Like That Rudolph TV Special? This Auction Might Be for You

Assuming you've got a quarter-million to spare
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 15, 2020 11:33 AM CDT
Rudolph From 1964 Special Is Up for Auction
This image released by Profiles in History shows a Santa Clause and Rudolph reindeer puppet used in the filming of the 1964 Christmas special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."   (Profiles in History via AP)

Rudolph and his still-shiny nose are getting a new home, and it's bound to be a lot nicer than the Island of Misfit Toys. The soaring reindeer and Santa Claus figures who starred in the perennially beloved stop-motion animation Christmas special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer are going up for auction, reports the AP. Auction house Profiles in History announced Thursday that a 6-inch-tall Rudolph and 11-inch-tall Santa used to animate the 1964 TV special are being sold together in the auction that starts Nov. 13 and are expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000. Collector Peter Lutrario of Staten Island thought they might be the only items he would never sell, but when he recently turned 65 he thought about having something to leave for his children and grandchildren. "I'm just putting the family first."

The figures were made by Japanese puppet maker Ichiro Komuro and used for the filming of the show at Tadaito Mochinaga’s MOM Productions in Tokyo. They're made of wood, wire, cloth, and leather. Rudolph's nose, after some minimal maintenance through the years, still lights up. The realistic bristles of Santa's beard are made from yak hair. Lutrario says that even after well over five decades you can manipulate them as the original animators did. "Not only can you move the arms, the legs, the head, you can move the fingers, the thumbs," he said. After filming, the figures landed at the New York offices of what would become Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment. Arthur Rankin Jr. gave them to his secretary, who gave them to her nephew. It was from him that Lutrario bought them about 15 years ago after seeing them appraised on PBS' Antiques Roadshow.

(Read more auction stories.)

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