Here, we take a look at some of the recent Star Wars highlights at auction.
A classic poster
One of the most recognisable posters in Star Wars history is the 1977 US One Sheet, Style C, designed by Tom Chantrell. A copy sold at Ewbank’s at The Andy Johnson Movie Poster Collection auction in Surrey on December 6. It was one of several posters from the franchise, but was the top seller in this category, making a mid-estimate £900 before premium.
There was also a selection of more unusual advertising. For example, a 1979 first release Polish film poster by Erol focused on the droid C-3PO and was knocked down for £650 over an estimate of £300-500.
C-3PO also attracted lively interest at Sotheby’s Star Wars online sale, which closed on December 13. The helmet is constructed of cast fiberglass and resin, painted in metallic gold. It was produced by Industrial Light and Magic, the visual effects company founded by George Lucas, for the promotion of The Return of the Jedi (1983). It is the only example of its kind known and came from the private collection of a former ILM employee.
At the Star Wars sale it more than doubled its high estimate making a total of £56,250.
Luke’s original lightsaber
Most early lightsabers were constructed out of a vintage camera flash attachment, making them relatively easy to reproduce. Taken from a Graflex 3-Cell Camera flash attachment unit, the original prop was modified, but authenticity can still be an issue on the market.
However, at Prop Store’s Entertainment Memorabilia auction in London on September 30, a well-documented example, made for Mark Hamill to wield as Luke Skywalker in A New Hope (1977), was knocked down for £120,000.
This is not one of the versions known from production stills, but it has provenance back to the son of the managing director of Elstree Studios, who received it at a backlot where the item had been discarded and allowed to keep it after production wrapped. A dent in the metal plate at the end of the emitter suggests that at one point an attempt was made to weld a blade onto it. Several of the better-known lightsabers from the first film are now missing, and this was believed to be one of the few original Luke Skywalker props still in existence.
It was offered with a letter of authenticity.
Size gauge chart
Ivor Beddoes, a British storyboard artist, was famous for his work on films including The Red Shoes, Superman and Star Wars. One of his most recognisable efforts for Lucasfilm was this size gauge chart, made to be displayed in the special effects model making department, which was produced 1978-79 for The Empire Strikes Back.
The absence of Yoda, a late addition to the film, suggests that the chart was created early in the film making process.
It came from the personal archive of Roger Nichols, special effects designer on the film, and sold for £23,750 at Sotheby’s Star Wars Online auction.
Boba Fett Action Figure
In November an auction record was set for a Star Wars toy when a J-slot rocket-firing Boba Fett fetched $157,500 (£120,000) plus buyer’s premium at Hake’s of York, Pennsylvania.
The story of the rocket-firing Boba Fett is legendary among Star Wars action figure collectors. Kenner’s prototype figure of the bounty hunter had made its debut at the New York Toy Fair in 1979 as part of the Empire Strikes Back range, only for the design to be pulled due to concerns about the safety/cost of the toy’s rocket-firing mechanism.
The final production figure (itself a collecting rarity) came without the troublesome projectile.
Unknown to collectors until the mid-1990s, there had been two types of rocket-firing Bobas - the L-slot with a firing mechanism resembling a backward L and the rarer J-slot design. While perhaps as many as 100 J-slot prototypes were made, most of the 20 or so survivors show the scars of heating, freezing and forms of stress testing.
This example, however, appears to have emerged wholly unscathed. Fully painted with country of origin and copyright stamps, the only evidence that it underwent evaluation are the index marks on the underside of the figure’s feet.
Despite the record, it fell short of expectations – the auctioneers pitched it at $200,000-500,000.