I have recently started collecting the C56 set and the prices have been steadily rising over the past few months. I'm not familiar with all of the prewar sets, but I have always felt that the 1933 Ice Kings set was still pretty fairly priced and there doesn't seem to be a huge demand for those cards. That may be due to the OPC Set from the same year. They are colorful and more valuable, but the Ice Kings are nice cards and the set contains some strong rookies and excellent hall of famers.
That's just my opinion.
Good Luck and welcome to the Forum.
First off, welcome to the Hockey forum. As far as what to collect, I think that you should review every pre-war set and decide which one really visually appeals to you. Then you should decide on what grades you would like to collect the set in and what is affordable for you. I currently collect the 33' ICE KINGS and the 33' OPC's.
I collect them in 4 - 6 grade. Pre -war hockey is very volatile as far as price goes, meaning that what seems to be selling at reasonable prices this week may be out of control price wise by next month. I would really recommend collecting cards that you really like rather than what seems to be the current affordable choice.
Welcome aboard. Every one of else has a collecting budget. Some in the hundreds per year to some in the tens or hundreds of thousands per year. In an ideal world, we would buy what we like. That being said, be careful about buying something just because it's cheaper or more readily available if at the end of the day you won't enjoy it. Even C55's (aside from the big cards of Lalonde, Vezina, Cyclone Taylor and Ross) in low grades (1-3) are often found around $100 apiece. If that's still too much, then those will good eye appeal, but authentic and/or heavy corner wear would still enable you to own one or more of them.
As far as other pre-war sets that are semi-affordable, the list includes many: 1923-24 Paulins, 1923-24 and 1924-25 William Patterson, 1924-25 Champ's Cigarette, 1933-34 OPC A & B, 1934-35 OPC C and 1937-38 OPC E. Bobby's Vintage Hockey Collector summarizes the majority of the options very well and will more than wet your appetite for this stuff. Good luck.
The sports card hobby has become extremely competitive. Over the last 10 years or so, what I call the "New Registry Collector" has gotten into the hobby. They are guys who are very wealthy who have a hell of a lot disposable income (maybe hundreds of thousands per year) to buy baseball cards. They are now starting to buy hockey cards as well.
The short answer is that you should collect whatever you like & can afford.
i think iam going to do the 1933 OPC set. and the Ice king.
hopefully i can pick up some good cards.
Here is another question, where other than Ebay is a good place to buy these cards? i know those big name auctions, and big name dealer. But i would like to buy many vintage hockey in good prices ungraded too.
is there any ways to do this?