Put money in thy purse: Shakespeare collectors hunt for bargains

Costumes worn by David Tennant and Sir Ian McKellen were among those auctioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) on the weekend. Savvy collectors and theatre fans competed to take home items that could well be worth much more in years to come.

The RSC raised £55,000 through its sale of more than 15,000 garments at its Stratford-upon-Avon headquarters on Saturday.

Members of the public queued for hours to take a look at the array of cloaks, capes, breeches and accessories before the sale.

One of the highlights of the auction was a green embroidered doublet and breeches donned by David Tennant for his role as Berowne in Love's Labour's Lost in 2008, which made £450.

A breastplate worn by Toby Stephens in Anthony and Cleopatra in 1992 went for £50 while a blue silk waistcoat worn by Charles Dance in a 1977 production of As You Like It made £80.


The RSC raised £55,000 on Saturday

A simple white shirt worn by Sir Patrick Stewart in Hamlet in 2008 achieved £60.

The RSC's head of costume, Alistair McArthur, commented: "Our store rooms are so full now, that we've had to clear out the costumes we know we won't use again or we can no longer hire out.

"Some pieces really are beautiful - so much craft has gone into making them - watching them go to a different home feels a bit like letting your children go off to college."

While for many actors the stage remains the purest form of the craft, it is the memorabilia of those stars that have made it big on the silver screen that commands the highest prices, as seen by the popularity for David Tennant items. Bond memorabilia can be an especially lucrative investment, particularly in good condition and with excellent provenance.


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