards Ever Sold

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Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

We are about one week into the 2021–22 NHL season and there is a lot of excitement about what Turner’s new TV deal to air games can do for the sport. We also witnessed a record sale for a hockey card with the 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky PSA 10 rookie selling for $3.75 million, tied for 7th on the top-10 most expensive sports cards ever sold. 

Ice Hockey isn’t as popular as sports like Soccer, Basketball, Baseball, and American Football, but from 2008–2020, the Stanley Cup finals averaged 2.15 million viewers per game. In 2020 and 2021, we’ve seen some big money spent on hockey cards and in this list, we are going to look at the top 25 most expensive hockey cards ever sold. 

Note: There are some cards that have sold multiple times in the past year (some within a week or two of each other), but in order to diversify the list, the key sales were included, while removing the rest. For example, Wayne Gretzky’s 1979 Topps PSA 9 was sold 17 times in the past 12 months and all 17 of those sales would qualify for this list based on their sale prices. I’ve included record sales while avoiding follow-on sales that were close in value and would be redundant. Also, this list does not include auctions in progress (for example, Alex Ovechkin’s rookie patch auto card is currently at a bid of $48,000 with 5 days left at Goldin Auctions). 

1. Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee Base #18 PSA 10 — $3.75 million

wayne1 1
CardLadder

Wayne Gretzky was nicknamed “The Great One” and is considered to be the best hockey player of all time. He won 4 Stanley Cups and holds numerous records that will likely stay unbroken for a long, long time. Possibly forever. 

His rookie O-Pee-Chee card has been graded 7,298 times by PSA and only 2 copies have ever received a PSA 10 grade. It’s no surprise that this card tops our list (and will be seen again in this list from previous sales and lower graded copies setting records). Heritage Auctions privately sold the card this past May for $3.75 million. 

Back in April of 2011, the card sold for $94,160. In just about 10 years, the card increased in value by 3,882% and saw a rapid increase in value over the past 12 months. 

2. Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee Base #18 PSA 10 — $1.29 million

wayne1 1
CardLadder

Last December, Heritage Auctions sold a PSA 10 copy of Wayne Gretzky’s rookie O-Pee-Chee card for $1.29 million. At the time, it was the first hockey card to break $1 million and was the most expensive hockey card ever sold. 

Back in August of 2016, the card sold for $465,000. In less than 5 years, the card grew 177% in value. There were just two documented sales of the card leading up to the December 9th, 2020 sale that broke a record and the scarcity of this card is a significant contributing factor to its value. It doesn’t come up for sale often and with just 2 copies, when one does, it’s a rare chance for those who can afford it to make a serious bid to own it. 

3. Wayne Gretzky 1979 Topps Base #18 PSA 10 — $720,000

wayne topps
CardLadder

Just 1 day after the record $1.29 million O-Pee-Chee rookie card sale, a 1979 Gretzky Topps PSA 10 sold for $720,000. This card looks identical to the O-Pee-Chee version and it also has a population of just 2 graded in PSA 10 condition. 

So, why would the O-Pee-Chee sell for 79% more than the Topps version with the same supply just one day earlier? 

There may be a few reasons (but it does not mean the market won’t change its mind in the future). Ultimately, true rookies are determined by the opinions of the market (sellers and buyers) but the difference in value starts with the fact that O-Pee-Chee was a Canadian candy company. O-Pee-Chee entered an agreement with Topps and produced trading card sets dating back to the 1930s until the business was sold to Nestlé in 1996. 

Gretzky was born in Canada and some argue this alone warrants the O-Pee-Chee the edge in defining his “true” rookie card. 

There are also slight differences on the back of the card, including some French translations on the back of the O-Pee-Chee card (pictured left):

wayne
eBay

The difference between the two sales was $591,000 and while details like being produced by a Canadian candy company with French language on the back, and a lower population of PSA 9 copies (90 for O-Pee-Chee and 127 for Topps) indicating a harder chance at getting a quality copy of the O-Pee-Chee version of the card, may seem minor, the market has clearly put a premium on them. 

4. Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee Base #18 PSA 10 — $465,000 (2016)

wayne1 1
CardLadder

2016 may seem like it was a century ago in the sports card market, but it still stands as a year when one of the most expensive hockey cards of all time sold. We’ve seen just how much this card has grown in value since then but was still important to include it on this list to show how revered Gretzky is in the sports card community. 

For reference, the population 7 Tom Brady Championship Ticket Autograph /100 BGS 9, which last sold for $3.11 million in June, sold for just $24,330 in 2016 (after he won 4 Super Bowls). The population 171 2003 LeBron James Topps Chrome Rookie Refractor PSA 10 (which last sold for $82,410) was selling for just $1,511(after he won 3 championships). Lastly, the population 319 Michael Jordan Fleer 1986 PSA 10 (which last sold for $344,400) was selling for $28,000. 

The market for modern legends was much smaller in 2016 and this sale of $465,000 significantly higher than what other players' key rookie cards were commanding during the same time period. 

5. Connor McDavid 2015 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Autograph Patch /99 #97 PSA 9 — $135,811

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CardLadder

Connor McDavid is just 24 years old but has already won MVP twice and has 576 career points and 195 goals in just 408 games played. He’s yet to win a Stanley Cup but has played in 21 playoff games. He’s a rising star with plenty of time left in his career. His 2015 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Patch Autograph PSA 9 also set a record as the most expensive modern hockey rookie card ever sold when Leland Auctions sold the card for $135,810 in June of 2020. Also of note, the card was numbered 97/99, and McDavid wears #97, adding to the uniqueness and value of this particular card.  

The card has a population of just 3 copies in a PSA 9 grade and hasn’t recorded a sale since. You can watch the video of the card being pulled from a live break here

6. Wayne Gretzky 1979 Topps Base #18 PSA 9 — $93,480

wayne topps9
CardLadder

This past February, Goldin Auctions sold a PSA 9 Gretzky Topps rookie card for $93,480. The card has a population of 127 (significantly higher than its PSA 10 counterpart). Just one day after the all-time high sale for the card, a PSA 9 copy was sold for $64,999 on eBay. 

7. Wayne Gretzky 1979 Topps Base #18 PSA 9 — $81,180

wayne topps9
CardLadder

Just 1 month after selling a PSA 9 copy of this card for $93,480, Goldin Auction sold a second copy for $81,180, a drop of 13% in value. The card was sold again for the exact same price just a few months later in May. 

In the past year, this card has been sold 17 times at an average price of $56,100. According to Cardladder, the card has grown 3,430% in value since March 2004. As noted in the introduction, all 17 of those sales would qualify for this list given their values at the time of sale. 

These two sales and the previous entry represent the 3 highest sales for the PSA 9 copy of this card, while the other 14 sales have been excluded from this list. We love Gretzky, but want to give the full diverse picture of cards that have been setting records over the past few years! 

8. Sidney Crosby 2005 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Patch Auto /99 #180 BGS 9.5 — $80,287

crosby
Goldin Auctions | Note: The card pictured wasn’t the specific copy that sold.

Sidney Crosby is a 3-time Stanley Cup winner and has played his entire career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s still an active player and has been nicknamed “The Next One”. He’s been voted the MVP of the Penguins 9 times and is 3rd all-time for the most point-per-game seasons in the NHL (Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky are the only players ahead of him in that category). He also won his first NHL MVP when he was still a teenager.

Crosby’s “The Cup” rookie patch auto card (numbered to just 99 copies) was sold via eBay on 2/26/2019 for $80,287.

9. Mario Lemieux 1985 O-Pee-Chee Base #9 PSA 10 — $80,100

mario
CardLadder

Mario Lemieux played 17 seasons in the NHL all with the Pittsburgh Penguins before becoming the owner of the franchise after purchasing the team in 1999. Lemieux won 2 Stanley Cups with the Penguins, won 3 MVP awards, and finished his career with 1,723 points. He ranks 8th in scoring all-time, even though he played less than 1,000 games.

Like Gretzky, Lemieux has both O-Pee-Chee and Topps rookie cards that look identical, but the O-Pee-Chee commands more value. This card has a population of 48 and was last sold on 9/18/21 for $52,800.

The card sold for $80,100 in January of this year, followed by two sales of $78,000 and $75,000 in the first week of February before dipping to $55,900 in March. This card has been sold 11 times in the past 12 months at an average price of $57,920. Similar to Gretzky cards with multiple record sales, the 9 sales after this record price have been excluded from this list. 

10. Connor McDavid 2015 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Autograph Patch /99 #97 PSA 10 — $75,030

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CardLadder

Just two months after the record sale of a PSA 9 copy of this card, Goldin Auctions sold a PSA 10 (which also has a population of 3) for $75,030, representing a 44% drop in value for a card in a higher grade. 

The patches on both cards feature 3 colors and the autographs look to be comparable, so perhaps the market cooled in those two months, but it doesn’t change the fact that this was still a significant sale for a modern NHL rookie card. 

11. Maurice Richard 1951 Parkhurst Base #4 PSA 8.5— $75,000

richard
Heritage Auctions

Maurice Richard, nicknamed “The Rocket” played for the Montreal Canadiens and was known for his goal-scoring abilities. He was the first NHL player to hit the 500 career goal mark (finishing with 544), won 8 Stanley Cups, and earned the MVP award in 1947. He was a 14-time NHL All-Star and is a Hall of Famer (inducted in 1961).

This card has a population of just 3 (with only 5 copies graded higher) and was sold by Heritage Auctions in July of this year for $75,000. 

12. Georges Vezina 1911 C55 Imperial Tobacco #38 PSA 7 — $62,730

vezina
PSA

Georges Vezina was a revered goalie who helped lead the Montreal Canadiens to two Stanley Cup Victories in 1916 and 1924. He was such a high-performer that the NHL created an award named after him that honors the league’s best goaltenders called the Vezina Trophy

Vezina ultimately passed away from tuberculosis during his playing career, but his part in hockey history has not been forgotten. 

There are 9 copies of his rookie card graded PSA 7 and Goldin Auctions sold a copy of the card for $62,730 this past May. 

13. Wayne Gretzky 1980 O-Pee-Chee Base #250 PSA 10 — $60,400

wayne80
CardLadder

This is the first and only 2nd-year card to make this list and it comes from Wayne Gretzky via his 1980 O-Pee-Chee PSA 10 card. The card has a population of 35 and has sold twice in the past 12 months. The card sold for $60,400 in March before dropping nearly 52% in value after selling for $29,000 in July.

This card sold for just $5,000 last October and has had a rate of growth of 653% since June 2005.

14. Bobby Hull 1958 Topps Base PSA 8 — $60,000

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PSA

There are just seven PSA 8 Bobby Hull 1958 Topps rookie cards in existence, with only two that have a higher grade. Last December, one of the copies of this card in a PSA 8 grade sold for $60,000 on eBay. 

Hull is a Hall of Famer who had a 15-year career in the NHL and played over 1,000 games for the Chicago Black Hawks, winning 1 Stanley Cup. He was nicknamed the “Golden Jet” and was known for his powerful slapshot, which reportedly reached speeds up to 118 miles per hour. Hull finished his career with 7 scoring titles, 12 All-Star nods, and back-to-back MVP seasons. 

He was ranked the 9th best hockey player of all time by Bleacher Report

15. Maurice Richard 1951 Parkhurst Base #4 PSA 9— $57,600

richard9
Heritage Auctions

The Maurice Richard rookie card graded PSA 9 has a population of just 5 and was sold by Heritage Auctions in December of 2019 for $57,600. This was 23% less than a lower graded copy sold this past summer. There haven’t been any recent sales of this card in a PSA 9, but if one surfaced, it would be expected to sell for much more than this 2019 sale.

16. Gordie Howe 1951 Parkhurst Base #66 PSA 8 — $56,600

howe8
CardLadder

Gordie Howe was known as “Mr. Hockey” and statistically speaking, he may have been an even better hockey player than Wayne Gretzky. Howe played in 1,767 games across 26 NHL seasons, 25 of them spent with the Detroit Red Wings. Howe’s 26 seasons in the NHL is a record, shared with Chris Chelios. He holds the record for the oldest player to ever play in an NHL game, at the age of 52, and even scored a goal with an assist from his son against the Montreal Canadians in the 1980 NHL playoffs. 

His 1951 Parkhurst card is often recognized as his top rookie card and sold for $56,600 on May 26th, 2021. 

The card has a population of 34 in a PSA 8 grade and according to Cardladder, it has been sold 11 times since 2004. The card has grown in value by 1,097% since 2004. 

17. Sidney Crosby 2005 Upper Deck The Cup Rookie Patch Auto /99 #180 BGS 9.5 — $43,200

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Goldin Auctions

Crosby’s “The Cup” rookie patch auto card (numbered to just 99 copies) sold at Goldin Auctions for $43,200. This represents a 46% decline since the previous record sale of $80,287, but the quality of the autograph and patch should be considered when assessing the sale value of a rookie patch autograph card. This particular card is a single-color patch, where a multi-colored patch sale could command significantly more value in the market. 

18. Bobby Orr 1966 Topps Base PSA 8 #35 — $42,000

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CardLadder

Bobby Orr was a defenseman for the Boston Bruins and was the first in his position to lead the NHL in scoring. Orr helped take the Bruins to the playoffs in 8 straight seasons and ultimately won 2 Stanley Cups. He was named MVP 3 times and was named the NHL’s best defenseman for 8 seasons straight. 

Bleacher Report ranked Orr as the 3rd best NHL player of all time. 

Heritage Auctions sold a PSA 8 graded copy of Orr’s rookie card for $42,00 this past May. There are 47 copies of the card in a PSA 8 grade, with 1 copy in a PSA 9. 

19. Bert Corbeau 1923 Paterson V145–1 (Cancelled) #25 PSA 1 — $39,121 (2015)

bert
Mile High Cards

Bert Corbeau, nicknamed “Pig Iron” played 10 seasons in the NHL as a defenseman for the Montreal Canadians, Hamilton Tigers, Toronto St. Pats, and Toronto Maple Leafs. He was part of the team that won the Canadiens’ first Stanley Cup in 1916. He was also the first NHL player to hit 100 penalty minutes in a season.

The allure of this card in particular is due to its scarcity. It was released by William Paterson Chocolates, a Canadian candy company, and offered to mail a pair of ice skates to any collector who put together the full set of cards. In order to avoid giving away a large number of skates, Paterson released the Corbeau rookie card in limited quantities.

Only 3 copies of this card have been graded by PSA (with the highest grade of a PSA 4) and collectors who submitted the cards for a free pair of ice skates were also mailed their original card set, but with a hole punch in each card and a “canceled” stamp on the back (to prevent people from submitting sets multiple times).

Mile High Cards sold a PSA 1 version of this card for $39,121 in October of 2015.

20. Georges Vezina 1911 C55 Imperial Tobacco #38 PSA 7 — $34,370 (2017)

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PSA

In November of 2017, Goldin Auctions sold a PSA 7 copy of this card for $34,370. 4 years later, it sold for $62,730 (also by Goldin Auctions), representing an increase of 82.5%. 

There are just 9 copies of this card in a PSA 7 grade, with only 1 graded a PSA 8 (and none higher than that grade). This sale was included in this list because of when it occurred. 2017 pre-dates the sports card boom and this sale is an example of a niche, but important hockey card that commanded a significant value in that time period. 

21. Mario Lemieux 1985 O-Pee-Chee Base #9 SGC 10— $32,360

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CardLadder

The Mario Lemieux SGC 10 graded O-Pee-Chee rookie card has a population of just 10 and sold for $32,360 this past April, which was 88% less than what a PSA 10 version of this card sold for in the same time period. 

This sale was included to highlight a top rookie card sale from a grading card company outside of BGS and PSA. 

A BGS 9.5 copy of this card sold for $27,600 in January of this past year. 

There’s been a lot of debate in the hobby about which grading card service to use, but this is a notable sale given that it is from SGC and outsold a BGS 9.5 copy. 

Please note, the BGS 9.5 sale would rank 18th on this list, but as it’s been stated before, it has been excluded to limit the redundancy of this list. 

22. Bobby Orr 1966 Topps Base PSA 7 #35 — $32,250

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CardLadder

Bobby Orr was ranked as the 3rd best NHL player of all time by Bleacher Report and his rookie cards across multiple grades reflect that ranking in the marketplace. 

There are just 112 copies of Orr’s 1966 Topps in a PSA 7 grade and PWCC sold one of those copies via eBay for $32,250 back in April. The sale came just two weeks after a pop 8 PSA 7.5 copy was sold via eBay from PWCC Auctions for $29,260. 

23. Bert Corbeau 1923 Paterson V145–1 #25 PSA Authentic — $31,070

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Heritage Auctions

In August of 2016, Heritage Auctions sold a Corbeau rookie card in its 2nd highest PSA grade for $31,070. There are two versions of this card: Canceled (as seen in entry 15 and a non-canceled copy (as seen here). 

Cards that were submitted to Paterson for a free pair of ice hockey skates were marked canceled to avoid multiple submissions. The card shown above is an example of a copy that was not submitted to be redeemed, thus it does not have a hole punch and canceled stamp on the back of it. 

There are just 4 copies of this card that have been graded by PSA. 

24. Mario Lemieux 1985 O-Pee-Chee Base #9 PSA 10 — $23,070

mario10
CardLadder

In February of 2017, this Mario Lemieux O-Pee-Chee rookie card sold for $23,070, a record sale at the time. The card then dipped in value steadily working back up to a sale of $21,000 in December of 2020. Six weeks after the $21,000 sale, the card sold for $80,100. This represents a 281% growth in value.

25. Bobby Hull 1958 Topps Base PSA 7— $22,200

hull7
Heritage Auctions

This PSA 7 Bobby Hull Topps rookie card has a population of 36, with just 25 copies in a higher grade. No copies of the PSA 9 have sold (although PSA values it at $175,000), but this PSA 7 was sold this past May by Heritage Auctions for $22,200. 

While we are used to seeing modern cards set records in a PSA 10 grade, older sets like this one are scarce in good condition. Hull appears a few times on this list with record sales in lower grades due to the low population of his cards. 

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