Bonhams To Sell Charlie Chaplin’s Hat & Cane

Chatlie ChaplinThe trademark bowler hat and cane used by Charlie Chaplin, the man who brought laughter to millions, worldwide, in his role of the Tramp, will be sold in a sale of Rock n Pop & Film Memorabilia sale at Bonhams in Knightsbridge on Wednesday 16 November 2005. Chaplin used these indispensable props throughout his 22-year career.

Jon Baddeley, Group Head of the Collector’s Department at Bonhams comments “Charlie Chaplin was without doubt, the most innovative and recognisable comic of the silent screen. It is a privilege to offer for sale at auction these two trademark accessories from Chaplin’s famous tramp costume.”

Amusingly, Chaplin’s famous origins of the Tramp guise were concocted almost spontaneously in the communal male dressing room at Keystone Studio, Hollywood. As the legend goes – one rainy afternoon, in early February 1914, Chaplin created an inspiring ensemble of contrasts; he borrowed Fatty Arbuckle’s voluminous trousers, Charles Avery’s tiny jacket, Ford Sterling’s size fourteen shoes which he was obliged to wear on the wrong feet to keep them falling off, a too-small derby belonging to Arbuckle’s father-in-law, and a moustached intended for Mack Swain’s use, which he trimmed to toothbrush size.  According to Chaplin’s Hollywood producer and costumier at the time, Ted Tetrick, the hat and cane were originally at the studio costume department and were selected by Chaplin personally.

Charlie ChaplinChaplin believed that the costume induced the character, so that by the time he walked on to the stage, he was fully born. The bowler hat, stamped with manufacturer’s details inside the leather hatband and original studio label stamped The Chaplin Studios Inc California and ink stamped Charles Chaplin Film Corporation. The cane is 32 inches long and made of bamboo. Chaplin’s hat and cane are expected to fetch £100,000-150,000.

Tetrick acquired the hat and cane after the death of Chaplin’s studio manager, Alfred Reeves in 1946. He had been associated with Chaplin since 1938 – where they were first used as the Tramp character in the film, “ The Great Dictator”.

Charles Spencer Chaplin was born in the East end of London – Elephant and Castle on 16 April 1889. In 1908 he joined Fred Karno’s touring stage company with his brother Sydney; Stan Laurel was also a member of the same company. From age 17 to 24 he was with Fred Karno’s English vaudeville troupe, which brought him to New York in 1910, aged 21. In November
of 1913 he signed a contract with Mack Sennett at Keystone and left for Hollywood the next month.

For more details visit the Bonhams web site.

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