It's illegal to buy or sell an Oscar statuette bestowed after 1950, but not earlier. However, there's no restriction on the sale of nomination certificates. That's probably because the certificates can be easily forged, so collectors are foolish to purchase them willy-nilly. Only rarely do good ones come up for sale at reputable auction houses, but a few will be offered by Bonham's on Dec. 17.
John Ford's nom for producing 1952 best pic nominee "The Quiet Man" (lot 1039) is expected to fetch between $1,000 and $1,500. Of course, he won best director (one of his record four victories in that category) that year, but "The Greatest Show on Earth" pulled off a jaw-dropping upset in the top race. Prior to Oscar night, Variety predicted, "'High Noon' is a cinch to win the trophy as best picture of the year and gain added glory through the victories of Gary Cooper as best actor, the title tune as best song and the script by Carl Foreman as the best screenplay." Cooper and the song ("High Noon — Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'") prevailed as forecast, but Variety was also wrong about the screenplay race where another upset occurred. Charles Schnee ("The Bad and the Beautiful") beat blacklisted scribe Foreman ("High Noon") and Frank S. Nugent ("The Quiet Man").
Bonham's is also selling Nugent's screenplay nom (lot 1040), which has the same estimate ($1,000 to $1,500). Both Ford's and Nugent's certificates are mounted on presentation board, unlike the John Ford nom in my personal collection. I own his certificate for directing "How Green Was My Valley" (1942), another one of his four wins. The other two were "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940) and "The Informer" (1935). It was sometime in between 1942 and 1952 that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences started mounting the parchments for nominees.
Also up for auction:
Screen Writers Guild award presented to Frank S. Nugent for "Mr. Roberts" (best written comedy, 1955). Lot 1041. Estimate: $300-$500.
Emmy Award statuette presented to Raymond Katz, producer of "The Miracle Worker" (best drama or comedy special of 1979 — the equivalent to best TV movie today). The NBC telefilm cast Patty Duke as Anne Sullivan 17 years after she won an Oscar for portraying Helen Keller in the feature film. Keller was played by Melissa Gilbert in the TV remake. Lot 1096. Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000.
Nine award items bestowed to producer Raymond Katz, including his Golden Globe nominations for producing "The Miracle Worker" (it lost to director Delbert Mann's "All Quiet on the Western Front" starring Richard Thomas and Ernest Borgnine) and 1980 telefilm "The Diary of Anne Frank" (directed by Boris Sagal, starring Melissa Gilbert and Maximilian Schell — it lost to director Paul Newman's "The Shadow Box" starring Joanne Woodward and Christopher Plummer). Lot 1097. Estimate: $200 - $300.
To learn more about the auction, go to Bonhams.com. To see items in this sale, click on the link that reads "Full Sales Schedule" along the left column of the home page, then scroll through the pages till you reach the Dec. 17 auction for "Entertainment Memorabilia Including Animation Art." Or use the drop-down calendar menus to input Dec. 17 on the first sked page.
By the way, if you intend to bid on any of these items, don't worry: I won't be bidding against you. i own plenty of Oscar nom certificates, including two of Katharine Hepburn's, plus Emmy, Golden Globe, Grammy and Oscar statuettes. If you'd like to read more about my personal collection — CLICK HERE!
(Photos: Bonham's Auction House)