Return of the auction: Sotheby's announces second sale dedicated to Star Wars

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Return of the auction: Sotheby's announces second sale dedicated to Star Wars
‘Return of the Jedi’, Promotional C-3PO helmet, 1983. Est: £15,000-25,000. Courtesy Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Following a sell-out auction in 2015 from the collection of NIGO®, Sotheby’s will now host its second sale dedicated to ‘Star Wars’ collectibles, titled ‘Star Wars Online’. Encompassing around 100 lots from the acclaimed franchise, the online-only sale, open from 29 November to 13 December, offers the opportunity to acquire a piece of pop culture history just days ahead of the highly-anticipated release of the final film in the sequel trilogy, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’.

From the moment the first ‘Star Wars’ film hit the cinemas in May 1977, it became a cultural phenomenon unlike any other. Over the ensuing decades, eight further films have been produced, and a loyal legion of original fans have been joined by a new generation of followers. George Lucas' ‘Star Wars’ was the first film to introduce merchandise globally as a way to increase a film's popularity and revenue – and so the film franchise was born. As one of the most merchandised franchises of all time, the films have inspired collectors from across the globe.

As well as original posters, stickers and action figures, the auction will include many early, rare and prized collectibles associated with the film series. From a 1980s toy shop display to an original artwork depicting one of the film’s most iconic villains and with price points ranging from £100 to £60,000, the galaxy of ‘Star Wars’ fans will be able to bid on some of the rarest and most sought-after pieces connected with the films – or even find the perfect Christmas present for the ‘Star Wars’ devotee.

Highlights from the Star Wars Online sale will be on display at Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries from 6 to 11 December.

Sale Highlights

Lot 20 Prototype Imperial Stormtrooper helmet, 1976 Estimate: £30,000-60,000
This prototype Imperial Stormtrooper’s helmet was one of the initial pre-production designs by manufacturer Andrew Ainsworth for the first ‘Star Wars’ film. Made of white painted vacu-formed plastic with black rubber details, simulated vents and clear plastic eyepieces, this piece is exceptionally rare. Only a few of these prototype helmets have ever surfaced, with one of the surviving screen-matched helmets recently selling at auction for £159,000.

Lot 1 ‘Star Wars’ poster, Howard Chaykin, US, 1976, signed by Mark Hamill Estimate: £5,000-8,000
As the first poster produced for the legendary 1977 ‘Star Wars’ film, this rare piece provides an interesting insight into the initial marketing approach from the franchise.

Howard Chaykin, a comic artist, was commissioned to design this advance poster and in 1976 it was distributed at the San Diego Comic-Con in an attempt to create interest in the film. No film footage had yet been released, and the posters did not sell well - even at a modest $1. The rarity of this poster is furthered by the fact that it is signed with 'Best wishes Mark Hamill' across one of Skywalker’s legs.

Lot 12 ‘Star Wars’, Spiral bound album containing 52 original photographs, 1976 Estimate: £6,000-9,000
This album contains over fifty original handprinted photographs from the camera negatives taken on the set of the 1977 ‘Star Wars’ film, featuring scenes recognisable to many. During filming, hundreds of photographs were taken with minor variation, such as characters looking left, right, etc. From these, the studio selected the best ones to produce a negative for use to promote the film in newspaper and magazines. This particular album is believed to be one of only a handful produced to send to the three contracted toy manufacturers as design guidelines for the toys produced in conjunction with the film's release. It is exceptionally rare, with no other examples known to have surfaced.

Lot 57 ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, Special character size gauge chart, Ivor Beddoes, 1978-79 Estimate: £10,000-15,000
From the personal archive of Roger Nichols, special effects designer for The Empire Strikes Back, this remarkable piece of Star Wars memorabilia may well be the only surviving example, as no other one has surfaced to-date. This special size gauge was created to be displayed in the special effects model making department for staff to understand and gauge the different sizes of the characters in the film. As the inclusion of Yoda was not decided until quite late on in the making of the film, it can be deduced that this size gauge was created early in the film-making process, probably late 1978 or early 1979. The characters were drawn by Ivor Beddoes, who is best known for his work on films such as ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Superman’.

Lot 31 ‘Star Wars’, Han Solo 12-inch figure, 1978 Estimate: £400-600 Manufactured by American toy company Kenner – also known for its Jurassic Park action figures and the Easy-Bake Oven – this large size action figure depicts one of Star Wars greatest characters. Still in its original sealed package, this doll from the original ‘Star Wars’ film is in near mint condition.

Lot 74 ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, EMI Elstree Studios Christmas card and envelope, 1980 Estimate: £100-200 A charming piece of Star Wars memorabilia, this EMI Christmas card from 1980 brings the film series’ favourite duo, C-3PO and R2-D2, out of the galaxy and into a traditional Christmas scene. This card is in an excellent condition with the colours remaining very bright.

Lot 59 ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, Toy figures and Millennium Falcon toy shop display, c. 1980 Estimate: £7,000-10,000
This exceptionally rare British shop display is the only know example of its kind to-date. Produced under licence by Lucasfilm Ltd, it was made by N. J. Farmer Assoc. Ltd. to promote the Star Wars figures following the success of the first Star Wars film. Originally from a toy shop in Tenby, the display features figures produced by British toy company Palitoy for the 1980 film ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. At the centre of the display is the Millennium Falcon, surrounded by a number of hand-painted figures in various guises from the film, including R2D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Lot 49 ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, British Royal Charity World Premiere, Ralph McQuarrie, 1980 Estimate: £16,000-24,000
This exceptionally rare poster was created by designer and illustrator Ralph McQuarrie for The British Royal Charity World Premiere, which took place in London on the 20 May 1980. As this date was very close to the original Empire Day held on Queen Victoria's birthday, 24 May, from 1916-1958, the marketing department took full advantage of the coincidence. An army of Stormtroopers in Jeeps and on foot took to the streets of London, holding placards of this poster to heighten anticipation for the release of this film. This is one of the rarest known pieces of marketing material for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, with this poster having surfaced only a few times before.

Lot 82 ‘Return of the Jedi’, Promotional C-3PO helmet, 1983 Estimate: £15,000-25,000
Recreating one of the franchise’s most-loved and longstanding characters, this C-3PO helmet was made by George Lucas’ visual effects company, Industrial Light and Magic, for promotion of the 1983 film, ‘Return of the Jedi’. The helmet is constructed of cast fiberglass and resin components, composed of a 2-part mask with the faceplate portion painted in metallic gold. A bespoke removable wood and UV plexiglass display case has been made to house this piece. Included in this lot is a Crisco Oil tie-in poster featuring C-3PO and his companion R2-D2.

Lot 5 ‘Bring Me the Head of Darth Vader’, Clive Barker, 1999, and The Empire Strikes Back US Jumbo Still Estimate: £6,000-9,000
A unique one-off sculpture by one of the leading British Pop Artists, Clive Barker’s aluminium sculpture depicts one of film’s most iconic villains: Darth Vader. Although the film series’ antagonist is immediately recognisable in his trademark full-face breathing mask, his beheaded position on a plate is a stark contrast to the imposing figure that storms his way through the original film trilogy. Barker made his name in the late sixties, producing works portraying artist friends such as David Hockney and Francis Bacon, as well as sculptures reworking the still-life tradition.

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