Let me be clear. I was not contacted as an expert myself, but rather, for any contacts I might have. My experience with these pieces is strictly academic, meaning that, while I know more about these things than most people would, my knowledge is limited to research and conversations. I have never owned a true production-made TOS tunic and make no claims to expertise.
|Gold TOS Tunic being sold by Julien's|
|Blue TOS Tunic being sold by Julien's|
I sent out some feelers and ended up in touch with four people that had been exposed to TOS tunics, either through ownership of acknowledged TOS pieces or through handling of said pieces. I sent them the various shots I had and got more taken to satisfy requests for different kinds of things. The shots weren't great, frankly, but they weren't terrible either.
What they showed were three pieces that looked like they had been rolled up in a ball and thrown into a box for years and were basically forgotten. And, while that goes along with the basic claims of the owner, in and of itself it meant little except that the pieces looked like crap.
|Medical TOS Tunic being sold by Julien's|
And now we come to the most important aspect of this situation: the claim that these were worn by the three stars of the show – Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley. To that end, the only overt evidence of that use is a label on the command gold that says "BILL", handwritten in ink. As far as I know, that type of label has never been seen on TOS shirts before. It could be real or fake. I could make one that looked just like it in about a minute. It's worth noting that the other two shirts contain no such label.
So what other evidence is there regarding proof of "hero" use? As mentioned earlier, the braid can't be relied upon, so we have to take the shirts ONLY and discount anything sewed onto them. What does that leave us with, then? In my opinion, not much.
Here's the problem, in a nutshell. Dozens and dozens of these shirts were made and while Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley got the lion's share of screen time, there were dozens of times these same types of shirts would have been worn by supporting cast – George Takei and Walter Koenig both wore command gold shirts in every scene they were in – and by background and stuntmen as well. A gold tunic with captain's braid would have been worn by every stunt double who ever stood in for Shatner. Same with Nimoy's science blue shirt. And, while the short-sleeved medical tunic is more unique than the normal uniform shirts, DeForest Kelley was not the only wearer, as he, too had stunt doubles. There was also another doctor on board the Enterprise who we only saw in two episodes: Dr. M'Benga, a specialist on Vulcan physiology. Dr. M'Benga also wore the telltale surgeon's tunic in his various scenes, the same type worn by Dr. McCoy. So there's no exclusivity to these shirts whatsoever. Contrary to other claims, there's there are no construction details that are "Shatner-exclusive".
So, the only way to substantiate these shirts as hero versions is through the unlikely process of screen-matching, which means, find some unique detail on each shirt being offered and match that to a corresponding scene from an original episode. While this is incredibly hard, it can be done. But it can take a huge amount of time and, of course, if these aren't really hero pieces but only background or stunts, a screen-match to a main cast character would be impossible. So you could spend hundreds of hours scouring screen caps for something that simply doesn't exist. And even if these pieces are real heroes, there still might not be a way to match them as it's incredibly difficult due to the lack of unique details on a TOS uniform shirt. It's really a tough, tough thing to pull off.
So if there's no actual proof that these are hero shirts (or any confirmed hand's-on inspection authenticating these as true TOS production pieces. hero use aside – see my earlier statements about that, above), why are they selling at such high prices? Because Julian's want you to think that they are indeed not just real production pieces but authentic main cast pieces, despite not showing one shred of evidence in support of that theory. They know that many collectors are gullible and will believe what they want to believe – that these are the real deal. Please, please don't be one of those people. An unproven "Kirk" shirt that starts at $50,000 ($62,500 with the buyer premium!!) is a bad buy in my opinion. A LOUSY buy!! A normal background/stunt tunic would normally fetch between 4,000 and $8,000 and there is no proof offered that these pieces are anything but backgrounds at best. Julian's is hoping you're dumb enough to believe otherwise. If they have any additional information beyond what I supplied they'd say so as it could help substantiate the claim. That they have not done so tells us there's nothing to tell.
I sincerely wish I had better news about this, I really do. Unearthed TOS pieces are always exciting and three shirts worn by the main cast would be amazing! But without far more proof than the shirt colors and some general screen frames, any claim about these being heroes claim is unconfirmed and, in my opinion, invalid.
As always with such things, caveat emptor.