Autograph Hunting

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 26th June 2012.

As a pop culture fanatic, I love to collect memorabilia, in particular, signed items. I’m not really interested in trying to make money by hanging onto these autographs until they appreciate in value and then sell them off. I’d rather put them on my wall as a reminder of an encounter with an artist whose work I admire.

Of course, it is not always easy to get an autographed item. Famous actors don’t tend to wander the streets very often. Most of my prized possessions are photos signed at pop culture conventions, such as Supanova, which was held in Sydney last weekend. The celebrities that attend these events tend to be stars from cult TV shows or movies, and most charge $30 or so for an autographed photo.

There’s plenty of signed collectibles available on eBay, but you never truly know if the autograph is legitimate. In the US, it is estimated that 90% of autographed items sold on eBay are forged.

So how can you obtain authentic signed items without travelling around the world stalking your favourite artist? The good news is that some great signed collectibles are available directly from musicians and actors websites, and not all of it will cost you a fortune.

I’ve previously written about my admiration for The Beach Boys. To celebrate their 50th Anniversary Tour, you can purchase an uncut proof sheet of their new CD artwork signed by all 5 surviving members of the band, including Brian Wilson, for only $500, directly from their website. If you fancy a limited edition signed surfboard, it’s a bargain at $6000, and there are only five out of ten left.

One of my favourite albums ever is Paul Simon’s Graceland, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Currently available from Simon’s online shop is a deluxe bundle which includes the Graceland boxset, the album on vinyl and a limited edition poster personally signed by the master songwriter. This bundle is only $250 and great value for cashed up Paul Simon fans.

Geeks rejoice. Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, sells an array of signed items on his website. My choice would be The Shat’s latest album, Seeking Major Tom, which will only set you back $95 for an autographed copy. I’d also recommend that you admire your signed CD and not actually listen to it.

Holy superannuation fund Batman! Everyone’s favourite Batman, Adam West, is still making a living from his iconic role from the sixties. Direct from the Adam West Store, you can grab a signed vintage art movie poster from the 1966 Batman film for $35.

If musicians float your boat and your budget is tight, then why not add a exclusive lithograph signed by Nelly Furtado to your wall? It will only set you back $25 directly from the artist herself. If you prefer your music and politics to the left, English singer songwriter Billy Bragg will put his pen to a copy of his Mermaid Avenue Complete Session CD boxset for $35. For the eighties tragics, pop queens Debbie Gibson and Tiffany will sell you a genuine signed photo for only $20 and $15, respectively.

Proving that you don’t have to spend a fortune to collect an autographed item, the cost of a cup of coffee is all it takes to get Guy Sabastian’s John Hancock. A signed copy of his latest single is available via JBHifi’s website for $4.

Whether it cost you a couple of bucks or a small fortune, or even a few hours hiding in the bushes in the Hollywood Hills, the true price of a signed collectible is its sentimental value to a fan.


Film Props: The Ultimate Collectible

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 24th August 2010.

Are you the ultimate movie fan? Is there one film that floats your boat the most? The problem is, how do you show your true devotion? Buying the DVD or blu-ray disc is an obvious choice, but anyone can do that. You can tell the world online, but who cares what a bunch of nerds think? You might buy the poster and frame it on your wall, but between your local cinema and the video store, posters are a dime a dozen.

For the hardcore movie devotee there is a new level of fandom, owning a genuine prop from the production. Why worship a poster of that Predator when you can actually buy a genuine life size Predator costume?

Classically, film studios warehoused and archived their costumes and props to be reused. In recent times, modern manufacturing techniques combined with the sheer cost of storing and maintaining all of these items have resulted in film studios beginning to offload these props and costumes to collectors.

Fox Studios currently operate an ebay store called VIP Fan Auctions. Collectibles from such films as G.I. Joe, Up in the Air and Shutter Island have been up for auction recently. I would think that the most highly prized collectible from Shutter Island would be the script. If I owned that, I might have a chance to work out what exactly happened in that brain boggling flick. The script for G.I. Joe would also be valuable and rare, especially since I’m not entirely sure that the movie was made with one.

By the time you read this column, auctions will be closing on a bunch of items from recently axed Fox shows Ugly Betty and 24. Fancy owning Betty Suarez’ rabbit fur scarf or Jack Bauer’s long-sleeve thermal shirt? Bid now, but be warned. The latter is currently sitting at US$630.

The best source of film props and costumes I have found so far is The Prop Store. Based in London and Los Angeles, they will ship your collectible to anywhere in the world, for a price. Their website is a film geek’s paradise, but be prepared to pay top dollar. Rest assured though, they do offer an interest free payment plan. With fixed prices, there’s no chance of that annoying last second ebay gazumping.

Perhaps you’re a fan of the Batman movies? For just US$12000 you can own Val Kilmer’s cowl and chest armour, complete with those controversial nipples. Lovingly mounted on a custom build frame, you’ll be pleased to know that your bat ears have been stuffed to keep them “looking pointy and ready for business.”

Gremlins 2: The New Batch was a fun sequel which took Gizmo and pals to the Big Apple. With a price tag of US$4995, you can take home a real Gremlin, which featured in the background of the film. Constructed of foam latex, this trouble making critter has animatronic arms and moving clawed fingers.

At the more affordable end of the scale are smaller prop items which were usually mass produced for the production. A bus schedule from Speed will only set you back US$145. A chocolate bar label from Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a bargain at US$59. Three balloons featuring the face of Orlando Bloom (or Orloondo Bland as I like to call him, sorry Miranda) used in the film The Calcium Kid can be yours for only US$12.

So in these uncertain financial times, why risk your future on gold or stocks? The only sound investment nowadays is in Alien egg sacs and Back to the Future hoverboards.

Published in: on August 26, 2010 at 13:08  Leave a Comment  
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