Harry Blackstone magician archive leads Potter & Potter sale Oct. 28

Harry Blackstone

Harry Blackstone billboard-size poster, 108½in. x 80in., National Printing & Engraving Co., circa 1928, linen backed. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000. Potter & Potter Auctions image


CHICAGO – In a career spanning some five decades, Harry Blackstone, Sr. Blackstone cemented his reputation as the leading stage magician of his generation. He filled theaters from coast-to-coast, became a comic book hero, endorsed products and cast a magic spell over theater patrons for nearly half a century. Potter & Potter Auctions will sell numerous items that Blackstone owned, used and collected in their auction Oct. 28. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

Among the relics are original show costumes, props, oil paintings, stone lithographs, photographs, correspondence and archival material, original cartoons and artwork, film footage and audio recordings of Blackstone and his troupe.


Harry Blackstone

Salvatore Salla (American, b. Iran, 1903-1991), ‘Portrait of Harry Blackstone,’ oil on canvas, depicting the magician forming a shadowgraph of a rabbit, in gilt wooden frame with lamp attachment, Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Potter & Potter Auctions image


Among the many rare items is a huge poster for “Blackstone Eclipses the Sun,” which was printed circa 1928 (above). The dramatic poster, measures 108½ by 80 inches, is one of only three known to exist. It is linen-backed and has minor expert restoration.

Harry Blackstone Sr.’s custom-made tailcoat, 1944, is another rare item in the sale. It comes with matching pants and vest. Blackstone wore the suit in his show titled “1001 Wonders.” The tailcoat was outfitted with secret pockets for loading feather flowers, for production in Blackstone’s opening number, “The Enchanted Garden.” One of two sets of Blackstone’s tails known, and the only matched set known, it was originally in the collection of the Egyptian Hall Museum of Brentwood, Tenn. The suit is expected to sell for $6,000-$9,000.


Harry Blackstone

Harry Blackstone Sr.’s performance-worn tailcoat with matching pants and vest, 1944. Estimate: $6,000-$9,000. Potter & Potter Auctions image


Stage props include Harry Blackstone’s “Vanishing Birdcage” (below), essential to one of his most famous feats in which a brass birdcage bound in red ribbon vanished from between the magician’s hands – twice – in the blink of an eye. A handwritten note written by magic collector George Hippisley reads: “Blackstone’s Van. Bird Cage – Taken off his coat & given to me 1957.” A typewritten note states, in part: “Harry’s instructions to me at the moment he gave me this cage in 1957 are as follows: … the success of the vanish depends on the position of the hand… .” The note goes on to give concise instructions on how the trick works.


Harry Blackstone

Harry Blackstone’s ‘Vanishing Birdcage,’ prop with instructions. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Potter & Potter Auctions image


Much of the material has been unseen for the last five decades.


Harry Blackstone

Lobby photo of Harry Blackstone Sr. with assistants in bat box costumes, New York, Cohita Studio, 1920s, 11in. x 14in. Estimate: $200-$300. Potter & Potter Auctions image


Complementing the Blackstone material will be objects related to the career of his son and successor, Harry Blackstone Jr., as well as a selection of choice vintage magic posters, props, books and ephemera.

The auction will take place at 10 a.m. Central time / 11 a.m. Eastern on Saturday in Potter & Potter Auctions’ Chicago Gallery.