The Buffalo History Museum has acquired the largest most comprehensive private collection of Buffalo Bills football memorabilia.
Greg Tranter, a passionate Bills fan, season ticket holder, and avid collector since a youngster has amassed his immense collection over a 50-year period and is turning it all over to the Museum.
Tranter has also pledged a personal gift of $100,000 to fund the acquisition to support the processing of the collection.
The Tranter Collection is among the finest single team sports memorabilia collections known to exist, with over 6,000 three dimensional objects and 100,000 archival artifacts.
The collection includes game used memorabilia; 78 jerseys, 14 helmets, 40 pair of gloves, jackets, shoulder pads, thigh pads, pants, shoes and footballs from some of the biggest names in team history.
In addition, the collection contains thousands of photos, souvenir type items, publications and football cards, hundreds of autographs, ticket stubs and every program from every game the Bills have ever played–more than 1,100.
“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.
“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,” stated Leila Dunbar, President and Owner of Leila Dunbar Appraisals And Consulting LLC. “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.”
Tranter told Buffalo Rising he got the idea to share what he’d collected when he was asked to display some of it during the Bills’ 50th anniversary display in 2009.
“Talking to those visitors brought the collection to life,” he 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.”
Part of the team’s history is frustrating. Tranter even has the helmet Scott Norwood was wearing when his potential game-winning 47-yard field goal sailed wide right in Super Bowl XV.
Now officially named the Tranter Buffalo Bills Football Memorabilia Collection, the artifacts cover the entire history of the Bills from their start in 1959 through the present day. Some of the individual highlights of the collection also include:
- Blue and Silver jersey from the 1960-61 season worn by Art Baker – the only known jersey of this type known to still exist
- 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
- O.J. Simpson game worn jersey from his 1973 record breaking season
- 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
A native of Elmira, New York who now lives in Massachusetts, Tranter has been collecting since purchasing his first pack of football cards in 1965. Seeing a Bills player on the 2 ½” by 4 ½” card with a pink background and smelling the fresh Topps chewing gum, he immediately fell in love with the idea of collecting cards and the thrill of discovering which players would be inside each pack. He actively collected football cards as a youngster and memorabilia from each Bills game he attended until graduating from college.
After college he began pursuing a complete collection of Bills programs and ticket stubs and everything with a Bills logo on it. As a passionate collector, he developed an extensive network of other collectors, attended hundreds of flea markets and garage sales, collector shops, antique shows, sports card shows and Bills home and away games to amass his collection. He has been an authoritative source for Bills collectibles for many years.