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MEM Cinema and Music Memorabilia

 



 

 

 

 

MEM Cinema and Music Memorabilia

 

With a solid reputation for great customer service and good value for money, Mike Bloomfield has been a leading player in the memorabilia world since the nineties. As a keen collector of movie and music memorabilia, Mike is well qualified to service the needs of collectors of rock, pop and movie posters and ephemera.

Here Digger talks to Mike about Movie and Music collectables and his business trading from three websites.

 


 

MEM Cinema and Music Memorabilia

 

 

Digger: Please tell us a little bit about the background to the MEM business Mike.

 

Mike: I was working in The City in the eighties, and I did so for fifteen years actually. I was cash rich and time poor and was a keen collector. I had good connections with the major auction houses and tended to focus on dealing with them rather than individuals. And the collecting turned into a business as it often seems to.

 

Digger: You are running three distinct websites. Can you tell us about that please?

 

Mike: The 'junior website' is the Record Art website and that trundles along. The two key websites are the Rock/Pop website and the Cinema Poster websites. Both of those are focused mostly on paper memorabilia.

 

Digger: Thatís a USP for you as is the fact that you are catering for both Music and Movies?

Mike: Yes. The combination is unusual and there arenít many dealers or galleries who cover those two sides of the memorabilia business. And I find it works for me. But itís paper and essentially UK Ė itís primarily centred on the sixties and the seventies heyday of vintage memorabilia.

Digger: That might roll forward a bit as time goes on?


Mike:
Yes, obviously as the demographic changes, so youíre going to expect to see some shift along the chronological curve, but I think itís fair to say that there are certain actors, actresses or bands from the sixties and seventies whoíve achieved that kind of iconic status. The Beatles, The Stones, Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen Ė in those areas what you find is theyíre not simply being collected by people who were there at the time and young at the time but youíve got twenty and thirty year olds who are going after those iconic stars as well.


Digger: Thatís good. Is it because they appreciate what they did or that they realise theyíre valuable or a bit of both?


Mike:
I think itís a bit of both but itís very particularly focused. So, for example, I have plenty of younger female clients who are very interested in Audrey Hepburn. I couldnít say the same for Doris Day.


Digger: No.


Mike:
Iíve got plenty of young clients who go after Sex Pistols material and they obviously werenít around when The Sex Pistols were on the scene. But theyíre not necessarily going to be interested in Cliff Richard. So itís only certain stars who have achieved already that iconic status that will carry them from generation to generation. There are plenty from the sixties and seventies who have got that kind of status.


Digger: if you could work out whoís going to be Ďhotí it would be worthwhile.


Mike:
But it is tricky because there are some very big stars, for example, Robert Mitchum. Now, in his heyday he was one of the greats but you donít really find too many people who just collect Robert Mitchum movie posters.


Digger: I used to collect on Janet Leigh in a big way but there wasnít much competition. One guy in Texas and another in Australia!


Mike:
But itís the same with the acts in the  music industry that have been commercially very successful Ė 10cc for one, theyíre very talented and very successful.


Digger: They always get sidelined, they do.


Mike:
I think theyíre really undervalued, but then again you take someone like Phil Collins. He is one of only three stars in the world to have sold a million albums as both a solo artist and as a band member but is he collectable? Not really. So itís strange how this works but I suppose then we could start talking about the distinction between being commercially successful and having a cult appeal as well.


Digger: I like the cult bands from the sixties Ė The Action and The Creation.


Mike:
Oh, brilliant.


Digger: Fortunately these days thereís some stuff on Youtube to watch. Reg King narrating a documentary about them although it only lasts for a few minutes.


Mike:
They are fantastic bands and theyíre one of the types of music I like. Thereís a book being written about The Action which should be very good, written by a fan and those who were connected with the band.


Digger: Great. Because, sadly, we lost a couple of them in the last couple of years.


Mike:
Yes. 

 

 

 

MEM Cinema and Music Memorabilia

 

 

Digger: What is your retro passion and what do you enjoy most about what you are doing?  

Mike:
Because I started out as a collector I think I bring that to the business. I know what collectors want and I hope Iíve got some appreciation of the service that they would want from a dealer. When I was a collector, I met and had dealings unfortunately with plenty of dealers who I felt fell far short of the mark. I ended up just buying from a small handful in the end. And the big auction houses. I try to bring that sort of experience to the business now and the websites are meant to be user-friendly, theyíre meant to provide as much information as is practical.


Digger: Is there much of a physical presence these days? Do you do the fairs and auctions?


Mike:
Well, thatís a good question. I have, over the past ten years, done a number of the memorabilia fairs and shows. I do very few, a select number. I concentrate more on private exhibitions. I think it is an important part of the business, because obviously one wants to get out and meet people in the flesh and give them a chance to look at the product. And I think in many cases itís an educational process to get people to understand that this memorabilia is collectable. And that it is visually stunning in many cases and also can be a very good investment. You need to meet people and they need to take a look at your product and take a look at you and work out whether or not youíre someone they trust and want to deal with.


Digger: I can remember going to the Westminster Movie Fair a few times and there really were quite a few grumpy dealers there. I thought they werenít doing themselves any favours.


Mike:
I feel very strongly that these markets are quite small and quite esoteric and one needs to really get out there and broaden the appeal and obviously that is good for business. So there is a certain amount of work I do in the year which is along those lines. Exhibitions and talking to people. And there are still some people that will not buy online. If you donít meet them face-to-face youíre not going to get that business so I would never want to become exclusively Internet-based.


Digger: Weíve lost the ability to browse and flick through like we used to. I suppose you still can at fairs. Itís a shame that some of these stores have closed down. I know why they have, but it's a shame even so.


Mike:
Of course the shows really are hard work and I think itís a sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Obviously there are fewer dealers therefore fewer people come to the shows and thereís less product on show. So it sort of has been feeding on itself. But we try to keep in touch, as well as our web presence, to meet and greet and bang the drum for the sector and itís an important part of the work.


Digger: You mentioned the most popular stars and items to collect. What sort of feedback have you had from clients about your products and service?


Mike:
I used to have everything rolled-up in one website but at the end of 2009, start of 2010, we opened up the two new websites and split the businesses into two. And the feedback has generally been very positive with the new websites. Every item on the website is imaged so people can look at everything and thereís a close-up tool built into the website as well so you can zoom in. We try to give as much information as is practically possible about the condition and thatís something that many competitors donít do. If we have a movie poster and there is some damage then rather than ignore it we actually draw peopleís attention to it. Thatís part of my business philosophy that when I sell Iím hoping that the sales sticks.


Digger: You donít want returns and all that involves.


Mike:
You want to make sure that if people are surprised then theyíre pleasantly surprised because weíre in for the long haul and our business is based on a long-term approach. Iíd much rather be able to sell to someone several  times over several years than just get one big sale, the client be unhappy and for us not to get any further business.


Digger: Repeat business being the best feedback you can get, of course.

 

Mike: It is, yes, and recommendations. If you provide a decent service or aspire to, and hopefully often you can provide a decent service, then people will mention you and pass you on to others. I think because this is a small market, reputation is jolly important and there's a different business approach than somebody who would rather not bother and just get a quick sale. We do try and take care that we've got a good reputation in the market.

 

Digger: That's probably your strength over a lot of the competition?

 

Mike: Well, I think as we touched upon previously, the combination of movies and music is unusual and I think it's a good thing because it broadens our market and we have clients who have interests in both fields. That's one key factor. I think the other is the range of products I've got. We have got quite considerable amounts of stock and it tends to be pretty good quality-wise. Certainly, the average sale price on both websites is probably about £100 per purchase, so we're looking at quite good quality material. The other thing, and I'm probably bound to say this although it is a fact, where it is possible to compare prices we are generally speaking quite price-competitive. I am very conscious of the competition that I have, particularly in the movie poster world via the Lonodn galleries. And where we have the same posters, most often, they will be forty to sixty percent higher than mine.

 

Digger: I have the original US 1960 Psycho One-Sheet Poster and I have seen some wild variations of the price for it the on The Internet, from about £800 to $3,500. Quite a range.

 

 

 

 

MEM Cinema and Music Memorabilia

 

 

 

 

 

Mike: I think it's a sign of how small the market is and how relatively immature the market is. And also, quite often, if you wanted to go out into the market and buy that poster today, you might only find two places worldwide that could offer you that poster straight away. So there is an argument to be made that if you happen to have a dealer that has something that nobody else does then in a way you can name your price. I think that's sometimes why you see these wild variations. Also, of course, if you look at a gallery in New York or London then, as a potential buyer from those galleries, you have to pay for their overheads - the shiny wooden floors, the Armani clothes and so on. It depends on your business model but the way we're set-up we've made a considerable investment with our Internet presence and we do have a big spend on the external shows that we do. But having said that our overheads are considerably smaller than might be the case if we had a gallery presence. That gives us a price advantage. I think also the fact that we've come from a collecting background and we still have a love and a passion for the material and hopefully that translates through to the service we provide. I'd say that many of my friends are actually friends made from the world of memorabilia. Those are the distinct features of MEM.

 

Digger: Why do you think retro and nostalgia are so strongly in people's minds and are so consistently popular?  

 

Mike: I think several things are going on here. I think a lot of people tend to collect memorabilia, whether it's rock and roll or toys or cinema posters - they tend to collect memorabilia from their childhood or their teens or their early adulthood. And why would they do that? I think one of the reasons is that it's the time when we, as humans, have the greatest capacity for learning and absorbing experience and it's natural. And generally speaking those are happier times without the stresses of adulthood, looking at life through rose tinted spectacles.

 

Digger: Yes, that's my logo on the front of my website.

 

Mike: Well, there you go. And it's a nice comforting thing psychologically to do. But of course as you grow up then people's interests do become more sophisticated as well. And a lot of people like to go back and look at the history of the bands and the evolution and the quality of the poster artwork and the development of that particular artist. 

 

Digger: They rediscover it in a way?

 

Mike: Yes, exactly, so I think there's quite a lot of that going on. I think also memorabilia used to be a much poorer cousin in terms of antiques and collectables but we've seen over the past ten or fifteen years a real development in the higher echelons of the auction industry. Christies and Bonhams hold regular auctions alongside their auctions of collectable travel posters. They have auctions of rock pop memorabilia and cinema memorabilia and I think this has also given a respectability within the market as well. And finally, although I would say that what fires most collectors if that collecting gene and that passion, but it's also very nice to know that if you've been a canny collector you are in many, many cases sitting on a very, very good investment.

 

Digger: And it's also people's ability to buy when they're a little bit older as well, I should imagine?

 

Mike: Yes, there are some people who collect and hoard through their childhood and they simply supplement as they grow older and as their budget expands. But in many cases what you're seeing is that when people have got some disposable income as they move into their forties, forties and fifties then some of that gets ploughed back into buying memorabilia and building a collection. I think we've been very lucky in a way, people involved as collectors or dealers. Because although you would be foolish to say there's been a straight line appreciation of prices and values. Nonetheless over the past ten or fifteen years good quality cinema posters and good quality rock and roll memorabilia has really been a fantastic investment when you compare it to the travel poster market. Yes, there are travel posters that sell at Christies for £10,000 or £20,000 - it's a mature market, but you don't see that price appreciation over a corresponding period. Whereas people buying a Beatles gig poster 10 years ago might have paid a couple of thousand £'s, nowadays you're more likely to have to pay £10,000 plus. That's a sign of the growing Investment potential over recent years.

 

Digger: Bill Wyman has always been a big collector and he said to me that when he was collecting all of his memorabilia in the sixties and seventies his contemporaries all scoffed at him and his suitcases full of stuff. But now he's having the last laugh because the same people are buying the items off of him because now they're realising the value of their past and want things to commemorate it.

 

Mike: I remember sitting in someone's kitchen in London about twelve years ago and he opened up an old tin box of gig fliers, tickets, programmes and so on. His teenage daughter was flitting in and out and you could just see from the look on her face, her attitude and demeanour that she thought dad was a bit of a pillock for keeping all of this stuff. And she probably thought that we were a couple of sad gits talking about something that was quite inconsequential. When it came to me making an offer, which fortunately was accepted and at that time was quite a few hundred pounds, her attitude totally changed. 

 

Digger: Funny how that focuses people's minds.

 

Mike: I did actually say on the way out "Maybe dad wasn't quite so silly keeping all of this rubbish all those years ago, was he?!"  The bigger auction houses have done a lot to popularise the market and, of course, all of the coverage on TV antiques-based programmes, in magazines and so on.

 

Digger: There are quite a few experts and valuation services now.

 

Mike: It seems to me that there an awful lot of people setting themselves up as experts and bandying around very silly figures. I had someone who had some Beatles autographs recently and they got a valuation, believe it or not, from someone who worked at a national newspaper! And who this person was I have no idea but they suggested to them that their autographs were worth £15,000. Now Beatles autographs are valuable but autographs on a piece of paper, such as this lady had, are not worth £15,000. Closer to £3,000 or £4,000.

 

Digger: If you can prove the provenance and the authenticity.

 

Mike: It seemed rather odd to me, like wanting to buy a Scottish wild salmon and going to see a car mechanic about it. (Digger laughs) So I've got slightly mixed views over many experts. It's very easy when you're valuing. And the tendency with human nature is to not disappoint people and to overvalue and I always tell people that talk is ever so cheap. When you have to come to actually hand the money over that's when you get a much better appreciation of the value.

 

Digger: What are your plans for the future development of the MEM business Mike?  

 

Mike: Time permitting, the emphasis is getting more of our stock listed. We still have lots more material to go through and obviously it's a time-consuming exercise. We do sell a lot of material, so it's a constant process of renewal. It's also more time spent sourcing as well and sourcing is becoming more difficult and so we are putting more resources into that side of the business. Also, of course, getting out there and doing the evangelical bit and trying to spread the word and popularise the product. So it's really all of those things. It's like any business - you've got to keep looking at how the market's developing, what the competition are doing and what clients want and keep progressing. There was a time fifteen years ago when you could buy and sell memorabilia on the basis of an ad in the paper - there was no need to have an image of the item, and that's actually how most memorabilia was transacted. Well, these days everything that we sell off the websites is imaged. Yes, I do private sales as well which never even go onto the website, but the visual image of pieces on offer is a big change.

 

Digger: Thanks for talking to us Mike.

 

Mike: Thank you David.

 

 

 

 MEM Cinema and Music Memorabilia


   

MEM Cinema and Music Memorabilia

 

 

RockPopMem.com

At RockPopMem.com we specialise in providing collectable music memorabilia.

We cover various Musical Genres but concentrate on classic 1960ís-1980ís material including Gig Posters, Flyers, Programmes, Tickets etc.  Whether youíre interested in The Beatles or The Sex Pistols, ABBA or Oasis, there should be a range of material here that should appeal. We cater for true collectors, interior designers & those looking for an attractive investment. Here at Rockpopmem we aim to provide you with a friendly & professional service. All our material is original. We do not deal in reproductions.

MEM,
The Old School House,
Crookham Common Rd,
Crookham Common,
Thatcham, Berks,
RG19 8EJ
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 269 327

 

Moviepostermem.com

At Moviepostermem.com we specialise in providing classic original Cinema Posters.

We cover all Genres, from James Bond to Hammer Horror, Gangsters to Comedy, Star Wars & Musicals & many more besides. We cater for true collectors, interior designers & those looking for an attractive investment. Here at Moviepostermem we aim to provide you with a friendly & professional service. All our Posters are originals. We do not deal in reproductions.

MEM,
The Old School House,
Crookham Common Rd,
Crookham Common,
Thatcham, Berks,
RG19 8EJ
United Kingdom

Telephone +44 (0) 1635 269 327

 

MEM Cinema and Music Memorabilia

 

 

 

 


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