Often unnoticed to the untrained eye, props function as the glue that holds a movie together. Whether it is a Civil War battle or a futuristic alien invasion, prop masters are charged with the task of making sure every detail on the screen appears historically accurate and realistic.

But what is a prop? It seems like a simple question, but it is not so easy. A prop is anything a character can pick up, be it a magazine, weapon, or lamp. This can include food items and, depending on production, even decals, such as those on the sides of ambulances and police cars.

A prop is not, however, the vehicle itself. It is also not the furniture that the lamp sits on or the uniform that goes with the weapon, although jewelry can be considered a prop. So while Judy Garland’s ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” pulled quite a prize at auction, they aren’t props. Nor is Orson Welles’ pinstriped shirt from “Citizen Kane,” but the sled called “Rosebud” owned by a young Welles in the movie would be considered a prop, and was bought at auction by Steven Spielberg in 1982 for $60,500.

When it comes to collecting props, there are two types: those that were actually used on a movie set during production, and replicas, which may even be licensed by a studio. Like autographs, it is often extremely difficult to fully authenticate a prop. Studios have even been known to sell props post-production claiming they were used on set, when the piece in question was actually a less collectible re-creation.

Getting your hands on authentic props can be difficult. In older movies, props were often discarded after the film because the studios didn’t have space to store them. In other instances, props were left in the possession of the prop master, which is why such individuals are usually the best sources of authentic props.

Acquiring props from recent movies is no easier. Because studios pay for the props in a film, they often maintain possession of them after production. In recent years, studios have started to hold on to props so they can be used in sequels, potential or planned. In other instances, studios will hire an auctioneer to sell props immediately after filming has ceased in order to recoup some of the movie’s production costs.

The prop collector also needs to keep in mind that many props are not what they appear to be on screen. For example, if a character in a movie that’s set in the 18th century is r...

For the most part, props from the most memorable movies are the ones most sought by collectors, be it a blaster from the original “Star Wars,” a pair of dice rolled by Marlon Brando in “Guys and Dolls,” or the “Witch Remover” sprayer used by the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.”

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Steve McQueen Film Poster Site

Steve McQueen Film Poster Site

If you're a Steve McQueen fan, this site can't be beat. Roger Harris has put together a definitive collection of Mc… [read review or visit site]

Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page

Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page

If you're the type who likes watching the titles and credits at the beginning of movies, you'll love this site. Ste… [read review or visit site]

Cinema Treasures

Cinema Treasures

This user-contributed database of classic movie theaters currently lists over 17,000 theaters worldwide. Browse by … [read review or visit site]

Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery

Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery

Dave Mackey's filmography and title card gallery for 35 years of Warner Bros. cartoons. Browsable by year or alphab… [read review or visit site]

Steves Disney Collection

Steves Disney Collection

Steve Lee’s large collection of original Disney art: pencil drawings from animated features produced during W… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Michael Myers Halloween 1 Mask Shat/ahg !! Made By Jason Freddy CostumeStormtrooper /sandtrooper Full Armor Costume, Movie Quality W/ Extras Halloween!Disney Pirates Of The Caribbean At World's End Movie Brethren Chair Back PropQots Artifact Blood Prototype Michael Myers Halloween Mask Freddy Jason Don PostGhostbusters Proton Pack W/ Lights, Costume, Goggles, Belt, Leg Hose + More** Life Full Size Han Solo In Carbonite Prop Statue Star Wars **Blade Runner Blaster M2019 Prop ReplicaJudge Dredd Cosplay Costume VestQots Artifact H1 Clean Prototype Michael Myers Mask Halloween Don Post Freddy 2 Guns Movie Denzel Washington Screen Used Hero Prop Redhawk Replica RevolverFreddy Silicone Mask Inferno Nightmare Glove Fedora Sweater WaxNike Air Mag Bttf2 Marty Mcfly Shoes Size 10Salems Lot The Master Mr Barlow 1:1 Life Size Bust Rare Horror Halloween HohGhostbusters Proton Pack LotHalloween Original Run Cgp Warlock Michael Myers Mask Warlock W/ Signed Coa MintHunger Games 2012 Movie Jennifer Lawrence Fire Dress Katniss Prop Fabric PiecesGhostbusters Ghost TrapStar Wars Han Solo In Carbonite, Rare , Life Size Prop Replica Back To The Future- Flux Capacitor - Light Up Led Pin Rare From Bttf.comMattel Back To The Future Ii Hoverboard Nib Includes Mini HoverboardSpace 1999 Equipment The Crew Of The EagleGhostbusters Proton Pack With The Video Game Lights & Sounds! Video InsideThe Excorcist Regan 1:1 Life Size Bust Rare Horror Halloween Hoh Ouija BoardJudge Dredd Cosplay Costume VestSeed Of Chucky Doll Movie Life Size 26" Chucky Son Zombie Pre Owned UsedBack To The Future 2 Future Jacket Xl Sci Fi Movie Prop Rare Collectible Coat Batman V Superman " Batfleck" Costume Prop Armor Cowl MaskChild's Play Good Guy Chucky Doll Head Replica Prop Life Size + Hands And ShoesBack To The Future Prop-collection - 23 Amazing Bttf Props!! - Incl. New Props!Master Replicas Elite Edition Obi Wan Kenobi Episode I Sw 143 - No Plaque Or CoaCasino Royale 2006 Bond 007 Movie Framed Prop Poker Chips & Playing CardsCaptain Spaulding Bust Mask Prop Autographed Devil's Rejects Sid Haig OoakRose Red 2002 Stephen King Tv Horror Movie Screen Used "ellen" Prop StatueGhostbusters Ghost Trap - Matty Collector Exclusive Prop Replica New In Box(nib)Frankenstein Life Size Bust - 1931 By Daniel Horne Limited Edition (2015)Sideshow Raiders Of The Lost Ark Of The Covenant Sold Out No Box MintKenner Ghostbusters Proton Pack Toy Set, Vintage, 1980s, Nearly CompleteGrays Sports Almanac Prop From Back To The Future - With Bill & Bag - Brand NewJason Mask Friday The 13th Costume Life Size Bust Prop Freddy.Cgp Warlock Michael Myers Mask Don Post Freddy Jason Halloween Costume Prop Michael Myers Mask Nag 75kHellboy The Samaritan 1:1 Prop ReplicaVintage Back To The Future Clock Prop Opening SceneGhostbusters Costume Lot - Goggles - Leg Hose - Gloves - Elbow PadsThe Da Vinci Code Cryptex Working Miniature Model In Excellent Condition!!Friday The 13th Jason Vorhees Cast Autographed Mask * Series 2 * Signed By 12!Ghostbusters Mattel Pke Meter Collector Prop Replica With BoxesFriday The 13th Part 5 A New Beginning Roy Burns Bust And Hockey Mask Combo!Dce Part 3 Freddy Krueger GloveLicensed Sword Of Jon Snow Longclaw Game Of Thrones Valyrian Steel - Sword NewDc Comics Batman Utility Belt Prop Replica Rare Gold EditionOriginal Titanic Movie Props: Set Of Lifeboat Capacity Plaques Framed W/ CoaMichael Myers Mask Nag Nd/mm (kh/dw Replica) Halloween Ii - H2Dc Comics Batman Utility Belt Prop Replica Rare Gold EditionSeed Of Chucky Doll Movie Life Size 26" Chucky Son Zombie New W Tags RareNightowl Maniac Michael Myers Mask Don Post Freddy Jason Halloween Prop Jurassic Park East Dock Sign Kit PropRubies Star Wars 1:1 Boba Fett Full-size Replica Helmet 2002 Adult Size CostumeMad Men Original Prop Pete's Bel-aire Desk Clock Barometer Vintage Coa AuthenticRotj Jb V2 Vader Helmet W/ Neck Brace 501st Approved

Recent News: Movie Props

Source: Google News

Audi Prologue Concept First Drive
Motor Trend, October 6th

Of course, we're attracting a significant amount of attention by now with a car that looks a movie prop and sounds like it's ready to run at Circuit de la Sarthe in June. Old money, middle-aged Beverly Hills residents stare angrily, wondering who dares...Read more

See vintage behind-the-scenes 'Back to the Future Part III' footage
CNET, October 5th

The footage comes from the YouTube channel of Robert Moseley, owner of the movie prop and car-building business Bob's Prop Shop in Dallas that serves as the setting for the Reelz Channel reality show "Screen Machines." He writes in the video's ...Read more

RV fire prompts investigation in San Fernando
KABC-TV, October 5th

Investigators are trying to figure out what caused an RV to go up in flames at a movie prop rental business in the city of San Fernando early Saturday. Officials said the fire started around 12:30 a.m. on the 800 block of Griswold Avenue. The motor...Read more

George Reeves' Superman Costume Sells for $216k at Movie Prop Auction
TheImproper.com, October 5th

George Reeves' Superman Costume Sells for $216k at Movie Prop Auction. Topped Only by Model From 1977 Star Wars Film. By TheImproper Staff, on October 5th, 2015. George Reeves' superman costume from the iconic '50s era television show sold for ...Read more

Nazi flag hanging as movie prop has small French town in shock
Malay Mail Online, September 29th

A Nazi swastika banner hangs on the facade of the Prefecture Palace in Nice which is being used as part of a movie set during the filming of a WWII film in the old city of Nice, France, September 29, 2015. — Reuters picNICE, Sept 30 — A huge Nazi...Read more

Jennifer Aniston/Kate Hudson movie “Mother's Day” films in Decatur with a huge ...
Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog), September 24th

“Mother's Day,” directed by Garry Marshall and starring Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, Britt Robertson, Timothy Olyphant, Jason Sudeikis, Shay Mitchell and Aasif Mandvi, is filming in the Atlanta area these days. The project set up shop...Read more

Herod: We lose out on movie prop mementoes
St. Catharines Standard, September 18th

Herod: We lose out on movie prop mementoes 0. By Doug Herod. Friday, September 18, 2015 8:45:21 EDT PM. The town of Hammond, Ind., commissioned the making of a bronze statue that depicts the tongue-stuck-on-flagpole scene...Read more

Giant Movie Prop for “Miracle on Hudson” to be Transported From Victorville
VVNG Victor Valley News, September 10th

VICTORVILLE:(VVNG.com)- A replica of one of the most famous air planes in history will be making a road trip from Victorville to Universal Studios Hollywood. Airplane_2 “On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 (AWE1549), an Airbus A320 piloted by ...Read more