The price is the second-highest paid at auction for a prop from the 1960s edition of Star Trek, surpassed only by the $304,750 a collector laid out for the captain's chair in 2008. A miniature special effects model of the enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation sold for $576,000 in 2006.
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Props and memorabilia from the original series are highly sought after by collectors. In addition to being an iconic and beloved show, many original items were lost or destroyed so that authentic memorabilia is comparatively rare.
Reuben Klamer created the prop for
Gene Roddenberry to use in the pilot in exchange for licensing rights to produce toys based on the design. The rifle was seen in "Where No Man Has Gone Before," which was filmed as the series pilot but was the third episode of the series broadcast, airing on Sept. 22, 1966.
The story revolves around a Lt. Commander who gains telepathic and telekinetic powers that threaten the crew. Captain Kirk (Shatner) kills the officer with the phaser rifle when he threatens the whole crew. After the pilot was completed, the phaser rifle was replaced with the now familiar handgun-style phaser.
The rifle never appeared in another episode, though it was seen in publicity photos of Shatner as Kirk and on an early lunchbox.
The prop is made of wood with an aluminum barrel and is painted with a metallic blue-green paint.
After production, the rifle was returned to Klamer. See a video of the designer talking about its origins and construction below.