CHICAGO — Magical numbers were achieved in Potter & Potter’s Vintage & Modern Magic sale on August 26, with Harry Houdini, posters from the Golden Age of stage magic and a David Copperfield television-used prop all selling above their estimates. The auction was featured on LiveAuctioneers.
As anticipated, a 1904 theatrical contract between an English theater and Harry Houdini (birth name Erich Weisz), hand-signed by the magician, soared well above its $3,000-$5,000 estimate to land at $12,000 ($15,000 with buyer’s premium). This result continues the trend for strong showings by Houdiniana in the contemporary market.
A Houdini-signed two-volume set of 1859’s Memoirs of Robert-Houdin, written by Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, who is considered the father of modern magic, reached $26,000 ($32,500 with buyer’s premium) against an estimate of $6,000-$8,000. Houdini personally inscribed the book to his friend Bernard M.L. Ernst in 1922, and it features additional notations by the magician.
A 1909 promotional poster for ‘Thurston, the world’s greatest magician‘ topped the sale at $36,000 ($45,000 with buyer’s premium). The colorful linen-backed lithograph is one of only a handful known.
A television-used interactive illusion from The Magic of David Copperfield XIV, a 1992 special that aired on CBS, astounded the floor by hammering at $32,000 ($40,000 with buyer’s premium), against an estimate of only $1,000-$2,000. A sheet of glass with 12 recognizable symbols, the custom-made prop was used by Copperfield for an interactive mind-reading effect performed through the television screen for millions of at-home viewers. The item is one of only two Copperfield props ever sold to the public, with the blessing of his organization.