“Our donation attendant spotted it and recognized the signatures almost immediately.”

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Thousands of great finds come through the province’s Goodwill stores very day, but once in a while, there’s an extra-rare gem.

The Les Paul guitar signed by every member of Guns N’ Roses that is on auction this week, for example.

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Doug Roxburgh is director of brand integrity and marketing for Goodwill Industries of Alberta.

In 2023, Goodwill accepted 850,000 donations — and some of those were truckloads of items, he said.

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On any given day, an average of 150 donors will donate at each Goodwill site.

They get a lot of autographed memorabilia, from Edmonton Oilers players and other sporting groups, “but not usually from iconic rock bands that are known internationally,” Roxburgh said.

The signature-bedazzled instrument could make a spectacular Father’s Day present for the kind of guy who might hum Sweet Child O’ Mine.

It was among a load anonymously donated by some hard-rock, heavy-metal enthusiast at the Goodwill Sherwood Park Retail Store and Donation Centre in February.

“Our donation attendant spotted it and recognized the signatures almost immediately,” Roxburgh said.

The piece had some issues that made confirming authenticity challenging.

The origin story of the guitar and the autographs isn’t known. It wasn’t accompanied by photographic evidence of the signing, and the Los Angeles-based band members would be unlikely to remember signing this specific piece. However, the signatures are in alignment with how the “the most dangerous band in America” signs memorabilia.

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Calls to local rock stations led to “some real sleuthing.”

“The next thing you know, we’re like, ‘OK, we actually think that might be real,’ ” Roxburgh said.

Auction specialist Clinton Beck did a little sleuthing himself.

The president and founder of Beck Antiques and Jewellery Inc. has a 35-year career in evaluating historical items of interest.

From the type of pen and strokes of the signatures to the type of guitar used, Beck deduced the Guns N’ Roses piece appears to be an authentic signed instrument, Roxburgh said.

Whatever its origins, it had been used for display, judging from the Velcro attached to the back.

The modest Les Paul electric axe came in with another signed guitar, but in the case of the other instrument, it’s not verifiable.

Pity, as a Van Halen guitar might be worth some serious coin.

“We can’t verify that at all, because of some of the signatures are completely worn,” Roxburgh said, adding that he’s reached out to Universal Music for authentication or updating of the suspected Van Halen guitar.

Is the moral of the story that if you donate memorabilia, try to provide a little provenance to go with it to keep the agency from turning itself inside out to get to the bottom of the mystery?

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Roxburgh is just happy for the donation.

With the signatures being verified as likely real, Goodwill is looking to raise money for their mission programs with a silent auction open until April 1 at their Sherwood Park donation centre.

Bids must be made in person and everyone can see the piece up close.

Affixing a price is difficult, as it will depend on what the market will bear in the auction.

“It just depends on who wants it and who wants to add it to their collection,” Roxburgh said.

“We know 91 per cent of the funds are going to go directly back into our programs that help people with disabilities to find employment throughout the province.”

The Goodwill Career Connections program helped 300 clients with disabilities last year.

The Goodwill Opportunity Accelerator teaches job and workplace skills.

The Employer Inclusion Accelerator was a legacy of the Special Olympics held recently in Calgary. Through the EIA, job coaches work with employers to foster hiring of people with disabilities.

Goodwill had about 1,000 people on their payroll last year, about 250 of whom are individuals with a self-disclosed disability, Roxburgh said.

“At the end of the day, we just have to do right by our donor. We have fabulous donors right across the province,” Roxburgh said.

“We also have to do right by our mission as well.”

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