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Revealed: The new twist in the 'lost' Charlie Chaplin film saga

What price will this rare 1917 film, discovered in a second hand shop, attract now at auction?


A second reel of Charlie Chaplin's long lost 1917 film Zepped is thought to have come to light.

The piece of WWI propaganda was discovered by Brian Hann in a second hand shop in South Shields, UK. It includes around seven minutes of action, missing only footage of a German Zeppelin at the beginning.

The extremely fragile 35mm nitrate film features some of the earliest known animation in film history.

Last month, what was then thought to be the only extant copy of the film appeared at Bonhams.

It too had been bought cheaply, for £3.30 from eBay.

However, it didn't sell.

Perhaps the £100,000 reserve price put potential collectors off. After all, there is a huge market for Chaplin rarities among alternative investors on both the private markets and at auction.

For example, Chaplin's trademark hat and cane were sold by Bonhams for $139,250 in 2006, while a fake moustache worn by Chaplin in his 1940 The Great Dictator film made £17,925 at Christie's in 2004.

Lambeth lad Chaplin is beloved by collectors throughout the world

Although the emergence of a second Zepped film will diminish the value of what was thought to be a unique reel, we believe both could still sell for significant sums in years to come.

Brian Hann certainly hopes so.

"When I read about the auction in London, and saw the footage, I realised it was exactly the same as I had picked up at the charity shop," he told UK newspaper the Shields Gazette.

I'm not greedy, I'm not expecting £100,000 for the film, but it should be worth more than what I paid for it."

Paul Fraser Collectibles will keep you posted on the latest developments on these rare Chaplin reels.


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Last updated: 12 July 2011