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Antique Shop Has Packer Memorabilia

January 16, 1998

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) _ Here’s a few items for the serious Packers collector. A 1960 Green Bay team yearbook for just $347.50, a little less than a typical Packers season ticket might cost.

Or a 1968 letter on Packers stationery signed by legendary coach Vince Lombardi for $750, roughly the price of 166 beers at Lambeau Field.

Or a one-of-a-kind red, white and blue parade banner touting the Packers 1961 championship for $2,000, about $500 less than travel agents are charging for tour packages to next weekend’s Super Bowl in San Diego between Green Bay and the Denver Broncos.

They’re all for sale at Packer City Antiques, a shop specializing in rare team artifacts.

``This is like being in a hall of fame where you can actually touch things,″ says owner John Carpentier, a 6-foot-6, 250-pound walking encyclopedia of the value of such products.

``As far as I am concerned, the Packers are the New York Yankees of football. Having that rich history going back to the beginning is just great.″

A lot has changed since Carpentier, 47, and his wife, Lisa, opened the store in 1993 with about 100 items. The Packers have returned to the NFL’s elite and hope to match their 1960s achievement with a second straight Super Bowl win.

Packer City Antiques has grown with the team, now offering about 12,500 items for sale. Carpentier bills his store as the ``world’s largest buyer and seller of Packers memorabilia.″

The Carpentiers’ sales pitch is simple: ``Buy a piece of history, not a souvenir.″

For example, there’s a game-day program in perfect shape from Sunday, Oct. 24, 1926, when the Packers played the Racine Tornadoes. Price, $350.

For modern-minded collectors, an unused ticket from last year’s Super Bowl costs $275. A pair of size 15 football shoes worn and autographed by defensive tackle Darius Holland this season sells for $95.

The Packers return to Super Bowl glory has rekindled nationwide interest in the team’s history, Carpentier said. Rather than escalate the price of Packers memorabilia, it has ``really just increased the demand.″

Last year, Carpentier said he had $125,000 in sales.

``I really did not know the extent of the loyalty toward the team until I opened the shop and saw the huge growth in it,″ he said. ``When people come in the shop, I have had guys who have just stood, and it is almost like they are walking on Lambeau Field.″

Dan Biebel, 38, of Green Bay browsed through a rack of Packers programs and other publications seeking just the right item for star defensive end Reggie White to autograph.

``I am not a collector, but it is a flashback in time, that’s for sure,″ said Biebel, glancing at displays in the cluttered store of autographed footballs and helmets, old Coca-Cola bottle caps with players pictures inside them, bobbing-head dolls, ticket stubs and a color scheme dominated by green and gold.

``It is a collage of stuff that you don’t see anywhere else. You go into somebody’s basement and see this or that. The quantity of the old stuff is what impresses me here,″ Biebel said.

He left the store clutching a program from the Packers’ Sept. 12, 1993, game against Philadelphia, White’s second as a Packer and his first against his old team. Biebel paid $17.50.

That’s far from the most expensive item for sale.

That label belongs to six framed color sketches of Lombardi, Willie Davis, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Donny Anderson and Jim Grabowski done by Green Bay artist Robert Sweetland after the 1967 championship season. The collection sells for $4,000.

Carpentier reached behind one counter, pulled out a black binder and removed a letter on Packers stationery from a plastic sheath.

The typewritten letter was dated Dec. 26, 1968, and addressed to Dr. Maurey Allen of Madison, telling him the team wasn’t interested in hiring him as team doctor. Lombardi signed the correspondence, ``Vince.″

``He usually made things more formal and signed things Vince Lombardi. This is a Vince letter,″ Carpentier said. ``You could buy it for $750. Part of it would be the rarity of it being one of his last Packers autographs.″

Carpentier is publishing a 300-page price guide that lists the values of thousands of Packers items, including the value of autographs from every player from 1920 to 1996.

On the store’s Internet Web site, Carpentier explains why the book is needed. ``For those of you who have a bunch of old Packers stuff in the basement or den, you will be surprised at what it’s worth.″

Carpentier intends to sign 250 of the books.

``I have customers who want that because they know that somewhere down the road, the price guide will be valuable,″ he said.

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