This is Why I Check the Bargain Boxes

I thought I’d end the week with a fun look at some cards I picked up at a recent show. Although I don’t really write too many “look at what I bought” blog posts anymore, I am still an avid hockey card collector. Last month, I went to the Chicago Sports Spectacular, and since I don’t have an infinite budget for frivolous things, I will almost always stop and look through the bargain boxes — because you never know what you may find. Here are some of the gems that I scored for loose change.

The first three cards, of Mark Messier, Patrick Roy and Jeremy Roenick, are promos from the 1990-91 Score Hockey set. These cards are so old that the holders are yellowed — and yes, this was from a time when companies would actually make card holders with “Promo Card” printed at the top.

I’m sure that back in 1990, these cards all had asking prices in the $10 to $20 range, but I scored (pun intended) them for 50 cents each. I don’t have the Roenick promo, and the Messier promo with that particular photo is tough to find. (More about that card here.) The Roy promo card also uses a different picture than the Roy card that came out in packs later that fall.

The Eric Lindros card was a tough pull in the 1992-93 Score Hockey set, found once in about every 500 packs. It was also given away at the Flyers’ press conference held on July 15, 1992, where the team introduced Lindros to the media. 

Speaking of Lindros, I also found a 1991 Classic Hockey Eric Lindros promo and a fake card of “Lindros vs. Quebec” with a shiny border, also for 50 cents each. The fake card is worth every penny because of the guy mocking Lindros with the bonnet, pacifier and “BB” jersey.

2016 Upper Deck Winter cards of Connor McDavid, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy for a quarter each.

Upper Deck Retro Draft Pick cards of Jonathan Drouin and Taylor Hall for 50 cents each. 

Plastic Upper Deck “hotel key cards” of Connor McDavid and Wayne Gretzky from the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention for $1.00 each. I almost passed on these, but then figured that I might not easily find them again, especially at a buck apiece.

Yeah, Signature Rookies cards from the mid-1990s are kind of a joke, but a whole Signature Rookies inserts set for 50 cents seemed about right to me. And to think, someone bundled this set together 20+ years ago, thinking that one of these guys would become the next Gretzky. 

Since I collect Bladkhawks rookie cards, 1980-81 Topps rookie card of Al Secord — with the black puck over his name unscratched — was a nice find for 50 cents. I bought the 1999-2000 Paul Kariya short print card thinking it was the Topps version. Only when writing this article do I now realize that it is the O-Pee-Chee version. Whoops! But only 50 cents. 

The Bobby Hull Legends Magazine card was a giveaway at the National Sports Collectors Convention in 1991. The Vincent Damphousse autographed card is from the 1997-98 Pinnacle Be A Player Set. A steal for 50 cents each. 

I also scored six more autographs from the 1998-99 Be A Player Autograph set for 50 cents each, including Mark Fitzpatrick and Darren Puppa

Finally, we will end with my favorite find in the bunch: an unlicensed, early 1990s card of Manon Rheaume from some long-gone publication called Collectors Quarterly, complete in a custom-made screw-down holder with her name in etched gold lettering at the top. I showed this card to my girlfriend, who is always happy to see cards of woman hockey players. 

“How much did that cost?” she asked.

“Fifty cents,” I replied.

“Did that include the holder?”


“Only fifty cents!” she replied, incredulously. “I swear, there’s no respect for women’s hockey.”

I then informed her that the card was only 50 cents because it was an unlicensed, so-called “promo” card that was probably printed in the thousands, but did not pay Rheaume any royalties. So, 50 cents was about right price for this type of card. 

However, just between you and me, I would have gladly paid $5  — just for that sweet, custom card holder alone. Stuff like this makes me really glad that I stop and sift through the bargain boxes at card shows. Who knows what unknown treasures I may find next. 

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.


Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

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