Potter & Potter conjures amazing results for its Vintage & Modern Magic sale

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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.
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1909 ‘Thurston the World’s Greatest Magician’ poster, sold for $$36,000 ($45,000 with buyer’s premium) at Potter & Potter.
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1859 two-volume ‘Memoirs of Robert-Houdin’ by Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, given and signed by Harry Houdini, sold for $26,000 ($32,500 with buyer’s premium) at Potter & Potter.
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Contract for Houdini’s Christmastime engagements in England from December 26 – 31, 1904, signed by the magician, sold for $12,000 ($15,000 with buyer’s premium) at Potter & Potter.
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Interactive illusion from the 1992 television special ‘The Magic of David Copperfield XIV,’ sold for $32,000 ($40,000 with buyer’s premium) at Potter & Potter.
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David Copperfield book offers glimpse of magic craft history

On October 26, Simon & Schuster released ‘David Copperfield’s History of Magic,’ a 272-page hardcover that showcases his peerless collection of magic posters, apparatus, and ephemera. Image courtesy of Simon & Schuster
On October 26, Simon & Schuster released ‘David Copperfield’s History of Magic,’ a 272-page hardcover that showcases his peerless collection of magic posters, apparatus, and ephemera. Image courtesy of Simon & Schuster
On October 26, Simon & Schuster released ‘David Copperfield’s History of Magic,’ a 272-page hardcover that showcases his peerless collection of magic posters, apparatus, and ephemera. Image courtesy of Simon & Schuster

LAS VEGAS (AP) – The man who has made the Statue of Liberty vanish and walked through the Great Wall of China, strives to travel through time. Living in the moment won’t suffice for David Copperfield. This is true in his stage show at MGM Grand Theater, which employs black-and-white film clips depicting Copperfield’s father, and a time-worn, handwritten letter written decades ago. The illusionist’s zeal to span generations is celebrated on an even grander scale at his own private museum of magic in Las Vegas.

He’s dubbed it the David Copperfield International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts, but passersby won’t find an elaborate sign outside, or any indication at all of what lies inside the 40,000-square-foot, one-time warehouse just a few miles from his eponymous theater where he performs 15 shows a week. While the secret museum has no windows, it offers a sweeping view of the history of magic. And despite its undeniable potential as a ticketed attraction, the museum has never been open to the public. But now Copperfield is offering the world its first glimpse of the vast trove of supernatural artifacts in his new 272-page hardbound book David Copperfield’s History of Magic.

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