Wrestling memorabilia came to the forefront when WWE took merchandising to higher heights, probably more than anyone could ever have imagined. It helped bring Pro Wrestling back into the mainstream of society that had not been seen since the early days of watching Gorgeous George and Antonio Rocca on the new invention called television.
At the same time that TV was making household names of Buddy Rogers and Verne Gagne, a Toronto Canadian company known mainly for its National Hockey bubblegum cards started producing full color Pro Wrestling cards. There had been earlier wrestling card sets, but Parkhurst seems to have printed the first Canadian set. Many Maple Leaf Garden regulars were featured because of the proximity of the company responsible for their existence. These included: Pat Flanagan, Nanjo Singh, Joe “Killer” Christie, “Strangler” Wagner, Doug Hepburn, Lou Pitoscia, Waldo Von Sieber, Tommy O’Toole, Larry Kasaboski, Gil Mains, Danno O’Shocker, and Bill Stack.
There were 75 original stars printed, but collectors will quickly point out that 62 of the 75 also were printed with special premium offers instead of the normal biographical information. So, the 1954 set had 75 or 137 cards. The premium offers were for a flash camera, wrist watches, or field glasses with the card and up to $5.95 being mailed in. The 1955 set had 121 cards printed with only 1 backing. You can tell immediately which year it was printed by the color of the background of the number found in the corner of each card:
A few years ago this set would have meant nothing to me. After discovering the Pro-Wrestling Historical Society and researching a few months, I would love to have this in my possession. Dig into Pro Wrestling’s History and I think you will understand my last statement.
By Terry Kent
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