The definitive source for information on collecting screen-used Star Trek props and costumes

Star Trek Props.com The Internet's premier source for information on collecting Star Trek props and costumes, as well as coverage of all major Star Trek auctions from the famous 2006 Christie's Star Trek auction, through the It's A Wrap Star Trek auctions on eBay and the Propworx Star Trek auctions. Star Trek Props is the best source for information of collecting original, screen-used props & costumes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Integrity and Authenticity - Part I



One thing that I have been very diligent about in my 6 years in this hobby is authenticity.  That encompasses a lot of things.  Provenance, screen capping, research.  And this is very important as lately there have been some unscrupulous attempts to both prove and disprove the authenticity of Star Trek items.

At the core of every attempt at authentication is a level of integrity and commitment to the hobby.  Your personal gain, whether monetary or otherwise, is irrelevant to the process.  And I would say, that if you have self interest in the outcome, you have to set an even higher standard.

So in this article, I will first cover the basics of authentication.  Next article I will deal with ethics and integrity.  The final article will be the most recent example of how this is done right and done wrong.


COAs

Sometimes it is easy to prove something is what is claimed.  You may have a COA from It's a Wrap or an invoice from Christies (remember there were no COAs from Christies).  We know those are the two studio sources for Star Trek props & costumes and that tells you the item is authentic.  Propworx has sold items from Doug Drexler, Mike Okuda, Rick Sternbach and other Star Trek crew (as well as items that have come on the secondary market - meaning resales of Christie's and IAW items).  So that is a great source you can trust as well.

But what happens when you get an item that is not from these sources?  I would put everything in any other auction in this category.  How do you know it is real?  

Now, everyone knows I give ZERO credibility to a COA.  I don't care if it is from Profiles in History, who we know has been sloppy with their authentications from time to time, or The Prop Store, who I trust and heck, Jarrod Hunt, my former Propworx right hand man works there now and I know he is meticulous as I trained him!  But both these companies have made mistakes.   Now these mistakes are not intentional, as they each have limitations they have to deal with.  Profiles has 1,000+ items in each catalog and they simply don't have the time to do the proper work on each item, so they often just take the consignors word.  This is where you most need to be careful.  And The Prop Store is generally very very good, but from time to time things have gotten through as happens with any company that deals in props.  Still, even with a company as good as The Prop Store, I always do my own homework.

Now, getting a refund if something turns out to be fake is not an issue with The Prop Store.  They are honorable people who stand behind their sales.  Profiles I have no experience with their return policy, but I did have a good dealing with Brian Chanes recently, that I will describe in my next article.  We were trying to get more info on an item I won.  He was very helpful, and knew that I have very high standards when proving an item is real.  I have no doubt that if the item had turned out to be fake, he would have refunded my money.

So remember, you have to be careful with COAs. 


SCREEN MATCHING

Screen matching remains the best way to prove an item that is not from Christie's, IAW or Propworx, is in fact real.  This is actually a terribly fun process that I have spent hours on for individual props and costumes.

Screen matching is simply the process of looking closely at screen captures (screen caps) of Star Trek episodes and movies and finding specific marks and clues from an item on screen and comparing them to the item in question.  

Here is the definitive screen cap that proved that the Kirk tunic was in fact real.  Gerald Gurian helped me with this authentication and put this together:


Screen matching doesn't lie, but I have seen situations where one person has seen something that another does not.  So you have to come up with REALLY good distinguishing marks.


PROVENANCE

Provenance is simply the history of an item.  Can you track an item through who owned it back to the studio?  Sometimes, with items from Christie's or IAW, the Provenenance is clear, it comes directly from the Studio!  With Propworx items, the provenance is usually that it comes from someone who worked on Star Trek.

But what about other items?  Well, usually you don't know.  Sometimes you can work with the seller and find out who the item came from.  But often people want to keep that secret.  In fact often people will lie about it. Why?  Because often the items went out the back door of the studio.

In the big Profiles auction in 2010, most of the items were from one consignor.  Now he had told me directly that he had a friend who worked at Paramount who would sell him stuff out the back door.  And he had bought a LOT of stuff.  Well, when he went to sell it, the story became he had found a storage unit full of the stuff.  So how do you know?  

Many people asked me if it was OK to buy these items, since they were effectively stolen property.  In this case I had called my contacts at both Paramount and CBS who said that they would not pursue anyone buying items that didn't have legitimate Paramount provenance.  This effectively legitimized the items.  And while Profiles was upset I called the items "stolen" there was no question they were, but my efforts allowed people to buy the items knowing that title was good.

So provenance is a both the best way to identify a Star Trek item, as there are over 10,000 Christies and IAW items out there, and sometimes difficult if NOT from one of those two sources.


So, those are the basics.  Next article will be about the ethics and how integrity is being compromised in the hobby.

Alec

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Galileo Restoration Project - A Brief History


Adam and I in front of Galileo

As many of you know, Adam Schneider and I acquired the Galileo shuttlecraft full size set from the original Star Trek this past June in at auction.  So I thought I would give a little history of the project and where it is going.

In June of 2010 I started hunting for the Galileo after reading a thread on a forum about it.  My good friend Steve Thomas knew the parties who were the restorers and the last known owner of it.  I asked Steve to make inquiries into it and see if we could find it.  Unfortunately, the owner had disappeared and the last know location of the Galileo had been sold and the Galileo moved or destroyed.

I asked Steve to write up a history of the Galileo which he did and which we originally published on the Startrekprops.com, The Star Trek Prop, Costume & Auction Blog here:

http://www.propworx....galileo-part-i/

and here:

http://startrekaucti...eo-part-ii.html

They are also posted on the Galileo Restoration website that we have put together here:

http://galileorestoration.com/

As I am a regular blogger for StarTrek.com, the official CBS Star Trek website, I got these articles of Steve's published there last year when we were still looking for the old girl.

And here is an article on the restoration Lynn Miller undertook with the help of Bill Krause and his crew from the Star Trek fan club USS Lagrange.

http://startrekaucti...estoration.html

So when Lynn resurfaced with the Galileo and posted her intent to sell it, I started a dialog with her.  A lot of fan groups wanted to get her, but Propworx and my role with the CBS Star Trek archive let Lynn know we had the ability to restore the Galileo the right way.  Adam Schneider, who is one of the biggest collectors of Star Trek screen-used filming miniatures called me and said "What do we need to do to save her?"  Adam, like I, strongly feels that Galileo is a piece of history and needs to be preserved.  And Adam has the ability and connections to do this the right way.  So we made an offer to Lynn, but she wanted to go the auction route and did.

Adam and I won it at auction and began the process of looking for restoration facilities and museums.  The idea is for us to restore it to its full glory and then donate it to a museum for all fans to see.  Adam has great connections with the two biggest museums we are thinking of donating it to, and we have hunted down a few others as well (more on this later).

A lot of my effort has been to getting the word out and getting Trek luminaries involved.  Doug Drexler, Mike Okuda and John Eaves have all attached their names to the project.  I sold both Doug and Mike's collections so they were only a phone call away.  John Eaves, who I am a huge fan of, called me up and said he wanted to do whatever we needed to help.


Gene Winfield

And then, after we moved all of the Galileo parts to its new storage facility, I got the contact info for Gene Winfield, legendary hot rod customizer and builder of the Galileo.  He is located 2 hours north of me in Mojave, CA.  So on my way to the Las Vegas Star Trek convention (The world's biggest Star Trek convention where Adam and I were speaking on Galileo) I stopped by and saw Gene.  he was totally excited that we won the Galileo and committed to do anything he could to help.  He even still had the molds for the seats they used as well as other parts we will need to refurbish her. 


So that is where we are at the moment.  Adam has been doing all the leg work on where to restore Galileo and it is on the move to a shop that will bring it back to its original condition that is near Adam.


More info and photos to come.

Alec

Brookes Ames (Auctioneer) and Lynne Miller (former owner) with Adam and I on the day we moved Galileo

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Zefram Cochrane Statue



This account of the history of the Zefram Cochrane statue is by Doug Drexler

Star Trek: First Contact was the high point for the Next Gen series of features. It had a lot going for it, including plenty of action, our favorite villains, humor, and one of the great historical Trek characters, Zefram Cochran. One of my favorite moments, is when the ever enthusiastic Geordi LaForge gushes to Cochran about his statue, which will one day tower over the site they are standing on.

While working on the color version of the Star Trek Encyclopedia with Mike and Denise, it occurred to me what a cool thing it would be to include a picture of Cochran’s statue. M & D enthusiastically agreed, and I went directly to the art supply on Laurel Canyon, picked up an armature, some roma plastilina, and got to work. By the end of the day, there it stood. I had based it on Levar’s descriptive pose, and added some plans to the crook of Cochrans arm. The final touch was to adapt Picard’s distinctive two finger “engage!” point, as if our erstwhile captain was invoking this very statue each time he gave the order for the great starship to go to warp.

Fast forward to “Enterprise”. Right there in the series bible, it says that the ship’s captain, Jonathan Archer, idolizes Zefram Cochran. What a great bit of set dressing for Archer’s quarters the sculpture would make. I packed it in my bag, brought it with me to Paramount the next day, and set it prominently on top of my computer monitor.
I’ve learned a lesson working with strong willed, and independent creative people. Never push an idea, let them come to it themselves. Jimmy Mees, our brilliant set decorator was one of those guys. So I bided my time. I knew that on the day Rick Berman inspected the dressed sets, Jimmy would rush into the office wide eyed, looking for appropriate, and last minute set dressing.

On the day, my buddy Jim Vanover, ace Okudagram animator said, “hey Dougie, why don’t you give the Cochy to Jimmy Mees for Archer’s quarters?” I smiled, looked at my watch, and counted down, “3…2…1.” The door to the office banged open, and there stood Mr. Mees with that hunter’s look. His eyes darted around the office in search of prey. “I need last minute, inspired, additional set dressing for Archer’s quarters! Make it quick, ’cause Berman is on his way over to stage 8!” “Hmmmmmm…” I said, raising my arm and pointing at nothing in particular. Jimmy’s eyes snapped to where I indicated. “What? Where?” Playing it for maximum drama, I slowly rotated a full 360, pointing all the way. Jimmy’s head followed like a dog glued to a treat. “Could you … use… a statue… of ARCHER’S… HERO…….. PERHAPS?” My pointing finger came to rest on the sculpture. Jimmy eyes popped out of their sockets. “PERFECT! GENIUS!” he snatched up the Cochy and made for the stage, leaving behind a cloud of dust. Vanover looked at me with admiration. “You’re good!” He said.

A little later, I’m standing in the art department kitchenette, cleaning someone else’s peanut butter off of my coveted bread knife for the eighteenth time. Jimmy Mees walks into the department looking quite pleased with himself. “Well, that couldn’t have gone better!’ He beamed. “Oh, and Doug, when Berman saw that statue of Cochran he was astonished! He said… Where did you ever find THAT?!”

He, hee, heeee! I squealed (on the inside), puffing my chest out, I awaited my accolades. “I told him I sculpted it!” grinned Jimmy. ; )

Doug Drexler