A Truly One-of-a-Kind 1990-1991 OPC Premier Hockey Vending Case

In July 2009, Dave and Adam’s Card World purchased an item that neither they nor anyone else in the hobby had ever seen or believed existed: a 1990-1991 OPC Premier Hockey vending case.

1990 OPC Premier Hockey Vending Case
1990 OPC Premier Hockey Vending Case

1990 OPC Premier hockey was the first high-end hockey product. The release had a great rookie class, great design, and limited availability, so they were hot out of the gate. Boxes went from $30-40 to over $250 pretty quickly.

However, two significant developments in the hobby affected the O-Pee-Chee Company at the time. First, 1990-1991 OPC hockey cards showed up at a few shows before their official release, and second, there was a big wave of counterfeiting of OPC products at the time, as their simple paper stock made them easy targets for forgers who were printing runs of star cards.

The original owner of the case of 1990 OPC Premier vending boxes had been assisting OPC with their investigation, so as a thank you, Gary Koreen, the President of OPC Company Limited, sent him a vending case of approximately 10,000 Premier Cards. In his correspondence, Gary mentioned that they did not produce vending cases of this product. 

Case Correspondence Page 1
Case Correspondence Page 2

And it’s true, OPC only made their premier cards available through foil packs in boxes and via a factory set. They did make vending products for the base product, though.

Also, the date of the letter, February 22, 1991, made it clear that the case could not have been a later release; it had to be 1990-1991.

Case Correspondence Letter

The case was factory sealed, brought to the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland for the July/August 2009 show, and slapped with a $6k price tag. Reed Kasaoka mentioned, in an interview with Beckett at the show, that the collector may have missed the case’s peak value, potentially over $20k, had he sold it when the cards were selling for over $200 a box. 

1990-1991 OPC Premier Hockey Vending Case at the 2009 National
1990-1991 OPC Premier Hockey Vending Case at the 2009 National

Dave and Adams sold the case back then, and to this day, no one has any reason to believe it’s not legit; the correspondence helped remove a lot of doubt.

What price do you think this unique 1990-1991 OPC Premier hockey vending case would fetch at auction today?

—— Update Since Original Posting ——

I originally posted this story here on the blog in August 2022; shortly after that, the dealer who sold it to Reed Kasaoka contacted me to share a few more details, which I published in The Post War Cards Newsletter #27 (the newsletter is now defunct) in March 2023.

The person who sold it to Reed (let’s call him Owner 3 so as not to use real names) wasn’t the original owner; the 1st owner was Ronald Mastro (whose name is written on the case pictured above), who sold it to Owner 2 who was Owner 3’s business partner.

When Owner 2 bought the case from Ron, Ron said that OPC President Gary Koreen hired him (Ron) to investigate and deal with the ongoing theft problem at OPC. Ron was to figure out who and how people were stealing numerous cases without any trace. Ultimately, Gary was pleased and thankful for Ron’s help in controlling the theft problem. So besides Ron’s compensation, Gary decided, as a courtesy, to give Ron the 1-of-1 vending case of 1990-91 OPC Premier Hockey Cards, which no one knew existed, and Ron promised never to get rid of.

Well, Ron sold it to Owner 2 for $10k, who then sold it, for unknown reasons, to Owner 3 for $5k. After about 12 years of owning the case, someone in the sports card world told Reed that Owner 3 had this one-of-a-kind item that no one knew existed, so Owner 3 got contacted by Reed. At the time, hockey cards had hit an all-time low, so the vending case didn’t have much value, no matter how rare it was. So, Owner 3 wanted to get the case out of his safe. First, he contacted Gary Koreen to let him know he possessed the vending case and asked if it was really a 1-of-1. Gary wasn’t happy to find out Ron sold the case but confirmed it was real.

Owner 3 offered the case to Reed for $3k, but they settled on $2k since that was approximately the break-up value of the 10k cards in the case. It had a $6k price tag at the 2009 National, but I don’t know what it sold for or who has it now.

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