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.”

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Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, February 11th

In this photo taken Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, completed BAFTA masks are placed in a crate. Preparations are well underway for the annual star-studded event the British Academy Films Awards (BAFTA). The seating arrangements for the Royal Opera House ...Read more

These Are the Voyages of the Restoration of the Starship Enterprise
LA Magazine, February 9th

The keel for the starship Enterprise wasn't laid on a Starfleet base, but in a humble model shop in Burbank next door to America's largest IKEA. Today, the iconic TV prop from the original Star Trek series is the focus of a major restoration effort by...Read more

Fake $100 bills showing up in Green Bay
Green Bay Press Gazette, February 9th

If someone pays you with a $100 bill, check it over carefully. Green Bay police say fake $100 bills have been showing up at area businesses. Some of it has been movie prop money, clearly marked "Motion picture use only" on both sides of the bill...Read more

New DVD releases: 'Spectre,' 'Crimson Peak,' '99 Homes,' 'Grandma'
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 8th

Surreal horror-thriller with Clayne Crawford, Mykelti Williamson, Ethan Embry. (Not rated; violence, mature themes). SOCIOPATHIA (Cinema Epoch) Horror-thriller about a movie prop-maker whose skills help her hide her dark side — she turns her murder ...Read more

Movie prop $100 bills pop up in Gouverneur, police chief warns
North Country Now, February 8th

GOUVERNEUR -- The Gouverneur Police Department is dealing with what appears to be movie prop money in the form of $100 bills marked “FOR CINEMATIC USE ONLY” and “FOR MOTION PICTURE USE ONLY.” Gouverneur Police Chief Laurina Greenhill ...Read more

Movie Prop Money Leads to Arrest in Wheeling
Wheeling Intelligencer, January 22nd

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$100 bill used at Green Bay business was a movie prop
Fox11online.com, January 20th

GREEN BAY — Authorities are issuing a warning after someone used a movie prop $100 bill at a Green Bay business. The state Department of Justice and Green Bay police say the fake money was used to buy food at a business on the city's west side on ...Read more

LCSO issues warning about movie prop money
ValdostaToday.com, January 18th

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