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    

Disney Pirates Of The Caribbean Black Pearl Original Movie Prop 9 Gold Coin LotDisney Walt Before Mickey Vintage Antique Camera Original Movie Production Prop Avengers Captain America Metal Shield Cosplay 24" 1/1 Aluminum Prop Replica Atlas Shrugged Movie Prop - Rearden Steel Stock Certificate-framedHalloween Michael Myers Mask Nightowl Creep Not Freddy JasonAtlas Shrugged Movie Prop - Wyatt Junction SignMatty Collector Ghostbusters Ghost Trap And Pke MeterAtlas Shrugged Movie Prop - John Galt Leather Bound NotebookAtlas Shrugged Movie Prop - 20th Century Motors "all For One" BannerIron Man Iv Armor Movie Prop Replica Costume Suit Iron Man 4Ghost Trap - Ghostbusters Classics - Mattel Replica Prop - New UnopenedHalloween 2 Michael Myers Mask And Display Case Movie Prop Bust Replica Don PostBulova Twin Bell Alarm Clock - Back To The Future BttfMovie Prop Replica Colt .45 Auto Pistol 1911 All Metal Non-firing Gun Brand New Hot 1/1 Lifesize Custom Terminator 1 Bust T-800 Prop T-800 Not Sideshow ToysMaster Replicas Aliens Motion Tracker Prop Replica Artist Proof~ Rick Ross Blade Runner Blaster - Doppelganger Productions Pkd Ii Movie Gun KitBatman Dark Knight Cowl Mask & Neck Armor Replica For Costume SuitPke Meter - Ghostbusters Classics - Mattel Replica Prop - New UnopenedBlade Runner Blaster Tomenosuke Pro Replica Completely Customized By Sd StudiosScarewear Friday The 13th Part 4 Iv Jason "ted" Translucent Resin 1:1 Scale BustDisney Walt Before Mickey Vintage Antique Wall Telephone Original Movie PropMaster Replicas Star Trek Tos Science Tricorder Prop Replica Artist ProofDisney Marvel Iron Man Film Stark Industries Ammo Case Original Movie PropDisney Marvel Iron Man Film Stark Industries Ammo Case Original Movie PropFreddy Krueger Glove Nightmare On Elm St GloveRare Saw 2 Clapper FaceAtlas Shrugged Movie Prop - Akston Diner Mugs Used By Galt & Dagny In The GulchThe Dark Knight Rises Batman Costume Replica Suit With ComicHercules Eurystheus Joseph Fiennes Screen Worn Lightweight Royal Belt Sc 16Prop Money New Style $100s $500,000 Blank Filler Bundles For Movie, Tv, VideosDisney Marvel Iron Man Film Stark Industries Ammo Case Original Movie PropRare "saw" Photo Autographed By Cary Elwes, Costas Mandylor And Shawnee SmithProp Money New Style $100s, $260,000 Blank Filler For Movie, Tv, Videos, NoveltyZombie Halloween Horror Collectors Mask Lifesize Female Mutilated Gory CorpseFantastic Story Fall 1954 - Back To The Future - Not A Reprint!Elfin Knights Blade Runner Takagi Type M2019 Blaster New In Box Cap FiringChristmas Story Leg LampOriginal Prop Sword From Excalibur MovieStar Wars Han Solo Costume Dl-44 Blaster Toy Pistol Gun & Sheath Halloween !!!"chronicles Of Narnia, Prince Caspian" Screen Used Telmarine SwordThe Walking Dead Michonne's Katana ReplicaStormtrooper Helmet Kit (new, Trimmed, Free Shipping)John Wayne Colt 45 Replica Franklin MintAlfred Hitchcock's Psycho Rare Piece Set Wallpaper Janet Leigh Owned Signed Prop2 Television Prop/replica Chp/lapd Badges From Tv Shows Like Chips And DragnetScreen Used * October Sky * Homer Hickam's Science Fair De Laval Nozzle * W/ CoaJames Bond Sd Studios Moonraker Wrist Dart Gun Replica Tom Tyler Tribute Display Head ~ The Mummy's Hand ~ 1:1 Scale Custom PieceKim Kardashian Tom Ford Tf106/28w Sunglasses Star Wars Boba Fett Helmet Costume Prop ReplicaWwii British Mark Ii Sten PropJason Voorhees Mask Prop Bust / Friday The 13th Part 9 / Jason Goes To HellSteve Mcqueen Bullitt Persol 0174/s 24/57-130 Folding Sunglasses Spider-man Faceshell For Mask (tasm2)Eric's (donnie Wahlberg) Saw 4 BootWestern Arms Beretta M92f Pfc Gun Replica Toy Cap Gun Marushin MgcCostas Mandylor ("hoffman") Autographed Play Me Tape Used In Saw 4Maltese Falcon Statue Prop Haunted Studios Resin Casting Original 1963 Source Beautiful Egyptian Style Wine Pitcher From Cleopatra!

Recent News: Movie Props

Source: Google News

Sidney Crosby doesn't care that Flyers fans were mad he was Rocky for ...
The Star-Ledger, October 22nd

87 jersey on the Rocky statue, a movie prop from of the Rocky movies that now is outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Flyers fans didn't like that, either. A two-time scoring champ and MVP, Crosby is off to another great start this season. In four...Read more

Tomorrow Daily 071: Ashes in space, a big 'Avengers' prop for RDJ, and nuclear ...
CNET, October 20th

The moral of this story? Don't joke around if you're RDJ, because someone's gonna take you seriously and find a way to send you a gigantic movie prop for your office. This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age...Read more

This 'bit of plastic' from Star Wars is worth £50000
io9, October 19th

Whilst it's a tad unsurprising to see a bit of a dismissive attitude over a movie prop, considering Antiques Roadshow tends to deal with 'finer' art and pieces, it's baffling to see how people can be shocked at so much value being put on pieces of...Read more

California archaeologists uncover 90-year-old movie prop (+video)
Christian Science Monitor, October 17th

Buried for more than nine decades under the sand dunes of Guadalupe, Calif., the giant plaster sphinx from "The Ten Commandments" has been rediscovered. By Laura Geggel, LiveScience Staff Writer October 17, 2014. About video ads. Hidden for more ...Read more

Star Wars, Alien, Terminator; See 20 Iconic Movie Props You Can Buy This Week
/FILM, October 14th

And every once in a while, there are movie prop auctions held that allow you to own a piece of film history. Now, these don't come cheap. A unique prop or costume used in the filming of an iconic movie like Back to the Future or Terminator 2: Judgement...Read more

voxeljet Acquires 3D Printed Movie Prop Maker Propshop (Model Makers) Limited
3DPrint.com, October 2nd

Early this morning, it was announced that voxeljet AG (NYSE:VJET), the German-based 3D printer manufacturer, apparently is also getting into the movie prop production business. The company has acquired all outstanding shares of Propshop (Model ...Read more

Back to the Future hoverboard on sale at movie prop firm's first live auction
The Guardian, October 1st

Back to the Future hoverboard on sale at movie prop firm's first live auction. Casino Royale deck of cards, Milla Jovovich's Fifth Element costume and HR Giger chair will also go on sale in London. Hoverboard. Marty McFly's hoverboard, one of more than...Read more

Police: Movie prop money used at convenience store
WGAL Lancaster, September 25th

EPHRATA, Pa. —Someone used phony prop money to buy goods at an Ephrata, Lancaster County, convenience store, according to police. Related. Former Warwick teacher battles... Document: Men set victim on fire in... What a movie theater employee won't...Read more