Upper Deck, the Carlsbad maker of sports trading cards, celebrates its 25th anniversary this week with the announcement that it’s got a new contract with the National Hockey League to be the exclusive provider of its players’ trading cards.
Founded in 1989 by the late Richard McWilliam, Upper Deck shook up the sports trading card industry by publishing cards with authenticated autographs as well as containing holograms that separated them from counterfeit cards.
The business also moved into limited edition trading cards that featured pieces of jerseys or sports equipment such as bats.
About seven years ago, Upper Deck made an offer to buy New York-based Topps Co., the longtime trading card company, for about $400 million, but the deal fizzled. Some five years ago, Upper Deck lost its license to make cards for Major League Baseball, which led to significant job cuts and legal tussle with MLB.
Upper Deck also makes cards for the entertainment industry.
Privately-held Upper Deck doesn’t reveal revenue or its employee head count.