curious statement by Dir. of Lucasfilm Archives on Prequel pieces in the original prop market

bighowboy

New Member
Hi all. I've been collecting screen used prequel lightsabers since the films came out. There are a ton of legit prequel pieces in private hands. There are also a ton that look "right" that have zero provenance and no way to ever know. There are also quite a few that do not look right, and most likely are not. I have seen lots of legit pieces come to auction as well as quite a few I would question. Pieces absolutely were gifted out to various cast and crew on the prequels... and many more were simply kept. As far as the remarks of the Lucasfilm archivist... I was not surprised to hear her comments at all. They did an amazing job holding onto things and cataloging them for their Archive. I believe she said she was personally on hand just for Ep.2 and 3 in Australia, but I could be incorrect. I also know quite a bit of stuff was intentionally destroyed by production - as in, taken to the bandsaw and skipped. That all said... no one should be taking her comments as a reason to draw the conclusion everything in private hands is not legit and that only what is in the Archive is. That is absurd. When I had to auction off my extensive Lord of the Rings prop collection, Peter Jackson's lawyers got involved and made the same assertion... that nothing real was in private hands, that only what was in their archive was legit... and then they backed off after countless examples were presented to them of legit filming props 3 Foot 6, Wingnut, New Line, etc. gifted out or gave away in promotional contests. If you are managing an archive of items like they are, it makes all the sense in the world to simply cast doubt on everything outside of your control for a number of reasons. But back to the point at hand... there is a ton of great Star Wars prequel stuff in private hands... some gifted out directly by Lucasfilm for charity auctions, some gifted out directly by Lucasfilm to cast and crew like Rick McCallum, Samuel L. Jackson, Nick Gillard, etc., and then quite a bit retained by various cast and crew likely without permission. But yes... lots of prequel lightsabers out there are questionable and very likely recasts... but a ton of great stuff is as well. Do your homework as always. Try your best to trace things back to production when possible. And take advantage of resources in the industry when you have questions.
 

Tommy

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Thanks so much for sharing first-hand insights, bighowboy ! Your assessment of the market landscape pretty much aligns with what I would’ve expected: some gifted; some pocketed; some questionable/fake (and by the sound of it, a fair volume of each). And interesting to know some were still destroyed.

I believe she said she was personally on hand just for Ep.2 and 3 in Australia, but I could be incorrect.
Correct – Ms. French stated that she started in May 2001 (though I have to imagine a predecessor was on set for Ep. 1).

That all said... no one should be taking her comments as a reason to draw the conclusion everything in private hands is not legit and that only what is in the Archive is. That is absurd. When I had to auction off my extensive Lord of the Rings prop collection, Peter Jackson's lawyers got involved and made the same assertion...
That makes sense. I certainly wasn’t taking it to mean that everything was fake; just that a decent portion might be. The issue raised with the LOTR sale is surprising to hear about; my recollection is that you/Julien’s were very up-front regarding provenance in that. [Amazing collection you assembled, BTW!]

So, I guess ultimately this suggests there’s probably some truth to the Archives Director’s implication… and also some oversimplification.
 

SciFiCostumes

New Member
A FB post by The Propstop just reminded me of a curious exchange that occurred during an episode of Ryan Condal’s and Dave Mandel’s props podcast, “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of,” last summer. While interviewing Laela French, the Director of the Lucasfilm Archives, they seemed to me at the time to land a bit of a bombshell regarding the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy’s presence in the high-end original prop market… yet I’ve encountered no discussion of Ms. French’s cryptic (though implication-heavy) statement in the nearly year-and-a-half since.

The Propstop Facebook Post

Here's my transcription, and the episode is linked below:

David Mandel
Over the years, obviously – and I’m sure fans want to know about this – you know like on the Prequels for example, obviously you were gathering everything, and yet there are still, I’ll simply say Prequel items that are out-and-about, you know what I mean? Things that, you know, just – I don’t know – I guess slipped through the cracks... I guess, how much – I’m not even going to get into the legality of it – I guess, how much are you paying attention? Do you worry about it? You know what I mean? Like, are there things, I guess I’ll simply say that are ‘missing’ from the Archives that you feel like should be there that you’re still looking for, I guess? Like is there a – so not necessarily the holes, but things going like ‘we had this; it’s gone,’ like are there anything like that?

Laela French
No… no, no.
For the Prequels, I personally supervised almost all of the collecting. And we were SO strict. So… there’s nothing missing. And I watch, you know, what goes – we watch everything going on for auction. I’ll just say that I’m pretty confident that we got it all. So… I’ll leave it at that.


[The exchange takes place at 01:15:40]

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of: To The [Lucasfilm] Archives!


Have I missed a discussion of this anywhere? If not, I’d love to hear any thoughts.

It's pretty galling that the prequels put all that effort in their sets and costumes, only for none of that stuff to ever see the light of day ever again - even in official media, as the Dorling-Kindersley Visual Dictionaries often have tiny images stuck in the corners, and even that official 'Star Wars Costumes' coffee table book doesn't really show everything, with the spreads cutting off the full image and a lot of them being relegated to, of course, tiny little images at the back

If they dont want 'the evil proles' to get their hands on the actual costumes, they could at least show off the various publicity photos in higher definition online, but given how protective they are, that probably isn't happening either any time soon.
 

Tommy

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
If they dont want 'the evil proles' to get their hands on the actual costumes, they could at least show off the various publicity photos in higher definition online, but given how protective they are, that probably isn't happening either any time soon.
If you get a chance to listen to more of the interview, she does mention something along those lines being on the horizon. Right now, they’re mainly focused on comprehensive cataloging to get everything consistent and discoverable in their internal database. Despite the archives having been set up decades ago, the early years were focused more on preservation and conservation than on organization, so they’re still working their way through old boxes and figuring out what they have from the OT. Generally, those steps take precedence over digital curation, but it sounds like her genuine desire is to eventually put a lot of the collection online and even make the metadata somewhat of an open resource for the fan community to add context and corrections. I agree it would be great if this could be accomplished sooner rather than later, but archival work is slow.

They have at least curated quite a number of traveling exhibitions. I saw a huge one in Seattle called “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” around 2015 that was ~ ¾ Prequel material, and even not really being a fan of those films, it was incredible seeing the beautiful workmanship up close. And as others have mentioned, the Lucas Museum will open soon in LA, and a fair amount of Prequel material should go on rotating display there.
 

SciFiCostumes

New Member
If you get a chance to listen to more of the interview, she does mention something along those lines being on the horizon. Right now, they’re mainly focused on comprehensive cataloging to get everything consistent and discoverable in their internal database. Despite the archives having been set up decades ago, the early years were focused more on preservation and conservation than on organization, so they’re still working their way through old boxes and figuring out what they have from the OT. Generally, those steps take precedence over digital curation, but it sounds like her genuine desire is to eventually put a lot of the collection online and even make the metadata somewhat of an open resource for the fan community to add context and corrections. I agree it would be great if this could be accomplished sooner rather than later, but archival work is slow.

They have at least curated quite a number of traveling exhibitions. I saw a huge one in Seattle called “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” around 2015 that was ~ ¾ Prequel material, and even not really being a fan of those films, it was incredible seeing the beautiful workmanship up close. And as others have mentioned, the Lucas Museum will open soon in LA, and a fair amount of Prequel material should go on rotating display there.

Ah, my mistake, I should have given it a more thorough look - but that is also partly my own frustration with how so much of that beautiful craftsmanship never see the light of day properly, to a mass audience. I wonder how complete the collection would be, would it include the various side characters (senators, bar goers, etc) that...I'm sure, we barely see a lick of on-screen? If there is something big down the line, I hope its soon!
 

Mottrex

Sr Member
I'm literally cherry picking from the podcast but she said once used sets were smashed destroyed on ep2... Thats not strictly speaking true, only recently on the RPF there was a portion of the bar from the Death sticks scene with Obiwan. She also said about known items and they weren't in the business of hunting them down or had little time to do so... but then sounded like in the same breath she knew where certain items were and they had their eye on them.

If you are a Curator Historian thats actually part of the job.
 

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