War Horse Puppets Ride to Auction for Charity

Puppet Masters in War Horse. Image: Bonhams Auctions

War Horse is a depiction of World War I through the eyes of Joey the horse and farm boy Albert. Image: Bonhams Auctions

ART AUCTION NEWS:  Iconic War Horse Puppets Will Be Sold for Charity at Bonhams Auctions in London.


War Horse puppet masters on stage in a performance. Image: Bonhams Auctions

LONDON- Joey and Topthorn, two original puppets from the smash-hit play, War Horse, are set to go on sale in London. They will highlight Bonhams charity auction in London on September 13, 2016. Also included in the sale is a goose and a pair of crows from War Horse.

There is great excitement among collectors because this is the only time a full set of these famous puppets will be made available at auction. In all, eight sets were made, of which three are being preserved for future productions. Being one of five remaining sets, this set will be signed and numbered 1/5 by Adrian Kohler, Handspring’s Master Puppeteer.

Designed and made in South Africa by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of Handspring Puppet Company, the puppets, were central to the success of War Horse stage adaptation. It took eight months of hard work to create the horses. Assisted by an array of highly creative artisans employed by the Handspring Puppet Company between 2010 and 2014, the horses were made of cane, leather and tyvec. A material used in book-binding was used for the manes and tails.  The torsos are reinforced with aluminum and strong enough to carry a rider.

In 2013, the Victoria and Albert Museum became the first to acquire one of these magnificent puppets.

War Horse is the most successful play ever mounted by the Royal National Theatre of London. Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, the play tells the story of love and the power of perseverance even in the face of crushing adversities.

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Set during the First World War, the heart-breaking story revolves around Albert, a young Devon farmer’s boy. Albert’s  beloved horse Joey is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France at the height of First World War. Immediately, he resolves to bring Joey home. Rather than folding his hands, he enlisted in the army as a way of getting his horse back. His journey to bring Joey home is full of harrowing experiences that will break even the heart of stone. As a result of his unflinching commitment, Albert exemplified his undying for his horse.

More than seven million people worldwide have seen War Horse. After eight-year run in London’s West End, it went on tour to 11 countries around the world, captivating the audience.

War Horse captured hearts round the world including famously that of H.M. The Queen. This is a one-off opportunity to acquire a piece of theatrical legend and benefit a great cause,” said Giles Peppiatt, Bonhams Director of African Art.

Handspring Trust founded by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of Handspring Puppet Company will benefit from the auction of the original puppets from War Horse.  Handspring Trust is a not-for-profit organization seeking to inspire creativity, commitment and innovation towards new puppet theatre arts.  The trust’s main focus is on a group of young people in Barrydale.

Every December, Handspring Trust celebrates National Day of Reconciliation with parade and performance featuring giant puppets. Using Handspring’s team of puppet makers and theatre producers, the performance gives credence to new puppet theatre arts. This year’s celebration is expected to be big and ambitious.

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