The Force will be with Star Wars collectors when rare and highly coveted items hit the auction block, including the only surviving example of three BlasTech DL-44s used by Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
Hake's Auctions, Heritage Auctions and Rock Island Auction will offer Star Wars memorabilia and other pop-culture goodies at sales this month and in August.
Heritage Auctions, July 22-23
A long time ago in a theater probably not too far from your house, Star Wars was released on May 25, 1977, long before the original space opera was rechristened Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. To celebrate the 45th anniversary, Heritage Auctions is offering in its July 22-23 Hollywood & Entertainment Signature® Auction two of the rarest and most coveted items featured in the film that spawned a never-ending franchise: a screen-matched stormtrooper helmet and a screen-used hero E-11 blaster shared by stormtroopers, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.
“Finding screen-matched props from Star Wars is virtually unheard-of,” says Joe Maddalena, Executive Vice President at Heritage Auctions. “I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of offering several items from the movie that changed everything. But there is something particularly magical about the helmet and blaster. These recognizable, revered items were made for a movie that was turned down by studios before 20th Century Fox OK’d a franchise that continues to thrive in the 21st century.”
When George Lucas began shooting Star Wars in the Tunisian desert in March 1976, only six stormtrooper helmets were completed in time for filming. These first helmets were later dubbed “sandtroopers” by fans and ultimately by Lucasfilm. In addition to their custom, desert-worn weathering, these helmets also featured unique hand-painted detailing that differs slightly from all the other stormtrooper helmets finished and used later.
Of these six original sandtrooper helmets, only two are confirmed to exist in private hands, including the one Heritage is offering. In addition to being one of the surviving original first-produced and first-filmed stormtrooper helmets from the original Star Wars, this specific helmet can be conclusively identified on-screen across multiple sequences.
Another Star Wars centerpiece in this star-studded event is that screen-used hero E-11 blaster, which was wielded by both stormtroopers and Han, Luke and Leia during the Mos Eisley Spaceport shootout, the Tatooine scenes, some Death Star sequences – and during the beloved trash-compactor scene.
Bapty & Co., the legendary British theatrical armorer, based this science-fiction weapon on a British Sterling submachine gun, custom fabricating and dressing it specifically for the first Star Wars production. The front section of the blaster is an actual Sterling body tube with the central barrel replaced by a simple wooden dowel painted black.
Multiple lightsabers from the Star Wars prequels will also be auctioned, among them Obi-Wan Kenobi’s hero lightsaber hilt used by Ewan McGregor in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.
For more information and to see the Star Wars and other pop-culture lots and movie props offered, visit Heritage Auctions.
Hake's Auctions, July 26-27
If modern art aficionados could be granted one wish, it might be the discovery of a major, previously unknown Picasso. While Picasso lovers may have a long wait ahead of them, those who revel in the uniquely imaginative art and imagery of the Star Wars saga just might have their wishes granted later this month, when Hake’s auctions six extraordinary artworks from Star Wars’ earliest days. Also offered will be a high-grade Boba Fett L-slot rocket-firing prototype figure and trove of other pop culture rarities.
The July 26-27 auction of pop culture memorabilia includes original Star Wars art that only a small circle of insiders would even know about. Each lot contains unpublished concept art that legendary comic strip artist Al Williamson (1931-2020) created in the late 1970s for a proposed Star Wars daily newspaper comic strip. Williamson, already regarded as a titan of the industry for his work with EC Comics and for having drawn the 1960s Flash Gordon comic strip, prepared 12 strips to cover the first two weeks of newspaper publication (Sundays were not included). However, the deal never came to fruition. Russ Manning (1929-1981) was tapped to write and draw the Star Wars strip, which he did from 1979 to 1981, when poor health forced him to retire. At that point, Williamson stepped back in to handle the art and storyline duties through the strip’s conclusion in 1984.
The market for Star Wars rarities has been on fire. In March, Hake's sold a Star Wars Boba Fett prototype action figure for a world-record price of $204,435. The July 26-27 auction could be another record-setting event, with Star Wars and other extraordinary pop-culture highlights including another Boba Fett L-slot rocket-firing prototype for Kenner’s action figure from the company’s 1979 Star Wars toyline. AFA-graded 85 NM+ and archivally cased, the estimate is $200,000-$350,000.
“We’ve seen one record price after another for Boba Fett prototypes here at Hake’s,” said Hake's President Alex Winter. “In March 2022, an AFA 50 VG J-slot version sold for $204,435, while three different L-slots – each AFA-graded 85 NM+ – have sold for successively higher prices since 2018, rising to $165,200. In June, an AFA 80+ NM example of an L-slot Boba Fett sold in our all-Star Wars auction for a world-record $236,000. The one in our July sale is of an even higher grade.”
Many rare standard-production figures have been consigned to the July event, including a 2-1/4-inch Jawa (vinyl-cape version) from Kenner’s 1978 Stars Wars toyline. AFA-graded 85 NM+ on an unpunched 12 Back-A blister card, the Jawa figure is preserved in an archival case and comes to auction with a $35,000-$50,000 estimate. The highlights continue with a straight-arm G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero action figure of Commando Snake Eyes from Hasbro’s 1982 toyline. This coveted “Joe” on the earliest card variety is AFA-graded 80 NM. According to the AFA Population Report, there are only two known examples in a higher grade, thus warranting a $10,000-$20,000 estimate. Completing this trifecta of action-figure royalty is an 8-inch Green Goblin from Mego’s “The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes” line. Issued in 1977 and AFA-graded 80+ NM (archival case), it is the only graded example included in the AFA Population Report. Its pre-auction estimate is $10,000-$20,000.
To see all the Star Wars offerings, plus comic books, baseball items including cabinet cards, campaign buttons and other political items and more, visit Hake’s.
Rock Island Auction, Aug. 26-28
From Rock Island Auction Company and a galaxy far, far away comes the BlasTech DL-44 Heavy Blaster carried by Han Solo, portrayed by Harrison Ford, in Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope, which will be up for auction during the company's Premier Auction, Aug. 26-28. Star Wars fans refer to Han Solo's Blaster, one of the most recognizable weapons in movie history, as the "Hero" prop. The Blaster was used to spring Solo out of several scrapes and can be seen prominently strapped to his thigh at the film's triumphant conclusion. The pre-auction estimate is $300,000-$500,000.
Han Solo's Blaster was previously considered missing and presumed lost forever, requiring new prop blasters to be built for Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. The replacement wielded by Ford in Return of the Jedi sold at auction in 2018 for $550,000. The current offering by Rock Island is the sole surviving blaster prop remaining of the three used for filming the original trilogy. Han Solo's Blaster could set the new high-water mark in the increasingly popular field of Star Wars collectibles. In 2017, an original R2D2 droid sold for $2.75 million, and an original X-wing miniature prop brought $2.3 million in June 2022.
Originally Han Solo's Blaster was a Mauser C96 broom handle pistol that served as a prop in previous movies, such as the 1968 film Naked Runner, where it was used by Frank Sinatra, playing an assassin. The Mauser was modified with a World War II-era scope and the muzzle from an airplane-mounted machine gun, along with a few other modifications. The Blaster comprised of military surplus parts would go on to serve as the prototype for those carried by Solo throughout the first three Star Wars films produced.
Rock Island Auction Company's August Premier Firearms Auction offers a selection of other items including legacy firearms, historic masterworks, supreme rarities from across the ages and some of the most desirable treasures found in the world of fine arms collecting. Whether collectors are in the market for a North American Arms Co. Model 1911 pistol, a Confederate Morse breech loading center-fire carbine, or a piece of Hollywood history, the August lineup caters to collectors at every level. Also offered in the auction will be a pair of pistols wielded by Angelina Jolie in the 2001 film, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, as well as a revolver of Wild Bill Hickok that many historians believe was on his person when he was killed in Deadwood, SD.
For more information and to view lots, visit Rock Island Auction.