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Movie Memorabilia & Collectibles

Stars Shine for Collectors



Marilyn Monroe "Movies" magazine cover

-Pamela Wiggins

Quick Tips for Collecting Movie Memorabilia:

- Movie Collectibles from the Collector’s Compass series of books is a good resource for reliable information on collecting movie memorabilia.

- Memorabilia from well-known or cult classic movies are usually more valuable than items associated with less popular movies.

- Star power can help to boost the value of any type of movie collectible.

- Many collections are built around a single movie like Gone with the Wind or The Wizard of Oz.

- The cardinal rule for collecting movie memorabilia is quality over quantity whenever possible. Buy items in excellent to mint condition to retain value.

Learning About Movie Memorabilia

The Collector's Compass series of books published by Martingale & Company released Movie Collectibles a few years ago. It’s out of print now, but you can still locate it through major online booksellers by searching for "Collector's Compass Movie Collectibles". This book, written by a panel of International Society of Appraisers experts, covers a good variety of movie items including posters, stills, glass slides, toys, kitsch and ephemera. It’s worth looking up.

So what makes movie memorabilia so appealing? "The movie theater was a place you could escape to and forget the trials and tribulations of growing up," states the multi-author book with fond remembrance. Now, those same children who sat in darkened theaters on Saturday afternoons munching popcorn and eating Milk Duds seek out all the collectibles associated with favorite movies made 25 or even 50 years ago.

What’s Collectible?

Honestly, if it’s an item associated with a popular movie, it’s collectible. Even some campy B movies can have a following in collecting circles. Favorite contemporary movies offer action figures and other novelty items available in retail outlets for less ambitious collectors, including children. However, there's a little extra treasure-hunting boost that comes with combing garage sales and flea markets searching for a few items featuring the favorite stars and movies of yesteryear.

In fact, some movies spark such an interest that whole collections are built around them. Take Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars as examples. All these movies have legions of fans eagerly seeking something new and exciting to add to a collection. This includes vintage and more modern finds.

The Stars

Of course, many movie stars themselves garner lots of attention from enthusiastic collectors. Take pop culture icons like Elvis, Marilyn and James Dean for example. Most anything vintage that bears their likeness will bring in a few extra bucks for the seller, especially originals from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Everything from a pin back button to a movie magazine featuring a favorite star can hold at least a little value. And these items don't necessarily have to feature such big name stars either.

A fan of Carmen Miranda would relish finding an old movie still just as much as the Elvis collector, only hers might not cost quite so much. But don't expect cartoon stars to be less expensive. Unless it's a fairly unpopular cartoon movie, that's not necessarily true. Fans of various Disney flicks ferret out collectibles constantly and will often pay big bucks to own rare items. Older toys featuring Steamboat Willie, the forerunner to Mickey Mouse, often sell for hundreds if not thousands of dollars now days.

What to Buy

When looking for movie memorabilia to add to your own collection, it doesn’t hurt to be selective. Try to focus on what you really like because no one can accurately predict what will be ultra valuable in the future. Buy things you'll enjoy owning and displaying in your home now and for years to come. These items make a great decorative addition to a media room or game room, by the way.

But, the cardinal rule of movie memorabilia collecting is to always go for quality rather than quantity when you can. Look for items in excellent to pristine condition, since they'll hold their value much better in the long run. You may not be buying for resale at the present, but the next time you redecorate or have a feng shui attack requiring a clearing of the clutter, you’ll be happy that you invested in quality collectibles.

Movie Memorabilia Price Points

  • Star Wars premier ticket with Star Wars letterhead, signed by cast, 1977 - $2,000
  • The Wizard of Oz re-release lobby card, 1955, good condition - $464
  • Bing Crosby & Bob Hope autographed photo, “Road” movie series, excellent condition - $261
  • James Dean Album, photo and memorabilia collection in embossed album - $255
  • Viva Las Vegas Lobby Card, 1964, very good condition - $158
  • Chicago movie poster signed by cast, 2002, excellent condition - $85
(eBay prices realized 3/06)

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