the Movie Money that I bought from you on eBay real?
that depends a great deal on what I said in the lot or item description
and what you mean by "real." It certainly isn't real legal tender money
anywhere on this planet or among the Allied Worlds (see below). I do
sell a few better examples of reproduction prop notes as well as play
money and other kinds of scrip. I collect all of these objects as well
as genuine motion picture props. However, I will never knowingly sell
reproductions as originals. Beginning in May, 2008, I will mark all
reproductions that come my way with:
Facsimile APS 121419
This notation will be on the back side of the bill at the bottom right
corner whenever possible. On rare occasions the mark may be in a
different location but if the bill is known to be a reproduction and it
came from me, the mark will be present somewhere on the bill. As time
permits, I will add supporting documentation for specific
notes at the
bottom of this page.
PICTURE PROP BANK NOTES (and coins)
used on the stage and in motion pictures to simulate cash. We have all
seen films where bank notes are burned, blown up, thrown to the winds
otherwise damaged and mishandled. Even Hollywood has to think twice
about destroying real spendable bank notes. Ever since the very early
days of cinema, film-makers and property companies have printed their
own fake money to stand in for the real thing on screen.
Where do prop notes come from?
There are two broad
sources for movie money (studios and property houses) and three types
of movie money (film specific, studio specific, and generic prop house
As might be imagined,
film specific notes (those designed for just one movie) are usually the
most detailed and the hardest to get. Film specific notes often play an
important role in the movie themselves and can be seen in screen
In move prop note
Million Pound Note from the 1953
Gregory Peck film of the same title is the Holy Grail. The real one was
auctioned at Sotheby's a number of years ago and brought, if I
remember correctly, £3,000. The buyer reprinted the note in a
numbered series which was the only official reproduction of the bill.
Since then there has been at least one unofficial numbered reproduction
and a fistful of other reprintings. One seller provides a nice
reproduction of the note with a COA that is just as nice. The problem
is that all his COAs have the same number, #125.
Other popular "film
specific" notes include the 100 pound note from Zamunda with a portrait
of Akeem (Eddie Murphy) as used in the film Coming
Banco Central de Tecala 20,000 pesos used in Proof
by Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe, and the 100 & 500 Alliance credit
notes used in the television program Firefly and film Serenity as well as many
others. Unfortunately, the popularity of such film specific notes with
persons who are not generally collectors of movie money has lead to
Studio issued notes
are generally used in a variety of films or television productions all
from the same studio, sometimes many years apart. They may not be as
romantic or flashy as film specific notes but they are, if anything, of
more interest to the movie money collecting community.
Property house notes
are issued by various suppliers of film props and rented to the major
studios. They can be in anyone's films! The most famous and largest
supply of property house money came on the collector's market in
1999-2000 when Ellis Props and Graphics closed their doors. Ellis had
been in the property business since 1908 and their supply of movie
money was without parallel. Collectors and dealers who were paying
attention during the Ellis inventory auctions were able to acquire
large quantities of high quality and often famous prop money that had
been used in such classics as Gone
With the Wind and The
Maltese Falcon as well as many
In recent years,
reproductions of some prop notes have been made commercially available
to the collector's market. Notes from the popular Batman film series
and the Alliance credits from the science fiction film Serenity come to
can I tell if my prop notes are real?
studio specific and prop house notes is almost unknown so you are
almost always safe. However, in many cases with film specific notes you
can't tell if they are fake nor can anyone else. Some popular film
specific notes have been reproduced so often and so well that it is
doubtful that even the original film property masters could tell them
from the real thing. However, there are a few tell-tale signs that can
confirm or deny authenticity.
First of all, don't
let the presence of a COA (certificate of authenticity) convince you
that a prop note is genuine. COAs are a fairly recent development in
the hobby but anyone with a computer and a laser printer can whip up a
nice looking COA. A person who would knowingly sell you a fake piece of
movie money and represent it as real would, I suspect, be happy to send
a bogus COA along with it. On the other hand, many veteran movie money
dealers do not issue COAs but their collectibles are absolutely
authentic. So, don't let the lack of a COA scare you off either.
Find a dealer that
you can trust. Check out their feedback. Do they list membership in
prominent hobby trade publications? What other objects are they
selling? Dealers should be willing to tell you something of the history
of their items. Don't jump on an item just because it is the first one
you have seen; chances are a similar item will be around again.
Keep in mind that
movie money is designed to not only fool the eye on screen but to be an
inexpensive, plentiful, and durable stand-in for genuine currency. For
this reason, genuine movie props are seldom printed using ink jet
technology; the resulting items would not be durable enough for
prolonged film use. Color photo copies, while much more durable, tend
to have a gloss or shine to their finish can make them noticeably fake
on screen. The same is often true for color laser prints. Both color
copying and laser printing are relatively expensive printing methods
that would not generally be used for large quantities of notes. Look
for offset printing and delicate lines or fine halftones on genuine
examples. Generally, prop notes are printed on inexpensive paper. If
your item is printed on fiber infused or "real" bank note paper,
are it is a fake; in a move nobody can tell or cares what the money
Arm yourself with knowledge!
The single best tool
for an aspiring movie money collector is Fred
Reed's massive catalog of
prop money, Show Me the Money
(McFarland & Company: February 7, 2005, ISBN 0786420375).
This catalog has well over 700 pages with hundreds of examples of movie
prop notes cataloged and described. It can be easily found on eBay and
is well worth the $125 cover price.
Union of Allied Planets 100 &
500 Credit Notes:
These notes from the
science fiction film Serenity
and TV series Firefly got me
in a lot of trouble and resulted in my present obsession with
authenticity. A supposedly limited edition reproduction of these notes
was made by the Quantum Mechanix Company. These reproductions are
common and are often sold as screen used props. Although they are
nicely made and printed on high-quality stock, they are not the real
screen-used thing. Unofficial reprocuctions have been made in a number
sizes, and denominations. Only 100s and 500s were used in the film.
I bought a bulk lot of
these notes, supposedly screen used, from a noted film prop company and
they came with a convincing COA. I turned around and sold several pairs
of notes under the reasonable assumption that I had the real thing. Not
so, apparently. I was soon contacted by collectors who said thay my
notes did not match examples known to be screen used. So, how do you
tell a genuine screen used example from one of the many relicas? Beats
the crap out of me! One clue might be that the real screen used notes
were "aged" by soaking them in tea. Therefore, inkjet printed notes
can't be real because the ink would run. Examples could be viewed as
suspect if they don't appear to have ever been wet but that's just my
guess. I'd love to see/have the real thing.
Zamunda £100 note and £5
The Zamunda £100
note (Reed type #BC-10a) from the Eddie
Murphy film Coming to America
is one of the most often faked movie bank notes. As of yet, I have
never seen a genuine example. Most fakes are accompanied by equally
On the other hand, the
Zamunda £5 coin was commissioned by the film's producers and
minted by Continental Coin Corporation. It as made in gold,
copper-nickle, gold plated copper-nickle, and brass plated
copper-nickle. brass examples were used in the film and
the copper-nickle variety were given out at the premier and
possibly other events. The single gold example was presented to Eddie
Murphy. All examples of the coin that I have seen have been genuine.
Still, if someone was offering me a gold example, I'd be skeptical. It
is interesting to note that Continental Coin is the same company that
ran afoul of the United States Postal Service by selling "legal tender"
Hutt River Province Desert Storm commemorative coins.
Page created May 19, 2008.