A bamboo plate, circa 1964, featuring The Beatles having their famous hair dos done, with Japanese dragons, lanterns and characters, is just one piece of movie prop master Scott Buckwald’s Beatles collection.
I’m often called in to help decorate a home or business, incorporating a splash of retro to make things interesting. People want to put to use something they have inherited from their grandparents, or a business wants to acquire a great work of art or piece of furniture to help pull an otherwise “simple” room together.
Scott Buckwald has a far more interesting job, decorating the sets of some of your favorite film and TV series. Whether it’s a dorm room for “American Pie 2” or a church in Mexico for “The Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” Buckwald is the prop master to call.
Movie memorabilia is a collectible all in itself. People love collecting parts and pieces of their favorite films, so it was interesting to me to see what the man who sources the collectibles of tomorrow covets for himself. Ironically, it has nothing to do with movies…
RH: Rumor has it you are a big Beatles fan. How long have you been acquiring Beatles items and did you collect anything before this?
BUCKWALD: From the time I was a little kid I was always a collector. I have never been over the top, and my house doesn’t look like a hoarder’s. But whenever I’ve gotten into collecting things, I’ve gotten in deep. I was a big Coke collector for a little while. A friend of mine and I used to get in the van and drive all through the South buying old signs and coke machines. As I got older, I started whittling my collections down to the things I just really love and that left Beatles memorabilia. I started collecting Beatles when I was in 7th grade when I was interested in their music. Back then, you could go to garage sales and flea markets and find things really cheap. You can’t do that much anymore. Back in 1978 I remember going to garage sales and buying Beatles toys for next to nothing. Those were the good ole days!
RH: Did you decide to start the collection or did it happen by accident?
BUCKWALD: My collection just kind of happened. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I was going to collect Beatles stuff. My uncle was a Beatles fan in the 1960s and had all of the albums. I spent a lot of time at his house playing all the records. I got caught up in it about that time. Eventually, I became a little bit compulsive and wanted to own all of the albums. There were different versions made. Some of the 45s had different sleeves; some had different photos, etc.
The first book I remember coming out about the different memorabilia was called “Beatles Forever.” It had a full-color section in the middle that illustrated collectibles. The first piece of memorabilia I found was a 15-inch steel tray with photographs of The Beatles on it. I found it at the flea market for $5. From there, it was just off to the races for me.
RH: What do you think about the newer collectible type Beatles items. Like the “limited edition” bobble head dolls, etc.? Do you think they will ever have value?
EDITOR’S NOTE: Original Beatles bobble heads have great value. Read more here: Looking for a Heads-Up on Collectible Bobble Head Values
BUCKWALD: Very rarely will they have value. I know in the late ’90s there were a whole slew of Yellow Submarine toys. My son was 3 years old at the time and he fell in love with them.
A complete set of gumball machine plastic “flasher” rings that show John, Paul, George and Ringo’s faces, as well as an introduction from each of the lads.
Inflatable Beatles in their early, we-all-wear-the-same-suits era, which was 1965.
I do like some of the collectibles that are coming out. Tom McFarlane has a cool a set of action figures currently, but there is no real value or investment in that. I like putting them on my desk and enjoying them. It gives me something to display and I am not concerned if anything happens to them.
The new stuff I would buy is new albums by Paul McCartney. I would also have interest in the promotional posters, the store displays, etc. Anything that is promo-related, I like.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A painting done collectively by all four Beatles when the band was on tour in Japan in 1966 is up for auction. Read more here: Original Works of Art by The Beatles, Frank Zappa lead Music Memorabilia Sale
RH: Recently, I was asked what the value is for a bedspread the Beatles had slept on. The person inquiring won it in a radio contest some time ago. Sounds silly, I know, but wouldn’t someone want it? Similar to people buying locks of Elvis’ hair. Where do you draw the line in your collection?
BUCKWALD: Does she have the paperwork with it? Maybe something the radio station gave her? I know these were really popular in Detroit and Boston. The hotels would take the bed sheets from the rooms The Beatles stayed in on tour and cut them into one-inch squares. They would staple them on to cards saying Paul slept on this one, George slept on this one. Some were selling them, other places were doing it as a giveaway, a promotion.
Scott Buchwald, with some of the props he might use in an upcoming movie.
If I had to take a stab at the value, I would probably pay about $500 for it. I am not looking to resell it. I might pay a little more. People looking to resell are usually willing to pay half of its retail value. They have costs and overhead people like me do not have. So, if they sell it privately, they will get more money. Being a bedspread makes it harder to display. The small clippings can be framed and hung on the wall, but the bedspread really would be folded up and put away with the knowledge of what it is. Tell her to give me a call!
Molly, are you reading?
Reyne Haines is an appraiser with an expertise in 20th Century Decorative Arts. She hosts “The Art of Collecting” on KPRC in Houston, a weekly program spotlighting trends and news items in the world of antiques & collectibles, is a repeat guest on CBS’ “The Early Show” and can be heard on Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius Satellite Radio Network. She is also the author of the richly-illustrated book “Vintage Watches” published by Krause.
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