Topps Hockey Cards

When Topps began producing ice hockey trading cards in 1954, it was on its way to becoming a dominant brand. They had recently produced two excellent baseball sets, and Bowman was nearing extinction.

Following a brief stint by Pankhurst, Topps was the only producer of hockey cards in the United States while O-Pee-Chee was contained to Canada. The two worked together to produce different sets that were often nearly identical. Topps came out first, but O-Pee-Chee had a larger set. The simultaneous sets have competed on the secondary market, and O-Pee-Chee often has the more expensive cards traded today.

Topps was able to produce quality cards and sets from 1954 until 1991. In 1991 Score, Pro Set, and Upper Deck started selling hockey cards, soon followed by Pinnacle and In the Game. Over time, Topps scaled back production of all sports and focused on baseball.

The sets and cards produced by Topps are some of the most valuable of the post war vintage hockey sets. This article will take you through several significant Topps hockey sets.

1954 Topps

The 1954 Topps Hockey set had 60 cards measuring 2 ⅝” x 2 ¾”. Topps chose to have the four American teams of the NHL represented. This was New York, Chicago, Boston, and Detroit. The fronts of the cards captured an action shot with a large team logo, and the name, team name, and position of each player were listed on the bottom. The blue border on the edge is sensitive to chipping.

The major finds of the set are Milt Schmidt, Bill Gadsby, Dick Gamble, Harry Howell, Terry Sawchuck, and Ted Lindsay. Overall, there are 16 Hall of Famers on the set. For perspective, about one in every four cards is a Hall of Famers’ first Topps card. Gordie Howe is the anchor of the set, and as the most highly valued card, a PSA 9 sold for $7,000 in 2002. It is estimated to be worth over $10,000 today.

1958 Topps

Topps released 66 standard sized cards for the 1958 hockey set. This is the third set released by Topps. Topps again produced cards for the four American NHL teams. The cards have a portrait of each player. The player’s name is on the top, the team and position are on the bottom, and the card is surrounded by a white border.

Terry Sawchuck, Gordie Howe, Glen Hall, Gump Worsley, and Eddie Shack are important members of the set. Gordie Howe’s name is misspelled as “Gordy.”

Bobby Hull’s rookie card is the major piece to the set. It is difficult to find in high grade for two reasons. First, issues arise as the card was at the bottom right of the printing sheet. Second, Hull’s card is the last in the set, which often creates wear from handling and rubber bands. There are zero Gem Mint cards on PSA’s registry, two PSA Mint 9’s, and dozens at other grades. A PSA 8 of Bobby Hull sold for $102,000 in 2017. A PSA 9 is estimated to sell for over $150,000 if it were put up for auction.

1961 Topps

The 1961 Topps has 66 cards of standard size. The Boston Bruins are cards #1-22, the Chicago Blackhawks are cards #23-44, and the New York Rangers are cards #45-65. The checklist is card number 66.

The major cards include Bobby Hull, Glenn Hall, Stan Mikita, Phil Watson, and Gump Worsley. The major rookie cards are Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert. A major purchase came in 2013 with a PSA 10 Mikita selling for $4,481.

1963 Topps

With 66 cards of standard size, this Topps set features players from the Boston Bruins in cards #1-21, the Chicago Blackhawks for #22-43, and the New York Rangers, with one checklist card at #66.

The key rookie cards include Ed Westfall, Gilles Villemure, and Ed Johnston. Hall of Famers such as Milt Schmidt, Leo Bolvin, Tom Johnson, Johnny Bucyk, and Stan Mikita, as well as others, are also represented on the set. The most expensive card is Bobby Hull’s card which was up for between $3,000 to $5,500 for a PSA 9 on eBay at the time of this writing.

It is worth noting that on many of these early Topps sets, the checklist is one of the most valuable cards. For the 1963 Topps, the checklist is the second most valuable card. A PSA 8 was available for $500 to $700 on eBay.

1966 Topps USA Test

This set was produced only in the United States. There was a 1966 Topps set that was produced as well, but the USA Test was produced are far fewer quantities. The two sets are almost identical. The only differences are that the wood grain border is a shade lighter for the USA Test, and there are no French descriptions on the USA test.

The major cards include Hall of Famers Gump Worsley, Henri Richard, Johnny Bower, Yvan Cournoyer, Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, and Bobby Hull. There are several other Hall of Famers not listed here. The most expensive card (by far) is the Bobby Orr card. In 2019 a PSA Mint 9 sold for $204,020. It was Population 1 at the time.

1969 Topps

The NHL had created six expansion teams for the 1967-1968 season. By the 1969-1970 season Topps had expanded from 66 to 132 cards. There was one checklist card and eleven cards for each of the twelve teams. The cities that had teams at the time now included, Boston, Montreal, New York, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Oakland, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Minnesota.

The main rookie card comes from Serge Savard. Major cards are from the players Gump Worsley, Glen Hall, Gordie Howe, and Doug Mohns. The set is noted for having a weak rookie group but a strong group of Hall of Famers. At a lower grade, the entire set can be purchased for well under a thousand dollars.

Bobby Orr’s cards are generally pricey, and he has the most expensive card on the set. A PSA Gem Mint 10 was purchased for $10,200 in 2017. The checklist is the second most expensive card.

1979 Topps

Topps continued to expand their set with the expansion of the NHL. The four WHA teams, the Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Hartford Whalers, and Quebec Nordiques are featured on the set.

While Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Ken Dryden, and Stan Mikita continue to appear, the massive draw of this set is Wayne Gretzky’s rookie card at #18. “The Great One” dominates the Topps set and its O-Pee-Chee counterpart.

Conditions are sensitive for the set, and Mint condition cards are rare. PSA Gem Mint 10 cards are limited to a population of 2 on their registry. One of these cards was sold for $200,976 in August of 2016. The price quickly drops to $10,000 one grade lower.


From there hockey cards quickly enter the junk wax era. As with other sports in the modern era, there are a few valuable cards from star players such as Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid which can sell for thousands and thousands of dollars, but the notable sets fall off dramatically after the 1979 sets with Wayne Gretzky’s rookie card.

The Topps brand generates a great deal of legitimacy to vintage hockey cards. Nearly every set from the 50s to 1979 have serious value in the trading card hobby.