Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the 1990-91 Pro Set Hockey card set. Even almost 30 years later, it remains one of my favorite card sets of all time. Yes, they were printed by the boatload and had a ton of errors, but the set was colorful, had a ton of different cards to collect, and the most sought-after hockey insert ever made: the Stanley Cup Hologram!
This sell sheet, which measures 6″ x 6″, was given out in Canada in the summer of 1990 to promote the forthcoming release of 1990-91 Pro Set Series 1 Hockey cards.
If you grew up in Chicago and collected sports trading cards in the early 1990s, then you might remember that card shop in the hat store.
Yes, seriously. There was a card shop in a hat store — in its basement, specifically. Long before there was such thing as a Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, there was a Combination Baseball Card and Hat Store. This was the 1990s, after all, and sports cards were everywhere.
Unlike most of the other hockey sets from 1990-91, Score did not bother to put checklist cards in their hockey cards sets that year. However, collectors who wanted a complete list of the available cards could mail away for a page-sized (8 1/2″ by 11″) checklist. It is actually quite attractive, printed in red and blue ink and neatly lists the cards in six columns on a single side of a page.
The “1990 NHL Hockey Player List,” as it is called at the top, lists all 440 cards, including the different “American-only” and “Canadian-only” variants, as well as the five special Eric Lindros cards that were available only in the boxed sets. A key that runs along the bottom of the page deciphers the different subset cards, such as Record Setters (RS), Trophy Winners (T) and ’90 Prospects (P).
The offer was advertised on packs of 1990-91 Score trading cards.
You had to mail in $1.00 and wait six weeks.
The full text reads:
1990 SCORE NHL HOCKEY CHECKLIST To order your complete 440 player card checklist, send a check or money order for $1.00 (U.S.) made payable to Major League Marketing along with your name and address on a 3″x5″ card and mail to: 1990 SCORE NHL Hockey List, Major League Marketing, 25 Ford Road, Westport, CT 06680. Connecticut residents add 8% sales tax. Promotion good while supplies last. Allow six weeks for shipment.
If I recall correctly, the checklist was mailed in business-sized envelope. My checklist is folded in thirds horizontally, and would fit perfectly in a #10 envelope. (As a kid, I folded it a few more times so that it would fit in a box with cards.)
With companies putting their complete trading card checklists online, mailing away for a paper checklist today seems almost unthinkable; even more pointless than putting checklists in the packs of cards, like some companies still insist on doing.
But just imagine a world where you would write a letter to a card company, ask them for a paper checklist, and then they would mail one to you six weeks later. We used to live in that world.
Did you send away for one of these 1990-91 Score Checklists back in the day? Did it help you keep track of your set? Did you actually mark it up? Leave a comment below. ■
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.
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It’s long overdue, but Puck Junk Podcast #11 is finally here. In today’s episode, Tim and Sal talk about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup Championship — on Tim’s insistence, of course. Then they go retro and talk about the 1990-91 Upper Deck Hockey set.
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.
John Scott’s selection to the 2016 NHL All-Star Game is not without precedent. Having a guy known more for punching than puckhandling play in the NHL All-Star Game, while rare, has happened on several occasions.
Then there is the curious case of Chris Nilan, whose near-appearance in the 1991 All-Star Game was, until now, the most controversial selection ever made.
Sometimes, I see a hockey card and I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen the same photo elsewhere before. I might have to rack my brain for a bit and page through my binders of hockey cards until I find a match. Heck, that’s the whole premise of Deja Vu Tuesday. But other times, I see a photo on the hockey card and can instantly recall where it was first used. Such is the case with this card of Andrei Lomakin.
Twenty-five years ago, the trading card landscape was changed forever when three new companies entered the hockey card market. I recently wrote an article for The Hockey News about this crazy time — when people were stockpiling Sergei Fedorov rookie cards like they were gold bullion — and how it eventually led to the 1992 NHL players’ strike The article is in THN’s 2015-16 Season Preview issue, but you can also read it (for free!) at the THN website here. Check it out, and let me know your favorite memory of the 1990-91 season. ■