Collectibles auction advice: 'Do your research to reap the benefits'



If there's ever been a better auction of Hollywood memorabilia, then I'd very much like to see it...

This Saturday (June 18), US auction house Profiles in History is presenting its long-awaited sale of the Debbie Reynolds collection.

And, this being Debbie Reynolds - herself no stranger to Hollywood's Golden Age with her own Debbie Reynolds Show, film appearances and friends including Liz Taylor - the provenance of most of the items for sale can't be sniffed at.

There's also a great story behind this collection. It was actually during a visit to an auction held by film studio MGM in 1970 that gave Ms Reynolds the collecting bug. As she told BBC Radio Scotland, last week (which also interviewed Paul Fraser Collectibles about the sale)...

Not in Kansas anymore... On the
auction block in stead - Judy
Garland's Wizard of Oz dress from
the first two weeks of filming

"At the time, the people that owned the studio decided they were interested in real estate, they weren't interested in any other memorabilia. They were really just throwing it away, all of the music went under the freeway..."

It's incredible, Reynold's could see the potential where MGM's top executives couldn't: that these pieces of Hollywood's history were worth preserving.

What's more, many of the items are appearing with surprising low estimates...

Among the most iconic lots are Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy's signature suits, marked with a Macintosh Studio label and 20th Century Fox label. Needless to say, they're extremely rare and will be estimated at $15,000-20,000.

That's one of the sale's 'entry-level investment' buys... And at the top end? You won't believe how iconic it gets...

Take for instance the Arabian-pattern test "Ruby Slippers" from The Wizard of Oz, worn by Judy Garland in the original MGM 1939 classic. Beads are missing from the red sequins, but it's still expected to bring in the realm of $120,000-150,000

Speaking of Liz Taylor, her "Velvet Brown" racing silks and riding pants from another MGM classic, 1944's National Velvet will be in the sale. And interest will no doubt be peaked as collectors rush to preserve her legacy following her recent death.

It's rightly billed as "one of Miss Taylor's most indelible and iconic costumes from her entire career" - and again carries a surprisingly low estimate of $10,000-15,000.

That said, the estimates won't mean a great deal when bidders are unleashed on these lots. You can bet there'll be a frenzy for many of them, with the world's wealthiest and most noted collectors taking part.

Still, even though it's easy to be blown away by this sale, my advice to you as a collector is to always read between the lines - and ask all the questions you need to before you bid.

This 1918 Ford Model T was saved from MGM by Reynolds, and then restored by her father. It is estimated at $20,000-30,000

Take the 1918 Ford Model T, described as having been "used in Laurel & Hardy films," for instance. It is estimated at $20,000-30,000. Again, Reynolds rescued the Model T from MGM's sale, after which it was restored by her father.

While we know that Laurel & Hardy used mainly Model T Fords in their films, I'd want to know more about its provenance and how we know it actually appeared in a Laurel and Hardy film.

Not to say that it didn't, of course. But my point is that some things are always worth checking - even at the world's most impressive auctions.

However, any buyer's queries are outnumbered by lots whose provenance matches their incredible six figure estimates in this exceptional auction.

I'll certainly be watching the sale with keen eyes, as the sale promises to continue the ever-growing success of the global movie memorabilia markets.

All the best, until next week




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