I used to read Tuff Stuff religiously from about 1992 to 1996 when there were actually good articles. Brent Barnes wrote a column entitled "Hooked on Hockey." He wrote about hockey cards, but I was particularly enticed by the pre-war articles. Being from Texas, the thought of seeing and owning a tobacco hockey card was extremely remote (when the internet was still in its infancy). While I was dating my wife back then, we went to her hometown of St. Albert, close to Edmonton. I made my search list of card shops in Edmonton and happened upon some midgrade C55's. My first was #26 Skein Ronan, then two days later #30 Harry Hyland and #15 Bruce Stuart. That was 1999. Even though my wife doesn't always get the collecting-itis (does anyone who doesn't collect something?), I also remind her that she started me on my 1st vintage hockey card.
Good question, John. (And I did wonder how a Nguyen from Texas ended up collecting vintage hockey. No offense, of course.) I can't remember if I started with '53 Parkies or C56's - I think it was the former - but for me it was the design of the sets that mainly caught my eye. There's a few visual duds in the Parkie set, most notably the Beliveau, but for the most part, they're beautiful cards and the set is one of the few of the '50s and early '60s that captures all of the Original 6.
As for the C56's, it was just pure serendipity. As I may have mentioned to you, I was surfing eBay one night and stumbled upon my PSA 6 Art Ross. I knew little about the set at the time, but a $335 BIN for a legend of the game in that grade seemed like a good buy. The funny thing is that I also ended up winning a PSA 8 Topps Gretzky rookie in a Teletrade auction that night, making it a rather depraved night of spending for me. At least by my standards at the time. Even though he's my all-time favorite in any sport, the Gretz is long gone, but the Ross survived my recent PSA purge and will hopefully be with me for a long time.
Being only 21 years old I've grown up in the age of cards. I used to pick up 5 cards for .25$ at the local video store in a vending machine- That turned into buying sealed packs, No specific brand, Anything I could find. Than came eBay, At first I just picked up Gretzky rookies and at one point I probably had about 25, Than one day just playing around on eBay I wanted to see how far back hockey cards went, I started with probably 1915 in the search part of eBay and ended up at my first C56 cards. At first I picked up a couple- just thinking how amazing it was and how incredible the history was behind these 100 year old cards! Then after I had about 15 PSA 1-2's I realized I needed to upgraded, I sold all my cards and slowly but surely have started to rebuild my set with PSA 5+ cards. I'm trying to finish this set before I'm 25 (Roughly 4 years of building) but after realizing how difficult its been to just get a couple of these 5's and 6's I'm hoping to have it done by 30!
I had collected for quite a long time and was into buying Hall of FAme players cards from the 60's when my wife discovered some high grade C56's at a show. She decided we should collect the first ever set. I believe Mike Q, who just started posting on this board, either sold or consigned some high grade cards to Alan Hager. From Hager we bought the best card - a Nick Bawlf. The Bawlf now resides in a PSA 8 holder. I think also in that set was a Fred Lake card that was than graded an ASA 9. That might be the PSA 9 Lake today.
After that I started to work on other pre-war sets and pre-war Hall of Fame rookies.
While I collected all four sports as a kid in the 60s, I never even saw pre-war hockey until the advent of eBay. There is probably more vintage hockey in San Antonio than Tidewater Virginia but I'm guessing even John's vast collection would be smaller without the 'bay.'
After a ten year layoff from 1994 to 2003 I got back into the hobby filling out some 60s sets from eBay purchases. I looked over pre war stuff, most of which I'd never seen before thinking 'how cool', and when the Topps retro c55 set came out in 2003-04 I decided to put together a real set. That set lead to V252s, v288s, C56 and addiction.
One of the enjoyable aspects of prewar hockey is that with one notable exception the collectors seem willing to go out of their way to help each other. There also seem to be fewer millionaires chasing the prewar cards (please stay away rich guys) so at least in lower grade the stuff is affordable compared to prewar baseball despite being much more scarce.
First post to this board. I've been reading the posts and wanted to jump in.
I first started collecting hockey cards when I was 14 in 1981. It all started in 1980 when my brother and I watched the Islanders beat the Flyers for their first of 4 Stanley Cups and we became hockey fans. Prior to that, my grandfather used to bring us a pack of baseball or football cards everyday when we were kids. He would stop at the grocery store to play the lottery and pick us up a few packs of cards. We collected cards all the way back to 1974 or so but it wasn't until the 1980 Stanley Cup did we get hooked on hockey. Living in Ohio, hockey certainly isn't a big sport nor did it get much attention in those days.
I bought cards here or there throughout high school and quit when I got to college. After graduation, I started back up with graded cards and haven't stopped. It has become quite and obsession for me. My brother gave up collecting hockey years ago as he realized it wasn't worth competing with me for cards. He knew he'd lose. (Ha Ha)
The real thing that broke me loose from other sports in collecting and going strictly hockey was in March 1997 when for my 30th Birthday my brother and parents got me an all expenses paid trip to Toronto to the Expo show. We went in May of 97 and continued to go twice a year for the next 5 years or so until I started having kids. Now we go once a year usually in November as it seems we have a baby every May.
I was working part time in a sports card store, but not really collecting. I had been reading the Beckett and Tuff Stuff to gain some knowledge and was curious about the hockey players from the 50's and 60's who I hadn't ever heard of before.
I went to the local library to find a book on hockey players and found a couple of very good ones. (This was in the early 90's, before I had my first computer.) One of them dealt with the early 1900's and I became fascinated with the history of the sport. Inside the cover it had a picture of a bunch of C55 and C56 cards lined up one after the other. That really got me interested.
I found ads in Tuff Stuff for card dealers and eventually found a guy in Canada who did card auctions over the phone. He took bids on each card or lot for a week. It started buying cards from the 1950's and 1960's and got some great deals. I even found 2 or 3 pre-war items that way.
Ever since then, I have been focusing on the older stuff.
Do you consider 1969 Vintage? When things got hot in the card market in 1990, I remembered where I kept my collection of 1969 OPC hockey safe from my little brother all through the years. Some of my original collection graded 8's, but generally most were 5 to 7's, and later on in 2003 when the SEt Registry was beginning, I sent a bunch to PSA, so many of of my original cards were the first graded by PSA...not that it lasted long..
Hi All, This is my first post as well!
It is great to see all the familiar names from the "bay" and the PSA registry, It really is a small collecting world.
My first Vintage cards came from a find in an antique store near Calgary. I was flipping through a cigarette card binder ( birds, flowers etc.) and at the back of the book was five C55's. I had been collecting for years but had very little knowledge of cards older than the 50's. I did not buy them that day, but went home to research them. Once I found out what I had found I could not get back fast enough, $80.00 got me the binder with Jack Mcdonald, Steve Vair, Don Smith, Ernest Johnson, and Fred Cyclone Taylor. I have not had them graded yet, but they appear to be 4's or 5's. Since then I can't get enough of Vintage cards, I even used replica C56's as part of my placecards for my recent wedding ( yes, she allowed it, she is a keeper. )
I started collecting in the mid 80s. But my interest started in the early 70s when I would play with my cousins 71-72 OPC cards, we would shoot nails at the players we didn't like.
Then in 1978 I picked up a Georges Vezina C55 in Vancouver for $15 (dad was taking us to Hawaii). I bought the Vezina partly because I thought it was a nifty card but mostly because years earlier my cousin told me he wanted to win the Vezina trophy. I actually lost this card for over 20 years and a few months ago my dad found it in his stuff and gave it back to me. This was a great moment for me, even though he told me he had it somewhere, I thought it was gone forever.
To buy my home I sold most of my collection to Gary G of Lets Collect in ST Catherines Ontario back in 93, but I still couldn't stop collecting. Now although my collection is just a shell of its former self, I have my Vezina back and no longer feel that I need every card out there, heh heh. Just some of them.
But finally I have to say that it was Bobby Orrs rc that really made me want to collect cards. Just the look on Bobbies young face in that cartoon TV put the hook in me.