Professional clowns often end an act with an egg on their face, but for many it is just as important to have their face on an egg.
The world of professional entertainment is full of unwritten rules and rituals, whether you’re looking a selfish megastar in the eye or refusing to say the name “the Scottish Play” in a theatre.
And for clowns there is one important rule: you do not copy the appearance of another clown.
But how is the enterprising harlequin to ensure that their funny face remains only theirs?
Enter the Clown Egg registry.
Launched in the UK in the 1940s, the Register now contains hundreds of eggs, each painted and decorated in the likeness of a particular clown.
It acts as an informal copyright system, although it is not mandatory and does not function within traditional intellectual property law.
Initially, as a hobby, he painted the faces of his favorite clowns on eggs – Playstations hadn’t been invented then – and as his collection grew, it became a record of current and past artists and their distinctive appearance.
Bult died in the 1960s and only about 40 of his original 200 eggs remain on the registry.
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But the practice was revived in the 1980s, with hundreds more eggs being harvested now, all housed in Holy Trinity Church in Dalston, London, home to the Clowns Gallery Museum.
More can be seen at another museum outlet in the village of Wookey Hole, Somerset.
The current artist, Debbie Smith, paints the eggs — now modern ceramic vessels instead of hollowed-out chicken eggs — based on photographs and costume samples sent to her by clowns around the world.