collections

From World War 1 to the Saturday Sketch Club

(A) Beuchat 2In our upcoming World War I exhibit, “For Home and Country”, we will be featuring an oil painting by Lt. Clement C. Beuchat, entitled “78 Lightening Division at Thiaucourt, France, 1918”. This piece depicts a group of World War I soldiers on horseback in the town of Thiaucourt, France, most likely illustrating the remains of the town during or after the Battle of Saint-Mihiel.

Clement Beuchat was born in Buffalo, NY on March 28, 1891. He attended the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and studied under Earnest Fosberry. Beuchat joined the New York National Guard 78th Division. He was involved in the pursuit of Pancho Villa during the Texas Border Campaign from 1914-1917 and he was eventually sent to fight in World War I. Clement continued to paint for the duration of his military service. He painted throughout the Southwest until he was sent to Europe, where he continued his artistic endeavors while stationed in France. Beuchat fought in several major battles during the Great War and received the Victory Medal with three Battle Stars, along with other service awards.  He returned home in 1919, where he became a member of the Fine Arts League and continued to paint until his death in 1955.

(B) Sketch club protest letterWhile doing the research on this painting and Clement, I learned that Beuchat was an original member of the Saturday Sketch Club in Springbrook, New York along with other artists such as Arthur Kowalski, Harry O’Neill, William J. Schwanekamp, and Julius Lankes. (C) Fosbery and JJLThis is notable because there is a sketch box used by Buffalo painter and engraver, J.J Lankes as part of the Saturday Sketch Club, in our collection. The Saturday Sketch Club was formed in reaction to the dismissal of Mr. Earnest Fosberry, an artist and teacher at the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy.  A group of students, including those mentioned above, created this art school with Mr. Fosberry as their instructor and critic, as a way to protest the firing of their favorite teacher.

Saturday Sketch Club 1911

Here is a photo of some of the members of the Saturday Sketch Club of Springbrook, including Beuchat, with his right foot on the step in the center of the picture. Left to right: Thundercloud, a Blackfoot Indian model who served in his early days as scout for Custer’s 7th Cavalry; William J. Schwanekamp; Ernest Fosberry (in Derby hat), instructor; John Kneuhal; Edgar Kowalski; Al Barwell “Shorty”; Jules Meyers; Clement Beuchat (with his right foot on the step in the center of the picture); Myron Moyer; J.J. Lankes; and Harry O’Neill

(E) DSC09674The students would meet at a cabin out in Springbrook, NY to immerse themselves in nature. They all had their own sketch boxes with attached seats that were portable and could be carried throughout the surrounding area to set up a painting station wherever they liked. The sketch boxes, like the one in our collection, were made up of wooden boxes attached to wooden folding stools that had multi-colored canvas seats for the artists to sit on while they worked. The boxes opened on metal hinges that locked to create makeshift easels. Inside the box would be all the tools an artist would need including a wooden palette, paints, paintbrushes, and charcoal.

Saturday Sketch Club, 1911

Left to Right: Bill (William) Schwanekamp, J.J. Lankes, Edgar Kowalski, Clement Beuchat

(G) Sketching at Springbrook

Left to Right: Bill (William) Schwanekamp, J.J. Lankes, Edgar Kowalski, Clement Beuchat

As I transitioned from researching the Clement Beuchat painting to the Saturday Sketch Club, I stumbled upon a large collection of photographs of the original members of the organization, some of which are featured here. Sometimes technology is a wonderful thing and I was able to reach out to Elizabeth Lankes, who uploaded these images to her Flickr account. Elizabeth is the granddaughter of J.J. Lankes and it was so much fun to be able to connect with her.  I truly appreciate all of the photos that she sent me and getting to speak with someone who so clearly treasures her family’s history. This is such a wonderful part of my job as the Registrar at The Buffalo History Museum, getting to learn all of these stories, share them with the public, and interact with others who love our history.  If you want to see more of these photos you can go to Elizabeth’s Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/11435178@N03/albums/72157608622346090

All of the photos of the Saturday Sketch Club were graciously provided by Elizabeth Lankes, Julius’ granddaughter, and are from the Estate of J.J. Lankes.

Rebecca Justinger,
Registrar

Spotlight Artifact: Eliza Graves Quilt

eliza-graves-pickett-summer-2014In 1987, Julia Boyer Reinstein, historian and architectural preservationist, donated over 80 quilts and bed coverings to The Buffalo History Museum. Early on in her life, Julia became fascinated with quilts and believed in the importance of documenting their histories. She received a Bachelor’s degree in History from Elmira College for Women in 1928, writing her senior thesis on early American quilts. Beginning her collection with family quilts, she focused her collecting goals on quilts made west of the Genesee River. Remarkably, only twelve of the quilts in her collection were purchased, the rest were given to her as gifts or through inheritance. 

quiltPictured is a red and white Chimney Sweep quilt from Julia Boyer Reinstein’s quilt collection, also known as an Album or Autograph quilt. It was pieced together by Eliza Graves (later Pickett) between 1852 and 1853, and was assembled and completed in 1854, in Perry, NY. Eliza Graves, pictured above, was Julia Boyer Reinstein’s great grandmother. The Chimney Sweep pattern was very popular for Album quilts in the mid-19th century because a name or inscription could be written on the central cross of each block. According to oral histories from the family, the blocks of this quilt were originally autographed, in pencil, by the young men of Castile, NY.  Before Eliza could embroider the names, she became engaged to Daniel Pickett.  Once she assembled the quilt, she chose to wash out all of the names, eliminating the memory of her previous suitors. The quilt is backed with her own handspun and hand-loomed cotton.

Rebecca Justinger
Registrar

*This article was featured in the Summer 2014 issue of “The Album”

Education & Educators at The Buffalo History Museum

Hello!  My name is Doreen Dell and I am the education assistant at The Buffalo History Museum. As teacher for 50 years, my position at the Museum perfectly aligns with my passion and expertise as an educator and history lover. Additionally, I get to work with teachers and students all over Western New York, a privilege I have always enjoyed. I’m excited about this coming October and looking forward to meeting educators who are not only seeking to share Western New York history with their students, but to share ideas with Museum staff and colleagues. Through our new after-school event, Teachers’ Night Out, we hope to help teachers unwind from a day of teaching and socialize over the Museum’s offerings.

Mark your calendar: Teachers’ Night Out will be held on Wednesday, October 12 from 4 – 6 pm at The Buffalo History Museum.

tno_postcard

streetofshops2

Buffalo Bliss photo studio located in the Street of Shops

Teachers will have multiple opportunities to learn about the resources available while exchanging ideas with other teachers. Featured are tours on varied topics that will suit a number of lesson plans: We have World War I posters, Paper Bullets: The Posters That Sold the Warin our State Court. You can see Inside Tim Russert’s Office: If it’s Sunday, it’s “Meet the Press” exhibit. The John R. Oishei Native American Gallery exhibit features the history of the Haudenosaunee. In The John R. Oishei Pioneer Gallery, you can learn about Buffalo Creek from 1806 to the burning of Buffalo. The Neighbors exhibit highlights those who came to Buffalo and made the city what it is today. In the Victorian Street of Shops, early businesses are featured on a cobble stone lane. The Bliss photo studio is popular with youngsters and funsters who like to dress up and take selfies for social media sharing. thumb_img_2507_1024My personal favorites are the newly developed history kits, proven to be an effective teaching tool that students will love; the Native American Kit and the Pioneer Kit have artifacts, reproductions, mini posters and an activity book and are available to rent for your classroom. These kits have been met with rave reviews. You will also have the opportunity to try your luck at identifying an artifact from the early 1800s as you examine our Artifact Detective Program that can be presented at your school.

In addition to the program tours and learning tools to explore, our research library will be open so that you can learn how to obtain primary source materials.

Other participating cultural organizations include: The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, Steel Plant Museum of Western New York, Old Fort Niagara, and the Niagara Frontier Council for the Social Studies.

Did I mention there will be prizes and a happy hour? One of my favorite parts of my job is working with teachers to integrate our resources into their programs. Drop in for a minute or stay as long as we’re open; I look forward to meeting you and your classroom needs.

The Greg D. Tranter Collection Manager, the Buffalo Bills Collection and what to expect in the Future

BRC at desk. JUNE blog
Here I am surrounded by my current project – working my way through the collection of die-cast model cars, busses, trucks and airplanes.

A little more than a month ago, I accepted my current role as the Greg D. Tranter Collection Manager at The Buffalo History Museum.  You may say that I am in training to become the ‘resident Buffalo Bills expert.’  I am responsible for the cataloguing – what we call ‘accessioning’ – of the Buffalo Bills collection donated by Greg D. Tranter that was announced to the public at the end of April 2016.

 

GDT at desk. JUNE Blog

Greg is pictured at the desk where he does most of his preliminary work before sending the objects to us at the museum.

It isn’t just any “Buffalo Bills collection” though – in its entirety, it includes 100,000 artifacts and archival objects and it has been reported on heavily here in Buffalo and even as far as Boston.  The Sports Collectors Daily described the collection as “jaw-dropping” – I would agree, wholeheartedly.  For a Bills fan, it is jaw-dropping for the singular reason that it is an enormous collection celebrating our football team.  It celebrates the good, the bad and the ugly, depending on how you wish to interpret certain events: wide-right, anyone?  For me, it is jaw-dropping because of the complete and exhaustive collecting undertaken by Greg: for example, the collection includes every single program ever produced since the very first game in 1960; he isn’t missing a single one!  If a series of Christmas Ornaments was produced, Greg collected every one of them so that there would be a complete grouping.


Subj Card. JUNE blogSo, what’s happening with it?
The accessioning process for the tens of thousands of artifacts is going to take years and the steps we take to register an object can be time consuming, especially if it a multi-piece object (like a Tailgating themed pick-up truck with tailgating accessories – a grill, a couple of coolers, etc).  Every single object goes through our cataloguing process which includes a number of steps.  Once the white cotton gloves have been put on, an object is carefully handled and described: we take note of any labeling on the object or packaging, the condition it is in (we look for any scratches but also remark if it’s in excellent condition), and then we measure (for storage and display) and take photographs.  Every object is assigned a unique identifying number, what we call an Object ID; once the number has been assigned, we input all of the data into our cataloguing system, Past Perfect.  The end result is a Subject Card that gets added to our vertical files that are housed in filing cabinets (like the one in the photo to the right).  This allows us to have two points of reference; the new system of Past Perfect and the old catalogue-card system.

The final step in the process is to find a “home” for the object in our storage. We store everything in acid free boxes that are organized by classification.  This is done for the long-term preservation of an object but also to ensure easier discovery for future Collections staff.

Stein. JUNE blogOkay, so there is still a lot of work to be done. Can we still see the Collection even though it isn’t on display?
Absolutely!  We have lots of projects on the go to ensure that we are sharing the collection with you.  Over the next year, we’ll be putting together a virtual exhibit that will be accessible on our website (www.buffalohistory.org); it will include a variety of objects and related information, in addition to some oral histories shared by the donor, Greg.  Like the accessioning process, that will take time.  In the meantime, I plan to do a few more blog posts since I could talk forever about the parts of the collection that fascinate me (like the Art Baker jersey or the O.J. Simpson “See-Action” football board game and the “Bermuda Triangle” poster with Fred Smerlas, Jim Haslett and Shane Nelson)!  More immediate though, is our sharing on social media; if you don’t follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and you would like to see more of the Greg D. Tranter Buffalo Bills Collection, you should! We would love to hear your thoughts, memories and stories about an object we share – maybe you even have the same thing at home.

So, to end, I offer three things about myself:

  • I was convinced that the entire collection could fill the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium… but I have been assured that it probably can’t
  • The red standing buffalo logo is my favorite of all of the logos (it’s also Greg Tranter’s favorite logo!)
  • Of the few hundred objects I have accessioned thus far, this stein is my favorite object. It has a raised scene of a football game, complete with a quarterback and referees and an oversized logo at the front.

Go Bills!

Britt Call,
The Greg D. Tranter Collection Manager

Related Links:

Sports Collectors Daily – https://www.sportscollectorsdaily.com/jaw-dropping-buffalo-bills-collection-donated-museum/

Link to: My Collecting Passion: https://buffalohistorymuseum.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/my-collecting-passion/

Street of Shops Makeover

streetofshopssignsAbove the staircase and leading to the museum’s lower level are engraved words, “1870s Street of Shops.” This signage and the exhibit it teases were intended to endure time. For over a half century, it has done just that.

The exhibit lies within earshot of my office, from which I have listened as thousands of visitors have passed through the artificial streetscape. Many reminisce about their childhoods, each storefront sparking a different story. Others recall seeing the display with their parents when they were young. It became evident that the exhibit had, over time, become as much a part of people’s memories as the items held within it.

streetofshops2In recognition of this, we worked to update the Street of Shops while maintaining its history and charm. The exhibit now boasts a new paint job, with colors inspired by late 19th century paint swatches preserved in our library. A newly installed ceiling painted as the sky adds to the display’s immersive ambience. The most notable change, however, is the space formerly occupied by our Buffalo Savings Bank display which has been transformed into a family-friendly interactive photo studio. 

BfloBlissCutieThe newly added space, Bliss Bros. Studio, was inspired by a longstanding and well-respected photography business which first opened on Main Street in 1861. For over 50 years, the Bliss family produced some of the city’s finest portraits and landscapes. Now, the story of their business will be shared with our visitors.

bflobliss2Inside the studio, guests are encouraged to dress up in vintage clothing and pose in front of our custom made backdrop to create their own vintage portrait. Images may be shared via social media by using the hashtag #buffalobliss. When at the Museum, visit our new studio, take your picture (or a “selfie” as it were) and join in on the fun while being a part of continuing story of photography.

Anthony Greco
Director of  Exhibits & Interpretive Planning

(This article was featured in our Summer 2015 issue of “The Album“. TBHM’s quarterly newsletter)

The Birth of Journalism in Buffalo

BfloExpress18121013wm (2)October 3, 2011 went uncelebrated as a major anniversary in Buffalo’s history. Two hundred years earlier, Buffalo’s first newspaper, the Buffalo Gazette, began publishing on October 3, 1811. An annual subscription cost $2.50, equal to about $44 in today’s dollars.

The Buffalo Gazette was founded by the Salisbury brothers, Hezekiah A. Salisbury (1789-1856) and Smith H. Salisbury (ca. 1783-1832). Because of the difficulty of securing reliable supplies of paper, publication was irregular. The first paper mill west of the Genesee River did not open until 1817 in Batavia.

The first page of the issue of the Gazette devoted several column inches to listing books and pamphlets available for sale at the Buffalo Book Store and featured an excerpt from the Manual of the State of New York. Back then, “news” was what happened in the outside world, information that was in high demand in isolated frontier villages. What happened here was already known to Buffalo’s small population (1508 in the 1810 census). Local coverage was sometimes sparse in these early newspapers.

War of 1812 researchers will be disappointed by the Gazette’s lack of coverage of the Burning of Buffalo. Dec. 14, 1812, was the last time the Gazette was published before the press was moved for safety to Harris Hill in Clarence. The Salisbury brothers had assessed the risk correctly, for the British burned Buffalo to the ground on December 30, 1813. No reporters were at the scene; residents supplied eyewitness accounts, sometimes long after the event. The next issue of the Gazette appeared on January 18, 1814. It did not return to Buffalo until April 1814.

The Research Library has the Buffalo Gazette on microfilm, plus it owns a set of very fragile bound volumes of original issues starting in December 1812. The Gazette underwent a series of name changes (Niagara Patriot, Buffalo Patriot, Buffalo Patriot & Commercial Advertiser), ending its long journalism tenure in December 1924 as the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser. We have all surviving issues of these newspapers on microfilm.

In 1812, the Salisbury press also published Buffalo’s first book, the French Convert, an anti-Catholic novel that had been popular in Europe for almost a century. The Research Library owns the sole surviving copy in Buffalo. The Salisbury press next published speeches by Red Jacket and Erastus Granger on the role of Indians in the War of 1812.

To see the Buffalo Gazette and the French Convert, visit the Research Library during our public service hours, Wednesdays through Saturdays, 1-5 pm, with special extended Research Library hours the 2nd and 4th Wed. of each month 6- 8 p.m. No appointments are necessary.

– Cynthia Van Ness, Director of Library and Archives

*This article was featured in the Spring 2014 issue of “The Album”

Discovering the Howard D. Beach Collection: A Journey Into History (Part 2)

beach14Today, I went to class with more excitement and anticipation about what I might find in the next box of negatives. I chose another banker box at random marked 44400-44800. I opened the lid to find the negative boxes extremely decayed.

Figure 1: The negative boxes were all falling apart, and the negatives stuck together.

beach16Figure 2(left): Two images stuck together from moisture and mold growth.

beach17Figure 3: Before these negatives can be preserved they must go through conservation. There is tissue paper that is not acid free, therefore it contributes to the continued decay of the negative, other issues of decay include emulsion silvering, water and mold damage. Here are three negatives stuck together and clearly illuminates the tissue paper used to separate the negatives. We now know that acid-free paper is great for archival preservation however, this paper is not acid free and as long as there is tissue paper in between the negatives, there continues to be decay. In order to preserve this collection, first it must be stabilized. Since there is so much damage and no identifiable data on this entire series of negatives the entire banker box full of negatives must be marked for conservation.

After musing for a while about the massive undertaking it is going to require just to stabilize the collection, before it will be ready to be exhibited, calculated out could take years. Consider that there are 13 Graduate students currently working on a mere 15-30 images each, barely is a drop in the bucket of this collection. It is going to require not only funding but dedication and determination to keep as much of this collection intact during the stabilization and preservation stages. It begs the question, should they all be saved? In my humble opinion, I think so. Who knows the connections that can be made through researching the images, names and records!

With only a little time left in class, I moved onto another Banker box full of 8” X 10” Negative Boxes from various manufacturers. Still feeling excited but moreover, present to the massive undertaking of a project I am only beginning to understand.

– Danielle Delia
Museum Studies Student at Buffalo State

First Memorable Museum Experience

Stayed at the Otesaga Hotel and walked down the iconic main street with its many shops, unique architecture and tree lined streets to get to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Photo courtesy of: The National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Photo courtesy of: The National Baseball Hall of Fame

I was very excited and could not stop talking as I walked with my brother and father. As we approached it was a large brick building with “National Baseball Hall of Fame” engraved in the stone on the front of the brick building.

After my Dad bought our tickets we walked through a turnstile like you were entering a stadium and we entered a large room that felt and looked like a stadium. It happened to be a replica of Ebbets Field (a very historic baseball stadium).

I was completely enthralled with the displays of memorabilia, objects and stuff. It was incredible to see a jersey of Babe Ruth, Shoeless Joe Jackson’s bat, Ty Cobb’s spikes. And then seeing objects of my heroes, Mickey Mantle’s baseball hat, Bob Gibsons’s mitt, Pete Rose’s dirty baseball pants. It was overwhelming and magnificent at the same time. My heart was racing and I remember my father commenting that my palms were sweating.

The Babe Ruth room. Photograph courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Babe Ruth room. Photograph courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Going into the room with all the Hall of Fame plaques and seeing the hall of famers was awe-inspiring. The Bronze plaques with the head of each hall of famer and all their career statistics side by side were impressive.

Then going into the World Series Room and experiencing the film highlights of the most important and memorable plays in World Series history and hearing the announcer’s excitement had goose bumps running down my spine and my adrenalin was flowing. Also, seeing the tickets and programs from those games I was really taken by and I remember telling my Dad I want to collect programs and tickets, they were really neat.

I was eight years old when we went. I was a wide eyed kid completely enthralled by seeing and experiencing my baseball heroes. I was really taken by the objects and their historical significance.

We stopped in the store on the way out of the museum and my Dad bought me a statue of Rogers Hornsby (one of the hall of famers) that was a head and shoulders likeness of him sitting on a wooden base that was his Hall of Fame Plaque. That statue sat on my dresser for at least ten years, until I went to college.

Wall of Stuff - Bills CollectionThe Hall of Fame Museum visit had a profound impact on me. I have forever been a sports fan and it energized my interest in collecting. A few months later my Dad took me to my first Buffalo Bills football game, bought me a program and a bobblehead doll and my Bills collection began.

Greg Tranter
TBHM Board Member

I Found a Newspaper in My Wall

newspaper_texture2814Every few months, the Library gets a call from a homeowner who is in the middle of a remodeling project. It usually goes like this: “I was tearing out my kitchen/bathroom/den and I found a page/section of Courier-Express/Buffalo Evening News from [date] in the wall/floor/ceiling. Does it have any value? Would you like to have it?”

The newspaper-in-the-wall discovery is surprisingly common. Perhaps it fell in through an opening the attic, a possibility in balloon-framed houses. Perhaps someone working on that wall left it there on purpose. Sometimes I wonder if there was a folk practice among tradesmen to leave a dated artifact behind to show when they had been there. But this is sheer speculation.

From the dates supplied by our callers, it seems that the newspaper-in-the-wall was most prevalent between the World Wars. A simple Google search on found a newspaper in the wall turned up stories from around the country of papers dated from the 1920s to the 1940s found during home remodeling projects.

So, let’s answer the top two questions from homeowners:

Does it have any value?
Probably only sentimental. IRS regulations prohibit museum employees from appraising (determining the market value) of private property. We suggest searching eBay to get a rough idea of values. For example, President Kennedy assassination newspapers in mint condition are listed on eBay from $5 to $100. In the end, an object is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it. Which leads to the second question:

newspaper_texture2821Would you like to have it?
Thanks, but no. Newspapers stored in walls are rarely in good condition. They are likely to be incomplete, torn, brittle, discolored, moldy, mildewed, possibly even infested with insects. We cannot risk exposing museum collections or visitors to these hazards. You have our blessing display, sell, or discard your newspaper-in-the-wall as you see fit.

Don’t get me wrong: libraries have been collecting newspapers pretty much since the invention of newspapers. We pro-actively purchase them on microfilm. It is stable, compact, sturdy, tamper-proof, and resistant to mold, mildew, and insects. No one can deface a page or tear a picture out of film.

Here at the Buffalo History Museum, we have over 200 years of Buffalo newspapers on about 6,500 rolls of microfilm. Our microfilm reader-printer machines make copies from the film for $.25/each. Plus, like most libraries, we lend our newspaper films via interlibrary loan to out-of-town researchers. Readers who wish to borrow film need to make arrangements with your local library, who will handle the request on your behalf. There may be nominal fees.

Have you found a newspaper in your wall? If so, please send us pictures and stories to add to this page! And if there are homeowners or tradespeople out there who ever stuffed a newspaper in the wall during a remodeling or construction project, please tell us about it.

Cynthia Van Ness
DIRECTOR OF LIBRARY & ARCHIVES

My Collecting Passion

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

My first pack of Football Cards

My passion for collecting began as a young boy when I bought my first pack of football cards in 1965. When I opened the pack to see a Buffalo Bills player on the 2 ½” by 4 ½” card with a pink background and smelled the fresh Topps chewing gum, I immediately fell in love with the idea of collecting cards and the thrill of discovering which players would be inside each pack. This thrill was addictive to me as a young boy, and coincided with my intense interest in football I picked up from my grandfather Cy Sanders, who played college football for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame. Those interests combined with me watching the AFL Champion Buffalo Bills on television and my passion was born. This collector’s passion continued to grow each week as I received my $.25 allowance and rushed to the corner store, on the same city block as my elementary school, to buy another pack of Topps cards.

My first football game

My first football game was an overwhelming experience. To think that I was going to see all my favorite Bills players, Jack Kemp, Elbert Dubenion, Tom Sestak and Mike Stratton that I watched on television, live, in person was almost beyond my imagination.

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

The anticipation and excitement running through me was almost uncontrollable as I rode with my Dad in his 1964 Ford Station Wagon to my first live football game. As we neared the stadium, the concrete facade of the stadium rose up from the horizon. It seemed so big, and the sight of it made my heart race with excitement.

Walking among all the parked cars, seeing all the people grilling food, eating, throwing footballs, was an amazing sight to behold. As we got closer to the entrance gate, I noticed vendors with carts, selling souvenirs. Immediately, I ran to one of them to get a close up of what they were selling. After reviewing all of the items for sale, I begged my Dad to buy me a bobble head doll and a pennant. Luckily he relented, and my collecting passion grew. I thought this experience was just as good as, if not better than, getting packs of football cards.

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

Upon entering the stadium, I saw another vendor standing next to a few boxes, yelling “Get your program, get your game program, only $.50.” Again, I begged my Dad to buy me a program, which he did. I must have leafed through that program at least a thousand times, until the pages became dog eared. Incidentally, I now own every program from every Bills game.

Following the game, a Bills victory that solidified my attachment to the team forever, I returned home and placed the bobble head doll on my bedroom dresser in the most prominent spot. I hung the pennant on the wall behind my bed, so I could see it each night before going to sleep.

I still have the original three collectibles from that first game I attended with my Dad, and since 1965, have amassed the largest Buffalo Bills football memorabilia collection.

Passion for History

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

As I went through school, I really enjoyed my history classes and was especially interested in American History. When I graduated from college my interest in American History aligned well with my Buffalo Bills collecting passion. The Bills are much more than a football team to Western New York. They are a critical part of the fabric of the community and the region’s history. As I began earning my own money, I started to add to my Collection with a focus on capturing the Buffalo Bills history from their founding in 1960. I thought back to all of the football cards I had collected throughout my youth that I had left at my parents’ house when I left for college. Upon returning home and much to my disappointment, I learned that my mother had thrown out most of my football cards when cleaning house while I had been away. As I would tell her years later, she and other mothers like her (with the desire to clean) helped create an entire industry. The value of baseball and football cards has increased due to their scarcity. As baby boomers try to recapture their childhood, these cards continue to rise in value.

That setback of losing my precious football cards further fueled my passion to collect the story of the Bills history through football cards, programs, publications, and collectibles of all sorts.

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

The Hunt

One of the thrills of collecting is “the hunt,” the passion and focus to find another collectible to add to your growing collection. The thrill of finding the item you don’t yet have makes the hunt worthwhile. I believe it is the combined passion of the hunt and the thrill of finding an item you don’t yet have in your collection which fuel the collector’s desire.

My hunting and searching have taken me to countless garage sales, flea markets, sports card shows, memorabilia shops, antique markets, used book stores, toy stores, malls, stadium shops and other collectors homes. Always on the search and looking for that elusive Buffalo Bills collectible. 

The best feeling for me as a collector is that evoked on a crisp fall morning before dawn breaks at the Clarence flea market, flashlight in-hand, hunting for Bills collectibles. Moving among the vast array of artifacts and collectibles from dealer to dealer, rooting through box after box, I then feel the thrill in finding a new Bills item for my Collection.

Before eBay came along, I scoured through classified advertisements in the Buffalo News, Sports Collectors Digest, Beckett, among others to find another collectible. In addition, I sent hundreds of letters to fellow collectors, dealers, and teams and made dozens of telephone calls networking with other collectors and dealers asking about Bills collectibles.

To obtain autographs of players, I purchased address lists and sent letters to the players’ homes. I went to the Bills annual training camp and hung out after games outside the team locker room, trying to obtain autographs. In addition, I attended many events where players were signing – commemorative dinners, card shows, book signings, and store promotions.

I have had many wonderful, memorable experiences while searching for my collectibles.

Greg Tranter
TBHM Board Member