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Theater Props & Wardrobe Memorabilia

From the prominent skull in Shakespeare's "Hamlet" to Charlie Chaplin eating his shoe in "Gold Rush," the costumes and props that are incorporated into theater and film performances can elicit as much enthusiasm as the actors themselves. Antique and vintage theater props and costume components capture this importance while also celebrating the rich history of theater itself.

Ancient Greek thespians were some of the first to explore the potential of theatrical props, using a variety of masks in their performances of classic Greek tragedy and comedy. This theatrical tradition gave way to increasingly-elaborate performances, complete with costuming, extensive props, and complex scenery. Props, the truncation of "properties," first emerged in stage notations in the early 15th century, around the same time that costuming fully came into its own. English theatrical productions of the era dazzled audiences with their luxurious dress, adding to the mystique and fantasy of theatrical shows.

This visual allure continues today on both stage and screen. From Broadway theaters to blockbuster movies, props and costumes consistently play a crucial role in creating the narrative illusion, which is why we fall in love with such stories and connect with their essential costumes and props.

Quick Facts

  • The oldest surviving theatrical mask dates to the Neolithic Age: displayed in France's Musée Biblique, the prop dates to roughly 7,000 B.C.
  • One of the original Wilson hand-printed volleyballs from "Cast Away" sold for more than $18,000
  • One of the highest-priced movie costumes ever sold was the white dress worn by American actress Marilyn Monroe in "The Seven Year Itch:" it sold in 2011 for $4,600,000 plus commission

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