In the summer of 1984, I visited a little card/antique shop in London, Ontario. I was there with a buddy of mine from out West and we were staying at his grandmother’s place for a couple of days. Somehow we had gotten loose and were allowed to roam around downtown.
In the shop, there weren’t a ton of cards, but they had maybe a dozen nice-looking ’66-67 Topps in the display case. With a price tag of $25, the Orr was the most expensive one there by quite some margin. I’d never seen one before and my eyes were simply glued to it.
In a moment of complete lunacy, I snapped it up. It took almost every cent I had on me. $25 was a stinkload of money to spend on a hockey card – particularly at age 13 – and I caught no end of flack from my buddy for doing it. The people in the store saw the sale as momentous, too. The lady who gave me the card called out to her husband, “We just sold Bobby Orr!” (For the record, my buddy picked up a very nice Glenn Hall for a couple of bucks.)
I treasured it. The corners then were probably a tad better then than they are now just because I looked at it so many times. There was no top-loader for it, just the penny loader it came in (and the weird slide-in photo album I kept it in). So I’ve knocked a good point off it’s grade. No matter. (Then again, the condition of cards I remember not buying is always higher in my mind than they probably were in reality. I see this reflected in what I actually did get.)
As it happened, it was the only Orr RC I saw for years. The next one was at a show some time after the boom in 1990 and it was over $1K, which I thought was lunacy then and it’s only gotten worse.
With the advent of the internet, I can shop the world over and I have access to a huge variety of cards in grades I could never have imagined 25 years ago. It’s incredible, really. But the hobby was a lot more fun when a kid could wander into a random shop (of which there were a number in every town) and get an Orr RC with savings from his allowance.
Bobby Orr turns 64 today. Happy Birthday, Bobby!