For well over a decade Legends Memorabilia
has been delighting film and television fans and historians by providing them with access to items from the past: rare collectables, costumes, props and autographs.
Legends is responsible for maintaining the vast archive of Stargate
collectibles itself. The company's founder, Paul Brown
, gave GateWorld some of his time at this year's Gatecon
to discuss his personal journey into both entertainment and historical memorabilia, what Legends currently offers, and what lies ahead.
We talk about the process of acquiring and cataloging new costumes and property from the Stargate
production offices, the rampant spread of inauthentic merchandise, and Paul's personal involvement with Richard Dean Anderson's charities.
GateWorld's interview with Paul Brown runs 24 minutes. Listen online at your leisure, download it to your MP3 player, or subscribe now to the iTunes podcast
! The full interview is also transcribed below!
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net, I'm David Read. I'm here with Mr. Paul Brown, owner and founder of Legends Memorabilia. Paul, you have the largest collection of Stargate memorabilia known to exist. Are you a fan? [Laughter]
Paul Brown: Absolutely. I couldn't be doing this job that we're doing with our company with Stargate unless we were a fan of the show. Not only a fan of the show but a fan of the people involved in the show, and that is the underlying joy that I have in the show. The quality of the people that we've got to know in doing this job. And that extends to the cast, crew, all the way through to the fans. It's not just a commodity business to me. It's a people business, and I enjoy it because of the people.
GW: When did you first approach them saying, "This is something that I'd like to get involved with with you guys," or did they approach you?
PB: Actually it all began in the closure of The Outer Limits. MGM were wrapping The Outer Limits. We had recently undertaken a fairly small X-Files online auction. This is back in the days when online sales of memorabilia barely existed. We've been doing this for about 14 years now. When we did the X-Files project, in terms of timing, that would have to be about eight or nine years ago now.
The Legends Memorabilia logo
MGM were wrapping Outer Limits. They had everything set up for a set dec sale. We went down to visit them and told them what we felt we could do for the memorabilia industry, and rather than sell this off in a big flea market, "Could we not just take this to the memorabilia industry?"
GW: That must have turned their heads!
PB: It got their attention! The next thing I knew I was being asked to come down to MGM in Los Angeles to meet the various executives down there. Ever since that moment we've been handling the asset sales of many of their productions.
What they were doing is they would offer us a production that's concluded, and if we felt it was something we wanted to work with then we'd work with it. Mostly we would say no, because we don't like to do sales of contemporary production props and costumes. We need things that are unique, gadgety. Sci-fi related is definitely the theme we like. Period related.
We did "Wind Talkers," which is a John Wu production, through MGM with Nicholas Cage, Christian Slater, Adam Beach. And of course it had a lot of period pieces, and it really attracted the attention of not only film memorabilia people but also military collectors, too. Most of what we had from that inventory was, in fact, authentic memorabilia.
GW: Paul, when it boils down to it, what is the goal of Legends? What did you originally set out to do with it? What has it evolved to, if at all?
PB: To bring home the dreams of the people. These fans of Stargate, in particular, are the most dedicated fans of any series, or show, or production, I have ever dealt with in my life.
GW: Really? That's saying something. You've done a lot.
PB: And I would say the Stargate fan is absolutely the most committed and dedicated, and as we've seen here this weekend, the most generous fan you'll find. Our objective all along was to try to help them live their dream a little more by bringing home the things that they like so much that meant so much to them.
The everyday person wouldn't understand why Amanda Tapping might handle something. "Why would that be so special?" And yet the fans of Stargate, anything that Amanda or Richard or Chris or Michael, Don, anything the cast members touch, to them is very special.
Numerous props, such as this vial of tretonin, were available for purchase at this year's Gatecon.
And to somebody who idolizes the show as much as they do, to have something that they can hold in their hand, and then see it on screen and know it's only one -- there's only one in the world, it's not a replica, this is the original one that was used or worn -- to them that is very special.
We've gone to great lengths to try to ensure that we make things affordable for people, that anybody can afford something in Stargate. We don't only put things out for auctions. Sometimes the auctions go a little nuts in the prices -- we know that -- but we try to do things very competitively in terms of the shopping dollar, and we allow them to buy things at a really good price.
We feel that what our objectives are is to bridge the gap between them in their living room, what they see on the screen, and the studio. And if we can go through that transition by giving them a prop or a costume then [we're] helping them to fulfill their dream, of how they feel about Stargate.
GW: And they also themselves feel a little bit more connected to the show than before. I mean, you're letting them own a piece of history.
PB: That's about right. And some of it is very special. You talk about the history. One of the joys I have ... I started this whole business because I'm a great fan of historical documents. It all started with me owning a Charles Dickens letter many years ago. I love historical documents.
One of the joys I've had is filtering through the things that we receive from the studio over the years. Recently, only two weeks ago, I came across something that was just, to me, a wonderful piece of history. I mention history because you mention history. It was an original, used call sheet from day one of "Children of the Gods." The very first call sheet of the very first day of the series.
I looked at that piece of paper. It was all kind of crumpled and wrinkled up. It had been folded in and out a few times. I thought, "My goodness. This is a piece of paper history!"
GW: This needs to be framed.
PB: Exactly! And it's going to be. Absolutely. Along with the Charles Dickens and the other great pieces of paper memorabilia I think are special. One day we'll make sure that that gets on somebody's wall and it'll be very special. Right now it's something I want to hang on to, because yes I am a Stargate fan. To me it is rather special. It's difficult being a collector and a fan.
GW: Yeah, especially because you have all these.
PB: Exactly, so we have to be somewhat selective. It's a joy to work with because the quality of the product is so good. Costume, props, I mean, second to none.
GW: You essentially have all this stuff in the back yard. Is there anything from the library of Stargate that you, yourself, has said, "I want that!" Or do you basically turn it all around?
PB: No, not really, not really. I really appreciate it all. If there is one thing it's probably that piece of paper I just spoke about, that original call sheet, because I'm a paper collector. I love antique documents and historical documents from various fields. So I would say I'd lean towards that as one thing I would be sorry to see go.
" The Stargate fan is absolutely the most committed and dedicated ... the most generous fan you'll find."
The rest of it, I'm not disappointed to see it go because I know it's going to good homes, generally.
GW: So a series, or a season, of Stargate ends, this stuff comes to your door, I guess in a semi truck. What begins the task of bringing it into your archive? I imagine you photograph it and catalogue.
PB: Yeah, it's a very intense process that we have to go through. We have to get the inventory, and then sort it out, and determine, "What is it? Where was it used? What episode did it come from? How was it used?" Then we photograph it and then we write a description on it, and do whatever research we can, because it's very important that when we give this product to the fan, that the fan does indeed have as much background as they can.
However, that's quite an easy task for us, because if we get stuck and can't find something, we just simply let the fans know, "We don't know what this is! Can you tell us what this is?"
Thanks to Kate Ritter's wonderful book, that's been very helpful as a bit of a compendium of information for us as well. We enjoy doing the research. That's a lot of fun doing that, too. But we do try to get as much information as we can.
And then when it's all done and nicely packaged up then we'll put it up for sale. Either direct sale or an auction. And then we handle all the shipping, and when all is said and done we give the revenue to the studio that's it. And we take a commission for doing that.
It's a turn-key project that we do. It doesn't cost the studio anything. We just take care of it for them. We take care of all elements. Obviously storage, insurance, shipping, payment.