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Unique Adelaide Herrmann poster conjures $57K in magical $863K sale at Potter and Potter

CHICAGO – Potter & Potter‘s February 24 sale of the Edwin A. Dawes (1925-2023) magicana collection netted $863,000, more than $300,000 above the presale high estimate. With a 99% sell-through rate, the performance reinforced the high demand for quality magic-related memorabilia in the contemporary market. Complete results are available at LiveAuctioneers.

Dawes was a singular figure in the world of magic and magicians, and the most prolific chronicler of conjuring history in the 20th century. The sale’s top earner was Adelaide Herrmann and Company. The Flight of the Favorite. Estimated at $10,000-$15,000, it traded hands at an amazing $48,000 ($57,600 with buyer’s premium). This bright, one-sheet stone lithographed promotional poster was published around 1905 in New York by The Metropolitan Printing Co. and featured Hermann’s (1853-1932) signature transposition effect from her vaudeville magic show. According to Potter & Potter’s experts, this was the only known example of this poster to survive.

Chung Ling Soo Chinese Conjurer was estimated at $8,000-$12,000 and sold for $34,000 ($40,800 with buyer’s premium). The poster was printed in Ashton-Under-Lyne by Horrocks & Co. around 1910 and features a central full-length portrait of Soo (actually Brooklyn-born William E. Robinson, 1861-1918), flanked by Chinese characters. This was one of only a handful of three-sheet Soo posters extant of any design, and was the first of its kind ever seen or handled by Potter & Potter’s experts.

Hocus Pocus Junior, The Anatomy of Legerdemain, Or, The Art of Juggling set forth in proper Colours, was estimated at $10,000-$15,000 and delivered $30,000 ($36,000 with buyer’s premium). Printed in London by G. Dawson in 1663, this example of the book was noted as the sixth edition, ‘with many additions.’ This was only one of two known examples of this exact edition and was purchased by Dr. Dawes a Sotheby’s auction in 1979.

One of the more surprising performances was achieved by Chung Ling Soo’s address book, which was estimated at $4,000-$8,000 and made $26,000 ($31,200 with buyer’s premium). Owned by the man dubbed the ‘Marvelous Chinese Conjurer,’ the address book was filled with entries in ink in his own hand, including many key contacts important to his career as an entertainer.

Ionia, Goddess of Mystery was estimated at $4,000-$6,000 and rang up $22,000 ($26,400 with buyer’s premium). This full-color half-sheet stone lithograph poster showed performer Ionia (born Clementine DeVere, 1888-1973) beside a trunk decorated with Egyptian iconography, from which a woman appears.

According to Potter & Potter Auctions President Gabe Fajuri, “It’s gratifying to bring unique pieces of history to the auction block. Some of the material in the Dawes collection has not been on the market in over 50 years – or longer – and the results for this kind of fresh to the market, one-of-a-kind material speak for themselves.”