No player is more collectible than Wayne Gretzky. Period. Sure, some may argue that Bobby Orr or Gordie Howe were better players. But when you consider both the sheer amount of memorabilia items made bearing his image and the droves of people who collect them, no one tops Gretzky. “The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook,” published in 2016, painstakingly documents over 7,500 items with The Great One’s likeness, including trading cards, lunch boxes, posters, magazines and so much more.
There is a lot of information packed into this slim, 142-page book. Most of the pages in “The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook” are checklists. But don’t worry — the book isn’t just a price guide. Author Richard Scott, the former editor of Canadian Sportscard Collector and current editor of The Want List website, breaks up the monotony of endless lists with articles woven throughout.
For example, four pages talk about collecting Gretzky’s autograph, while another four examine the mystique of Gretzky’s rookie card. Six pages list various game-used equipment — such as helmets, gloves and sticks — noting each piece’s most recent auction sale price; some of this data goes as far back as 2002. Another 16 pages show off game-used Gretzky jerseys, complete with the auction’s description of each, as well as the “hammer down” prices. The book also offers helpful tips if you are trying to figure out what year a photo of Gretzky was taken.
The biggest strength of “The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook” may be that it lists out every Gretzky card ever made; 46 pages list every Gretzky card from 1979 to 2016, another 14 pages list every card with a certified autograph and another 14 list cards with game-used memorabilia. Anyone who tends to focus their Gretzky collection solely on his trading cards will get a lot from this book, which even lists Gretzky’s appearances in non-hockey sets such as SP Authentic Golf and multi-sport sets like Goodwin Champions.
Sadly, documenting every single Gretzky collectible is an exhaustive task, and some notable items are omitted. For example, most of the video games endorsed by Wayne Gretzky are absent, such as “Wayne Gretzky Hockey” for the Nintendo Entertainment System, “Gretzky NHL” for the Playstation Portable or “NHL Slapshot” for Nintendo Wii, among many others. But there is a plethora of information on magazines, newspapers, books, ticket stubs, action figures, key chains, posters, puzzles, pucks, school supplies, cereal boxes and many other Gretzky items.
What I like about “The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook”: The book gives detailed price information about game-used jerseys, sticks, helmets and gloves, tracking auction data as far back as 2002. The checklist pages feature type that is legible and easy to read. Seriously, so many other price guide books have tiny print, but in this book you can actually read the checklist pages and learn about items you never knew existed. The book is small and lightweight enough that it can be easily taken to a sports memorabilia convention when keeping track, or referencing prices, on your next Gretzky collectible purchase.
What I do not like about “The Wayne Gretzky Collector’s Handbook”: Other than the eye-catching cover, the book is entirely in black and white. That seems understandable, considering that the book is over 100 pages long and consists mostly of checklist pages. Still, full-color pictures of the 16 game-used jerseys, as well as the four-page spread of vintage O-Pee-Chee cards, really should have been in color.