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Arguably the most famous timepiece in film history, the hourglass used by the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz sold for $495,000 at Heritage Auctions December 17.

From what is regarded as “the best loved motion picture of all time,” the Wicked Witch’s hourglass remains the most recognizable prop from the film, in addition to being a crucial plot-driving device. The scenes at the witch’s castle, where the hourglass is used, are among the most memorable in the film.

Wizard of Oz hourglass

The hourglass used by Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz sold for nearly a half million dollars at auction.

After Dorothy (Judy Garland) is captured, winged monkeys(!) bring her to the Wicked Witch, who holds the hourglass and exclaims, “You see that [the hourglass]? That’s how much longer you’ve got to be alive! And it isn’t long, my pretty! It isn’t long! I can’t wait forever to get those shoes!”

Results from Heritage's Hollywood and Entertainment Signature Auction

From that moment, the pace of the film quickens, as the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion race against time to save Dorothy. When her rescuers reach the castle tower where Dorothy is held captive, they break down the door as Dorothy cries out, “Oh, hurry, please hurry! The hourglass is almost empty!”

Not to worry. Dorothy is saved. The Wicked Witch is defeated. And, fortunately for all, The Wizard of Oz is timeless.

Wicked Witch of the West

Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West holds The Wizard of Oz hourglass as a fiendish flying monkey looks on.

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