Titanic display of movie memorabilia

Titanic display of movie memorabilia
Tammie Grants sits with some of her Titanic movie prop collection.

It’s a collection of Titanic proportions – pun completely intended.

Tammie Grant’s collection of Titanic movie memorabilia is measured in the hundreds. In fact, well over 1,000 pieces from James Cameron’s 1997 epic about the ill-fated luxury liner which sank 100 years ago this weekend, are now in the possession of a Cornwall woman who has become a full-time collector.

Grant’s pieces include everything from jewelry to linens, boarding passes, life jackets, purses – even pieces of the iceberg.

Not bad for something that came out of one woman’s desire to familiarize herself with technology and the Internet.

“I was trying to learn more about computers,” Grant said, when asked how her Titanic collection began. “(My husband) told me to punch something into Google.”

Grant, who enjoyed Titanic lore, punched in the name of the ship and quickly came across the site for 20th Century Fox auctions. It was there that she discovered that props from the movie were being auctioned to the public. That was 10 years and more than 1,000 pieces ago.

“It used to be daily,” she says of her import of Titanic movie memorabilia. “Now it’s weekly. But there are still some days where I get four or five pieces in the mail.”

Grant is on a first-name basis with other collectors and the owners of prop houses from whom movie studios like 20th Century Fox rent their props. Often large movie studios cannot afford to purchase or make all the props in their productions, so they rent them.

Her collection includes the same purse actress Kate Winslet was carrying when she and actor Leonardo DiCaprio performed the famous spitting scene from the movie. She also has one of just six copies of the boarding passes DiCaprio was carrying when his character Jack Dawson boarded the doomed ship.

All of this memorabilia begs the question: how much do these pieces cost?

It’s a question Grant is guarded about answering. While she would not get into specifics, she did suggest that because this is the 100th anniversary of the sinking, and the movie is be re-released in 3D, prices for the props are likely “at a high.”

Surfing the Internet one can find a variety of resources for memorabilia collectors. Propstore.com lists a multitude of items – some with fairly hefty price tags. A floating prop barrel sells for nearly $700, while a chair from the first-class dining room goes for almost $2,000.

“It all depends who the buyer is, and the time,” said Grant. “It’s more of a joy of collecting for me.”

Grant has remained faithful to Titanic for the duration of her collecting years, but there may come a time when she changes gears. She said other movies like Braveheart and The Matrix have caught her attention.

Her family, including her husband Peter and Children Laurel (15), Alec (12) and Seth (nine) have embraced her collecting.

She’s only seen the movie about 30 times – not as much as one might think for a collection as large as Grant’s – but her kids still point out items that are now in the collection.

It’s Grant’s hope to continue building her collection, hopefully through the acquisition of more items used by Winslet, which is fast becoming a priority.

You can get a chance to view some of the collection too. Some of Grant’s pieces will be on display for free public viewing at the South Stormont municipal building, in the council chambers, April 21 and 22 from noon to 5 p.m. each day.

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