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    

Poltergeist Screen Used ClownPoltergeist Griffin Bowen Kyle Catlett Screen Used Closet Clown SetStar Wars Studio Scale W/lights Red 5. X Wing Model Prop.1:24 W/death Star Base.Poltergeist Madison Bowen Kennedi Clements Screen Used Stuffed Piggy CornStar Wars X Wing Wing Helmet Prop. Luke Skywalker 1:1 1:1 Captain America Perfect Version Steel Prop Shield MetalVintage~1977~1984~1985~kenner~star~wars~potf~last~17~death~star~gunner~coin~lot~Star Wars Master Replicas - Han Solo Blaster • Elite Edition Dl- 44 UsedLife Size Mark 1 Ultron Statue Age Of Ultron Movie Inspired Prop ReplicaJames Bond The Spy Who Loved Me Helicopter, Prop, About 4 Foot Long, SignedPoltergeist Madison Bowen Kennedi Clements Screen Used Possessed KeyboardX-men Magneto Helmet Movie Prop Replica Life Size Marvel Comics Limited EditionPoltergeist Screen Used Squirrel & Squirrel Cage SetPoltergeist Carrigan Jared Harris Screen Used Bag Safety Belt & Rope SetHot Pursuit Daniella Riva & Off. Cooper Sofia Vergara Screen Worn Deer DecoyPoltergeist Clown ReplicaHot Pursuit Daniella Sofia Vergara Production Used Heys Luggage SetMichael Myers Mask - Warlock - Cgp - Prototype !!!Superman Christopher Reeve Clark Kent Life Size Prop Bust Rare Statue Figure Fx [recast] Avengers Iron Man Mkiii Mk3 Clean (life Size) 1:1 Big Statue Bust[full Metal] Cattoys 1:1 Avengers Thor Hammer 1:1 Replica Prop MjolnirScreen Used And Matched Jason Mask From Friday The 13th Part 5Lifesize 1:1 Jedi Yoda Star Wars Resin Bust 1/1 Full Scale Iron Man Helmet Replica [manual Version] Cat Toy StudioHot Pursuit Daniella Sofia Vergara Screen Used Steamline SuitcaseFriends Rachel Green License Prop! Screen UsedTransformers: Dark Of The Moon 2011 Movie Production Used Police Badge PropCaptain America Arrowhead Shield - Windlass Studios 1:1 Scale Brand New In BoxHot Pursuit Daniella Sofia Vergara Screen Used A Suitcase & ShoesCattoys 1:1captain America Winter Soldier Shield Metal Made Prop50" Full Size Leg Lamp From A Christmas Story Excellent Condition MintPoltergeist Madison Bowen Kennedi Clements Screen Used Toy Assortment1994 Pulp Fiction "red Apple" Prop Cigarettes Orig Sealed Pack Quentin TarantinoTrue Lies, Screen Used Miniature, Jim Cameron, Arnold!Back To The Future Flux Capacitor WatchMichael Myers Halloween Mask WarlockGrays Sports Almanac Prop From Back To The Future - With Bill & Bag - Brand NewRed Dawn 2012 Mgm Movie Will Yun Lee Screen Used North Korea Army Prop WatchSupernatural Demon Killing Dagger Prop Replica With Stainless Steel Blade Sharp!The Poltergeist Promo Clown ~ Press Kit ~ Terrifying Scary Freaky MortifyingStar Wars Droid R2-d2 Slot Machine Topper Bust!!!Movie Prop Gun Replica Of Olympic Arms M-4 Customized Non-firing Case Stainless * P210 Veggie Knife * Same Used For Freddy Kruger Glove *free S&hThe Smurfs 2 Sony 2014 Movie Stunt Used Winged Gargamel Double Layer Prop RobeDon Post Mole People Mask Collector Monster Prop Mole Man Moleman Creature HeadIndiana Jones Fertility Idol Life Size 1:1 Prop Replica Gold PlatedLifesize Poseable Stunt Dummy Mannequin Statue 3 DayMichael Myers Halloween Mask WarlockAntique Flintlock Pistol Pirate Replica - Great Movie PropMarvel Captain America Shield Efx AvengersBack To The Future Part Ii - Flux Capacitor Prop Replica - Diamond SelectNightmare On Elm Street Freddy Glove Collection 3 Custom Made And 2 Neca The Nightmare Before Christmas "screen Used" Full Size Elevator Cage!Spider-man Movie Prop Green Goblin Trident Unobtainium Rare! Hero Original Mold Samurai Mask Movie Prop "last Samurai" W/tom CruiseRare "star Wars Movie Prop" Anakin.Lost In Space Laser Pistol ReproductionHellboy Belt Locator PropLife Size Child's Play Doll Signed By Brad Dourif (chucky) & Alex Vincent (andy)Men In Black Noisy Cricket

Recent News: Movie Props

Source: Google News

How does movie money end up getting passed in Alabama?
AL.com, May 28th

Here's an interesting priceonomics story from last year about the business of movie prop money. Movie insiders say if the Secret Service cracked down on prop companies, it would force movie producers to go toward illegal sources of funny money. Still...Read more

Gremlins Puppets & Men In Black Creatures – Rick Baker's Movie Prop Collection
Clevver, May 27th

If you're looking for the best movie news and information about new movies, you've come to the right place. Get the best movie news and new movies info first. Watch the latest new movie trailers and previews. See movie clips and get info about the...Read more

Are Judy Garland's Stolen Ruby Slippers Shimmering in Mine Pit? Witness ...
PR Newswire (press release), May 26th

The top echelons of Hollywood "movie-prop" collectors consider the carriage to be a "Holy Grail" piece, "this is the one and only original used for the film," Miner explained. "This carriage can also be seen in more than 200 classic Hollywood films...Read more

Florida's floating bait shop
Wink News, May 26th

There's more than bait at Jasper's though, whether you need boat oil, batteries or just a chicken sandwich, they've got you covered. Even cold ice cream and every nautical knick-knack you can think of. The house was originally used as movie prop in...Read more

This 'Star Trek' Enterprise home office would make Scotty jealous
CNET, May 26th

The "Super-Fan Builds" webseries showcases the impressive skills of movie prop designers, led by film industry veteran Tim Baker. With his crew of craftspeople, Baker builds amazing tributes to TV shows, movies and video games for superfans nominated...Read more

Traveller's diary: Lahic
euronews, May 25th

The huge bellows used to stoke the fire, probably dating back to the 19th century, he said, looked like a fantasy movie prop. Lost in the middle of the mountains, this isolation is what gives Lahic its charm. Here, we are only around 200 kilometres...Read more

Looking for Zoltar from 'Big' on Playland's boardwalk
The Journal News | LoHud.com, May 22nd

The machine that the county bought from Stanton's firm sits inside the amusement park, in a hut near the Dragon Coaster. It bears little resemblance to the movie prop — the actual machine has a yellow costume, crystal ball, less intricate cabinet and...Read more

Iron Man's car from first movie to be displayed at Hall of Heroes Super Hero ...
The Elkhart Truth, May 7th

The movie prop, which is valued at $75,000, was donated to the museum, though owner Allen Stewart said the donor did not wish to be identified yet. The automobile will make its debut to the public during Avengers Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday...Read more