Topps vs OPC: A Gretzky Rookie Card Value Comparison

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.

Wayne Gretzky OPC Rookie CardTherefore, it’s no shock that there are fewer OPC Gretzky rookie cards than there are Topps.

Topps Gretzky Rookie Card vs OPC:  The Numbers

Back 1979-80 OPC Gretzky rookie card

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.

NM/MT PSA 8 Gretzky RC Comparison

1979-80 Topps Gretzky back

The PSA 8 examples are even easier to examine.  As of this writing, there have been nearly twice as many Topps cards graded NM/MT compared to the O-Pee-Chee version.  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 for sale 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)

Comments

  1. Jason Edginton says

    I have 2 Wayne Gretzky rookie cards that I collected when I was 10 years old. 20 years ago my friend Travis Daley put them in a glass case and I put them in my Wife’s safety deposit box and they have been there ever since. I guess I should get them appraised.

  2. Tyler says

    just the other day i had a friend drop over a box of hockey cards he pulled out of his dumpster at his work just so happen to have an OPC rookie card sitting in it looks like i hit a gold mine

  3. Tom says

    I’m sitting here with two OPC Gretzky rookie cards that I’m going to try to sell. Neither one has been graded but one is perfect and I expect will be rated a 9 or higher and I think the other one will come in around a 6. Both are sealed in acrylic cases for now. Oh to think how many others got run through my bicycle spokes…lol.

  4. Bryan says

    I got five of ’em, and 1978-9 was the only year I collected hockey cards. They’re not in great shape, but I guess I’ll have them graded sooner or later.

  5. Allan bugera says

    I have a wayne grekzky card for 25 years opc In my opinion it’s a 9.5 or possibly 10 I should have it graded

      • Troy says

        I have an opc card autographed by the great one himself. I have had it since 1981 and it has never been outside of the case other than for the autograph. It’s as mint as mint gets. Does the autograph improve or hurt the value?

        • admin says

          If the card were truly mint it would probably be best not to have an autograph on it but otherwise, it’s fine. I’d have it authenticated by PSA/DNA, however.

  6. Mathew Vincent says

    I have the Wayne Gretzky opc rookie card. I inherited from my grandmother who collected hockey cards. It hasn’t been graded and I’m assuming it’s around a 6 or 7. It has no creases, no marks, good centering, but corners are a little rough. Not bad just doesn’t have sharp corners. I’m skeptical on sending it in to get graded.

  7. Don says

    How do you go about having a Gretzky rookie card graded. Do you send it away and how do you know that you are getting your original back?

  8. Dan says

    I have a Gretzky rookie topps graded Authentic by PSA, but no mention about a shorter card or trimmed. The number of the card card graded by PSA is 24629140. Can you help me about that?

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