The difference between Topps and O-Pee-Chee hockey cards

The difference between Topps and O-Pee-Chee hockey cards

In the 1970s and 1980s, Topps and Oo-Pee-Chee were the only kids on the hockey card block. Topps first entered the hockey card market with the 1954-55 series. Between 1951-52 and this set, Parkhurst was the only manufacturer providing product. The two would rule together for more than a decade, splitting the six-team league in half. Parkhurst’s cards featured players from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens. Topps features players from the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. In 1963-64 Parkhurst produced their last series. O-Pee-Chee originally produced cards in the 1930s and 1940s, but went on hiatus until it was resurrected in the 1960s.

Besides the obvious, like labels on the back indicating who the maker is, there are several ways to tell a Topps card from its O-Pee-Chee counterpart in an era when both were basically clones of each other.

Topps hockey cards were printed on a slightly different material or card stock. Topps usually had darker colors on the backs. Topps cards were also prone to what I call the “Topps taint.” Greasy fingerprints stood out quite clearly and consistently on the backs of Topps cards. The face of the Topps cards looked shinier than their cousin cards.

The 1971-72 series was a radical exception to the rule. The fronts are the same on both Topps and O-Pee-Chee cards, but the backs are quite different. Topps have green and yellow backs and are oriented with a print running across the shorter width. OPC hockey cards are oriented backwards on the backs and are colored in pastel green and black.

The number of cards is much larger in the O-Pee-Chee series. This is understandable, as O-Pee-Chee is a Canadian company selling products to the hockey-starved Canadian market. The reciprocal was true for baseball cards during the same era, with Topps sets being much larger than the OPC series.

One major difference that makes identifying the difference between Topps and O-Pee-Chee unmistakable is the language on the back of the card. Informational text on Topps cards is in English only, while OPC is in English and French. Interestingly, the O-Pee-Chee cards sometimes had different information in English than in French.

Topps is currently out of stock. O-Pee-Chee exists, but really in name only. Upper Deck is now behind the OPC brand and the cards are no longer manufactured in London, Ontario, Canada.

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