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Tony Award won by Helen Hayes in 1947 up for auction

Tony Award won by Helen Hayes in 1947 up for auction
Helen Hayes, in a photo dating from 1957. (Associated Press)

Helen Hayes won the first Tony Award for actress in a play in 1947, the inaugural year for Broadway's biggest honor. Her prize for her performance in "Happy Birthday" is currently being sold in an auction that will end Tuesday. But bidders expecting the traditional Tony medallion may be surprised at what is being offered for sale.

In the first two years of the Tonys, winners didn't receive the medallion that has come to symbolize the prize. Instead, they received a scroll as well as a money clip, a cigarette lighter for the men and a makeup compact for the ladies.

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Hayes' makeup compact is being offered for sale by Nate D. Sanders auction house in Los Angeles, with the auction scheduled to end on Tuesday. The opening bid on the item is $1,000.  The auction house described the object as made of sterling silver, designed by Tiffany & Co., and featuring a mirror and a lid engraved with Hayes' initials "HH."

It said the compact opens to an engraved inscription reading: "THE AMERICAN THEATRE WING / Presents / Your 'Tony' / An / Antoinette Perry Award / 1946-47."

Hayes -- who is known as the first lady of the American theater --  would win another Tony in 1958 and an honorary award in 1980.

The first Tony Awards ceremony was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Tickets to the first ceremony in 1947 cost just $7 each, according to the awards' official website.

This year's Tony ceremony is scheduled to take place June 9 at Radio City Music Hall. The nominations will be announced April 30. The Tonys are presented by the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League.

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