The Sunderland shop where you can find Pele, Harry Kane, Sylvester Stallone and even the Dalai Lama under one roof!

What links Frank Sinatra, Pele, Barbara Windsor and the Dalai Lama? The answer is a shop in Sunderland.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 12:26 pm

John Henry has spent 40 years building up a massive collection of autographs from famous people. And now, they are going on sale in his new shop called Elite Autographs in Houghton.

It has an array of more than 6,000 signatures of famous people from the world of sport, films, music and TV.

There’s Charlton Heston and Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson and David Jason. There’s a script from The Archers which has been signed by at least seven members of the cast of the long-running radio show.

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Elite Autographs owner John Henry with a signed Dalai Lama book.
Elite Autographs owner John Henry with a signed Dalai Lama book.

There are Sylvester Stallone items and even a tie worn by Coronation Street legend Mike Baldwin.

England star Harry Kane’s signature is on memorabilia from the Russia World Cup and John also has the autographs of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pele.

Houghton man John said: “I started collecting when I was about 12 and I was always fascinated by movies and film stars.”

Other members of his family were also keen collectors and soon John had amassed a collection of famous names from film, TV, pop music and more.

Some more of the Elite Autographs collection.

"I never really wanted to sell but a few years ago, I thought ‘why keep them all this time. I might as well put them up for sale.

"I had an idea of opening a shop which gives me more credence and somewhere for people to come and have a look at the collection.”

There are signed football shirts as well as signed books, CDs, boxing gloves and one very unusual item.

"I have got a book from the Dalai Lama,” said John.

Elite Autographs in Houghton-le-Spring, including a book from the Dalai Lama.

Among his favourites are the autographs of the Only Fools and Horses cast as well as members of Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

As well as autographs, John plans to sell other items such as toys and also has a Facebook page at Elite Autographs.

John has had a fascinating life in which he has worked as a gym instructor, live-in care worker, lifeguard and reader of gas meters.

Now comes his shop, in Newbottle Street, Houghton, which opens each week from Wednesday to Saturday between 10am and 4pm.

John Henry and his new shop in Houghton.

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Elite Autographs' collection which includes Michael Jackson.
An Only Fools and Horses collection at Elite Autographs in Houghton-le-Spring.
Elite Autographs owner John Henry with a signed Harry Kane Russia 2018 cap.
A small part of the memorabilia at Elite Autographs in Houghton-le-Spring.
Elite Autographs owner John Henry with a signed Auf Wiedersehen Pet characters frame.