With the Academy Awards around the corner on March 4, let's take a deep dive into the hottest items in the movie memorabilia market. You might have some big-ticket collectibles in your basement or attic that could reap you some decent cash.
Props to Props
Undoubtedly, one of the most popular collectibles in arts & entertainment are movie props. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, many high-profile film studios owned their prop houses, a trend that changed with the breakup of the studio system in the 1950s. They had to liquidate their prop houses to make up a shortfall in funds, and thus the movie prop business was born.
To provide some examples on the high value of movie props: The flying car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang sold for $505,000, the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz netted the seller $660,000, Hubert de Givenchy designed the dress for Audrey Hepburn's 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany's and sold it at auction for $923,000 and a full-scale T-800 from Terminator 2 went for $500,000.
Of course, you might not have these eye-popping props in your closet, but if you have relatives or friends who worked in the film industry, they might have stashed smaller items like replica pistols, eyeglasses or handkerchiefs used on set. Combing through those film props could be a worthwhile endeavour if you're interested in selling to a respected collector.
Posters for films in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s can net you a nice return, as long as the poster is in decent condition. But be wary when shopping around for posters or sorting through your own collection. As HomesAndAntiques notes:
Because of their popularity, some films have attracted more than their fair share of fakes: Blade Runner, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are among the most copied, so only buy posters relating to these films from a good dealer.
The value of certain posters is truly astounding, such as a 1933 poster for The Invisible Man reaching $274,000 at auction.
Another gem: The original poster from 1927's silent science fiction Metropolis was sold by London's Reel Poster Gallery in 2005 for a whopping $609,000.
But how to determine an original poster from a reproduction? Let's check out what Antique Trader had to say about this:
Original movie posters were always a standard size, 27 inches by 41 inches. The texture of the paper, and copyright information usually determine age.
Many of the earlier vintage posters produced before 1940 had studio logos, but were often not dated. After 1940 National Screen service distributed most US film posters. These were dated and coded at the bottom of the poster. In the 1960s and 1970s several companies, Portal Publications, among others, reproduced a number of vintage movie posters.
Finding an original movie or TV script is incredibly difficult but if you come across a script with a star's or director's handwriting in the margins, the item could be extremely valuable.
For example, Marlon Brando's personal copy of the screenplay for The Godfather sold at auction for $313,000. But Audrey Hepburn's personal script for Breakfast at Tiffany's set a world record in 2017 when it sold for $840,000, thanks in part to her annotations included on the pages.
Navigating the heady world of film collectibles can be confusing, so if you feel overwhelmed and have an item you'd like evaluated, contact Muzuem anytime and we'll give you a free estimate of your movie props, posters or any other memorabilia.