Lot 9
  • 9

Charlie Chaplin Bowler Hat

15,000 - 20,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • felt, cardboard
Black wool felt bowler hat with grosgrain hat band, interior head band removed, edges worn and split in places. Accompanied by: Bert Bailey typed letter signed, 1954.


Charlie Chaplin — Bert Bailey, 1909 — Sir Edward Hallstrom — acquired by present owner at Estate of Sir Edward Hallstrom Sale, F.R. Strange Pty Ltd., Sydney, 14 Aug 1972.

Catalogue Note

Charlie Chaplin's iconic bowler hat worn by his famous silent film character, "The Tramp." Chaplin's most memorable character debuted in the silent film "Kid Auto Races at Venice," in February 1914. Wearing baggy pants, oversized shoes, a small mustache and a bowler hat, he played the character in countless other short films and subsequent feature-length productions throughout the 1910s and 1920s, quickly turning the Tramp into Chaplin's signature role and an icon of the silent film era itself.

"Kid Auto Races at Venice" and other examples Chaplin's earliest work were under the direction of Mack Sennett and the Keystone Film Company. Sennett's formulaic physical comedy routines were typical of early Keystone films, even before he signed Chaplin to the studio. Chaplin's earliest films reflect Sennett's vision of slapstick comedy, which was often brusque and overstated, but Chaplin steadily developed his own, more nuanced style during his tenure at Keystone. Sennett first saw Chaplin perform in a comedic troupe run by the music hall impresario Fred Karno while on tour in the United States. Chaplin toured with Karno's company from around 1909 to 1912 and it was during this time when he honed his comedic routines and subtle slapstick ruses that would become The Tramp's standard act. Chaplin wore the offered bowler hat on stage during Karno's shows, as Bert Bailey notes in the letter accompanying the lot, "We all then, wore large caps, but on the stage Chaplin wore a bowler ...." A few years later Chaplin did "again [wear] this hat in a few of Mack Sennett's shorts ...." This marks one of the earliest records of Chaplin and his iconic hat at the creation of the Tramp and his silent film debut.