Is Your $1000 Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card A Fake?
As with any collectible of value, eventually fakes will begin to circulate. The most valuable hockey card today is an O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card. It is valued at up to $1500 in mint condition. The highest price it has ever fetched to date is $80,000. Of course, there are many fakes out there.
I have an original Wayne Gretzky rookie card that I collected the old-fashioned way, by buying pack after pack as a child until I had one. In those days, I probably had three or four, but who wanted doubles? Growing up in London, Ontario, Canada, which is home to O-Pee-Chee, I was able to score an un-cut sheet which included the card. Like any other stupid kid at the time, I bought an X-Acto knife and meticulously cut out each and every card on the sheet thinking they would be of more value that way.
Around thirty years later, I purchased my third Gretzky rookie card on E-Bay. I wasn’t even looking for the card. In fact, I was browsing for something totally different. The $1.00 bid with only a couple hours left in the auction caught my eye. I put in a maximum bid of $15.00 and left it alone. I was soon informed that I’d won the card for $10.00. I thought I’d made the steal of the century but then read the fine print. I’d purchased a Wayne Gretzky rookie card reprint.
C’est la vie. It was still cool to have. The other two are locked up and never shown around the house. I could use this one, like costume jewelry, to put on display and impress friends and family. I would also have something to compare to the originals to see for myself what the differences were.
The differences on the front of the card are quite subtle. The biggest indicator of a fake is the lack a yellow blotch or watermark on Wayne’s shoulder. Another major indicator is the edges are cut ragged on at least one side of the original and are usually crisp all the way around on a fake.
On the back of the card, the fakes have a whiter background colour. There were two official printings of the original series. On the first, there are two thin blue lines running across the back of the card. On the second printing, these lines are absent. Therefore, this item alone cannot determine whether the card is authentic or not.