Penn State Expert: Glasses worth more after Paterno's surgery

February 15, 2010

University Park, Pa. – Now that Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno has had cataract surgery, one professor says the iconic eyeglasses up for bid as part of Penn State Public Broadcasting's annual fundraising dinner may be more coveted and worth more money.

The online auction at ends Wednesday, Feb. 17 and will culminate during the live auction at WPSU's 18th Annual Connoisseur's Dinner and Auction on Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Richard Aquila, director of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of history at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, said Paterno is a sports legend and pop culture hero to many Americans and his spectacles are an identifiable part of his image.

"More than just glasses, they have become a pop culture icon that represent not just Joe Paterno himself, but also Penn State football, fans, and sports in general,” Aquila said. "In that sense, the glasses are a potent symbol of the man and the success of Penn State football.”

When Coach Paterno sports his thinner lenses on the sidelines, Aquila said the distinctive glasses with the old prescription will speak to a specific time and place in Penn State history.

“Like a souvenir or valued photograph of another time or place, the old, familiar glasses will evoke a particular era of Coach Paterno and Penn State football," Aquila explained.

Because of these reasons, he said value and demand should increase for the glasses as a collectors' item.

"Collective memory is a part of all Americans," Aquila said. "For Penn State fans, the collective memory of Joe Paterno is part of the tradition of Penn State football. Getting a piece of that memory is something tangible and something that they can hold onto and cherish for years to come."

  • Joe Paterno's glasses in shadowbox with photo.

    IMAGE: Penn State Public Broadcasting
Last Updated November 18, 2010