Friday, January 19, 2007

History of Collecting Movie Memorabilia

In the early days of film most people who were interested in keeping a memento from a particular movie, or actor, did so by acquiring autographs or original photos or posters. Through the years, the passion for cinema has grown and now the movie memorabilia collecting community is a fairly large, interconnected entity that exists for the love of cinema and related artwork.

When the collecting of movie memorabilia was in its infancy, collectors had to rely on a handful of news magazines that were full of various sellers offering mail order catelogues or asking to buy bulk lots, or particular items of interest. Occasionally, events would be organised which were structured around a live auction — these, while fewer in number today, still occur, and one can still buy memorabilia in person from trusted sellers on-site. The community was also fairly fragmented, with collectors and dealers spread out across the globe and no real consistent and reliable way to communicate with one another; the development of the internet changed this situation significantly.

In the early days of the internet the larger community began to get in touch with one another through UseNet newsgroups, some of which still exist today and continue to provide information (e.g., As the internet grew, and more people began using computers and the internet, collectors began communicating in ways never thought possible. In 1995, popular on-line email group MoPo was formed, creating a central place for anyone with email to keep in touch about things and events important to the community. This group continues to provide invaluable information to new and old collectors alike. By 1997, the community had changed forever; eBay was quickly becoming the alternative marketplace after two years of steady growth. All of a sudden people had a way to sell pieces of their collection easily, and with consistently better results. Professional sellers took notice, causing many of them to close their bricks-and-mortar businesses and focus their attention completely on internet sites and the future of the on-line marketplace.

In the early days of internet selling, prices varied widely. One could find posters normally valued in the hundreds of dollars selling for twenty dollars, or, alternatively, find posters normally valued at twenty dollars going for a hundred, or more. Today, the market place for movie memorabilia has mostly stabilised. While one can still see a rare movie poster go for large amounts, it is far more common to find that items are priced either at or near market value, or are bid up to that point.


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