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Buffalo Bills Memorabilia Collector Donates Entire Collection to Buffalo History Museum

Author: Robert Creenan

At this moment, the Buffalo History Museum is unveiling news of its most recent prized acquisition, made up of one of the largest single donations in the museum’s history. The unprecedented donation is comprised of an enormous collection of Buffalo Bills memorabilia, encompassing the team’s entire history. The exciting news has been kept under wraps until now. The unveiling was strategically planned in tandem with the museum’s History Collectors event featured on BRO yesterday.

The incredible donation comes from Greg Tranter, an Elmira/Corning native who now lives in suburb of Worcester, Massachusetts. The 59-year old’s collection is made up 6,000 3-D objects (game-worn jerseys, pads, gloves cups, mugs, and glasses) and 100,000 paper objects (tickets, game programs, posters, schedules, and newspapers). Tranter started collecting Bills memorabilia when he was 8 with his first pack of sports cards. He attended his first Bills game in 1965. “I got more serious about collecting when I got out of college,” Tranter recounted, “I’ve been trying to put together the Bills’ history for the past 35 years.”

“Greg’s passionate pursuit of all things Bills inspires nostalgia in all of us; it’s exciting to know that the memories to be shared in the community are infinite,” said Melissa Brown, executive director of The Buffalo History Museum. “With much appreciation, this occasion brings to mind our purpose of being: for over 150 years, individuals have entrusted The Buffalo History Museum with their treasures to document and safe keep the connections they symbolize.

Tranter decided to donate his collection to the museum after showcasing some of his collection for the Bills 50th Anniversary display back in 2009. “Talking to those visitors brought the collection to life,” Tranter said. “People would talk to me about their own Bills collectibles, like someone’s bobble-head from when they were 10. That’s then I realized my collection belongs to the city of Buffalo for people to enjoy, not in my basement. I finally made the decision a year and a half ago.”

Tranter has also pledged a personal gift of $100,000 to fund the acquisition to support the processing of the collection.

The exhibit was scheduled to be unveiled this week coinciding with the NFL draft is on Thursday. The History Museum has very few Bills-related objects in its collection, so this fills a large hole… and that’s an understatement. It turns out that the Buffalo Bills 50th Anniversary exhibit was the 2nd most attended exhibit in the museum’s history, which led the museum to realize that the Buffalo Bills team is a major part of Buffalo’s history that should be fully represented. After all, sports in Buffalo is a big draw.

Leila Dunbar, President and Owner of Leila Dunbar Appraisals And Consulting LLC, states, “The Tranter Collection is the single most comprehensive team private archive that I have seen, which encompasses both team used uniforms and equipment as well as manufactured Bills items for the fan experience. If franchises were as diligent as Greg has been, they would have extensive archives that could tell their individual stories and give depth to their own brands. Kudos to Greg for his work on building this historic collection.”

Once the collection has been delivered to the museum, Tranter will continue to offer insight into the significance of particular items, like Scott Norwood’s helmet from Super Bowl XXV, and how items such as this were procured. The displays will rotate on seasonal basis, giving a majority of items time in the spotlight. For example, The Icons Exhibit, due to start in 2017, may feature the likes of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Bruce Smith. The following exhibit might showcase 60’s superstars such as Joe Ferguson.

Once the items are in the museum’s possession, the museum will focus on additional fundraising efforts needed to build and maintain the exhibits. The plan is to continue to grow the collection, although it remains to be seen if Tranter actually missed much along the way – the collection is that impressive.

Some of the individual highlights of the collection are:

  • Blue and Silver jersey from the 1960/61 season worn by Art Baker the only known jersey of this type known to still exist
  • O.J. Simpson game worn jersey from his 1973 record breaking season
  • Game worn jerseys of Bills Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed
  • Bruce Smith, James Lofton and Joe DeLamielleure
  • Joe Ferguson and Joe Cribbs jerseys from the 1980 AFC East Championship team
  • Scott Norwood Game worn helmet from Super Bowl XXV
  • Marv Levy’s game worn jacket
  • Standing Buffalo helmets from the late 1960’s
  • Ahmad Rashad 1974 game worn helmet
  • Fred Jackson and Eric Wood game worn helmets
  • Doug Flutie, Jim Ritcher and Jim Kelly game worn shoes
  • Terrell Owens, Andre Reed, Stevie Johnson, Ruben Brown, Brian Moorman and
  • Thurman Thomas game worn gloves
  • Darryl Talley, Joe Cribbs, Joe Delamielleure & Scott Norwood Pro Bowl jerseys
  • Game Balls awarded to Scott Norwood for the Fandemoneum game, Sam Adams & Mario Clark
  • Buffalo Bills standing buffalo helmet Lapel Pins worn by the Secret Service during the
  • 1996 Presidential election while guarding Vice Presidential nominee Jack Kemp
  • 1992 and 1993 AFC Championship watches
  • 1964 & 1965 Team picture Championship Pennants
  • 1965 Volpe Cup 12 player set
  • 1994 NFL Draft Day standing buffalo helmet telephone
  • A Buffalo Bills snowblower

Photo: Lauren Hall from WNLO sits among the Bills jerseys. Image courtesy of The Buffalo History Museum – Facebook.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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