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    

Star Wars Stormtrooper Armor Replica W/ E-11 Blaster By Hasbro & Conversion KitJumanji Board 1:1 Scale Movie Prop Replica *real Wood*Ghostbusters Proton Pack Aka: Positron ColliderDarth Vader Helmet/propJumanji Board Game Prop Replica V2-screen Accurate With Light & Sound! 100% WoodBlade Runner Blaster M2019 Takagi Type Ignition Prop - New!Back To The Future Mattel HoverboardGhostbusters Proton PackRobocop Production Used Detroit & Omnicorp Assorted Prop SetGuardians Of The Galaxy ~ Prop Replica Sony Tps-l2 Clone ~ Troll ~ Headphones Terminator Endoskeleton Lifesize 1:1 Complete Kit. Parts To Make Full T-800Zombie Halloween Horror Movie Prop Classic Lycan Werewolf Sfx Stunt Mask Rare! Star Wars Episode Iv New Hope Memorabilia Efx Stormtrooper Helmet Prop Replica Zombie Halloween Horror Prop Collectors Life Size Gory, Realistic Head PileGhostbusters Lifesize Slimer Prop 1/1 Ghostbusters Proton Pack ReplicaHercules Sitacles Peter Mullan Screen Used Short Bone WhipGhostbusters Matty Collector Mattel Pke Meter Prop Replica Cosplay HalloweenFactory Entertainment James Bond Golden Gun Replica & Spectre RingHover Board - Back To The Future Movie Prop ReproductionStar Wars Biker Scout Trooper Armor Complete 501stHercules Atalanta Ingrid Bolso Berdal Screen Used Bow Quiver & Arrow SetBack To The Future Time Machine Clock Digital Watch Fan Made BttfGhostbusters Mattel Pke Meter Matty Collector Prop Relica Mint Condition BoxZombie Halloween Horror Prop Sfx Collectors Mask Gory Head Pile Prop 4 HeadsZombie Halloween Horror Movie Prop Classic Primate Werewolf Sfx Spun Metal Captain America Shield - Painted - The AvengersZombie Halloween Mask Horror Collectors Horror Gory Half Eaten Human Corpse The Amazing Spider-man Replica SuitLifesize Poseable Stunt Dummy Mannequin Statue Aliens Uscm Colonial Marine Helmet Replica Movie Prop Costume Soldier HelmetZombie Halloween Horror Prop Collectors Zombie Lifesize Human Skull Prop Lot.Zombie Halloween Horror Movie Prop Classic Mask Alien 22 Piece Prop LotBigbadtoystore Damaged & Defective Puppet Master Six Shooter Replica (#2)Zombie Halloween Mask Horror Collectors Horror Civil War Ghost MaskMighty Morphin Power Rangers The Movie Leather Gloves Cosplay Tigerzord TommyThe X-men Wolverine Blade 2 Claws Replica For Halloween ! Safe Claws Lightsaber - Star Wars Luke Skywalker Rotj - Saberforge Prodigal Son Hercules Hercules Dwayne Johnson Screen Used Foam Club With TeethZombie Halloween Mask Horror Collectors Goblin Witch Prop New Design Sfx SpookyGood Guy Chucky Doll (customized) *not Annabelle Halloween Winner CostumeLuke Skywalker Esb Empire Strikes Back Lightsaber Replica GraflexMichael Myers Halloween MaskHercules Cotys Army Screen Used Metal Sword & ScabbardHercules Tydeus Aksel Hennie Screen Used Hard Rubber AxeZombie Halloween Horror Alien Collectors Zombie Prop Lot, Misc Fx Items Official Guardians Of The Galaxy Star Lord Mask Halloween Cosplay Peter QuillZombie Halloween Horror Prop Sfx Collectors Gore Realistic Severed LegOfficially Licensed Air Mag Marty Mcfly Shoes. Back To The Future Ii. Size 12Catherine Holt's Id Badge Worn By Erin Bethea In The Film FireproofSideshow T-800 Terminator Endoskull 1:1Halloween Myers Mask Ja75 #1 Freddy LoperZombie Halloween Horror Movie Prop Classic Mask Deadite Life Size PropZombie Halloween Horror Movie Prop Classic Sfx 5 Piece Prop Lot, Gore Hercules Cotys Army Screen Used Lion Tower ShieldHercules Cotys Army Screen Used Lion Tower ShieldHercules Tydeus Aksel Hennie Screen Used Rubber Battleaxe SetHercules Cotys Army Screen Used Metal Sword & Lion Boss SetBigbadtoystore Damaged & Defective Mib Std. Issue Agent Sidearm J2 Prop ReplicaHercules Cotys Army Screen Used Lion Tower Shield

Recent News: Movie Props

Source: Google News

How Hugh Jackman Almost Severed His Own Penis On The X-Men Set
Cinema Blend, September 30th

Can you imagine what would have happened if he accidentally cut off his member with a movie prop on the set? That would have been the most epic behind the scenes scandal in the history of Hollywood. I seriously don't think anything has ever happened ...Read more

Sarah Jones' death: 1st AD on 'Midnight Rider' faces criminal charges
89.3 KPCC, September 29th

20 when a train traveling at 55 mph crashed into the crew working on the Gregg Allman biopic and a bed that had been placed on the tracks as a movie prop, according to authorities. Hillary Schwartz was charged Sept. 10, and conviction on both counts...Read more

Hollywood Wheels: At "Volo Auto Museum" Interview: With Museum Director.
moviepilot.com, September 26th

Now we got this '57 Chevy from Hollywood, it's an old movie prop....it's not a real car. Hollywood built it just like the yellow one we have at the other corner. It's all fiberglass the engine is all fiberglass, they built them as movie props...so it's...Read more

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

Someone used phony prop money to buy goods at an Ephrata, Lancaster County, convenience store, according to police. Related. Document: Men set victim on fire in... What a movie theater employee won't... Meat harvest, care · News 8 talks with man ...Read more

Sci-fi Concept Becomes Movie Prop reality in Less Than 2 Weeks
ENGINEERING.com, September 10th

3D printing, film, movie, prop, entertainment What do you do when you need a highly detailed and fully functional 3D printed movie prop in a hurry? You look for experts in 3D printing and additive manufacturing, of course. The 3D printing and digital ...Read more

Pacific Rim Prop Auction has Mites
Technabob (blog), September 5th

If you are a fan of Pacific Rim, you will want to check out this movie prop auction going on. A site called Prop Store has nearly 200 props and costumes from the film that are all being auction off and some of them are super cool. The highlight of the...Read more

Own your own Back to the Future Hoverboard thanks to Vue Entertainment ...
Licensing.biz, September 5th

Hoverboard from Back to the Future, Captain Kirk's costume and Alien flamethrower all up for auction. London's Prop Store and Vue Entertainment International are to launch their first live auction featuring iconic movie props such as Marty McFly's...Read more

Infographic: The 33 Most Expensive Movie Props
Paste Magazine, September 4th

How much money are fans willing to part with for the chance to own a movie prop? Lots, it seems. Joe MacFarland, writer at the eBay Stories blog, put together this infographic featuring the 33 costliest movie props. The purchases start with the Super...Read more