1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card Walk-In Collection Purchased

Just Collect Will Travel to Canada for Collections!
  • October 25, 2023


A gentleman brought a collection of hockey cards into the Just Collect store and with him came an iconic 1979 Wayne Gretzky rookie card he was interested in selling. This particular card is the O-Pee-Chee brand, which is more valuable than the Topps brand you may typically see. Both cards are VERY similar. We'll show you the collection we proudly purchased, and teach you the difference between Topps and O-Pee-Chee cards.


If you've ever purchased a pack of sports cards, there is an excellent chance a Topps brand pack was in your hands. Long before making sports cards, Topps has been a candy manufacturer. Topps Chewing Gum, Inc. began in Brooklyn, NY. back in 1938. In 1947, Topps created bubble gum you know today as Bazooka! When 1951 rolled around, Topps got into the baseball card market. For decades, Topps included a stick of their gum into packs of baseball cards; a smooth marketing plan to help sell their candy. Perhaps you've heard the phrase "bubble gum card" before. 

O-Pee-Chee, often shortened to OPC, also began as a confectionary company. You can trace the beginnings of O-Pee-Chee back to 1911 in London, Ontario in Canada. OPC was well ahead of the marketing game when it came to using sports cards to sell their gum; they released a set back in 1934!

In 1958, both Topps and OPC had a marketing agreement which allowed Topps to produce their cards in Canada but under the O-Pee-Chee brand. The agreement worked out well, and from 1965 until 1992, an annual release of O-Pee-Chee cards was available in Canada. 



The 1979 O-Pee-Chee hockey set looks VERY similar to the Topps brand; the same images were used on both Topps and OPC for nearly every card! To spot the differences between the OPC and Topps cards from 1979 hockey, simply flip the cards over. The three easiest ways to spot an OPC card are:

  • O-Pee-Chee released a total of 396 cards and Topps' set consists of 264 cards
  • O-Pee-Chee cards states "1979 O-Pee-Chee Printed in Canada" and Topps has "1979 Topps Chewing Gum, Inc. PRTD in USA." 
  • O-Pee-Chee card biographies of each player are written in French while the Topps counterparts are in English

The 1979 OPC set contains THE hockey card to own. Here is where you'll find the rookie card of Wayne Gretzky. "The Great One" is card #18 in this OPC set. Above you can see a young Gretzky in his Oilers uniform with his stick slightly covered by the Oilers logo in the bottom right. At just 19 years old in the 1979 hockey season, Gretzky won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the MVP of the NHL - his first of NINE! When your nickname is "The Great One", the list of accomplishments is long. Gretzky is still the current all-time leader in goals scored, assists, and won four Stanley Cup championships. Collectors of ALL ages want to own a Gretzky rookie card. Recently, an 11-year-old collector named Henry wanted to add a Wayne Gretzky rookie card to his collection. I helped Henry take home his dream card in a special video you can see HERE.


We offer a variety of ways to appraise and purchase your collection. From flying to you, driving to a convention, or shipping your cards fully insured with our FedEx account, Just Collect will find a way to purchase your collection. If you're in the New Jersey area, you could always choose to visit our store! 

A gentleman named Doug lives here in New Jersey. Curious to know the value of his childhood hockey card collection, he found Just Collect through a Google search. Doug brought 26 different Wayne Gretzky cards, many of which you'll see in slide three below as well as a handful of other stars with many Gretzky teammates. In slide number two, you'll find stars like Mark Messier, Chris Chelios, Paul Coffey, and Dino Cicarelli. These are all from the early 1980's, and each hold value. The top card in the collection is the 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card right there on slide one. Take a look at the collection:



When holding the Gretzky rookie card, the edges felt smooth.  Feeling the edges of a Gretzky rookie is important when determining HOW the card was cut.  Feeling the edges of a Gretzky rookie is important when determining HOW the card was cut. These sheets would then be cut by a machine during the manufacturing process into individual cards to be placed in the packs. However, you could also purchase a full, uncut sheet of cards. By owning a full, uncut sheet of cards, then cutting out each card yourself, there is a difference in the smoothness of the edges on each card. The downfall of owning a card hand-cut card is that a professional grading company may deem the card just "Authentic" rather than assigning a numerical grade from 1 to 10. The value of a numerical grade is higher than a card graded just "Authentic." The grading companies will do this to protect you from buying "trimmed" cards. Imagine if the card had a corner that was slightly dinged. That corner ding could change the numerical grade from Gem Mint 10 to a 9, thus dropping the value potentially thousands of dollars. A person with malicious intent could "trim" or cut the card slightly, eliminating that dinged corner in an effort to make the card appear in perfect condition. Even though a hand-cut card from a sheet was created without ill will, grading companies must still consider the hand-cut cards Authentic. Trusted grading companies such as SGC use their expertise to determine if a card has been hand-cut. 

When evaluating the Wayne Gretzky rookie card for Doug, I believed the card was not hand-cut and would be given a grade of either a 5 or a 6 out of 10. I made Doug two different offers - one for a card graded as a 5 and one for a card graded as a 6. I sent out the card to SGC for professional grading to first ensure the card was machine cut from the factory and not hand-cut, and second to properly offer Doug the best price for his collection. 

The Wayne Gretzky rookie card returned from SGC within two weeks and was given a grade of 6. The blue-bordered card looks sharp in the black and white holder that SGC provides. With the grading information available, I paid Doug the promised amount for a card graded 6 to happily purchase his collection. When you choose to sell your collection to Just Collect, I'll pay you how you want to be paid, just as I did for Doug.  Feeling the edges of a Gretzky rookie is important when determining HOW the card was cut.

Your local card shop is generally not well equipped to appraise or purchase vintage cards or collections like this. The retail stores are focused on selling modern products and simply don't have the time or the knowledge to carefully evaluate vintage collections. This is where we are happy to help you. Stop by the Just Collect store any time; I'd love to meet you.


Seeing a collection of O-Pee-Chee cards from Canada come into the Just Collect store was a special treat for me. As these cards are made in Canada over 40 years ago, I see fewer OPC hockey collections come to the store than other sports card collections I purchase. This shows that there are still raw (ungraded), iconic cards from Canada that are fresh to the hobby that may not not seen the light of day since there was no ESPN (launched September 7th, 1979), gas was 88 cents a gallon, and you cruised all day listening to The Wall by Pink Floyd (released November 30th, 1979).

I have been fortunate to purchase multiple collections from Canada including one featuring a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card found under jar of pickles. Yes - pickles! You can read that amazing story and see the collection HERE. If you live in Canada and are interested in selling your collection, I am willing to travel to you or you can ship the cards to us. We could also meet at the Sports Card Expo Toronto, too! My name is Leighton, owner of Just Collect, and professional sports card treasure hunter! If you're interested in selling your collection, reach out directly to Leighton@JustCollect.com. 


Just Collect is always buying vintage sports and non-sports cards from 1879 to 1979 as well as select modern cards. If you have a collection that you are considering selling, contact us today to discuss or get our industry-leading purchase offer. If you have a collection that you want appraised, please contact us and we would be happy to discuss your collection and help you understand the real cash value of your collection in the current marketplace. Check out the Just Collect Buy List.

We always offer a FREE APPRAISAL for your collection here at the Just Collect site. Just click here:


We offer may ways to evaluate your cards other than or using our website, too.

  • Travel to Us

If you can make the trip here like the son from my hometown did for this collection- we can make a deal at the office. We once met a father-son duo that drove eight hours from Virginia to meet us to sell a Michael Jordan rookie card stored in Tupperware since 1986 - great read here

  • Come to convention

We keep a LIST of card shows we'll be attending.  Come stop by the Just Collect table and chat.

  • Meet in-person

If you have a valuable collection and want us to come to you, we'll hop on the next plane out.

  • Meet in New York City

We have another location in New York you can meet us at; read all the information here.

  • SHIP your collection 

If you choose to mail your cards for an appraisal, we will evaluate your cards for FREE still. If you choose not to sell the cards, we'll ship them back shipping fees paid by us!  We can offer our FedEx account with 2-day shipping, fully insured, all covered by us. Simply contact the office to set up this option.


We've run into a wide range of people and collections over the last 25 years. Although Just Collect is known for buying vintage sports cards and especially vintage baseball cards, we are also extremely interested in buying non-sports cards, too!  

Every collection and every collector is different and we treat EVERY collection with the respect and attention that we show for our own collections. We understand that many have put their heart and souls into building their collections. So when you're ready to sell, we understand the feelings that you're going through and will work with you to help you reach a decision that is a WIN/WIN, because if you're not happy, we're not happy.


Whether you have vintage cards or modern wax you want to sell, you can reach out to us any time! 


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