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Movie Memorabilia - What's The Appeal?

Aug 17, 2007
Movie Memorabilia can be just about anything associated with a movie, actor, actress, famous theaters, even film studios. Usually the list includes posters, photographs, scripts, film cells even costumes and props. There's almost no limit, assuming you're willing to do the research and legwork. You may one day, through research and patience find someone who has that vintage lobby card with Charlie Chan in "The Shanghai Chest" who'll no doubt be waiting for just the right buyer. To be successful, you'll need to be knowledgeable of an items value and be able verify its authenticity.

What's The Appeal?

Collecting movie memorabilia is just a hobby for most people. They like the idea of "owning" a little piece of movie history. An item might remind them of their favorite movie or movie star. For others, it's an investment. Recently, a Sean Connery action figure, along with various 007 model clothes, was auctioned off at Christie's Auction House in London. The purchase price: $830. So, while it's purely enjoyment for most, it can be very lucrative for the savvy and knowledgeable investor.

Whether you're collecting movie memorabilia for fun or investment, you'll want to be aware of a few simple guidelines.

Quality vs Quantity

It almost goes without saying but usually, the better the condition, the more valuable it is. Don't let emotion carry you away. This is a time for selectivity not impulse buying. I don't care how much you love John Wayne, a cardboard cutout of the great actor is a great find but if it's missing an arm, it will of course be less valuable - unless you have verifiable proof that it was John Wayne who tore off the arm! In that case less really would be more.

What's It Worth?

What makes an item valuable. It boils down to how bad someone wants it and how much they're willing to pay for it. Generally, the older an item in the more valuable it is, assuming it's in good condition. How rare is it? If there's only a handful in existance, then it will surely fetch a much higher price than if there's a million of them. Its supply and demand. People want something more and are willing to pay more if it's rare.

Six Degrees

How closely is the memorabilia associated with the actor or film? Is it a table that appeared in a film or a handwritten letter personally signed by the star? Although the table might be valuable, the letter would be far more in demand and if it's original, would be considered rare, driving the value (and cost) up even more.


How well known is the movie or actor associated with the memorabilia. A hat worn by an extra in a movie made 20 years ago would technically be memorabilia but would command very little on the market or at auction. The piece usually has to be associated with someone or something famous. It doesn't matter if he or she was the hero or the villain.

What's Your Pleasure?

Consider your own tastes. Do you like old movies or are the newer releases more your style? Star Wars, Spiderman, The Indiana Jones Series are all popular right now. But maybe your tastes lean to more vintage offerings. Casablanca, Gone With The Wind, Wizard of Oz... Katherine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Jimmy Durante all had "Big Star" appeal and still have avid and caring fans who would no doubt pay handsome amounts for quality movie memorabilia connected to them. Ultimately for the hobbyist it's a matter of what pleases you.

By using a little common sense and following these simple guidelines, you'll have a fun and possibly profitable adventure hunting down your favorite movie memorabilia.
About the Author
Ron Berry is a freelance journalist who owns MovieBilia.net http://moviebilia.net - a Movie Memorabilia site with local listings, articles and reviews.
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