A memorabilia collector’s dream

Over 1,500 helmets and "Duke" footballs will be signed on Hall of Fame weekend. (Gary A. Vasquez/NFL)

CANTON, Ohio — One of the biggest spectacles in Canton this weekend — aside from the dozens of Hall of Famers on hand — is the massive memorabilia operation taking place at the McKinley Hotel in downtown Canton.

According to Pete Quaglierini, manager of NFL Auction, more than 1,500 pieces of memorabilia fill two meeting rooms here in the lobby of the hotel, all of which will ultimately don at least one signature of a Hall of Famer.

Former Bears running back Gale Sayers takes a few minutes to offer his signature to NFL Auctions.(Gary A. Vasquez/NFL)

An estimated 75 members of the Hall are expected to come through Canton this weekend and by Thursday evening 37 had already offered their signatures to NFL Auction.

According to Quaglierini, 600 leather “Duke” footballs were ordered just for this weekend, in addition to more than 500 Proline helmets and more than 500 mini-helmets. Quaglierini estimates that, unsigned, the memorabilia totals $100,000 — but once they are signed and authenticated, their value triples to over $300,000.

Last year, NFL Auctions raised more than $3.1 million for various NFL charities with more than $100,000 going to the Hall of Fame Needy Enshrinee Fund.

It’s a lot to ask for some of these guys and the end result is a lot of cramped hands and sore wrists, but as Quaglierini described, it’s a labor of love, and the least some of these gentlemen can do for their fellow Hall of Famers.

Of course, the operation wouldn’t be as successful as it is without our own Gil Brandt, who takes it upon himself to corral most of these guys and their John Hancocks.

“He’s amazing,” Quaglierini said of Brandt. “He is instrumental to what we do here every year.”

To get your own piece of NFL history, visit www.nflauction.com and bid on hundreds of pieces of authentic NFL memorabilia.

— Aron Angel

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