April 2019 Spring Premium Auction - Rare & High-Grade Cards You Won't Find Anywhere Else
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/5/2019

Widely considered the most valuable modern sports trading card in the hobby, the Canadian-printed O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card is noteworthy for a number of reasons. First, the card was produced in far fewer quantities than its nearly identical Topps twin. Furthermore, as a Canadian issue, it holds special and appropriate appeal for fans of the Canadian-born megastar, universally regarded as the greatest hockey player in the history of the frozen pond and, with Jim Thorpe, Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jordan, one of the greatest athletes to ever grace the earth. He retired with 61 official NHL records, plus scores of unofficial records, and two decades later, 60 of his official records still stand. He remains the league's leading scorer, with 894 regular season goals, as well as its top assist maker, with 1,963 (more than any other player has total points, goals plus assists). His 50 career hat tricks are also a record, as are his 92 regular season goals in 1981-82 and his 163 assists in 1985-86. In addition to his unprecedented superhuman regular season stats, he has more goals and more assists than any other player in both playoff history as well as in the All-Star game. And the list goes on.

The offered 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee rookie card shows the then 18-year old with the Edmonton Oilers, with whom he debuted the previous year after playing his first three professional games with the Indianapolis Racers. In his first year, he racked up 46 goals and 64 assists in 80 games, as a skinny, pimple-faced, 17-year old teenager still in the pangs of puberty. The offered example showcases a perfectly registered and nearly immaculate image, enhanced by noticeably rich print tones and ringed by characteristically rough-cut edges. A much smaller operation than Topps, the O-Pee-Chee production process utilized an outdated system of wires to cut its cards. Full sheets would be stacked in piles of 50 to 100 or more, and as the sharp wires worked their way through the sheets, most cards experienced this characteristic rough-cutting from the almost saw-like action of the wires. Unaware of this process, some collectors might disparage signs of rough-cutting, but those who know the history of O-Pee-Chee cards find in it not only beauty but the sure signs of authenticity.

As with other cheaply produced O-Pee-Chee cards, the iconic Gretzky rookie also suffers from a range of other condition obstacles, including severe centering issues and print defects. This high-end Mint 9, however, shows noticeably rich and clean Smurf-blue borders around an accurately centered and perfectly registered image of The Great One that borders on Gem Mint condition. Only two PSA 10 Gem Mint examples have ever graded higher, the last sale of which brought $465,500 at auction in 2016, while only 85 others have ever attained Mint 9 status from PSA. Ever trending upwards, PSA's SMR Magazine shows the current book value for a PSA 9 to be $25,000, yet the average PSA 9 price on VintageCardPrices.com comes in closer to $30,000, with the most recently recorded PSA 9 sale fetching $52,110 in March of this year. With far fewer than 100 like it on record at PSA, this pack-pulled, investment-grade beauty must absolutely be considered among the finest specimens in existence. Like the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card and other cardboard icons of the hobby, prices for the highest grade copies keep catapulting every year, and with the vast majority of high-grade Gretzkys now uncovered from collections and unsheathed from their wax packs, we wouldn't be surprised to see price tags double to the $50,000 or even $100,000 range within the next decade.  

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $10,000
Final prices include buyers premium: $29,350
Number Bids: 9
Auction closed on Sunday, May 5, 2019.
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