A hockey card is a kind of trading card that typically depicts ice hockey players. Those cards are usually made of a thin cardboard, on which is typically printed on the front a picture of the featured player and on the back, statistics, some text and often an additional picture.
Hockey cards typically have the same 2.5 x 3.5 inch size; some exceptions exist however, especially with the older ones.
Hockey cards began appearing early in the 20th century. Initially, these were produced to be included in packs of other products, such as cigarettes, bubble gum or other candies, similarly to what was the custom with baseball cards. Eventually however, those cards started being sold in packs by themselves, without any gum or candy.
Cards have typically featured National Hockey League players, but in the past couple of decades, European sets showcasing players of the Elitserien, SM-Liiga, Russian Superleague, Czech Extraliga and Deutsche Eishockey Liga began appearing.
The classical brands include Parkhurst, O-Pee-Chee and its American counterpart Topps, Upper Deck, Score, Pro Set and Pacific. Various other brands have existed throughout the years, with varying degrees of success.
Hockey cards, just as other trading cards, have a value, lower or higher depending chiefly on its rarity, its condition and the popularity of the player depicted. Cards featuring superstars are typically worth more than cards featuring fourth liners, and most rookie cards, or cards featuring a player for the first time, are worth slightly more than subsequent cards of the same player.
- Cards – usually the standard size of 2.5 in. by 3.5 in.
- Packs – the original wrapper with base and insert cards within, often called 'wax packs', typically with two to eight cards per pack. Today the packs are usually plastic or foil wrap.
- Wrappers – the original pack cover, often with collectible variations.
- Retail Cards – cards, packs, boxes, and cases sold to the public, typically via large retail stores, such as K-mart or Wal-Mart.
- Hobby Cards – items sold mainly to collectors, through stores that deal exclusively in collectible cards. Usually contains some items not included in the retail offerings.
- Blister Packs – factory plastic bubble pack of cards or packs, for retail peg-hanger sales.
- Rack Packs – factory packs of unwrapped cards, for retail peg-hanger sales.
- Tins – factory metal can, typically filled with cards or packs, often with inserts.
- Boxes – original manufacturer's container of multiple packs, often 24 packs per box.
- Cases – factory-sealed crate filled with card boxes, often six to twelve card boxes per case. Often 24 packs per box.
- Common Cards – also known as base cards. Nonrare cards that form the main set (for example Cards 1–200).
- Parallel Cards – usually a modification of the main set of base cards which contains extra foil stamping, hologram stamping and are often seen one per pack up to one per 36 packs.
- Insert Cards – also known as chase cards. Nonrare to rare cards that are randomly inserted into packs at various ratios like 1 per 24 packs for example. An Insert Card is often different from the main set, contains a different number on the back such as SS01 to SS10, etc.
- Promo Cards – cards that are distributed, typically in advance, by the manufacturer to enhance sales.
- Redemption Cards – special cards that come in packs that are mailed (posted) to the manufacturer for a special card or some other gift.
- Sketch Cards – insert cards that feature near-one-of-a-kind artists sketches.
- Autograph Cards – printed insert cards that also bear an original cast or artist signature.
- Game Worn Cards – insert cards that feature a mounted swatch of cloth, such as from a sports player's jersey (typically referred to as Game Jersey Cards) or other items used by the player during a game.
- Box Topper Cards – cards that are included in a factory sealed box.
- Chase Cards – card or cards included as a bonus in a factory sealed case.
- Oversized Cards – any base, common, insert, or other cards not of standard or widevision size.
- Unreleased Cards – cards printed by the manufacturer, but not officially distributed for a variety of reasons. Often leaked to the public, sometimes improperly. Not to be confused with promo cards.
- Base Sets – a complete set of base cards for a particular card series.
- Insert Sets – a complete set of a particular class of inserts, often called a 'subset'.
- Master Sets – not well defined; often a base set and all readily available insert sets; typically does not include promos, mail-in cards, sketch, or autograph cards.
- Factory Sets – card sets, typically complete base sets, sorted and sold from the factory.
- Uncut Sheets – sheets of uncut base, insert, promo, or other cards.
- Sell Sheets – also 'ad slicks'. Usually one page, but increasingly fold-outs, distributed by the manufacturers to card distributors, in advance, to enhance case sales.
- Mint condition - A perfect card; no printing imperfections or damage whatsoever.
- Near Mint/Pack Fresh/Factory Fresh – Numerous terms which refer to, with slight variation, the same thing: a collector's grade card. There may be a minor production imperfection or very slight damage from handling or storage, but you have to look carefully to notice. These terms refer to cards in, more or less, the same condition they were in when they left the factory.
- Mint/Near Mint - At least near mint. A shorthand for collectors and sellers that do not single out their mint cards but simply deal in anything that is at least near mint.
- Excellent – A nearly perfect card, with a bent corner or other minor imperfection.
- Fine/Very Good – An otherwise good card with inconspicuous errors which are not easily visible, but can be seen on close inspection.
- Good – A card with small amounts of writing on it, poor centering, a mild crease, or worn (but present) corners.
- Fair – A damaged card, with damage such as bad creases or completely worn-off corners.
- Poor – A seriously damaged card with little value, except if it is extremely rare or limited-edition.