It was a frosty Chicago afternoon in late December of 1991. I was on break from school. The “Christmas money” was burning a hole in my wallet. It burned hot enough to make me brave the cold and venture out to the local mall. For those who grew up in Chicago, the mall I speak of was the Brickyard. Back in its heyday, the Brickyard Mall was Chicago’s premier indoor shopping center. It was torn down in 2002 and rebuilt as an outdoor monstrosity, but I digress.
The Osco Drug store at the Brickyard had one side of an entire aisle dedicated to just sports cards. But behind the camera counter is where they kept the good stuff; cards like Upper Deck or Stadium Club, and not the usual 50-cents-per-pack swill like Topps or Score. Behind the counter was a full, unopened box of hockey cards that I had never seen before: Pro Set Platinum Series One.
At a glance:
– 1991-92 Pro Set Platinum Hockey
– 300 cards
– 20 “Platinum Collectible” inserts
– Size: 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
– Download checklist
Man, was I excited! Even though I religiously read Beckett Hockey Magazine, this was the first I had heard of Pro Set issuing a high-end set of hockey trading cards. I don’t recall what they cost, but I think they were around $1 per pack. I eagerly purchased the entire box. I hurried home and opened every pack while sipping hot cocoa, and made two complete, 150-card sets; the good old days indeed.
Pro Set cards may have made the most overproduced hockey trading cards from the hockey card boom years, but if you look around hard enough, you will find a few rarities among the clutter. One example are these four St. Louis Blues cards, which were given away at the Midwest Sports Collectors Show. The convention took place on November 15-17, 1991 in downtown St. Louis, featured over 300 tables and had Blues’ star Adam Oates and baseball legend Mickey Mantle as autograph guests. Fans could also get these four exclusive Blues cards, made by Pro Set.
Although not particularly rare, they are enough of an oddball variant that a completest might want them. Also, the promo set features a Blues’ player that probably should not have been included.
Today, a former New York Islanders captain celebrates his 55th birthday. No, not Denis Potvin, though he did just turn 63 about a week ago. Nor is it the birthday of Clark Gillies, Brent Sutter or Patrick Flatley. Today is the birthday of former New York Islanders Celebrity Captain Ralph Macchio. Yup, The Karate Kid himself once donned the “C” for the Islanders. Well, sort of.
Helmut Balderis set an NHL record 27 years ago. On November 2, 1989, the 37-year old right wing scored a goal for the Minnesota North Stars in a 4-3 loss to the Blackhawks at Chicago Stadium. By doing so, he became the oldest player in NHL history to score his first goal in the NHL.
Twenty-five years ago, the hockey card market grew exponentially when three new companies — Upper Deck, Pro Set and Score — joined Topps and O-Pee-Chee, bringing the number of hockey card manufacturers to five. Not only that, but Topps issued a second set of cards, branded as Bowman, while O-Pee-Chee released a set called O-Pee-Chee Premier, giving collectors a total of seven hockey sets that season.
The year 1990 was clearly the start of the “hockey card boom.” No longer were hockey cards just the stuff of specialty shops; now every grocery, drug and convenience store carried hockey cards. Likewise, practically everyone saw hockey cards for their investment potential, hoarding cards of hot rookies as well as established players. The increased revenue even led to the NHL Player Strike of 1992. But overproduction, along with the decline of the market in 1992, led to 1990-91 sets plummeting in value.
Looking back a quarter-century later, it is easy to dismiss the entire 1990-91 season as “junk wax.” Yes, the companies printed tons of cards and flooded the market. Even 25 years later, you can find unopened boxes of 1990-91 cards for around $5 and complete sets for $10 or less. It is kind of sad that newer collectors can buy the cards from my childhood for less than what they actually cost during my childhood.
Just because those sets are “worthless” doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile to have in your collection…assuming, of course, that you don’t already have them. And maybe you don’t. Perhaps you are a newer collector, or maybe you didn’t bother with hockey cards in 1990-91. Today, you can pick up a hearty dose of nostalgia, history and rookie cards for less than what a blaster box costs.
That said, here is my ranking of every 1990-91 hockey set. Those of you over 30 can feel free to disagree.
Twenty-five years ago today was the first — and last — Chicago Hockey Show. This two-day, noting-but-hockey event was truly ahead of its time, almost two decades before the Chicago Blackhawks started holding their own annual summertime convention. Held on August 25 and 26, 1990, the Chicago Hockey Show gave fans an opportunity to meet and get autographs from current and former ‘Hawks players. There was a dealer room that was focused almost exclusively on hockey memorabilia, from game-used jerseys to hockey cards.
And speaking of hockey cards, Pro Set was on-hand, giving out samples from their forthcoming 1990-91 hockey set several weeks before you could buy the cards.
As a young hockey fan in 1990, the Chicago Hockey Show was almost too good to be true.
It’s no secret that, even 20 years later, I still love Pro Set trading cards. So when I found this holiday greeting card at The National back in August, I eagerly bought it. It was sent out by Pro Set in 1990–most likely to companies and suppliers who dealt with them, but it may have been sent out to Pro Set Gazette subscribers (though I cannot confirm that) Continue reading “Pro Set Holiday Card”