For reasons unknown to me, I continue to receive communications from recent buyers of memorabilia attributed to film and television productions, who believe I have something to do with various eBay sellers and/or Ellis Props (see article from one month ago today, “NOTICE: Original Prop Blog Does Not/Will Not Supply Props to Dealers “jnsmcmahan”, “jsnent”, John Tarter, Billie Null, Mark Sullivan, L.A. Prop & Wardrobe, Hollywood Prop Supply, Studio West Prop, Ellis Props, et al“). In any event, with one of these more recent contacts, I asked the buyer of one of these pieces to send me a photo of the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) supplied with the item purchased (in this case the COA provided was one that originally appears to be from Ellis Props). A long time trusted collector in the field was kind enough to forward to me some images of confirmed legitimate examples of Ellis Props COAs obtained during the sales/liquidation circa ’99/’00, and that COA is very different from the one just obtained by a buyer from a piece purchased on eBay.
I have in the past raised questions about some attributions made about pieces sold by Remarketing Associates in their liquidation sale of Ellis Props & Graphics inventory, such as the two lightsabers sold at auction (see “Ellis Props “Star Wars Luke Skywalker Lightsaber”?“, “Update 1“, “Update 2“).
I have never personally owned any item with an Ellis Prop COA, let alone sold or supplied such pieces to anyone. I don’t have any first hand knowledge about what Ellis Props COAs are authentic nor which might not be (if any). The purpose of this article is to raise questions about these COAs in order to collect additional information in an effort to bring some clarity to the marketplace, in that I continue to receive inquiries from the public with such questions.
When it comes to the endless parade of the most basic of household objects, sold en masse daily on eBay going back decades, it makes absolutely no reasonable sense to me whatsoever that anyone working in the entertainment industry at a prop rental house would have maintained the requisite meticulous records, going back decades more, as to the use and attribution of the most unremarkable of objects, such as napkins, pots and pans, telephones, candles, plates, lamps, and the like. Ridiculous, in my personal opinion, with my understanding of the entertainment industry and technology and tracking capabilities at the time. Produce one person who worked at Ellis Props who will make such a claim – that and and all such items were tracked in such detail – and I shut this website down immediately, because it is just beyond the pale.
I have had discussions with someone who was at Ellis Props leading up to their liquidation, and my source says that he met with the main curator, and that the “hero” items and important items were kept separate from the general inventory; that much less than 10% was identified. Other than that, only the gun room had detailed records (and Long Mountain Outfitters has made note of this publicly on their website).
Which brings me around to my question, to those readers who have been in this art market longer than myself, going back to ’98, ’99, ’00… below are two examples of purported Ellis Props and Graphics Certificates of Authenticity (COA). The first is from a gentleman who has been collecting for a very long time. Note the gold foil on “Certificate of Authenticity”. Note the red wax seal. Note the calligraphy writing. Note the type and style of paper. Note the date (circa 1999).
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Below is a COA included with memorabilia recently purchased. Note that there is no gold foil writing, no red wax seal, no calligraphy writing, different type of paper, lack of color graphics, and other differences, yet it is also signed and dated circa 1999.
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As an example, dealer Startifacts has listed numerous props on eBay with Ellis Props COAs, including photos of such COAs, as seen below (all dated September 23rd, 1999, as with the example above):
The two signatures on the bottom of each of these documents appear to match exactly, with the same placement in relation to the lines and borders of the document.
And, as noted in the opening, these COAs are assigned to unremarkable items. As one case study example, below is an archive of one of these auctions for a plate attributed to having been “used on the set of the hit 1950’s T. V. show “Leave It To Beaver”“. Who would have kept track of a plate having been used in a TV show over more than half of a century? How would it have been tracked for many decades? How could it have been tagged, and how was this attached to a ceramic plate?
If anyone has more insights into Ellis Props & Graphics Certificates of Authenticity (COAs) – examples of kinds that came direct from Ellis, examples that came from other sources – and any information about different kinds and varieties that genuinely came from Ellis directly, please post a “Reader Comment” below or get in touch with me directly.
It is my opinion that such questions are of interest to the public and subject to public debate and discussion, as it all relates to memorabilia actively sold and traded in the public marketplace.