Collecting Movie Memorabilia – One Story
Collecting movie memorabilia began for me as a childhood interest in the late 1960s, that rapidly became something of an obsession. At only twelve years old, I would take myself off on the 200 or so mile journey to London, where I would hurry through the sleazy streets of Soho and into Chinatown. My destination was a room above an oriental deli that was about the only source for purchasing movie memorabilia in my home country back then. So many years have passed, but I believe it was called Cinema Treasures, or something like. There was barely space to move, with endless boxes filled with lobby cards, and tables stacked high with posters. The place had a distinctive musty smell of papers that had lain forgotten for years in the backs of projection booths or theatre box-offices. I would spend hours browsing through the disorderly collections, every now and then finding the odd gem to purchase. In hindsight, I realize that many a valuable item passed through my fingers, but I was there looking for what I liked, with no thought that someday the lobby card or poster I was holding would suddenly attain great worth. Back then, people collected because of their passion for the silver screen, not as any kind of investment. Many a time I woud be there alone, apart from the affable owner, Trevor, such was the popularity of movie memorabilia collecting in those days. My friends back at school could not understand why I would part with good money for objects that the movie theatres considered disposable and consigned to forgotten corners or simply threw out with the trash.
My main interest was in the movies of legendary director John Ford, as well those of the actors with whom he regularly worked, such as John Wayne, James Stewart and Henry Fonda. It was also safe to say that I had an abiding love of Western movies per se.
Over the years I amassed a decent collection, most prized among it being personally signed photos from John Ford himself, as well as similar autographed items from Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart. Perhaps the strangest article in my collection is a piece of one of the sets used in the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly that I happened upon while exploring the Tabernas Desert in southern Spain back in the 1970s.