Prop Store’s “Uhura” Earpiece: A Case of Mistaken Identity
I think that the one IAW sold and Penny showcases is a production-made prototype that was ultimately not used. It ended up in the archives with all of the other props and when Penny saw it, safely assumed it was Uhura’s. The issue, of course, is how Prop Store is protraying the one they are offering:
Uhura’s (Nichelle Nichols) earpiece from Nicholas Meyer’s sci-fi sequel Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Uhura wore her earpiece as she once again took on the position of communications officer of the Enterprise-A for the last time during the Khitomer crisis.
Although Uhura often used a metal earpiece, Paramount Pictures archivist Penny Juday identifies earpieces of this style as Uhura’s in the “Penny’s Toy Box” special featurette from the DVD release.
Two problems here:
- First, they are saying it is Uhura’s earpiece from the movie. It might have been intended to be but we can clearly see that it wasn’t.
- Second, they say that Penny “identifies earpieces of this style’ as Uhura’s in the featurette. Penny never said that the style was Uhura’s (she even said upon examining it that she was surprised the style remained relatively unchanged, even though it did). All she did was pick up the prop and said it was an “Uhura earpiece” which, to me, means that she felt what she was holding was the one used.
I did reach out to Prop Store with my concerns but at the time of writing this article, they have yet to take action. I think they are resting on vague wording and interpretation along with Penny’s featurette to leave it in as-is. With an estimated auction price range of £5,000 – 7,000 (about $5,500 and $7,700 USD) as well as an added 25% buyer’s premium on top of that, someone could pay over $10,000 for an unused prototype. If it were me, I would keep hailing frequencies closed on this one at that price range.