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    

Terminator 3 Kristanna Loken Screen Used Tx Terminatrix 1/1 Movie T1 T-800 PropBack To The Future Bulova Clock Bttf Movie Prop Photo Delorean Not Screen Used Hercules Hercules Dwayne Johnson Screen Used Foam Club With TeethStar Wars Han Solo In Carbonite, Rare , Life Size Prop Replica Snowtrooper Helmet And Armor Parts, Costume, Star Wars Prop, Movie PropStormtrooper Sandtrooper Armor Kit Star Wars Anh Costume Movie Prop LegionCaptain America Full Scale Hero's Shield Replica24" 1/1 Scale The Avengers Captain America Metal Shield For Cosplay Or OthersHercules Cotys John Hurt Screen Used Metal DaggerTerminator 3 Kristanna Loken Screen Used Orginal Tx Sd Termnatrix Movie Prop 1/1Hercules Hercules Dwayne Johnson Screen Used Foam Stunt ClubMp 40 Waffen Movie Prop Cap Gun Made By Marushin Industry Very RareHercules Hercules Dwayne Johnson Screen Used Hydra Head & Sack Set Sc 16Hercules Production Used Nemean Lion Test Head & Teeth SetHercules Cotys Army Screen Used Metal SwordHercules Cotys Army Screen Used Metal Sword & All In One Scabbard SetSideshow Terminator T-800 Life Size Arnold Bust Statue Rare Mint!2014 Sdcc Game Of Thrones Dragon Egg No Reserve Box Set Replica Ee ExclusiveGhostbusters Proton Pack Replica, Life Size Movie Prop, We Will Ship ItHercules Eurystheus Joseph Fiennes Screen Used Rubber DaggerHercules Cotys John Hurt Screen Used Chariot Customer Pick-upTerminator 2 T-1000 Screen Used Original Robert Patrick 1:1 Boots T2 Movie PropJ. Peterman Co. Titanic "heart Of The Ocean Necklace" W/ Coa, Poster & CalendarSidkit Mal 47 Pistol Prop Replica FireflyRare Stargate Atlantis Zpm Prop (working) Hercules Bessi Screen Used Dummy Severed Head Set Sc 31Hercules Cotys Army Screen Used Metal Sword & Lion Boss SetJumanji Board 1:1 Scale Movie Prop Replica *real Wood*Star Wars Original Movie Prop Screen Used Gorg Creature Episode One1:1 The Avengers Captain America Shield For Cosplay Or Others Hercules Hercules Dwayne Johnson Production Used Wooden Long SwordStar Trek Tmp Shuttlecraft Travel Pod Huge 1/35 Scale? Solid Resin Cast ModelHercules Cotys Army Screen Used Metal Sword & All In One Scabbard Set6ft Life Size Michael Myers Movie PropHercules Cotys Army Screen Used Metal Sword & All In One Scabbard SetGhostbusters Matty Collector Pke Meter Costume Movie Prop ReplicaHercules Rhesus Army Screen Used Metal Rhomphaia Short SwordMovie Prop Space Helmet Cosplay Costume Head Gear Astronaut Adult Size 2 Visors!Hercules Screen Used Knucklebones & Teetotum Ancient Game Prop SetHercules Cotys John Hurt Screen Used All In One Rubber DaggerHercules Cotys Army Screen Used Lion Tower ShieldHercules Iolaus Reece Ritchie Screen Used Written Papers & Styli Prop SetChild's Play Chucky Doll Mask Movie Prop Good Guy Sideshow Medicom DreamrushHercules Tydeus Aksel Hennie Screen Used Rubber AxeHercules Cotys Army Screen Used Lion Tower ShieldHercules Cotys Army Screen Used Lion Tower Shield Glenn Strange 1940's Version Universal Frankenstein Hand Painted Life MaskHercules Tydeus Aksel Hennie Screen Used Metal Cleaver Axe24" 1/1 Scale Captain America Metal Shield Classic Red For Cosplay Or HalloweenFlight Helmet Hgu 33 Vf-1 Wolf PackSpiderman Faceshell And LensesBabylon 5 Ppg: Phased Plasma Gun Scale 1:1Hercules Screen Used Rubber Executioners AxeHalloween 5 Mask Michael Myers Not Jason Voorhees Krueger Elm StreetAirwolf Aoshima 1/48 Scale Diecast Steven W Stull Personal ModelRobocop Production Used Screen Graphics Art Set (relist)Hercules Gryzas Army Screen Used Corsair ShieldHercules Rhesus Army Screen Used Metal Rhomphaia Long SwordNovem Portis Book Prop The Nine Gates To The Kingdom Of Shadows The Nineth GateHercules Cotys Army Screen Used Lion Tower Shield

Recent News: Movie Props

Source: Google News

Cedar Rapids Man Making Props for Major Motion Pictures
KCRG, August 19th

CEDAR RAPIDS — Making movie props for an upcoming Steven Spielberg film, that's what one Cedar Rapids engineer has been doing in his spare time the last few weeks. Seventy-six-year-old Francis Lebeda has been working on turning a U.S. nickel into ...Read more

Allman Film Company Cited by OSHA in Georgia Train Crash
ClaimsJournal.com, August 18th

Investigators say fellow crew members were injured either by the train itself or flying shrapnel from a bed that had been placed across the tracks as a movie prop. “It is unacceptable that Film Allman LLC knowingly exposed their crew to moving trains...Read more

Orange Is the New Weeds: The Adventures of Jenji Kohan Across the 8th ...
Daily Beast, August 18th

Both products were created by the entertainment property company Independent Studio Services, one of the largest movie prop suppliers in the country. Their fake brands are key signifiers of property crossovers. Wrap your mind around that. Alex Vause as ...Read more

'Midnight Rider' filmmakers cited with workplace safety violations in train ...
New York Daily News, August 15th

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A production company formed to make a biographical film about singer Gregg Allman was cited by federal regulators Thursday for workplace safety violations stemming from a train crash in rural Georgia that killed a camera assistant and ...Read more

What Is The Most Expensive Movie Prop Ever?
Cinema Blend, August 13th

But in the history of movie prop auctions, there's an elite few that have made quite a bit of cash on the names of the films or the actors that used them, and out of all of those items there's one that's head and shoulders above the rest when it comes...Read more

Movie review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' has the right mix of special effects ...
Belleville News Democrat, July 31st

A jaunty space adventure, "Guardians of the Galaxy" pokes fun at the sci-fi genre in the confines of a traditional saving-the- universe framework. With unconventional St. Louisan James Gunn directing and co-writing, his trademark tongue-in-cheek...Read more

'Lord of the Rings' movie memorabilia from Sir Christopher Lee's private ...
New York Daily News, July 31st

It doesn't take a major quest to recover Saruman's staff from "The Lord of the Rings" films — but it will cost a would-be adventurer at least $100,000. Actor Sir Christopher Lee, who played the evil wizard in the trilogy, put up the magical movie prop...Read more

Jurassic World Movie Spoilers: Clues from “Leaked” Movie Prop Gives Us a ...
Hallels, July 21st

A "Welcome to Jurassic World" brochure with an Isla Nublar map which has been uploaded to Reddit and is now making the Internet rounds, if proven an authentic prop for the highly anticipated movie, could give clues on what to expect from the franchise...Read more