CHICAGO – Potter & Potter Auctions held its Winter Magic Auction on December 10, its final magic sale of 2022, which reached a healthy total of almost $350,000.
The auction lineup featured magic posters promoting some of the best-known 20th-century acts, as well as a 21st-century one. The champion of the category was a ‘Thurston Master Magician. Million Dollar Mystery’ poster, which was estimated at $4,000-$6,000 and realized $9,000. This linen-mounted broadside was printed in Cleveland by the Otis Lithography Company around 1928 and showed the magician performing his classic stage illusion.
Another standout was a set of three David Blaine-signed posters that sold for $2,400 against an estimate of $200-$300. These included ‘Frozen in Time’ from 2000, ‘Above the Below’ from 2003, and ‘Dive of Death’ from 2008. Blaine, one of the most prominent magicians, endurance artists and extreme performers working today, has had numerous television specials and has broken several world records for feats of endurance.
Antique and vintage magic apparatus also commanded high sums at the December 10 sale. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a pair of Tower Bean Pattern handcuffs made in 1909, still in working condition, and believed to have been owned by Harry Houdini performed markedly well. Estimated at $3,000-$5,000, it made $7,200. The pair was from the Radner collection, was formerly on display in the Houdini Historical Center in Outagamie, Wisconsin and retained its original museum tags and key.
Also of note was a Cup of Gold illusion from Abbott’s Magic Company. Made around 1970, this gimmicked five-inch tumbler transformed sponge balls into a paper streamer and multiple shots of whiskey. It was estimated at $100-$200 and earned $2,640.
Lot #366, a Silk and Water Vase made in Philadelphia made by Carl Brema and Sons in 1925, achieved $6,600 against an estimate of $800-$1,000. The ingenious device worked like so: when water was emptied from the spun copper vase with Grecian handles, it refilled repeatedly. Then, dry silk handkerchiefs would appear. According to Potter & Potter experts, this was only the third example they had encountered, and the first to have a hallmark.
Rounding out the highlights was a magic apparatus made in the 21st century – a Sawing Hermann Watch produced by Gerlitz, which carried an estimate of $1,500-$2,500 and brought $8,400. With this trick, the case was opened to reveal a conjurer in the style of famed French magician Alexander Herrmann standing beside a wooden box. A pin was inserted into the face of the watch to represent the assistant’s head extending from the apparatus, and the lever was turned. Miraculously, the magician “sawed” through the assistant without severing it. This particular apparatus was also one of a few examples that were manufactured by hand.
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