GoCollect is one of the leading sites for collecting. One area that has never been touched upon is movie and television props. I have used some props on set and also collect them. Here is a beginner’s guide to purchasing these types of items.
It is very important for you to prove that an item appeared in a movie or television show for it to be valuable and collectible. Provenance is the history of ownership from when the item was used to the person who owns it now. The most common way this is done is with a Certificate of Authenticity. These certificates are issued by third-party companies that have reviewed the item’s history and are satisfied that the item is the one that it is portrayed to be. Not all Certificates of Authenticity are equal. Disreputable companies have issued fake certificates for counterfeit items. Purchasers of movie and television props then should review not only the item but the company issuing the certificate of authenticity.
The other way that you can prove the provenance of an item is with affidavits and evidence. This means that you will review the item and any evidence that is available to determine if the item is authentic. An on-set picture of the item with the actor who was using it as well as an affidavit from that actor that the item is the one used on-screen, to me, is perfect evidence that the item is genuine. In addition, any documentation you can obtain from the prop master of a production company is ideal. Prop masters are the people responsible for the production and control of the item on the set. Their whole job is to keep track of that item. Many prop masters can identify unique items created by craftsmen because of the specs they provided.
You may not be able to trace the item back to the production, but an affidavit from a prop master that the item is authentic creates a new timeline that proves the item is real.
2. Where do you get them
This is the first question collectors ask about movie and television props once they realize they want an item from their favorite film or television show. You can always try to get them from a prop master, but you are better off buying a lottery ticket. The prop master’s whole job is to catalog every, and I mean every item on the set. There are whole teams of people underneath the prop master that document everything on a set through notes and pictures. Those items are recorded for continuity.
Imagine if Zack Snyder ever wanted to re-shoot the Justice League for HBO Max. I mean I know that there is a very remote chance that will ever happen, but it is possible. Let us pretend that this did happen and the prop master gave away the Bat-suit or a shirt worn by Gal Gadot. You would have fans who could identify those errors. That is why prop masters usually guard those items as if their jobs depended upon it, because they do. Remember the ark of the covenant being stored in the Raiders of the Lost Ark? Somewhere there are prop storage units exactly like that with years of items stored in them.
After a period of time, these items then are sold by studios in auctions or given away. I have attended such sales where studios have sold items such as props used in Oz to tables where the actors ate while on the set. If a production can sell the items to make up for production overrun costs then they will do it. You should look for these types of sales online because they happen regularly when productions wrap.
3. Screen Used
Many real props are sold that have never been used in the final version. Productions use many takes and sometimes items used never will appear in the final version of what we see months later. That means that a prop can be authentic, but not recognizable. Ben Affleck may have worn a shirt in the Justice League, but if the scene was cut then that item never appeared on the screen even though there may exist set shots where he was in fact wearing the item. The item may be valuable to Affleck’s fans and fans of the movie, but it may not be to others. An item that has appeared on the screen is much more desirable to fans. This increases the value of the object.
The next variable that is important in collecting and investing in props is the significance of the item. I have an item used in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. It is authentic. It was used very briefly on the screen. I even have a paparazzi picture of Ben Affleck standing next to the item. The problem is the item never had any significance in the movie. If instead, I had the magic lasso worn by Gal Gadot I would have a piece of movie history.
4. Treasure Hunt
This is a treasure hunt worthy of the great Indiana Jones. You never know what you will find. It could be a brick that Bruce Banner crashed down on in the Avengers or a Superman suit worn by George Reeves decades ago. The only limits to what you can find will be your time and the money you want to spend. The results of those investments could be priceless artifacts that will make you the envy of fans around the world.
Did you enjoy this blog about movie and television props? Do you collect any yourself? Let us know in the comments!