In the late 1940’s, circus and clown enthusiast Stan Bult took up the hobby of painting the likenesses of famous clowns on hard-boiled egg shells. The practice would later be adopted by Clowns International to record its members’ unique facepaint. But while the practice continues to this day – members of Clowns International can get their own egg likeness added to the record for just a tenner plus membership costs – Bult’s original eggs were almost lost to history.
Mattie Faint. a professional clown and curator of the Clowns Gallery-Museum in Daltson, England, spotted the eggs in a clown-themed restaurant when he was a teenager. When the restaurant went under, Clowns International reclaimed the eggs and moved them to another museum, then another. Eventually they ended up at a clowning museum in Wookey Hole. When Faint, now an older man, received a call telling him there was water coming through the wall in the Wookey Hole museum, he had no choice but to hatch a plan to poach the eggs and return them to his own, more secure display.
“I wrapped them each individually in cotton-wool for the journey,” he told the local media.
The eggs are certainly a prize for Faint’s museum. One of them depicts Butch Reynolds a famous clown whose words mark the museum’s entrance:
“Clowning gets into your blood, your looks and your ways, and when people know you’re a clown, they will never take you seriously again.”
The London Clowns Gallery-Museum is housed in the Holy Trinity Church in Dalton, London. It is open the first Friday of the month from midday to 5pm or by appointment.