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Blaster used in the first 'Star Wars' film could break memorabilia auction record

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Rock Island Auctions in Illinois specializes in selling unique and historic firearms, things like two pistols belonging to Ulysses S. Grant, that gun that killed Billy the Kid, Wild Bill Hickok's Smith & Wesson revolver, but never something like a BlasTech DL-44 heavy blaster.

ASMA KHALID, HOST:

Because it's an antique from a galaxy far, far away.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS")

PETER MAYHEW: (As Chewbacca) (Growls)

HARRISON FORD: (As Han Solo) Look out, he's loose.

MARK HAMILL: (As Luke Skywalker) He'll tear us all apart.

FORD: (As Han Solo) I'll get him.

KHALID: It's also a movie prop - the fictional weapon wielded expertly by Han Solo in "Star Wars."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS")

FORD: (As Han Solo) Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

FADEL: Joel Kolander with Rock Island Auctions says the blaster was made from a semi-automatic pistol and modified with surplus parts.

JOEL KOLANDER: It starts off as a Mauser C96 broom handle. It's a standard issue sidearm of Germany in World War I. Like, with most surplus, it's either junked or sold cheaply to the populace at large.

FADEL: Three DL-44s were made. Two were lost. The one left happened to end up at the London prop house that George Lucas hired for his low-budget sci-fi movie.

KOLANDER: George Lucas, of course, is known for this departure from, like, these lush, high-tech, clean utopia science fiction settings. He wanted the gritty, the real, the, quote-unquote, "used future."

KHALID: The surviving blaster has a machine gun muzzle and a World War II-era scope, which Han Solo did not really use. Han shot first and at close range.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS")

FORD: (As Han Solo) Over my dead body.

PAUL BLAKE: (As Greedo) (Speaking Quechua).

FORD: (As Han Solo) Yes, I'll bet you have.

FADEL: "Episode IV: A New Hope" became a blockbuster hit. And for the later movies, Harrison Ford strapped models of the blaster made out of resin or metal to his thigh holster. Bidding on the blaster starts at 300 to $500,000, but with its combined value as an antique firearm and relic of Star Wars fandom, the fictional weapon is likely to fetch a much higher final bid.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN WILLIAMS' "STAR WARS MAIN THEME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.