Charlie Chaplin 'first' bowler hat makes $18,750 at Sotheby's New York

Charlie Chaplin's 'first' bowler hat has sold at a Sotheby's auction in New York for $18,750.

The silent movie star, who in 1999 was voted the 10th greatest male screen legend of all time by the American Film Institute, was synonymous with the bowler.

The south London-born actor used the prop to great effect from 1909, when his legendary "Tramp" persona was born - a year before he moved to the US.

Said to have been Chaplin's first bowler, and used on-stage, the hat came with a note of provenance from his fellow actor Bert Bailey.

Chaplin gave the hat to Bailey for a court appearance in 1909 while the two were unknown actors in London.

Bailey appeared at London's Harbour Square Police Court as a witness to a mysterious "maternity charge" that had been laid against Chaplin.

The sale failed to match the heights attained for another Chaplin bowler, which brought $135,300 at the Debbie Reynolds Collection sale conducted by Profiles in History in the summer.

Its higher price can be put down to the fact that the hat was documented as having appeared in several films.

Charlie Chaplin bowler hat
Chaplin's maternity charge 'titfer'

Early Hollywood memorabilia is proving a big hit with collectors at the moment.

For example, signed photos of Laurel & Hardy have risen in value by 7.14% in the past 12 months, according to the PFC40 Autograph Index.

We have a matte-finish 10.75" x 14.5" photo of the comedy duo currently in stock, priced at £6,900.

The piece has been signed and inscribed in fountain pen in the centre: "OUR KIND THOUGHTS ALWAYS, ELMA & FRED, SINCERELY."

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