by Tom Samworth
What is considered the post-war era in hockey card collecting began with the 1951-52 Parkhurst series. With that set, yearly production of hockey cards has gone unbroken to this day. Before the Parkies set, hockey cards were produced on an irregular basis and the last major set came out over a decade before.
Despite the attention given to the 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee rookie card of Wayne Gretzky, there are three cards that have been produced in the post-war era that are fundamentally more valuable. The trifecta of hockey cards consists of the rookie cards of three of the greatest hockey players in National Hockey League history. All three cards are valued by Beckett Hockey Monthly at up to $3000.
1951-52 Parkhurst #66, the Gordie Howe rookie card. Howe's first hockey card came five years after his NHL career began. Howe first played for the Detroit Red Wings in 1946-47 and continued with the team until the end of the 1970-71 season. He returned to professional hockey in 1973-74 with the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association. Gordie played in the WHA for the duration of its existence, finishing with the New England Whalers. He returned to the NHL for one last season in 1979-80 with the Hartford Whalers.
Over his lengthy pro hockey career, Gordie Howe won six Hart Memorial Trophies as NHL MVP and six Art Ross Trophies as the league's leading scorer. He won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings and two Avco Cups in the WHA with the Houston Aeros. He remains the only player to play an NHL game while in his 50's and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.
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Sports Collectors Daily