Hockey card collectors already know that O-Pee-Chee cards distributed in Canada were printed in smaller quantities than those produced for collectors in the U.S. During the 1979-80 season, Canadians were crazy about the teenage sensation they’d been hearing about since he was a kid. Wayne Gretzky was a household name. Yet the number of people north of the border is what dictated the quantity of cases of trading cards produced for sale. Simply put, Canada isn’t as big as the United States in terms of population overall and percentage of potential buyers, even though the sport was of much greater interest.
While we’ll never know the exact production numbers, it’s interesting to compare the selling prices and known quantities of graded Gretzky rookie cards for OPC and Topps. Thanks to online tools, we can do that pretty well.
We’ll use PSA grading for our analysis since they’re the largest grading and authentication firm in the hobby.
The average selling price over the last seven years or so on Gretzky’s OPC rookie card in mint (PSA 9) condition was $4,773. The average price for a PSA 9 Topps Gretzky rookie was $1,520. That’s quite a difference. Is it justified? PSA has graded 53 OPC Gretzky rookies as 9s and 121 Topps versions.
You’d think the difference in price would better match the number of cards graded. One would think the Topps Gretzky would sell for closer to $2,000 on average. Of course, fewer examples available mean more people chasing the card and hence, a higher price.
The PSA 8 examples are even easier to examine. There have been 987 Topps graded NM/MT compared to 479 OPC; pretty close to twice as many. With the average selling price of a PSA 8 Topps Gretzky at $470, you’d think the price for an OPC would be around $1,000. Instead, it’s actually $1,470. Again, collectors pay a premium for the rare chance to land the OPC version.
The list below shows the breakdown for OPC and Topps Gretzky rookie cards in terms of average selling prices and quantity graded for grades 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 as of late April 2013.
It would seem to indicate that the Topps Gretzky rookie card is the better buy overall, especially in PSA 6 where the numbers of each that have been graded at that level are very similar but the average selling price of the Topps card is less than half of its OPC counterpart.
Click here to see Gretzky rookie cards from OPC and Topps on eBay.
Average Sales Price/Quantity OPC Topps
PSA 9 $4,773 (50) $1,520 (121)
PSA 8 $1,470 (479) $470 (987)
PSA 7 $639 (673) $299 (1249)
PSA 6 $449 (535) $212 (641)
PSA 5 $337 (342) $193 (287)