|Photo page from Profiles catalog|
It's interesting to note that the consignor of the Phaser, a collector named Gerald Gurian, is not as enthusiastic about these sites as I am. These sites are all about facts and ONLY facts. Supposition is all well and good, but at the end of the day "consistent with" does NOT mean "it is". And, in my opinion (as well as many others) a number of Mr. Gurian's claims regarding some of his props are specious, to say the least. He swears they're real, others (more informed, in my opinion) swear they aren't.
The other issue with this auction is that I think Profiles really sucks at authenticating items in their auctions. They are motivated by profit to make things sound as good as possible, even when they aren't. Profiles has famously had 2 different catalogs that featured fake items on their covers. They ended up not selling the items due to the uproar, but that doesn't mitigate the fact that THEY FEATURED FAKES ON THE COVER!
So when this new Phaser (which Profile's has attached to Mr. Gurian) came to my attention, I was somewhat skeptical. OK, I was REALLY skeptical. Here's what the Profiles auction says about the Phaser, in part:
|Description page from Profiles catalog|
Now let's start with the broad strokes. First of all, if all these claims are true, I'm pretty sure this would be the single most identified prop in Star Trek history. After all, they claim that it can be identified ("screen-matched") as being used in four specific episodes. That's unheard of! I know of no other prop that could meet that claim. Alas, this one doesn't either. Like the saying goes – there's good news and bad news.
Here's the good news: after doing a bit of research, I think this is a real Star Trek TOS Phaser prop that can actually be screen-matched to a specific use.
The bad news is that it can only really be screen-matched once. One episode. Period.
In the scheme of things, that ain't bad. One match is enough to authenticate it. The rest is just gilding the lily, IMO. And while I might not be an expert on these props, I am an expert at photo analysis as I do photo manipulation for a living.
Let's take episodes mentioned one at a time. Here's a comparison of the Profiles Phaser (left) and the phaser in "The Cloud Minders" that Profiles claims is a screen-match.
So let's move on to the "Plato's Stepchildren" version (bottom):
Next up is "Spock's Brain":
Unlike our first two examples, this screen capture is nice and clear. But unfortunately there are still no distinct features that we can concretely say are exclusive to the two versions shown. Interestingly, Profiles claims a screen match because "In particular, a tiny mold flaw/ridge line deviation in the rear in appearance was matched on-screen in “Spock’s Brain”" That's faulty logic, unfortunately. We can't know that a flaw in the mold is unique to a given piece without showing other examples of it NOT appearing. Since these phasers were probably all made with the same mold, there's no reason to think that they don't all have the same details, flawed or otherwise. And with no other distinct details to go on, I call this a non-match. It MIGHT be the same, but there's no way to prove it.
So finally we come to the "Assignment Earth" version and here's where things get interesting. Check it out:
Finally we have an angle that shows enough key detail as to ascertain specificity. And look at all the matching details! The crack on the front of the main body is so organic and specific in nature that it's unthinkable that it isn't a match. The Plate Overlap, Chip and Glue Squeeze areas all help make the case as well, but the Crack is the single most important piece of evidence.
|Nozzle details appear to be correct though slightly rotated.|
If I were interested in pursuing this piece – and with an $80,000 starting price there's no way in hell that I would be – I'd want a real expert – someone who has handled other specimens – to check this out. I'll bet it would pass inspection with flying colors.
Is this worth the $80,000-$120,000 estimate that Profiles gives it? That's for the market to decide, but personally I can't imagine spending that kind of money on something I can't live in. We'll see if this goes or not. Keep in mind that just a few months ago a TOS Phaser Rifle went for almost a quarter million bucks. This isn't in that league, of course (that was a one-of-a-kind) but anything can happen.
ADDENDUM: After the auction took place and this item didn't sell, the consignor had a few choice words for me. Read about that HERE