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Wolverhampton man shows off star-studded autograph collection

By Harriet Evans | Wolverhampton | Wolverhampton entertainment | Published:

A Tettenhall resident has been presenting his vast all-star collection of celebrity autographs.

Imre Tolgyesi from Wolverhampton

Imre Tolgyesi Stanley, has four full-sized albums full of signed photographs of famous faces including Neil Armstrong, the Dalai Lama and even Donald Trump.

Imre fled to Wolverhampton from Hungary as a young boy from a revolution that was convulsing his home.

His motivation for writing to the stars began after he came to the Midlands.

As he started learning English it sparked a desire to communicate with the rest of the world.

“I was just a humble person. I wanted to prove that everyone is approachable.” He said.

Mr Tolgyesi Stanley began his collection in 1973 when he wrote to Gerald Ford to congratulate him on becoming president of the United States.

He said: “I wrote a wonderful letter to him congratulating him, wishing him well and hoped for him to make peace in the world.

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“About two months later he wrote a lovely letter back to me with his autograph.”

Imre continued to write to other celebrities for over 20 years and continued to build up his colossal collection.

He added: “From that first one I thought, if I can get a reply from the biggest house in the world I can write to anybody!”

The collection includes signed photos addressed personally to Imre from the likes of Mother Teresa, John Wayne, Harold Macmillan, Buzz Aldrin, Ronald Regan, Billy Wright, Frank Sinatra and even Colonel Gaddafi.

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Imre pictured with the first autograph he ever had, US President Gerald Ford

As well as the pristine signed pictures, Imre also still has the letters that accompanied them.

“The secret of all of this is to make them feel good. Write in a fountain pen.” He said.

Imre stopped collecting the autographs at the beginning of the 1990s as he was busy raising his family.

“It was a time in history when you could write to important people and expect a response.” Said Mr Tolgyesi Stanley’s wife Anita.

In 2017 he and his wife were guests of honour at the Austrian Embassy in London after the story of his escape from the Russian tanks that rolled into Budapest in 1956 was featured in the Express & Star.

Austrian ambassador Martin Eichtinger gave thanks to the people of Austria for welcoming the eight-year-old Imre as he and his mother made their way across Europe to the UK over 60 years ago.

The Hungarian government awarded the retired day centre officer for Wolverhampton Social Services the Order of Vitez, the equivalent of a British knighthood, in a ceremony in Budapest.

Previously, the collection was taken to be valued at the Antiques Roadshow at Wightwick Manor.

Billy Wright

However, because not all of the pictures could be authenticated their worth is uncertain.

“The real worth is in the fun.” Said Anita.

Imre added: “I’d never part with them or sell them. It’s the memory, it’s an achievement of mine and money isn’t always important.”

Each album is two inches thick and the vast collection is kept in the back room of Imre and his wife’s home in Tettenhall.

The couple hope to protect the collection for future generations and pass them on to their family.

Harriet Evans

By Harriet Evans
Community Reporter - @HarrietEvans_ES

Community Reporter at the Express & Star, covering the issues affecting young people across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Contact me at harriet.evans@expressandstar.co.uk

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