The “Great One” turned 50 the other day, to celebrate I began yet another read-through of this incredible book written by Wayne Gretzky collector Jeffrey Griffith. Jeffrey has the most complete Gretzky collection on the planet and this book offers an in-depth look into the thousands of cards that make up that mind-boggling collection, complete with year-by-year breakdowns of every card released and full color photos of some of the most rare and sought-after Gretzky cardboard. The 750+ images used in this book are from Jeffrey’s own collection and you will see many cards that very rarely, if ever, appear on the open market. Seriously, if you are a fan of Gretzky or even cards in general you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this book.
I had the opportunity to meet Jeffrey at the 2010 Spring Expo in Toronto and we have discussed Gretzky cards a number of times since then. His knowledge of the man, the cards, and the memorabilia is unrivaled and I have learned a lot about not only Gretzky cards but the hobby in general.
As a memorabilia collector I especially enjoy looking at the numerous rare jersey and patch cards that appear in the pages of Jeffrey’s book. Some of my favorites include the patches and autographs from the 2000-01 Wayne Gretzky Master Collection, the extremely rare Captains Patch cards from the first two Be A Player Ultimate Memorabilia releases, the elusive 1998 Nagano Olympics jersey and patch cards from 1999-00 Upper Deck, the 2004-05 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Signature Patches, and countless others. I can only imagine how much time, effort, and money went into building a collection of this magnitude.
“Gretzky Cards” is available in two formats, a softcover Collector’s Edition and a hardcover Premium Collector’s Edition. The hardcover version is particularly valuable because it is limited to only 99 copies and the inside cover features game-used swatches from Oilers, Kings, Rangers, and 1994 All-Star jerseys. Personally I own the softcover edition but I will definitely try to get my hands on the hardcover Premium edition before they run out.
You can find Jeffrey and order a copy of the book by getting in touch with him on Hobby Insider under the username “Gretzkycards”. It is a very interesting read and worth every penny!
I am a huge fan of these “Career Legacy” cards from the new SP Game Used, or any career-themed memorabilia set for that matter including the ITG Ultimate Memorabilia “Journey Jersey” inserts. To be honest I was kind of surprised to see Upper Deck take on a set like this again considering their track record has been less than stellar lately when it comes to placing the correct memorabilia to the correct photo (or even the correct player sometimes). They pulled it off however, and I must say this is one of the better quality insert sets Upper Deck has done in a while.
I already posted my Wayne Gretzky copy in an earlier blog post but I thought I would share this Jari Kurri card because it is interesting to me for a couple of reasons.
First of all I am a big fan of the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980’s and it is never a bad thing to score a piece of fabric from one of the stars of those teams. As a sentimental collector I can’t help but wonder how many of his 1,398 career NHL points were scored while wearing this jersey, and how many of those came from plays involving Gretzky.
Secondly, and one of the reasons this card really stood out for me, is the inclusion of a New York Rangers jersey swatch. Kurri was traded to the Rangers late in the 1995-96 season and only played a handful of games for the Blueshirts during their playoff run. Chances are Kurri only wore one set of jerseys during his 14 regular season games and another for the 11 playoff games, making Rangers gamers extremely rare and somehow Upper Deck got their hands on one. I am a sucker for rare and obscure jerseys so I snatch up cards like this whenever I can.
Besides a five season stint with the L.A Kings Kurri also played single seasons with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Colorado Avalanche, hopefully if the “Career Legacy” concept is expanded upon in future SP Game Used releases the Kurri card can be updated with another rare jersey or two.
With a seventy-five copy print run the card isn’t at all rare by today’s standards, and at an average sale price on eBay less than $10 is isn’t very valuable, but if you are like me and can appreciate rare memorabilia when you see it you may like this card as much as I do.
Every so often I get that intense itch to bust some wax, and with the nearest hobby shop almost three hours away I usually have to settle for a quick trip to Wal-Mart in search of blaster boxes. Recently I started seeing these 2010-11 Panini Certified blasters on the shelf but the price tag ($35 Cdn) for three packs caused me to pass over them a few times. I didn’t think much could have come out of only three packs and without a clear mention of odds on the box I didn’t think it was worth the gamble (although after a closer look at the fine print the box does say “inserts” fall one in every two packs, but exactly what falls under the category of “inserts”?)
After reading posts on various hobby sites I frequent I noticed people have been pulling memorabilia and/or autograph hits out of EVERY blaster. Turns out the fine print on the bottom of the box mentioning “inserts” falling one in two packs actually did include bigger hits like jerseys and autographs. Naturally I had to check this out for myself so I made a trip to my local Wal-Mart, knowing that I saw a shelf full of these blasters every time I pass the aisle.
Well someone must have caught on to these because when I got there this morning there were only two blasters left, I bought both and was pleased with pulling the following hits out of only six packs:
Jared Cowen Freshman Signatures 0221/1299
Scott Gomez Mirror Red Dual Jersey 133/150
Alex Goligoski Mirror Red Dual Jersey 015/150
Yes, out of six Wal-Mart packs I pulled a hard-signed rookie autograph and two dual jersey parallels numbered to 150. I won’t make my money back on these three cards of course, but it is certainly refreshing to feel like your getting something out of a blaster for a change. From what I am hearing you have a shot at pretty much anything that can be found in the standard hobby boxes, even the really short printed Fabric of The Game Number Die-Cut Prime Autographs limited to five copies.
In comparison you would have to buy two or three retail tins of Upper Deck Series 1 to have a decent shot at a Game Jersey (1:24 odds), and at $25 Cdn a pop you’re looking at up to $75 worth of tins to pull a single jersey. Of course you get two Young Guns per blaster and if you pull some good ones you could make your money back, but back when I was opening Upper Deck products I was disappointed with pretty much every blaster I ever opened.
Bottom line is you pay less than $12 a pack and get at least one hit out of every blaster, that’s a good value to me. The distant hobby shop I mentioned at the beginning of this post has been charging a whopping $17 a pack for Certified. Considering the wide range of potential hits that can be had you are basically buying hobby packs at Wal-Mart for less than hobby shop prices, how can you go wrong?
Just got this rare Mats Sundin Game Jersey today, all the way back from the 1998-99 Upper Deck release. Not really a big Sundin fan but my love for defunct NHL teams and early Game Jersey cards made this snag a no-brainer.
A friend of mine managed to pull a Wayne Gretzky Game Jersey from this set out of a gas station pack back in the day, ever since I have wanted at least one Game Jersey card from this product and this one does not disappoint.
This was the third year of Game Jersey cards from Upper Deck and in my opinion the best design of the early jersey sets. Very simple and clean, nice full-body photo, and a swatch of jersey bigger than most jersey cards released over the last number of years. The card stock was also beginning to get a bit thicker and the card doesn’t have the paper-thin feeling of the 1996-97 Game Jersey cards that made you afraid to handle them.
The only issue with this set was the checklist. The inclusion of “stars” like Chris Therien and Darius Kasparaitis would have made the thrill of a 1:2500 pack pull pretty dull, and it also began the trend of watering down jersey set checklists to fit in more players and keep up to the demand of collectors in a time when memorabilia cards were the new big thing.
All things considered this is still a sweet card and I’m happy to have it, I can only imagine what it felt like to pull it out of a pack back when these cards were still crazy valuable.
One of my favorite new cards and for obvious reasons, there are not many Gretzky memorabilia cards that feature swatches from these three jerseys on one piece of cardboard. I believe you’d have to go back to the 2001-02 Be A Player Ultimate Memorabilia 2nd Edition to find the most recent “Journey Jersey” card with swatches from Oilers, Kings, and Rangers jerseys. Just prior to that release was the 2000-01 Upper Deck Wayne Gretzky Master Collection and it’s “Great Jersey” and “Great Patch” inserts, although those offered the additional 1991 All-Star Game swatches.
Obviously absent from this card, and the other career-themed memorabilia cards mentioned above, is the inclusion of a St. Louis Blues jersey. Not surprising, really, since Gretzky only played a handful of games for the Blues in 1996 and gamers from that season are probably next to impossible to find. I also heard that the Gretzky camp no longer allows St. Louis Blues cards to be created, believable since we haven’t seen so much as a Blues base card for years.