"Only Angels Have Wings" Model Plane

Value (2007) | $5,000 Auction

I found this in a swap meet in Southern California. It was part of an estate that was being sold at the swap meet and it was sitting on the ground. And it had a handwritten note on it that said, "movie prop." So I got down on my knees and looked at it, and I determined by looking at it that I agreed that it was a movie prop. So I asked the gentleman who was selling what movie it was from, and he told me a title that I believe was “The Wings of an Angel.” That movie, or that title, did not match up to any movie that I was familiar with.

I've never heard of it.

So I sort of hemmed and hawed about whether or not I wanted to purchase it, because I could not remember any movie with that title. And I had decided ultimately to not purchase it, and I walked away and he...

Now, how much was it?

He was asking $250. ... So as I was walking away he just said, "Oh, the only other thing I know about it is is that Cary Grant starred in the movie." And as soon as he said that, I knew exactly what movie it was. I knew it was “Only Angels Have Wings.” And I knew that it was a Howard Hawks film. I knew that Jean Arthur and Cary Grant and Rita Hayworth were in it. But what I couldn't remember was, in the story line, the name of the airline. I ultimately bargained with him, got the price down to $195, and I loaded it in my car and I drove about as fast as I could around the corner to a local bookseller and I ran up the stairs and I found the first biography I could of Cary Grant and I flipped it open to “Only Angels Have Wings,” and there it was, Barranca Airlines.

That's fantastic. And you've really done your homework. You brought in the DVD, and we looked at it and there you can see it when you freeze the frame, it's a beautiful shot, you come right in and there's no question this is the model.


And of course that's very important in this market when you have visual evidence that it was the actual prop that was used in the movie. In the '70s, a lot of the movie studios sold off their props for giveaway prices. It was a shame. But recently-- I'd say within the last six or eight years-- a lot of specialty auction houses have made such a market out of movie props. I mean, they are selling movie props from movies that were made last year and getting amazing prices. But when you come up with a movie prop from a movie made in the 1930s, and when you come up with a movie prop that was from an important Hawks movie, it's just fantastic. And to be able to nail it down with that scene in that movie, it's really extraordinary. Value is a hard thing to say because, let's face it, this is it. There's not a half a dozen of these out there that have been floating around that we can really test the market with. But I've consulted with some friends of mine. I think this could sell easily in today's market for $5,000.


So I think a $200 investment was a very good play. Who knows? This has not only appeal to movie buffs but also to people who collect aeronautical memorabilia.

That's great. I can't believe I balked at paying $250 for it.

Appraisal Details

Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, PA
Appraised value (2007)
$5,000 Auction
Las Vegas, NV (August 18, 2007)

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