CHICAGO – Potter & Potter Auctions will conduct a 560+ lot Summer Magic Auction on Saturday, June 17 starting at 10 am Central time. It will feature antique to contemporary magic apparatus, important posters, ephemera and research archives as well as selections from the collections of Jim Deloach, William Trotter, and Ken Klosterman’s Salon de Magie library. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Posters featuring magician superstars of yesteryear should earn top lot status in the June 17 auction, led by a three-sheet, linen-backed poster of Houdini from 1911 that carries an estimate of $30,000-$60,000. Arguably the most recognizable portrait of Houdini, this poster has been dubbed “Houdini for President” thanks to similarities in its design to political advertising of the era. In 2002, the U.S. Post Office used this image for a commemorative stamp.
This sale also features vintage to antique magic apparatus produced by legacy manufacturers and artisans, such as Jon Martin’s (1882-1968) butterfly silk production, estimated at $4,000-$8,000. It was made in England in 1933 and measures roughly five by 4½in when extended. This illusion consists of a lazy tong-like metal frame with a sequin-accented, hand-sewn butterfly and includes its original black cloth load bag. This effect was originally conceived by Karl Germain.
Lot #93, a finely decorated mignon cabinet, is estimated at $1,500-$3,000. This metal and wood example was made in Chicago by Okito in the 1940s. In performance, the cabinet is shown empty by opening its eight doors, after which a gigantic production is made from within.
Modern-made apparatus is another highlight category in this early summer sale. Particularly stunning is an ouija prediction watch that has an estimate of $3,000-$6,000. It was made in Arizona by Richard Gerlitz around 2010. This mechanically complex watch, which has a concealed internal device, allows the performer to pre-program the watch so the hand will spell out words or reveal information chosen by a spectator apparently at random. It is one of a limited number, manufactured by hand.
This sale’s offering of magic-related ephemera is certain to catch the eyes of collectors worldwide. Virtually guaranteed to find a new home is a quarter-length rotogravure-type portrait of Herrmann the Magician (Alexander Herrmann, 1844–1896), showing the performer striking a Napoleonic pose, with one hand in his jacket and a spotted tie around his neck. It is sold with an autograph of the magician on a stiff card, stating “Your truly, A Herrmann” and is estimated at $1,000-$2,000.
Lot #533, a double exposure ‘trick’ lobby photo of Cardini (Richard V. Pitchford, 1895–1973), is estimated at $800-$1,200. This sepia-tone image of the magician is from 1945 and measures 13-¼ by 10-3/8in. It pictures him in white tie and tails and holding three burning cigarettes in his hands; his trademark monocle, top hat and SAM medallion complete his ensemble.
Completing the sale are books, stage-used costumes, automatons and other category-spanning magicana, among them an Old Wizard with four changing objects automaton that has an estimate of $4,000-$6,000. It was made in Azusa, California by Owen Magic Supreme in the 1980s or 1990s. When activated, the 38in-tall wizard moves his eyes and hands, and the object on the table before him transforms four times.
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