Back in 2006, CBS Television Studios/Paramount Pictures had a successful $7Million USD sale of its Star Trek production material. Christie’s lots of costumes and props were cataloged for prospective buyers to peruse and plan for one weekend in NYC, and sold for exorbitant prices (I was there for the sticker shock).

Later in 2007, Star Trek production material continued to be auctioned off on eBay by a proxy company, with one hundred items appearing weekly for a few years but in a random pattern. Buyers would have to return to the website each week to see what gems were available. I think public interest waned as the years rolled on (until mid-2009), and final prices settled to a more down-to-earth level. I was able to net a few items in this manner. But I should have learned from the Christie’s experience for another auction this past weekend.

Propworx Inc. produced a live auction of Trek memorabilia, their fourth. Most of the lots were consignments of items previously sold by Christie’s and on eBay. One piece that caught my eye was an admiral’s uniform from the Star Trek: The Next Generation first season episode “Too Short A Season.”

Despite the show’s early seasons being panned by most fans, I felt the early seasons were visually more fresher in their approach because of the newness of it all. The admiral design is notable for lasting only through the first year, and being even more asymmetrical than the standard uniforms. Aside from being tagged with the actor’s name, the costume also had a large Velcro patch near the hem to attach a phaser holster, which made this identifiable to the away team scenes. However, slacks were not part of this lot.

© CBS Television Studios | Propworx, Inc.

© CBS Television Studios | Propworx, Inc.

Between the previous eBay sale of $1025 USD and the fact that no slacks were included, I thought I could get this piece at a comfortable level and add it to my first season costume collection (standard and skant). But with this being a cataloged sale for everyone to see, I once again underestimated the deep pockets of dedicated Trekkers.

I put in an absentee bid of $1500 (In retrospect, it seems low compared to the sale nine years ago but I have a mortgage to think about!) and logged off but continued to watch it live. When the lot appeared one hour into the event, it started at $800 but instantly jumped up to my bid level and climbed ever higher, closing at twice what I offered (not including the 18% buyer’s premium).

Sigh.

I’m happy with the costume pieces I own now, and there’s always a chance the admiral costume would turn up in another venue. But having now experienced a live auction twice (meaning not eBay’s method of counting down to a due time), I know I must be extremely determined against other bidders. Such items with their special provenance and immortal place in entertainment history go far above the toys I typically purchase and talk about, but they do fall under the same collecting zeal. The question is, how badly do I really want it as a collector? Or need…?

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