‘The Shining’ Ax Vanished, Then Reappeared After 26 Years in This Surprising Location

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, the 1980 feature film The Shining revolves around Jack Torrance. The character was brought to life by Jack Nicholson in one of his most unhinged on-screen performances ever. In the climax of the movie, Nicholson viciously wields a fire ax, which ultimately became a valuable piece of memorabilia. Shockingly, the tool went missing, only to be discovered collecting dust years later.

Shelley Duvall in 'The Shining'
Shelley Duvall in ‘The Shining’ | Sunset Boulevard / Contributor

‘The Shining’ ax was a key prop in the film

In The Shining, the central character, Jack, accepts a position as the off-season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel. He brings his wife and son along for the gig and plans to spend the time in isolation writing his next masterpiece.

What the Torrance family doesn’t initially realize is that malevolent forces haunt the remote lodge. Before long, strange and frightening things begin to happen, and Jack slowly unravels into madness.

In one of the most disturbing sequences of The Shining, Jack flies into a homicidal rage. Thirsty for blood and brandishing a fire ax, he pursues his wife and son through the empty halls of the Overlook. The image of Nicholson as an ax-carrying killer in The Shining is simply unforgettable.

There were many duplicates of ‘The Shining’ ax

'The Shining' Prop Axes
‘The Shining’ Prop Axes | Mark Renders/Getty Images

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Although the ax is an iconic symbol from The Shining, Vanity Fair revealed that it was not a one-of-a-kind item. The entertainment brand produced a retrospective titled, “We Found Jack Nicholson’s Axe From The Shining.”

In the video, which is posted to their YouTube channel, Vanity Fair dishes a few bits of trivia about the famed tool. In the segment, Prop Store London founder and CEO Stephan Lane provides insights about the many axes used on the set of The Shining.

“There were many axes constructed for the production,” explained Lane. “There would have been hero versions. You would’ve had stunt rubber versions, maybe biscuit foam lightweight versions, special effects versions with plates connected to them to strap onto a torso once they’ve been impaled, and maybe, bloodletting versions as well. So there would’ve been numerous versions that would’ve been created for the film.”

Prop Store’s Stephen Lane salvaged one hero ax from a film crew member

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Vanity Fair uncovered the fate of two hero axes from The Shining. In an unfortunate turn of events, executive producer Jan Harlan procured one ax from the movie set. Alas, his wife threw the memorabilia away with worthless rubbish. Similarly, other souvenirs vanished over the years. But prop guru Lane fortuitously seized one hero ax from obscurity.

According to Vanity Fair, a film crew member who worked construction had purchased one ax after The Shining production wrapped in 1979. That worker, who had bought the ax to chop wood, had no idea that the ordinary tool stored in his shed was greatly appreciating in value over time.

In 2005, Lane met the owner of the ax through a mutual acquaintance. After examining the tool and verifying its authenticity, he bought it for several thousand British pounds. Lane eventually parted with the legendary ax in 2019 when he sold it in an auction for more than $200,000. Now that’s one scary expensive piece of equipment.

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