110,000.00USD+ (19,800.00) buyer's premium. + applicable fees & taxes.
SOLD at 2011 May 15 @ 07:39UTC-7 : PDT/MST
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(MGM, 1939) Undoubtedly the most famous crystal ball in film history, this hand blown glass sphere was used by the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) to keep track of Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her companions as they traveled down the yellow brick road in the MGM Technicolor classic The Wizard of Oz, a film which has become a national institution. Missing since 1939, this iconic item was thought lost by Oz experts after it did not turn up during MGM’s famous 1970 sale, but research has revealed that MGM never owned it. Instead, the item spent part of the last 72 years stored safely inside the tiny prop house lovingly maintained by special effects genius, Kenneth Strickfaden (Frankenstein), who contributed not only the crystal ball to the film, but was hired to create the electrical shock effect the Witch received when she bent down to remove the ruby slippers from Dorothy’s feet. Before appearing in The Wizard of Oz, the item appeared in other classics involving Strickfaden, including MGM’s The Mask of Fu Manchu starring Boris Karloff, and Twentieth Century Fox’s Chandu the Magician starring Bela Lugosi. Approximately 25 inches in diameter, positive identification occurred after noted Wizard of Oz experts mapped bubbles found in the hand-blown glass and painstakingly matched those with corresponding blemishes that appeared on screen. In addition, the ball’s unique, non-spherical hand-blown shape matches original MGM set photos from multiple angles. When consulted on the authentication of this crystal ball, William Stillman, noted Wizard of Oz expert and co-author of The Wizardry of Oz states: “I compared the visuals you sent against the set stills we have here, and I am pleased to say that it appears as though the markings and imperfections do align. Interestingly, I never before noticed how irregularly-shaped the globe was/is. It appears as though an effort was made to place the lopsided portion away from the camera side. In any event, I am pleased to help authenticate this unusual piece. Given its size and composition, it's remarkable it survived unscathed. Ownership of the item is thought to have transferred from Strickfaden to Dr. Maxwell Smith’s legendary science fiction prop house, Vectrex Corp., somewhere around 1973 when the two worked together on Blackenstein. This is the first time since the filming of The Wizard of Oz that this iconic screen used item has been offered to the public. Due to its use by not only Judy Garland, but also Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, the item’s cinematic importance cannot be overstated. Unlike other iconic Wizard of Oz items that were duplicated multiple times for use in the film, this is the only one of its kind.
For additional information on authentication process log on to: www.profilesinhistory.com/ozcrystalball
The owner wishes to donate a portion of the proceeds to The New Jersey State Teen Arts Program, and The New Jersey State Firemen’s Home.