Ah, Mr Bond....I've been collecting you
With the release of the twenty-third James Bond film ‘Skyfall’ this week, Wikicollecting takes a look at Bond collecting spanning half a century of 007 history.Background
The character of MI6 agent James Bond, code name 007, was developed in 1953 by author Ian Fleming in a series of short stories and novels.
The novels first forayed into the film theatres just under a decade later. The first Bond movie was Dr No, released in 1962 by Eon Productions. The company have produced 23 Bond films to date. The early films were all based on Fleming’s novels, but as the original stories ran out and popularity showed no signs of decreasing, later films adopted the tone, mood and typical character traits, and developed their own storylines.
The James Bond series is the most successful and longest running franchise in the English language film industry, grossing several billion worldwide. As such, a vast array of memorabilia and collectibles has been generated across the world as Bond became one of the most popular and collected characters in history.
Collecting James Bond memorabilia
We must not forget that Bond existed on paper for nine years before his explosion onto the big screen. First editions of Ian Fleming’s novels, replete with their original dust jackets, are rare and extremely valuable. A wallet-wary collector could instead choose to focus on the movie-release paperbacks featuring images from the films. In particular, foreign examples of these can be fascinating and unique, and at a fraction of the price of a first edition.
See main article: Ian Fleming rare books and memorabilia
Film memorabilia can be a pricey area to collect. Bond films, being among the most collected and successful films in history, are particularly high profile and frequently achieve extremely high values at auction.
There are several elements that come together to make and define James Bond. He is a man of good taste, of refined style and sophistication, and his possessions represent this. These iconic items, those that have come to represent the charismatic spy, are often therefore the most sought-after and collectible.
The cars used in the James Bond films are a large part of the iconography. Bond’s own cars are often characteristically British models: Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls Royce, and decked out with spy gadget features such as bulletproof shields, machine guns, ejector seats, radar, missiles, torpedoes, death charges, cloaking devices etc.
The Aston Martin DB5 is thought of as the quintessential Bond vehicle, as driven by Sean Connery as Bond. The example used in both Goldfinger and Thunderball fetched a staggering $4.1 million at auction in 2010.
If you can’t afford the real thing (few can), look to diecast models, which have been produced by companies capitalising on the franchise since the very first film. These are a good alternative price-wise, especially if you can find ones as old as the film each car starred in, original 1960s and 1970s Corgis for example. If you are set on possessing the real deal, you could seek out parts rather than the whole: James Bond’s DB5 car lights and DB5 car telephone sold for $150 and $750 respectively at Guernsey’s in 2008.
http://www.klast.net/bond/cars.html provides information about both Bond’s cars, and several Diecast models available.
Bond’s watches are much like his cars, a symbol of his sophistication. They too are luxurious and expensive, and are often elaborated by MI6 gadget guru Q with all sorts of impressive attributes.
Bond wore a Rolex Submariner for the first seven films, then updated to digital with Seiko watches during Roger Moore’s stint as the spy. After a brief return to Rolex, Bond adopted an Omega Seamaster from 1995 onwards.
Christie’s recent 50 years of James Bond auction saw the Omega Seamaster worn by Daniel Craig in this year’s Bond film Skyfall sell for £157,250.
Sharp-dressing Bond uses clothes to emphasise his sophisticated style, impressive physique, and sex appeal. Suits worn by Bond can fetch tens of thousands at auction, and Daniel Craig’s tight blue swimming trunks from Casino Royale sold for £44,450 at Christie’s this October.
The costumes and jewellery worn by Bond girls and Bond villains can also fetch high prices. A more affordable option are the costumes worn by extras and unnamed parts. A denim cocktail dress and jacket worn by a waitress and waiter in Tomorrow Never Dies sold for £4,750 at the same auction.
From guns to gadgets, Nazi hoard gold bars to champagne, every Bond collector wants original film props in their collection. A poker table with poker chips, money and playing cards from 2006’s Casino Royale fetched £85,250 at Christie’s Bond auction.
Props from the films are more valuable if used or held by Bond himself. Less high profile props are more affordable, and those with less ready cash may seek out props used by Bond girls, Bond villains, or those that just sat on screen as an alternative.
On a budget?
Promotional items for the Bond films were produced by almost every country in the world. These included lobby cards, promotional booklets, front of house still sets, movie programmes and more. Posters are one of the most popular collecting areas. While early UK posters are among the most desirable Bond items – up there with cars, watches, props and costumes – later dated and foreign posters can still be picked up quite cheaply. Collectors could choose to focus on current original movie posters, and hang on to them while they increase in value.
Toys and merchandise are almost as old as Bond. Figurines, Corgi cars, trading cards, games, they are much more available to the general collecting public than items that come directly from the films. Original 1960s toys, such as the Gilbert line, are now extremely valuable. 1960s Japanese and foreign toys that aimed to rip off the official 1960s merchandise have their own collecting niche. Random merchandise such as James Bond hairspray or James Bond rubber bands can make for a rewarding and amusing collection. While 1960s merchandise is already expensive and sought-after, 1970s merchandise featuring Roger Moore is sure to escalate in value, as a new generation of people who grew up with Moore as Bond begin collecting in earnest.
Original soundtrack records are very affordable, even when signed. The Spy Who Loved Me original LP signed by Roger Moore, Caroline Munro, and Richard Kiel sold for just $50 at Premiere Props in December 2011.
Behind-the-scenes production ephemera can remain unnoticed next to items visible on the big screen. While clapperboards can fetch thousands, daily call sheets from Bond films, instructing the cast on where and when they should report for filming, are available for as little as £20 (depending on the film).
The James Bond franchise sparked a series of comic books and graphic novels from all over the world based on the stories. These are wonderful pieces in their own right, and the comics themselves, even pieces of the original comic book art, can often be found for under £100.
It may be a canny idea to focus on a film that is somewhat less popular. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the only film to star George Lazenby as Bond, was a flop in the cinema and became largely forgotten. Yet now, interest in and enthusiasm for the film has grown, many considering it one of the best and most important Bond films. Therefore the memorabilia from this film, once ignored, is rising in value.
You could even go so far as to collect memorabilia from the non-Eon productions, but that may spark a whole new debate about what belongs in a true Bond collection.