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Rare Circa 1915 Stan Laurel Signed Photo - Signed "Stan Jefferson"
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $830
Rare photo of Stan Laurel, circa 1915, inscribed in black fountain pen "To Curtis with/all good wishes/mirthfully yours/Stan Jefferson." Although the signature is boldly penned, grading "8," the contrast provided by Stan's dark jacket offers less-than-ideal contrast. The embossed photographer's credit appears in the lower left corner: "Celebrity Photo Shop - McVickers Theatre Bldg." This is an exceedingly rare and early Stan Laurel signed photo, dating prior to the adoption of his stage name "Stan Laurel," and long before he joined Oliver Hardy as one half of the beloved comedy team, Laurel and Hardy. Stan Laurel was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in Lancashire, England, in 1890. As a young comic, he received his big break when he joined Fred Karno's comedy troupe, where he was introduced to another young comic named Charlie Chaplin. Karno's troupe toured the United States in 1910 and then again in 1913. It was during that second tour that Stan Jefferson served as Chaplin's understudy. When Chaplin left the troupe in mid tour to go work for Mack Sennett in Hollywood, Karno eventually disbanded the company and returned to England. Jefferson, undaunted, formed a three-person comedy troupe with two other now out-of-work actors in the troupe, Edgar Hurley and his wife, Wren. Calling themselves "Hurley, Stan, and Wren" at first, and then later "The Keystone Trio," the group was a hit, and ultimately played the Orpheum circuit, vaudeville's premier stage circuit. This photo dates to that period of Jefferson's career, and shortly before he changed his name to Laurel, based upon the vintage pencil notations on the reverse. Although the text was eventually crossed out, it remains legible and reads "The Keystone Trio/(Hurley, Stan + Wren)/in/'The Nutty Burglars." A stamp from the "Majestic Theatre Bldg. - Chicago" appears above the notation. Research indicates that the group performed the "burglar" sketch during the fall of 1915. The Majestic was the top theater venue in Chicago at the time and part of the Orpheum circuit. In 1916 The Keystone Trio broke up and Stan begin touring with a new partner, Charlotte Mae Cuthbert. It was Cuthbert who suggested Stan change his name to Laurel, which he did, and the two were known as Stan and Mae Laurel. A second pencil notation (not crossed out) also appears on the reverse that reflects his new partner and name change: "Stan + May Laurel." Over the next few years Laurel made the transition from stage to screen, but it wasn't until 1927 that he first teamed with Oliver Hardy to form the comedy duo known as Laurel and Hardy. This an exceedingly rare Stan Jefferson signature example and the first we have ever offered. Stan Laurel signatures are fairly common, as he was a very obliging signer and correspondent with his fans throughout his life. However, Stan Jefferson signatures are virtually non existent, with the offered example only the second we have ever seen. The photo (8 x 10 inches) displays light edge and corner wear, as well as a few light creases. There are a number of small pieces of tape on the reverse; however, they have not been applied in repair of any tears. Despite the minor handling flaws, the photo displays beautifully and is in Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,500+. SOLD FOR $830
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