By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Hockey Editor
The Stanley Cup is unlike any other championship in the four major sports. Hockey players have superstitions surrounding the Cup and the championship trophy is its own character.
Over the years, trading cards have featured the Stanley Cup along with key moments from the entertaining series. Most recently, Upper Deck even featured cards with Cup winners showing off their special day with the trophy.
Here are five key cards or sets for collectors to look for.
1924 C144 Champ’s Cigarette Stanley Cup
The Stanley Cup wasn’t always a 34-inch high trophy. One of the first renditions of it was much smaller. It was donated Lord Stanley in 1893 to the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada. Most experts believe the 1924 C144 Champ’s Cigarette was the first time ithe Stanley Cup appeared on a trading card.
In addition, The Stanley Cup card is one of the toughest cards to pull in the 1924 Champ’s Cigarette set. PSA has graded 921 of these cards with none ever coming back a 10. This card has a high Beckett book value of $600. In 2010, a PSA 3 sold for $1,553.50 and a PSA 4 sold for $3,585 through Heritage Auctions. In 2012, a PSA 3 sold for $847 through Classic Auctions.
Upper Deck teamed with Hockey Hall of Fame, which records what players do on their day with the Stanley Cup, to bring collectors a popular insert. The first set of cards featured the Boston Bruins. Many of them had the Stanley Cup in relatively normal places. However, Marc Recchi rode a horse with it and Tuukka Rask decided to take into the hot tub with him.
The idea came about for the insert after seeing an image of Chicago Blackhawks’ Andrew Ladd holding the trophy at the top of a mountain after the 2010 series. These inserts were tough to pull by falling at a rate of 1:1,000 in hobby packs and 1:2,500 in retail packs.
Upper Deck looked for ways to bring the Stanley Cup Finals closer to collectors. The card company was able to get their hands on the nets from several of the Stanley Cup Final games from the 2011-12 season where the Los Angeles Kings won the title. The net cord cards were case hits and only featured players and executives – as the case with the Wayne Gretzky — from the Kings and the New Jersey Devils. The most popular cards in the set were Wayne Gretzky, Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar and Martin Brodeur.
Quaker Oats gave away photos of the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs when fans redeemed proofs of purchase. Players were in many different versions over the 9-year span, including in home and away uniforms. The photos were black and white with a white border and measured 8-by-10 inches. Beckett has a record of 200 different photos with 113 players. However, there may be more out there because no official checklist was ever circulated. Just two photos featured the Stanley Cup, one with Ted Kennedy and another with Syl Apps and are among the most popular photos in the set.
2011-12 Panini Molson Coors Stanley Cup Champions
Panini America created cards in specially-marked boxes of Molson Canadian, Coors Light and Molson Export last year. The cards honored every Stanley Cup championship from 1918 through 2011. The set consists of 92 cards. Each card also had a code on the back to unlock virtual cards. When the set first came out, complete sets sold for hundreds of dollars on the secondary market. Now, a full set can be had for about $30.