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War Horse puppets to sell at special Bonhams charity auction

Puppets from the award-winning West End play War Horse will be sold at a Bonhams charity auction later this year.

The play, based on the 1982 novel by Michael Morpurgo, tells the story of Albert, a farmer’s son, who heads off to fight in WWI and rescue his beloved horse Joey, who has been sold as a cavalry horse and shipped off to France.

The production brought the horses to life using remarkable life-sized puppets, created by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of the Handspring Puppet Company in South Africa.

Having made its debut at the National Theatre on the South Bank in October 2007, the play has since been seen by seven million people in 12 countries around the world.

It remains the most successful play ever produced by the Royal National Theatre of London, and has won numerous Laurence Olivier and Tony Awards during its runs in London and on Broadway.

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

In 2013 the V&A Museum acquired one of the puppets for its permanent collection, but the charity sale will mark the first and only  time a complete set of puppets will ever been offered publically for sale.

The auction will include puppets for horses Joey and Topthorn, the Goose and a pair of crows, all painstakingly built by craftsmen over a period of eight months using materials such as cane, leather, tyvec and aluminium.

The proceeds of the auction will benefit the Handspring Trust, "a not-for-profit organization seeking to inspire creativity, commitment and innovation towards new puppet theatre arts", based in the rural community of Barrydale in the Western Cape Province in South Africa.

The special charity sale will take place at Bonhams in London on September 13.

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