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Shopping the bargains

by Allan Maurer (10/13/08).

Anytime there is an economic downturn, you can grab some collectibles at bargain-basement prices. This includes collectibles from the movie world.

The very best movie memorabilia pieces, items in perfect condition, well cared-for and preserved and representing a star, film or director of note, tend to maintain their value in all economic conditions.

But when cash is scarce, many items of lesser value go for prices you’ll never see again for quite a while after the economy recovers. Basically, that means if you have some cash right now, check out the movie poster auction sites.

This is speculative, at best. The cash crunch could make cheap buys not such a good idea if your own cash might run out or an economic downturn is prolonged.

If you have a bit to spend, however, buying movie memorabilia, particularly posters, may be an excellent investment.

I recently snagged nine half sheet movie posters for an average of $10 each that included a fine “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” directed by Robert Altman and starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie (not to mention Leonard Cohen’s moody ballads), and a superb “Theatre of Blood” half sheet showing Vincent Price framed by red theatre curtains and two daggers.

I found a very nice half sheet from “The Last Hurrah,” directed by John Ford and starring Spencer Tracy, for under $10. I can’t remember ever seeing posters from a film directed by Ford go that inexpensively in an auction. I’ve bid higher for the same item in similar condition and lost.

I haven’t seen prices like that for decent–if not perfect posters–for decades. Some of these items I’ve been buying have significant edgewear, tears, missing pieces, wrinkles. Few fail to sell. Movie paper sells in all conditions. But most are in very good condition.

Fixed-priced vendors still charge high end retail prices, but if you are willing to look, you might build the basis of a collection now for much less than it will likely cost when the economy recovers.

One Response to “Shopping the bargains”

  1. bbidowntown says:

    I agree with your comments about the movie collectible prices at the moment. However, I’m not sure if it is the economic downturn, or the number of collectors is decreasing in the marketplace. We used to have a successful movie collector shop for many years, but has been closed for awhile. Most of my collector friends stopped once they got past 35 years old.
    I look at Ebay for curiosity and the poster/lobby card listings are very lackluster. I only hope that should I need to sell up my bits and pieces that I find that I get caught out by paying alot when the market was booming (just like trading cards, star trek, and other once popular collecting area).
    Look forward to what other people have to say.
    Geoff

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