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Classic Film Furniture...


rio142
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My love for Classic cinema has made its way into my home decor. I'm only twenty, but I would like to start collecting posters, furniture and other memorabilia. While I know the original stuff is a bit pricey; I've already collected some beautiful lobby cards, I wanted to know if anyone had any suggestions where I could buy originals or really good knockoffs. Art.com, and posters.com, as well as ebay, have awarded me some nice finds, but everytime I watch TCM I'm inspired to go find more! Does anyone share this same passion? If you have any advice please post!

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Rio142 - I'm so glad you touched on this subject. It never even occured to me to discuss Movie Memorabilia collecting. I myself am only 23, but I've been collecting since I was about 12, thanks in part to my uncle, who deals in the collectibles business. I buy mostly old movie posters, lobby cards, and sheet music, but I have a few costumes as well.

 

I'll never forget the first time I found out that you could own things that were actually worn and used in the movies. I was at Christies with my uncle here in New York, viewing some Howdy Doody memorabilia which was going to be auctioned, and in another gallery they had a display of "Entertainment Memorabilia," which was also coming up for auction. Well, in that gallery were costumes worn by John Wayne, Myrna Loy, and Lana Turner, among others, as well as movie props from "King Kong," and "The Wizard of Oz," among other classic films. I couldn't believe I was looking at this stuff - it knocked my socks off. Since then I have collected a few things that I could afford, but as you mentioned, alot of it is pricey. Ebay is actually a great place to find things, and often at a lower price than you'll find at the auction houses. But the good stuff is found mostly at the auction houses such as Christies, Sothebys, Butterfields (in California), and Profiles in History (also in Cali). Out of all of them, Profiles has the best selection of vintage stuff. Although this past December Sotheby's had an auction of vintage Hollywood costumes from the collection of "Planet Hollywood." I went to the viewing and it was amazing. You name a classic star, and they had something worn by them in a film - and everything was hanging from the ceiling right there for you to inspect. It was great being able to examine a suit worn by Bogie in "Dark Passage," and a dress worn by Lucy in "The Long, Long, Trailer." What's really cool is that you can get a perspective of how the stars were shaped. For instance - there was a dress worn by Bette Davis in "Now, Voyager," and I was surprised at how small a woman she was - rather petite - and she always seems larger than life in her films, mostly because of her voice and acting ability.

 

A lot of great props and costumes from classic films are owned by Debbie Reynolds. She began collecting in the 60's long before it became a real hobby, and she has since amassed a tremendous collection, valued at several million dollars. I have to commend her for this, but I have read that she was a little crooked in some of her dealings to get the items - but at least she saved things that might have otherwise been destroyed by the studios. I've read that she is in the works in trying to open a museum in Hollywood where her collection can be displayed. She tried to do this with the hotel she owned in Vegas, but unfortunately she went bankrupt.

 

If you want to know all about the world of Hollywood Memorabilia, check out a book called "The Ruby Slippers of Oz," by Rhys Thomas. It's out of print, but check the library. It discusses how the studios sold off alot of costumes and props in the 70's, after the studio system faded away. It's also somewhat of a mystery, telling of how Judy Garland had multiple pairs of Ruby Slippers for "Oz," and how this created a scandal in 1970 when a pair was sold, thought to be the only ones. It's a fun read.

 

And Rio I know what you mean about the "Look" that the old time Hollywood films had - the sets were always magnificent - especially at MGM. I can understand trying to emulate that look. As for me, I'd be happy in any one of those art deco showplaces that Fred and Ginger were always hanging out in.

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I'm so happy to see another young person on this site that appreciates classic film as much as I do! I'm also quite impressed that you have been to Christies auction house, and checked out some of the memorabilia. Unfortunately, I moved to Seattle for college a couple of years ago from my home in California. So I can't take advantage of any of the higher profile auctions down there. But hey, there's always ebay, and of course, TCM.

 

I was watching Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra in TCM's showing of "High Society" today, and I couldn't help but want to jump into the picture screen and listen to Louis Armstrong play the trumpet!

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