6 Hot Tips for Vintage NHL Hockey Jersey Collectors

6 Hot Tips for Vintage NHL Hockey Jersey Collectors

Posted by David Lander on 27th Apr 2018

If you're a vintage NHL hockey jersey collector, then make sure you have all of the latest tips! Click here for everything you need to know right now.

By 2024, the global sports apparel market will reach $221 billion. Collectors of vintage hockey jerseys can hop on to this hot trend now to support their teams and keep history alive.

A vintage, game-worn hockey jersey is a valuable investment, graded on a scale much like diamonds are graded.

Everyone knows about the 4C's of diamonds- but do you know their jersey equivalents? Unlike diamonds, however, a vintage collector's item jersey requires careful conservation and care to preserve for future generations.

Read on to learn more.

Game-Worn Grading

The leading memorabilia auction authentication service established criteria for a game-used hockey jersey. Hockey jerseys grade on a 1-10 point scale, 10 being the highest grade.

Points are added or subtracted for known manufacturer characteristics. Points are also awarded or taken away for provenance, wear, condition, desirability, and rarity. The jersey of Cesare Maniago rivals the jersey of rookie Barrie Meisser in the same year.

Known Manufacturer Characteristics in a Hockey Jersey

Points are assigned for details like tags, letters, numbers, etc. Pay special attention to whether or not items are glued or sewn in place. Dated photos showing the exact characteristics are helpful. A jersey might also get compared to a known authentic sample.

Manufacturers' machine stitching, tension, and space are considered. Thread color, type of stitch and method of patch attachments are part. Authenticators look at hems, collars, and seams too. The fabric must match known samples, as must the patches.

Pre-1987 hockey jerseys awarded the highest grade take into consideration uniqueness, rarity, team and player provenance. Wear evaluation includes looking for marks consistent with known use, material, any repairs, and condition consistent with the player's last use.

The hockey jersey must be complete, unaltered and all original.

Hockey jerseys from 1987 on are graded even more stringently. Modern-day jerseys are made of blended fabrics that wear very differently than older types.

Many people have authentic replica jerseys mistaken for originals. Hall of Fame players uniforms are especially susceptible to mistaken identity. Especially if they are very high quality.

Examples of Point System

The 10 point grading system is highly subjective. The authentication checklist depends on an expert to examine the jersey and grade accordingly.

Up to 3 points may be awarded to a post-1987 jersey for:

  • Customization
  • Tailoring
  • Other team customizations

Up to 3 points may be subtracted for:

  • Cut or hemmed sleeves and tails
  • Patch or name replacements
  • Missing tags or stitches
  • Missing or changed names and numbers
  • Fading, stains or creases
  • Holes, tears, moth damage
  • Shrinkage and damages
  • Restorations done correctly (1/2 point)
  • Restorations done mistakenly or badly (3 points)
  • Use inconsistencies

Sometimes more than one expert must be consulted to determine if a flaw is an acceptable player customization or a post-play alteration.

Documenting Provenance

Player-worn jerseys should have wear consistent with the player, the team and the position played. It always helps to have a photograph or video of the player wearing the jersey in the correct date range or game.

Letters, order forms or other documents that add to the information about a piece are valuable. If there is a story to the piece, you should document it. It increases value.


Game-worn jerseys from certain eras are much rarer than others. Sometimes due to team thrift. Sometimes due to team popularity or lack of popularity. Also, jerseys suddenly popular, such as the rookie jersey of a Hall of Famer, are often faked.

A certain type of fake is made by taking the correct hockey jersey of the same year, such as from a teammate and replacing the letters or number.

Wear Marks Identify Authentic Jerseys

Top graded sports memorabilia shows wear consistent with use. Excessive cleaning or restoration reduces value. Game cuts to the sleeve or body are valuable if documented. Equipment rubs, color transfers, etc. must be consistent with the player and position claimed.

Folds, stretches and fades need to be consistent. For the type of fake mentioned above, the jersey would probably not show the correct type of wear in the places expected.

Current Condition

For top value, storage and display are important. Climate control to prevent mold and insect damage of your investment are important. Fading, creases and other defects are reflected in the points system. Displays should be kept out of light and moisture.

For those jerseys which are worn after the player, any alteration reduces the value. Even cleaning can damage the value of a game-worn item. A replica jersey is a better bet if you wish to wear your team prize.

Desirability of the Jersey

Player and team popularity are everything for this point category. Major and minor teams often have similar jerseys and logos, patches and stitching can be restored incorrectly. This results in a difficult to detect fake.

For example, LA Sharks jerseys are relatively rare and highly collectible by a small group of people. LA Kings jerseys are much more desired and collected by many more people. Authentication is much more difficult if a less desirable jersey is altered to resemble a popular one.

Replicas vs. Real

Replicas are the way to go for jerseys meant for public display or team spirit wear. Collectible vintage jerseys lose value with each point deduction. Wearing or altering a player garment makes the value go down quickly.

Choose a high-quality replica NHL jersey for team spirit display. Customized with your name and number, it makes an eye-catching display. If you choose to wear the jersey for luck, no damage to your investment occurs.

Look for replicas made of the correct materials, with sewn-on, not glued on letters and logos. Much like your game collectibles, you want the right fabrics, stitching, and customization. Replicas should be made with the same or better level of care as the originals.

To learn more, keep reading this blog or contact us today.