How to Value: Pop & Film Memorabilia

Learn about how to value pop and film, with our ValueMyStuff valuations and appraisals experts. Discover what to look out for and how it can impact the value.

Often emerging out of an emotional attachment to the music, stories and characters associated with film stars and musicians, pop and film memorabilia are serious passions of many collectors. As film and music have become more a part of collectors’ childhoods and adult lives, their memorabilia have grown in popularity and value. In this market, big names and big personalities usually point towards high values, sometimes for apparently trivial items.

Valuing Signed and Decorative Ephemera

“Ephemera” simply refers to anything that is designed with a limited lifespan in mind, such as a movie poster designed only to advertise while a film is in the cinema. These items out-live their intended lifespan often because they are either decorative or bear a signature – a physical connection with a star they are associated with. As with all memorabilia, rarity and the prominence of the name in question are the primary aspects which determine the value of ephemera. When it comes to famous signatures, provenance can also be very important as many forgeries are attempted; most Beatles signatures, for example, date from 1962-64 and convincing evidence of the occasion of signing is beneficial. In many cases, fakes can be identified by an expert because of attributes like the consistency of the ink and style of the signature. Naturally, stars for whom there is limited material either because they are no longer alive or because they rarely sign autographs have an added value.

Valuing Clothing and Costume

Clothing, unsurprisingly, became an iconic aspect of the film industry before the music industry. In both cases, however, clothing and costume associated with the early trendsetters such as Marilyn Monroe or the Beatles and with the pioneers of highly recognisable movements such as Marc Bolan or David Bowie. Pieces of costume actually used in a famous music video, film, production or performance command a premium in the saleroom as do unique pieces. Unusually, good condition of clothing and costume is not sought after, in fact, signs of wear are generally welcomed. Fakes are rarer in clothing than in other memorabilia such as autographs but wear consistent with the age of a costume is reassuring to a buyer.

Valuing Instruments and Sets

Along with clothing, instruments and pieces of famous sets are probably the most identifiable material aspects of film or music. As with costume and clothing, instruments and components of original sets are highly sought after but rely entirely on their provenance; without genuine connection to a film, a piece of set is likely only worth its scrap value. Some instruments are signed by, but not necessarily used by, famous artists and are sold as such. Also, like costumes, condition is not important in these cases and in fact a smashed guitar belonging to Pete Townshend would be highly desirable. In most cases, instruments and props are bought to be displayed and this has to be taken into account in valuation. Many instruments, such as guitars are easy to display, but a large piece of a film set would not have the same type of appeal as a small, ionic prop.

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