17 Oct 2023

Original Charlie Chaplin Tramp costume up for auction

Charlie Chaplin Tramp costume

Charlie Chaplin fans, cinephiles and avid memorabilia collectors are being given a chance to own an iconic Chaplin costume with a fascinating history.

The original Tramp suit that Charlie Chaplin first wore in the part of “The Little Tramp” is one of the stand-out pieces in our latest fine arts, antiques and collectables auction.

Closely identified with the silent film era, Chaplin accidentally created the Tramp character while working on the 1914 short film “Mabel’s Strange Predicament”.

The iconic baggy trousers, tight coat, bowler hat, oversized shoes and cane became such a crucial part of Chaplin’s on-screen persona until Chaplin officially retired the character in the film Modern Times in 1936.

The auction includes the first ever Tramp suit circa 1910, worn in the part of ‘The Little Tramp’.

Lent to Chaplin by Billie Ritchie whilst they were performing in “The Mumming Birds”, Chaplin was supposed to be playing the part of the gentleman cad and Ritchie the Tramp, but the roles were switched.
The shoes were too large, so Chaplin put them on the opposite feet, and Charlie Chaplin’s iconic creation was born.

Chaplin returned the suit after the performances but reprised the character on film in “Kid Auto Races at Venice” (1914), where his Tramp character became famous.

Following Billie Ritchie’s death in a filming accident, Chaplin hired his widow, Winifred, to oversee and design his costumes (most famously for the Great Dictator). When Winifred retired, she came back to Britain with the original Tramp suit that was then placed in the museum of Harry Brown, a stage doorman of many London Theaters between 1930 and 1960.

The suit was later exhibited at the Museum of Moving Images in London, Museum of Entertainment, Truro, Cornwall and Exeter University.

A copy of the book “Chaplin: His Life and Art” which covers the Charlie Chaplin/Billie Ritchie suit saga is also included, along with a Bonhams catalogue 1996 (where the suit was previously sold) and relevant newspaper cuttings.

What an amazing opportunity to own a significant part of Charlie Chaplin and Billie Ritchie film history!

View the Charlie Chaplin Tramp Suit

The catalogue for our latest fine arts, antiques and collectables auction is online now and features many more items, including an original Marilyn Monroe swimsuit.

The auction ends on the 1 November from 7pm

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