We aren’t all blessed with sizeable areas to store and display our collections, and it’s not always practical to pack our homes with wall to wall mannequins, display cabinets, or cover our walls with dozens of shadow boxes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (I constantly tell my better half)! To most collectors, space is at a premium. And so, this is a major consideration when collecting anything! After all, I’m sure that “size” is one reason stamp collecting has remained popular! Here then are some ideas on the best space saving film memorabilia for collectors wanting more compact displays.
With a little planning, movie prop and memorabilia collecting can offer much for the collector with limited space.
This is part four in my Definitive guide to screen used props. Here you will find more guides packed with helpful hints and tips.
When I first started collecting, I wanted absolutely everything! Size wasn’t an issue. I had storage to spare! Now, after four moves and lugging my collection along behind me, I accept that I could have planned it all better. And like most veteran collectors, I finally accept that forward planning and possibly refining your scope can pay huge dividends.
Collections should be seen and not interred!
Firstly, I strongly believe a collection deserves to be seen! I accept that storage of multiples, fragile and possibly valuable pieces is necessary. But basically, if I collect it, I want to show it!
Anyway, Here are some suggestions for some of the best space saving film memorabilia. These types of production props & cinema memorabilia take up very little room, display beautifully, and are easy to transport. Also, if you collect smaller pieces, you’ll likely save yourself a bundle in both shipping and display materials. Win win!
One caveat however, if you collect from just a certain movie or show, this may not work as well for you. But if you find a niche or category of props and memorabilia you like, this could be a perfect path to building an exceptional space saving collection.
Pint Size Props
Prop money is an excellent category to kick us off! Almost every film or TV show (whatever the genre) will have had prop money production made for it. Bank notes, coins, credit cards, checks, make for excellent collections and are some of the most popular items among collectors.
Similarly, any motion picture or television show featuring a casino or maybe a poker game (and there’s many) will have produced custom gambling “chips” and used playing cards. These are wonderful pieces to display in a compact space.
Screen worn jewellery is another popular category, offering the collector a broad range because of the abundance of pieces available. If your collection comprises several necklaces, maybe steer away from the traditional mannequin style neck display in my pic. Instead, opt for a more compact style like this set of six at Amazon.
I have seen some truly spectacular spectacle displays! It may be a little too “niche” for some. But a collector with vision could produce eye-catching exhibits! Terrible puns intended!
Watch for the mail!
Screen worn wristwatches are another splendid example of “display friendly” items. Virtually every production set in the last 120 years will have used wristwatches and even prior to that, pocket watches would have been used.
Mail! This is one of my personal favourites, simply because most any scene featuring a letter or hand written note etc will pause long and clear enough to allow for screen matching. I would also include any diagrams and forms. In fact, most documents fit here. Again, these types of props are in abundance.
Production made patches, badges, buttons and decals display great and require very little room. These include production used pieces or maybe even cast & crew items. For example you may not have space for a “Finse (Norway) crew jacket” from The Empire Strikes Back, but the “Vader In Flames” production patch featured on the jacket makes an awesome display!
Pick a card
Business cards are another terrific choice. Not always easy to find but they feature in many iconic films and remain one of the smallest items to display..
Production made cigarette packs, matchbooks, drink coasters etc. All relatively inexpensive (depending on the production), and great candidates for that small themed display.
Filming Miniatures such as figures, buildings, vehicles etc, are so often discarded after production and so tend to be hard to find. Very often surviving pieces are damaged, many are only remnants of the original. These very sought after pieces display great. Generally, the $ per square foot value on miniatures is very high and well worth a place in your display cabinet.
Trading cards containing production used wardrobe swatches, relic fragments or autographs are a great option to save space. They’re reasonably priced too and so represent very good value.
Cinema “Compact” Collectables
Maybe your passion is for “Movie theatre” collectables! Many of the following items of cinema ephemera have now become obsolete within an industry increasingly delivering these pieces digitally.
I’m a big fan of film posters but again, if you don’t have the wall space to display them, maybe look at some of these alternatives.
Mini posters / handbills, often used in cinema foyers prior to a film’s release. These are terrific to display, taking up a fraction of the space of regular posters. Often, they are “double sided” so consider how best to display them, maybe get two if possible (side by side).
Original media press kits offer some great “compact” display options. Usually packed with press photos, production notes and sometimes even containing A4 size mini posters. All contained in a folder usually featuring the film’s original artwork. Lot’s to work with there and in a small package. Be aware though that more recent press kits tend to be “digital” offering little display value.
Movie premiere advanced screening “guest invites” make awesome displays. Again, a thing of the past, now delivered digitally and increasingly hard to find.
Shining a light.
Digital cinemas and the phaseout of 35mm film projection have seen increased interest in collecting 35mm movie film stock over the last decades. Film snippets or cells display great if back-lit and take up little space.
Things to try to avoid when collecting 35mm movie film:
- Vinegar Syndrome and I would probably avoid the highly flammable Cellulose nitrate type film which was used until the 1950s.
Things to look for:
- Preview and trailer reels are great as they feature many key scenes and the film’s highlights. Rarities are out there if you keep a lookout. For example, the “pulled” theatrical teaser trailer for Spiderman (2002). The trailer featured a bank heist getaway chopper caught in Spidey’s web that spanned the World Trade Centre’s Twin Towers – reflected in Spider-Man’s lens. This was hurriedly pulled from movie theatres immediately following 9/11 (along with the poster showing the same image).
Magic lantern “coming attraction” slides are but a distant memory. Before big budget teaser trailers and previews, “glass slides” were projected in cinemas to advertise coming attractions. Quite rare now due to their vulnerability. With a backlit display, they look superb!
I hope this provides a few ideas for collectors looking for the best space saving film memorabilia. Let me know of some smaller pieces in your collection.
At the time of writing, several of these items were available in my Ebay Store.
Thank you and enjoy.