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The Holy Grail of Hockey Cards and Price Tag Explained

Hockey card collecting has been a beloved hobby for sports enthusiasts worldwide, and some cards have reached astronomical prices due to their rarity and significance. The most expensive hockey card ever sold is the 1979 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee rookie card, which fetched a staggering $3.75 million in a private sale in May 2021.

The Legendary 1979 Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card

Wayne Gretzky, widely regarded as the greatest hockey player of all time, is the face of the most valuable hockey card ever sold. His 1979 O-Pee-Chee rookie card features him as a member of the Edmonton Oilers, where he won the Hart Memorial Trophy eight times in his first nine NHL seasons. 

Three Reason Why the Gretzky Rookie Card is the Holy Grail

  1. Rarity: Only two copies of the 1979 Gretzky O-Pee-Chee rookie card have been graded as Gem Mint 10 by PSA, out of a total population of 7,411 cards.
  2. Condition Sensitivity: Gretzky’s rookie cards are highly condition-sensitive, making high-grade copies exceptionally rare and valuable.
  3. Player Significance: Gretzky is widely regarded as the greatest hockey player of all time, holding 61 NHL records when he retired in 1999.


Important Details of the Wayne Gretzky OPC Rookie Card

The card is easily the most sought-after hockey card in existence, and it’s not even close — for now.

  • It was produced by O-Pee-Chee (OPC), a Canadian company that was the only manufacturer of hockey cards in 1979. The Topps version from the same year is also highly coveted.
  • The card features Gretzky as a rookie with the Edmonton Oilers after being traded from the Indianapolis Racers of the defunct World Hockey Association.
  • Only around 7,500 copies of the 1979 OPC Gretzky rookie card were printed, making it extremely rare, especially in high grades.
  • Only two copies have been graded a perfect Gem Mint 10 by PSA, the leading card grading company. A Gem Mint 10 copy sold for a record $3.75 million in a private sale in 2021.
  • Even lower graded copies in good condition can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction. A PSA 8 (Near Mint-Mint) sold for $720,000 in 2020.
  • The card’s immense value is due to Gretzky’s unparalleled impact and records in the NHL, combined with the card’s rarity and condition sensitivity.

How Does the Holy Grail of Hockey Cards Compare?

In our other articles on the most expensive basketball cards ever sold and the most expensive baseball cards ever sold, the Gretzky card is a distant third. Check out our articles on those cards.




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