Mad Men on the Auction Block
Screenbid’s Mad Men auction opened on Friday and I have my eye on Joan’s divorce papers. Unfortunately, so do several other people and the current bid is already up to $150. Dr. and Mrs. Gregory Harris’s checks have not moved from their $50.00 opening bid so I could still take those home, but who wants to pay good money to remember Vile Greg? I have combed through the auction three times so far (BTW Roger’s black comb is up to $100, but Pete’s is still at $50 – discuss), knowing that I will not be able to afford anything from it. Like all true fans I would love to own a piece of Mad Men, so what’s a gal who covets Betty’s tortoise sunglasses (current bid: $300) to do?
Prop auctions like this one are designed for fans with plenty of disposable income. There are some real gems on the block. If I had some extra cash I would love to take home the Hershey campaign packet (current bid: $325) or the full Don Draper business card set (current bid: $1300). These items are easy to frame and would make great conversation pieces. Roger’s Office Abstract Lithograph (current bid: $475) would attract some attention hanging in my office, though not the kind that Bert and Peggy’s octopus painting would. Sorry, that one is not for sale, because this auction doesn’t include the really good stuff.
Those items are still on display at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City including Pete’s chip and dip, Joan’s pen necklace, and Peggy’s torn skirt. The exhibit is drool-inducing and when I visited it in June my friend Laura practically had to yank me out of Betty’s kitchen and push me two steps to the right to see Don’s original Sterling-Cooper office.
At the auction, bids correlate with character popularity. Put Don’s name in front of anything and the bids soar. Don’s playing cards are currently going for $300 and his RCA remote control is at $1500. His hamper would look fabulous in my bedroom (current bid: $250). Harry Crane, on the other hand, can barely give away his inbox with videotapes and ashtray (current bid: $50); ditto for Jim Hobart and his orange sweater which nobody wants.
Each item comes with a Lions Gate Entertainment Certificate of Authenticity and this is a good thing, because some day a bereaved granddaughter who has never heard of Lane Pryce is going to wonder why her grandmother saved the rope he used to hang himself (current bid: $175).
Most of these items can be found in your local antique store which is probably where Mad Men’s eagle-eyed prop master found them in the first place. You can pick up a set of cocktail glasses matching those of Ken and Cynthia Cosgrove at an antique shop for what it would cost Screenbid to ship them to you from Los Angeles (current bid: $75.00). Auction pieces each come with a minimum $14.95 shipping fee plus whatever packaging is necessary to make sure those cocktail glasses arrive in tact. Sally’s resin sunflower table looks like an attractive purchase (current bid: $100) until you consider the added shipping costs. I don’t even want to think about what it would take to transport Don’s 1965 Cadillac Coup De Ville (current bid: $25,000) across the country.
Screenbid also adds a 24% buyer’s premium to each sale. This means if you buy Joan’s pinwheel brooch and earrings for their current bid of $400 you will really be paying $496 for the privilege of owning jewelry once worn by Christina Hendricks. Hmm, that might be worth the money. Come to think of it, any item carrying a trace of Jon Hamm’s DNA, such as Don’s navy blue swim shorts and loafers (current bid: $300) could well be worth the investment.
The question becomes one of financial prudence. I need to ask how much I am willing to pay for Don’s doormat (current bid: $150) or his apartment yellow vacuum (current bid: $50). And, after that, ask where I would put a door mat that Don Draper once walked upon. Does that go on a wall? Certainly not on my front porch for my family to trod on day after day. Should my husband build a glass case to display Don’s apartment yellow vacuum prominently in our living room? What about the Francis blender which currently sits at $175, slightly more popular than Don and Megan’s $100 blender, should we buy those? I barely use the blender I do own so it is doubtful that I would get much use out of Don and Megan’s vintage Osterizer Class VIII with a four-cup glass top.
Some of Mad Men’s treasures might be easier to obtain than you first realize. For example, the current bid for Peggy’s seashell box is $125. Guess what? I already own that jewelry box. I picked mine up in Hampton Beach, NH when I was ten and saved it all these years thinking it was pretty special. Apparently I was right.
Other items are still within reach, because they have yet to attract a single bid. How about the bloody rag Brenda mops herself up with after her husband beats her and deposits her on Pete and Trudy’s doorstep in “The Collaborators” [6.3]? Who is Brenda, you ask? She is the Greenwich neighbor who Pete chooses to have sex with despite her proximity to the Campbell home. Similar to Joan’s divorce papers that rag symbolizes the end of Pete and Trudy’s marriage. When Trudy hands Brenda the dishtowel she realizes that her husband brought his serial philandering into her house.
Trudy refuses to free Pete with a divorce. Instead, she redefines the parameters of their marriage: “I don’t care what you want anymore; this is how it’s going to work. You will be here only when I tell you to be here. I’m drawing a 50 mile radius around this house and if you so much as open your fly to urinate I will destroy you.” Great speech, but I suspect the average Mad Men fan will not want to commemorate it by hanging a bloodied dishrag above the fireplace. The Walking Dead fans, sure, Mad Men fans, not so much.
The Screenbid.com auction ends on August 6 and the Mad Men exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image closes September 6; time is running out. Fortunately, your local antique dealer is available Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 – 5:00. It’s true their shop won’t have Joan’s divorce papers or Don’s business cards. If you are really lucky though, it might sell you a pair of vintage baby blue sunglasses for $8. And, if you wander through a flea market at just the right moment you might find a 45 record of The New Seekers’ “Buy the World a Coke” (1971) for $5 which you can frame for $25, hang on your office wall and call it good.
We might not be able to afford the Mad Men auction, but we can take the advice that a young Pete Campbell once gave to Trudy – “Why don’t you go shopping or something?”