CHICAGO – Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce a 450-lot sale to be held on Saturday, December 11 starting at 10 am Central time. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Items with ties to mentalist Joseph Dunninger (American, 1892-1975) feature prominently in this early winter event, chief among them Dunninger’s gold and diamond cufflinks, estimated at $1,000-$2,000. They feature the so-called “bat wing” logo of Dunninger’s face designed by Hans Stengel and are hallmarked “HMJ.”
This sale also features magic apparatus and materials owned by, or featuring, Harry Houdini (Hungarian-American, 1874-1926). A particular standout is Houdini’s Bible apparatus, estimated at $15,000-$25,000. This 1901 Red Letter edition was published by the World Syndicate Company of New York, and it was configured to enable the magician to read the mind of a spectator with 100% accuracy. When a volunteer flipped to any page, the performer could instantly determine which chapter and verse that person was reading. This legacy illusion was inscribed and signed by Houdini: “To / Dunninger / best wishes / Houdini / Nov. 30/ 1925.” and again by Dunninger in 1967 to noted Houdini collector Ray Ellenbogen.
Certain to attract interest is a pair of Houdini-owned Tower Bean handcuffs from 1909, estimated at $4,000-$6,000. These cuffs are in working condition, include their key, and were previously on display at the Houdini Historical Center in Outagamie, Wisconsin. They retain their original museum tags.
An interesting selection from Houdini’s capacious library is Clement DeLion’s Tryllebogen from 1910, estimated at $2,000-$3,000. This 80-page book was given as a gift to Houdini from the Danish magician upon the passing of Houdini’s mother, Cecelia. It is annotated by Houdini in ink, “DeLion gave this book to me as I lay on my bed of grief – having lost my dearest mother July 17 – 1913. I was in Copenhagen just having arrived there. (July 18 – 1913) DeLion had just lost his wife. They went bathing & she was carried away & drowned. H.H.” This tome has provenance to Henning’s World of Magic and is signed Doug & Debby Henning.
Eye-catching posters spotlighting popular performers of yesteryear are another key category in this auction. Of note is The Great Brindamour. Magician, estimated at $6,000-$8,000. This full color lithograph from circa 1903 was printed by The Strobridge Litho. Co. of Cincinnati & New York. It pictures Brindamour performing his levitation illusion, an assistant suspended in mid-air, rays of light emanating from his fingertips, and gnomes.
An equally stunning poster selection is Alexander The Man Who Knows, estimated at $3,000-$5,000. This circa-1920 three-sheet color lithograph shows the mind-reader holding a crystal ball as he gazes at the viewer.
This sale’s robust offerings of antique to contemporary magic books will also conjure worldwide attention. Certain to perform well is Teller and Todd Karr’s two volume House of Mystery: The Magic Science of David P. Abbott, estimated at $1,500-$2,500. This deluxe first edition was printed in 2005 in Los Angeles by The Miracle Factory. It is number 27 of 50 copies and is signed by Teller, Todd Karr and Katlyn Breene.
Another prize on offer is an 1876 first edition of Professor Hoffman’s Modern Magic, estimated at $1,000-$2,000. This rare book was published in London by George Routledge and Sons and includes the Routledge monogram on its title page.
Fine and unusual magicana related photos and prints are also well represented at this event, most notably by a giclee print of the original preliminary cover art to Ricky Jay’s Cards as Weapons. Estimated at $1,000-$2,000, it is signed and numbered by artist Gary Cooley, it is number eight of eight copies produced, and it includes a print of the later cover and copy of the book.
Completing the sale lineup are contemporary apparatus, automatons and conjuring finds that bridge traditional auction categories, such as a 1990s-era Pyramids of Egypt wine and water trick by John Gaughan and Associates, estimated at $5,000-$7,000. This classic illusion, based on the one from Hoffmann’s Modern Magic, enables wine and water mixed into a decanter to magically separate into two glasses. This well-rendered and decorated example is only one of four sets produced.
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