Circus • Sideshow • Oddities Press Release
Potter & Potter Auctions' November, 2019 Sale to Present Over 750 Lots of Circus and Sideshow Memorabilia, Oddities, and Entertainment Relics That Defy Conventional Collecting Categories.
This can't-miss event features the collection of Dave and Mary Jane Price, including rare and important broadsides, costumes, and ephemera from the Clyde Beatty–Cole Bros. Circus.
Chicago, Il, October 25, 2019 - Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce their Circus, Sideshow, and Oddities sale to be held on Saturday, November 16th, 2019 starting at 10am at the company's gallery, located at 3759 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL 60613. All lots from this event will be on display and available for public preview on Thursday, November 14th and Friday, November 15th from 10:00am to 5:00pm in the Potter & Potter facility.
Breathtaking circus related antiques represent several of the top lots in this sale, with merchandise from Buffalo Bill (American, 1846-1917) and other legacy performers taking center ring.
Lot #175 a program from Buffalo Bill’s first Wild West performance, is estimated at $5,000-7,000. It is profusely illustrated and likely the only surviving example of the debut performance of his Wild West show on May 19, 1883. It was sold to help the audience understand the purpose of the Wild West “exhibition” and about the key performers. It is also arguably the rarest of all the surviving Buffalo Bill’s Wild West programs.
Lot #231 a very rare Wild Bill Hickok, Texas Jack Omohundro, and Buffalo Bill CDV (carte de visite or "visiting card") from 1874 is estimated at $3,500-4,500. This photograph features the three scouts of the prairie in civilian clothes. For the 1874 theatrical season, Wild Bill joined Cody and Texas Jack but soon dropped out due to his aversion to show business.
Lot #328 a collection of Johann Petursson (Iceland, 1913-1984) “The Viking Giant" materials is estimated at $1,500-2,500. This early midcentury archive features about 150 rings, ephemera including an unopened box of pictorial envelopes and a full ream of oversized pictorial stationery, and Petursson's wooden Viking war hammer that was displayed at his shows.
Dazzling, can't look away entertainment banners are also well represented in this sale. Lot #242, a Mule-Face Woman canvas sideshow banner by artist Snap Wyatt (American, 1905-1984) is estimated at $3,000-5,000. This hand painted, 240 x 108” example from the 1960s is signed “Snap Wyatt Studios/Rt. 3 Tampa Fla”. And lot #245, a How the Stars Bring Success, The Graysons astrology sideshow banner, is estimated at $2,000-3,000. This c. 1930-era, expertly painted banner advertises astrological readings. It measures 88 x 110" and was likely used inside a circus tent.
Carnival related merchandise adds an entertaining perspective to this expertly curated sale. Lot #449, an ersatz c. 1940 sideshow electric chair, is estimated at $1,000-2,000. It is well-worn but functional and attractive, with a somewhat vintage folk art appearance. The electric chair illusion, a classic and nearly-forgotten sideshow staple, allowed showmen to advertise something far more macabre than the act they actually exhibited. Lot #268, a group of six canvas knock down “punk” dolls, is estimated at $800-1,200. Five are clowns and one is a cat; they average 10 ½” tall each and date from the 20th century. And lot #278, a Coney Island fiberglass carousel horse, is estimated at $800-1,200.This life-sized equine comes to life with a fur-like flocked exterior and a finely rendered head and saddle pad.
The posters and photographs on offer through this sale offer a glimpse into the competitive and frenetic traveling entertainment industry of yesteryear. Lot #5, Raymond & Company’s Menagerie for 1847, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. This extremely rare pre-Civil War era poster advertises the lineup of this little-known circus; its border features woodcuts of the exhibition's animals, and its center image depicts a bandwagon, drawn by a team of sixteen horses. Lot #7, a poster advertising The Great London Circus, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. This colorful, 1879 example is illustrated with a rowboat filled with sailors, a snarling seal, and polar bears. Lot #20, a poster from Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth and featuring The Four Funniest and Most Original of All Acting Clowns / Educated Animals is estimated at $1,200-1,800. This rare 1890s broadside is decorated with vignettes of clowns performing with pigs and monkeys. And two photographs by traveling photographer Edward Kelty (American, 1888-1967) merit collector's focus. The first, lot #573, is a 1929 print of his Congress of Freaks with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. An airbrushed version of this photo is known, but this specific version, in which the performers pose slightly differently, is rarer. And the second, lot #574, is a panoramic photograph of the Dreamland Circus Side Show from 1927. The image captures a tattooed woman, dog faced boy, giantess, and possibly Frank Lentini, among others. These images are estimated at $2,500-3,500 and $1,000-2,000 respectively.
Potter and Potter Auctions enjoys an outstanding, well deserved reputation of consistently offering archives from extraordinary people and institutions. These materials provide researchers, museums, and institutions remarkable, first hand materials for study and collection building. Lot #613, a collection of about 350 photos of human oddities from the 1950s, is estimated at $1,500-2,500. The images include those of giants, midgets, morbidly obese people, Siamese twins, strong men, piercings, people with hypertrichosis or albinism, snake charmers, amputees, and others. Lot #618, a C.W. Parker Carousel and Amusement Factory archive, is estimated at $1,000-1,500. It includes around 100 items related to, sent to, or created by the Parker company - reported to be the largest business building carousels, Ferris wheels, shooting galleries, and related amusement devices through the first half of the twentieth century. And lot #398, a collection of Johnny Eck “Half Boy” materials - including canes, photos, business cards, and personal stationery - is estimated at $800-1,200. John Eckhardt Jr. (American, 1911-1991) was performer and a film actor best known for his role in the 1932 cult classic film "Freaks."
Oddities, puppets, ephemera, and other "freak show" themed rarities bring this can't miss sale full circle. Lot #329, Santa Cruz / Solomon islands currency coil is estimated at $5,000-7,000. This rare piece of ethnographic art, uncommon outside institutions, required the feathers from 300 to 600 Scarlet Honeyeater birds and hundreds of hours to construct. As currency, these coils were reserved for major transactions such as pigs and canoes, or as wedding payments. Lot #629, a c. 1910 cyanotype blueprint for alterations to Coney Island's “Tunnel of Love” ride by W.F. Mangels Co., is estimated at $300-500. Lot #751, an 1880-era French hand painted opera theatre puppet stage with thirteen porcelain puppets, is estimated at $1,000-1,500. And bidders may just have a bone to pick with lot #365, a midcentury medical school human skeleton model. This anatomically correct, resin, full-body skeleton is assembled with metal wiring, bolts, and springs, and is secured on a metal rod with a rolling base. It is estimated at $400-600.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "The success of last year's Freakatorium auction will, with any luck, be with us again with this sale. The combination of spectacular posters, outrageous banners and objects, and showbusiness history (in the form of rare and unusual Buffalo Bill material) is one of the most diverse and unusual offerings in our calendar this season."
Coin-Op & Advertising Press Release
Potter & Potter Auctions’ September Coin-Op and Advertising Event to Feature Premier Selections of 20th Century Arcade, Vending, and Slot Machines.
This can’t miss, early fall event also includes antique advertising, rare Black Americana, playthings from times past, and other fine collectibles.
Chicago, Il, September 3, 2019 - Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce their annual fall Coin-Op & Advertising Auction to be held on Saturday, September 28, 2019 starting at 10am at the company's gallery, located at 3759 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL 60613. All items from this upcoming sale will be on display and available for public preview on Thursday, September 26th and Friday, September 27th from 10:00am to 5:00pm in the Potter & Potter facility.
There is certain to be great interest in this event’s offering of coin-op machines spanning more than a century of production. Vending examples represent several of the top lots in this sale. Lot #19, a c. 1910 Goo Goo Gum one cent vendor, is estimated at $10,000-15,000. This rare and desirable piece is one of only a handful extant. It is in working, original condition and decorated with the words “Goo Goo Gum” in gilt lettering on both sides of its cabinet and cartoonish figures of a boy and girl. Lot #20, a c. 1910 Mills Novelty One Cent “Little Perfection” vending machine is estimated at $8,000-12,000. This all original machine - branded with the Mills name and owl logo and featuring the company’s “dust-proof chute” – is evenly oxidized and includes its lock and keys. And it’s a two for one with lot #16, a c. 1920s Sunny Boy countertop gumball vendor and slot machine combo made by Field Manufacturing. This machine offers the opportunity to purchase a gumball for a penny as well as a chance to flip the coin into Sunny Boy’s mouth. If victorious, the customer turns a handle and collects the jackpot. It is estimated at $5,000-7,000.
This sale’s gambling and trade stimulator selections are also a sure bet. Lot #17, a 1930s era Pace Mfg. “Pace’s Races” 5 Cent console floor model slot machine, is estimated at $6,000-9,000. This working model, in fine condition, is housed within a paneled wooden cabinet with metal castings of a racehorse to both sides. Players bet on one of seven cast iron horses by dropping a nickel into one of the corresponding slots and then pulling a lever. Lot #9, a Mills Pirate 25 cent high top slot machine is estimated at $3,000-4,500. This life-sized machine is activated by pulling the pirate’s lever arm which holds a realistic flintlock pistol. And lot #77, a c. 1890 Excelsior Race Track Co. 5 Cent Excelsior automatic trade stimulator, is estimated at $4,000-5,000. This wood and glass beauty, one of the first trade stimulators produced, was advertised in the National Police Gazette of 1890.
Advertising representing a full range of businesses, brands, and movements of days gone by is another important category in this signature sale. These outstanding signs, displays, and posters all but promote themselves.
Lot #231, a Prohibition-era Woman’s Christian Temperance Union porcelain street sign, is estimated at $1,500-2,500. This double sided, black lettered sign features a skull and crossbones and likens alcohol to poison. Next, let’s focus on lot #238, a c. 1900 American gilt metal optometrist trade sign. This example, in the form of oversized spectacles, is estimated at $700-900 and retains its all original blue-tinted lens inserts. Lot #215, a Merrick’s six cord spool cotton thread revolving cabinet, is estimated at $600-900. This round oak cabinet is detailed with glass panels with gold leaf lettering and retains and its original maker’s plaque with a patent date of 1897.
Lot #325 a Goodrich Clincher automobile tires posters made for The B.F. Goodrich Company is estimated at $800-1,200. Illustrated by Albert Lynch (Peruvian, 1851–1912), this c. 1905 lithograph features a portrait of “Gwendolen,” one of the 17 Goodrich Girls. Lot #332, a Western Cartridge Ammunition poster for The Western Cartridge Co., of East Alton, Illinois is estimated at $600-800. This c. 1921 example features colorful scenery of a couple frog hunting, using the company’s ammunition. And lot #368, an elegantly framed French c. 1930s Le Savon Dirtoff poster depicting a caricatured African American male washing his hands, is estimated at $600-800. Dirtoff was promoted as a soap made “for mechanics, drivers, and housewives.”
Also on offer through this can’t miss sale is a museum-quality range of Black Americana. Many of these important examples mirror challenging social periods in our history. Lot #466, a traveling folk art puppet minstrel show from the 1920s, is estimated at $1,500-2,500. This collection includes a wooden suitcase housing the show; a lithographed backdrop of rolling hills and greenery; a wooden stage with a miniature Oriental rug for the performers to stand on; three hand painted wooden jiggers with articulated hips, knees, and arms; and a red curtain with gilt trim. Lot #432, a folk art minstrel jigger display show, is estimated at $800-1,200. This working set consists of a hand painted wooden and glass display case depicting a log cabin, a red felt musical stage, and six African American wooden dancers. They stand side by side and move up-and-down in tandem when the display mechanism is cranked. Lot #382, a moveable store display featuring a portrait of an African American man, is estimated at $1,000-1,500. This working example features a die cut lithograph attached to an electric motor that moves the man's eyes and mouth when it is plugged in. And lot #407, a complete set of c. 1880 Aunt Louisa’s cube puzzles made by McLoughlin Bros. Publishers of New York, is estimated at $800-1,200. This collection includes thirty wood puzzle blocks forming six different puzzle images taken from the “Ethiopian Minstrels,” a blackface minstrel troupe of the era.
This comprehensive sale comes full circle with robust selections of toys, automatons, clocks, and fine antiques. Lot #274, a musical, ornately carved black forest carved bear smoking stand, is estimated at $1,000-2,000. This late 19th century model depicts a standing bear and three smaller sitting bears, and functions as a storage unit, tabletop, and ashtray. Lot #534, a pair of Marx Amos ‘N’ Andy walkers, is estimated at $1,000-2,000. These c. 1930 tin litho wind-up figures are in working condition and include their original pictorial box. Lot #516, a c. 1900 coffee drinking moor electric automaton in working condition, is estimated at $5,000-7,000. When activated, the figure brings the pitcher over to his cup, pours coffee, makes a drinking motion, moves his lips, eyebrows, and eyes, and turns his head from side to side. And this countdown ends with lot #362, a c. 1930 Cleveland Electric “Aztec” neon clock, estimated at $1,000-2,000. This stunning red and green neon example is in working condition and measures 26” in diameter and 7” wide.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, “We look forward to our annual coin op and advertising sale each year with great anticipation, and more than ever before, this year's wait was worth it. The auction includes one of our best and most diverse offerings of machines in all categories, but truly exemplifies the cliché - sorry to say it! - of "something for everyone" in that the broad advertising and toy categories are very strong this year, as well. Advance interest for the sale has been quite strong."
Potter & Potter, founded in 2007, is a Chicago area auction house specializing in paper Americana, vintage advertising, rare books, playing cards, gambling memorabilia, posters, fine prints, vintage toys, and magicana - antiques and collectibles related to magic and magicians. The company's next live sale, featuring books, manuscripts and fine art, will be held on October 18, 2019. For more information, please see www.potterauctions.com. Follow us on Facebook (potterandpotterauctions), Twitter (PnPAuctions), and Instagram (potterauctions).
August 22, 2019 • Automata: Life & Other Illustions Gallery Opening
Please join us in our Ravenswood, Chicago gallery on Thursday the 22nd of August from 5:30-7:30 for refreshments and an exciting opportunity to view all of the items heading to the block on August 24th in our highly anticipated auction: Automata: Life & Other Illusions.
Potter & Potter Auctions' August, 2019 Automata: Life and Other Illusions Sale to Include Museum Quality Rarities From Makers Including Vichy, Lambert, Bertrand, and Phalbois. This event features over 150 mechanical marvels from the Michael Kam collection, as well as fine selections of kinetic art, puppets, and associated objects. Remarkable automatons spotlighting magicians and magic acts take center stage - and several top lot slots - at this late summer sale.
Lot #45, a nearly life-sized Magician Automaton, is estimated at $40,000-60,000. This example, most likely made by JAF in the 1920s, features a turbaned, costumed conjurer holding a wand and a large velvet cone in his hands. This eight movement example looks from side to side, shifts his eyes to the left and right, and moves his lower lip as though mumbling spells. He then waves his wand four times, and lifts a cone to display one of six items. This extraordinary automaton was featured in the Oscar-nominated “whodunit” mystery film Sleuth, and was one of two playing a prominent role in the movie. Lot #1, a c. 1860 musical Magician Automaton made by Alexandre Theroude, is estimated at $20,000-30,000.In this example, an exotically dressed conjurer stands at a decorated table. He looks to the right and left, nods, moves his eyes and mouth, and performs a series of changes with his cups. First, a die transposes positions, then changes for a loaf of bread and three balls, then for an apple and three balls, then two pears, and finally nothing. Lot #11, a c. 1920s Levitation Automaton made by Roullet & Decamps, is estimated at $15,000-25,000.This automaton features a standing, tuxedo-clad magician and his assistant resting on a table. When the mechanism is activated, the woman floats up, and the conjurer passes his hoop over her levitating body, proving there is no connection between her body and the table below. And fast forwarding a century, lot #42, a c. 1993 Clown Magician Automaton by Michel Bertrand, is estimated at $20,000-30,000.This modern example was built to order for Jerry and Bunny Steinbaum, and inspired by the legacy Vichy/Triboulet automaton “Clown aux boules Mysterieuses.” Michel Bertrand is acknowledged as the successor to the famous firms of Vichy/Triboulet/JAF, and incorporated many original Vichy parts in his automata.
Automata in the form of acrobatic clowns is a key category in this well curated sale. Two examples with chairs offer collectors a leg up in terms of their quality and rarity. The first, lot #3, is a c. 1910 example by Louis Renou. This moving marvel features a clown, his hands resting between two chairs. He slowly raises his body, until he is entirely upside down, balanced precariously between the chairs. At each stage of his ascent, he pauses dramatically, probably in anticipation of the next step in his balancing act. And the second, lot #36, is a c. 1895 example made by Vichy. This delight has a clown standing between two chairs. When he is activated, he lifts one chair in his right hand, then lowers it to the stage. Next, he performs a handstand atop the opposite chair, moving up and down and lifting the other chair in his free hand. Each of these breathtaking - and apparently gravity defying - automatons is estimated at $20,000-30,000.
This event showcases a remarkable selection of automata doing "everyday" things in the most extraordinary ways. Lot #44, a c. 1975 seated Pierrot Writing Automaton made by Michel Bertrand, is estimated at $20,000-30,000. He is seated at a desk with a lamp. When activated, the lamp lights, and the Pierrot beings writing. He nods off and his lamp dims. He then awakens, reaches toward the lamp, adjusts the flame, and begins writing again, finishing his letter. Lot #5, a c. 1890s “Piano Watteau” Pianist Automaton by Vichy, is estimated at $15,000-25,000. This elegant example features a beautiful musician seated at a piano harp. When wound, she plays four songs, turns her head side to side, blinks her eyes and runs her hands along keyboard, occasionally stopping and pressing down quickly with her hands and shoulders as if striking staccato notes. And lot #6, a c. 1900 musical Chanteur by the Gaslight Automaton made by Vichy, is estimated at $15,000-25,000. When activated, the entertainer raises and lowers both arms, nods his head, blinks his eyes open and closed, and opens and closes his lips. The top of his lamp also rotates.
This auction's flora and fauna themed automatons made by Roullet & Decamps are certain to bring out many collector's animal instincts. Highly entertaining drinking, bubble blowing, walking, ironing, and growling animals are on offer. Lot #22, a c. 1910 Walking Peacock Automaton, is estimated at $7,000-9,000. When activated, the bird starts walking, then stops to raise and triumphantly fan his tail feathers. They then drop back into place and he continues walking along. And lot #7, a c. 1930 Bubble Blowing Bear, is estimated at $2,000-3,000. This white cub holds a metal bowl in one paw and a bubble wand in the other. Upon activation, he dips the wand in the bowl, raises it to his lips, and blows bubbles.
Puppets, clocks, toys, and other kinetic collectibles bring this outstanding sale full circle. Lot #59, a contemporary Enrico Bertschinger Mickey Mouse Magician Automaton, is estimated at $1,000-2,000. This fine example - equally suited for Disney and automata collectors - is made in Switzerland and depicts Mickey Mouse on a stage behind a table, surrounded by magic props, with a curtain background.
Videos demonstrating the movement and detailing for all auction highlights are available; please contact Potter & Potter at email@example.com for more information.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "We're excited to present one of the largest auctions of automatons in recent memory - not only because of the rarity and value of the objects themselves, but because of the special nature of the automatons and how they intersect with the other antiques we regularly auction. To see these proto-robots come to life in our gallery has been a true joy over the last two months, and watching them delight our office staff in addition to visitors to our gallery was an instant tipoff that we had something extra special on our hands. Which is not to say we didn't know that already. But when you see the reaction, the wonder, and the fascination that these mechanical marvels elicit, it reinforces how special they truly are - and always have been."
Jim Rawlins on some of his favorite items from the upcoming auction
There are wonderful things in the auction and most speak for themselves. Here I would like to focus on a few items that deserve further details.
This was my favorite piece of apparatus. The workmanship and rarity add up to make it truly incredible. I have seen most of the major magic collections (even the top two in the Unite States) and this prop is not represented in them. You will not find it in the Albo books. I have only seen one other and the condition was not comparable to this. The rim sparkles like diamonds because of the detailed cuts made to embellish it. I don’t know how they possibly produced this at the turn of the century. There is a period Martinka coin attached to the bottom which they did on only the finest of props they produced.
This was one of two that were commissioned by Bob Albo to Paul Lembo. The original name was “Shower of Gold”. Doc Albo provide both period large glass containers and explained the mechanism that he would like to have built. Paul Built two one for Albo and one to keep for himself. It is this one that I later acquired form Paul. The jar can be shown freely and even examined in the beginning if you wish. The Clockwork mechanism is picked up in the jar lid from the table. Once activated the coins drop from the hiding place in the lid as the clockwork mechanism rotates to release them.
From the act of my “all-time” favorite close up magicians. Del went through a number of these. He modified them for his use and placed them on a wooden pedestal with the electronics concealed inside. This was used by Del and came from the Estate of Bob Escher who was a great friend of Del’s. Bob inherited many of Del’s props upon Del’s passing. The bird conversed with Del throughout the slow telling him what numbers on the dice would be thrown etc. It was prominently displayed in my Del Ray collection.
Dr. Albo had an original fire globe from Willman and had 3 additional turned from the original to match it exactly. He gave the task of building the Fire Globe props to Carl Williams (this told to me by Doc Albo himself). Years went buy with no progress so he had Carl ship them to Paul Lembo for the recreation. They turned out to be magnificent props. Paul built a pneumatic system to rise the appearing pump. Just release the switch and the globe slowly rises within the empty tube. Again, Doc ALbo let Paul keep one for himself (their relationship was extremely close). After years of begging Paul finally agreed to sell this to me.
When I bought the remains of the original Thayer Company I said at the time that I would have bought the entire inventory just to get these. They are intended to have a crystal ball on top for reading. One is gimmicked and has a door that opens on the rear to expose a roller of notes for the reader. This is like the taller standard stand that Thayer produced and sold in the Catalog. The wood turning is remarkable. The ungimmicked matching stand that they produced sealed the deal for me. I had to have them. Both marked Thayer and likely a special order or an experiment. You will not find another.
Circa 1870- How did this survive? How was it painted to this detail on the lid of a box this size? It is an amazing scene of a cups and balls worker on reverse painted glass. It is one of the most beautiful decorative items I owned.
This started me on my quest for books signed from one magician to another. I don’t know that I ever topped this one. Think about it. “The Greatest Genius with the card I have ever seen, and I have seen many”. I bet she had. It would not be the last time Dia was referred to as a genius with the cards. This written to a man that had famously fooled her husband with a simple card trick.
I want to focus on the 10k gold badge that was presented to Edward Bryan. How many of these can exist? It has the Houdini Magic Club of Philadelphia logo on the front and is dated on the rear 1933. Amazing! I called Gabe at one point and asked for this back. It was hard to let it go.
Preview of the Jim Rawlins Magic Collection
Feast your eyes upon the collectibles to be auctioned off in our inaugural magic auction of 2019. February 23rd will be the first of four sales from the collection of Jim Rawlins, a devoted student of magic and its history, who spent nearly three decades building an impressive, important, and diverse collection.
Freakatorium Gallery Opening
Please join us Friday, November 9th in our Ravenswood Gallery from 5:30-7:30 for a preview of our one-of-kind Freakatorium auction. Saturday's auction features the contents of the late sword swallower Johnny Fox's curiosity and sideshow museum. Highlights of the sale include sideshow banners, cabinet cards, circus posters, tribal art and artifacts, taxidermy, magic tricks, swords for swallowing, and oh, so much more! Beverages and light refreshments will be served.
Johnny Fox's Freakatorium at Auction
Fox’s Barnumesque museum featured natural and unnatural oddities, many related to circus sideshow performers and attractions, as well as historical objets d'art, stage illusions, photographs, and tabloid style ephemera.
Chicago, Il, October 18, 2018- Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce their almost 700 lot Freakatorium: The Collection of Johnny Fox Auction to be held on Saturday, November 10, 2018 starting at 10am at the company's gallery, located at 3759 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL 60613. Renowned sword swallower, magician, and performer John Robert Fox (1953-2017) amassed a huge spectrum of grotesque, bizarro, and surreal curiosities which he displayed at his Freakatorium, "El Museo Loco,” in New York City from 1999-2005. All of these wonders will be on display and available for preview on Thursday, November 8th and Friday, November 9th from 10:00am to 5:00pm in the Potter & Potter facility.
Many of the sale’s top lots are associated with the big top and other traveling entertainment venues of the 19th and 20th century. Lot #1, a brightly painted sideshow banner by the “Picasso” of circus art Fred Johnson (1892-1990) is estimated at $4,000-6,000. Titled Freaks Past and Present, this c. 1950 piece from the O’Henry Tent & Awning Company of Chicago measures 115” x 316” and depicts an array of famous sideshow acts, including a three-legged man, a two-headed man, a frog boy, and others. The images are flanked by bright panels of text. Lot #15, a Snap Wyatt Studios c. 1945 Freaks. Alive entrance-type canvas sideshow banner is estimated at $3,000-5,000. This 100-½” x 342” masterpiece features sideshow attractions such as the alligator skin lady, a conehead, a sword swallower, and more. It is branded with two stenciled Snap Wyatt logos. Lot #338, a color lithograph depicting Jumbo the elephant giving kids rides on his back is estimated at $3,000-5,000. This c. 1882 linen backed poster measures 37” x 31” and was produced by Strobridge of Cincinnati. Lot #334, a linen backed color lithograph entitled P.T. Barnum’s and Great London Combined. Santa Claus in His Royal Chariot of State is estimated at $1,200-1,500. This c. 1880s example, also by Strobridge, shows Father Christmas distributing toys to a crowd of children, along with two reindeer and a driver. It measures 35-¼” x 29-¼”. And lot #56, thirteen signs for the Freakatorium – based on legacy circus and sideshow themes – are estimated at $400-600. These sheet metal signs were painted by Adrian Clara and include a 39” x 53” “Cabinet of Curiosities” sign and a dozen smaller exhibition placards.
Fox’s New York City Freakatorium museum remarkably showcased over 1,000 oddities within a 500 square foot venue. These objects ranged from antique to modern, organic to configured, and functional to made purely for shock value.
Items featuring human or animal body parts have a leg up in this collection. Lot #559, a c. 16th century pre-Columbian human skull from Oaxaca, Mexico is estimated at $1,000-1,500. Its eyes are covered in seashell discs. The skull is believed to be of the Zapotec culture, an indigenous pre-Columbian civilization that flourished in the Valley of Oaxaca in Mesoamerica over 2,500 years ago. Lot #293, a collection of seven life sized wax arms and hands from various museum wax figures is estimated at $80-125. These were likely made by Gems of London in Great Britain in the 1960s. Lot #645, a human head on a sword sideshow illusion, is estimated at $500-1,000. This curiosity features a disembodied human head – alive, talking, and moving – sitting on the blade of a sword resting across the arms of a large wooden chair.
The auction also includes a number of important archives. These collections of primary source materials are ideal for academic institutions, historical societies, specialty museums, or independent researchers. Lot #261, an archive of materials from Robert Marshall, better known as Marshall the Mystic (1876-1943) is estimated at $2,000-3,000. Marshall performed variously as a hat juggler, magician, pantomimist, and medical lecturer. This collection includes approximately 100 photographs, as well as snapshots, postcards, glass negatives, drawings, and about 100 additional pieces of performance ephemera. Lot #39, an archive of Johnny Eck "Half Boy" materials from the 1920s -60s is estimated at $800-1,200. John Eckhardt (1911-1991) was born without the lower half of his torso yet managed to overcome this enormous disability to become a world-famous sideshow performer, as well as a movie actor, artist, musician, photographer, illusionist, penny arcade owner, Punch and Judy operator, and expert model maker. Eck’s archive includes thirteen original photographs, two original typed signed letters, and additional photocopied letters.
Books, photographs, drawings, and other ephemeral items helped the Freakatorium tell its stories through these time-capsule materials. Lot #241, a book entitled Greatest Wonder On Earth. Jo! Jo! The Dog Faced Man. published in c. 1882 by Popular Publishing of New York is estimated at $250-350. This rare, eight page book features hand-colored pictorial wrappers and was most likely sold after Jo Jo’s (Fedor Adrianovich Jeftichew, 1868-1904) performances on the Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson circus sideshow. Lot #94, two silver prints of albino sword swallower Lady Sandra Reed from c. 1970, are estimated at $1,000-1,500. They are attributed to photographer Diane Arbus (1923-1971) and include one shot of the performer kneeling and the second with a sword raised in preparation for the attempt. The prints are believed to be unique, and are accompanied by a note of provenance by Reed. Reed held the world’s record for the number of swords swallowed by a woman. And lot #390, a whiteprint plan for Coney Island’s famous “The Whip” carnival ride, is estimated at $600-800. Originally patented and manufactured in 1915, this plan details the 1918 iteration of W.F. Mangels’ most famous ride invention. This sale includes about ten early 20th century ride plans created by Mangels for Coney Island’s emerging entertainment business.
This grand event rounds out with robust offerings of taxidermy, antiques, artwork, and selections that simply defy conventional categories. Lot #245, a brass “Champion Strong Woman of the World “ trophy belt presented to Minerva (Josephine Blatt., c. 1869-1923) by Richard K. Fox of The Police Gazette in 1893 New York is estimated at $3,000-5,000. Lot #43, a detailed illustration of a barber and wig shop, executed entirely in human hair, is estimated at $600-900. This French work, dating from the 19th century, measures 26” x 22-½” and features a distracted barber with straight razor in hand, a wary customer, a wig restorer at work, and other characters. And bidders are certain to lock horns over lot #287, a “unicorn skull” made by artist Mark Frierson in 1999. It was the displayed at the Freakatorium under a banner reading “skulls are extremely rare and this particular specimen is only one of a handful known to exist in the world today. It was uncovered from beneath the ruins of an ancient medieval castle in Europe.” The unicorn skull is estimated at $500-700 and includes its original Freakatorium signage.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, “Johnny Fox was a true lover of the sideshow, circus, and traveling showbiz life he lived, paying homage to and studying the stories of his predecessors at his museum and through his collection. That shows through on every page of the auction catalog, which is as much a tribute to Johnny himself as it is a sale of unusual artifacts. Johnny's collection was truly unusual and defies categorization, which means there is something for every lover of the unusual in this sale, from banners and broadsides, to chupacabra dioramas, tattooed man photos, sideshow banners, and relics from the best of Barnum's circus sideshows. This is one sale without comparison - and that's no ballyhoo."
Potter & Potter Auctions' Fine Books and Manuscript Sale Achieves Over $210,000
CHICAGO — Potter and Potter Auctions’ midsummer event on July 28 was a bibliophile’s dream, drawing attention and buyers from every corner of the globe. When the hammer fell for the last time, 25 lots realized between $1,000 and 1,999; 15 lots made between $2,000 and $9,999; and three lots scored $12,000 or more.
The three top lots in this auction all represented periods of great transition in world history. Emil Orlik’s Aus Japan from 1904 was estimated at $10/15,000 and realized $18,000. Orlik was one of the first Western artists welcomed to Japan in 1900; he traveled to this traditionally secretive country to learn its printmaking techniques. His documentation of everyday Japanese life remains an important body of work today. An engraving of the US Declaration of Independence realized $16,800. This example was from volume I of Peter Force’s 1837–53 series of books, American Archives. It is suspected that only 500 copies of the Force Declaration were printed. A 1917 US Army recruitment poster titled Destroy This Mad Brute/Enlist illustrated by H.R. Hopps marched its way to $12,000. Its visceral call to enlist, which prominently features a mon- ster primate, Lady Liberty, blood, and a cudgel in its design, blatantly expressed many American’s deep-held fears of a German invasion.
This sale presented an a to z selection of rare books, with about 350 lots on offer. Edward Tracy Turnerell’s two-volume Russia on the Borders of Asia. Kazan, The Ancient Capital of the Tartar Khans trekked to $2,880 on its $200/400 estimate. This first edition set was published in 1854 by London’s Richard Bentley. A first edition of Kahlil Gibran’s Jesus The Son of Man made $2,160, more than seven times its low estimate. This example was inscribed by the author and published in 1928 by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. And a first edition of Philip K. Dick’s 1962 The Man in the High Castle traded hands at $660.
Fine, novel and humorous photographs provided another focal point to this sale. A circa 1940s Louis Armstrong signed “Swiss Kriss” laxatives print advertising photo, estimated $400/800, sold for $1,320. An inscribed and signed 1920-era publicity photo of boxer Jack Johnson generated a whopping 19 bids and realized $3,120. And a pair of 1908 photo albums of Cincinnati building construction projects from the Ailing Construction Co climbed to $1,320.
Ephemera spanning three centuries also captured the imagination of collectors at this sale. An 1860-era Missouri Civil War recruitment broad- side battled its way to $1,440. This bold letterpress recruitment poster offered handsome bounties to veterans and recruits alike to serve in Colonel Sigel’s third volunteer infantry regiment. A 1928 Babe Ruth “Vote for Al Smith” real photo postcard made $900. This glossy, original treasure pictured Ruth in bowler hat and cigar with a flyer pinned to his lapel endorsing Al Smith for president. And a Tate Gallery Exhibition Booklet from 1971, with Andy Warhol’s “Marilyn Monroe” on the front and signed by the artist, realized $2,640.
The sale came full circle with selections of posters, illustrations, artwork and other temptations. A group of three pre- production costume design drawings for the character Dick Diver from the 1962 film Tender is the Night illustrated by Academy Award-winning costume designer Marjorie Best realized $1,440. A binder of 1920-era German notgeld, or regional currency, rang up $1,440. This collection included more than 450 different uncirculated monies. A 1918 poster featuring a kneeling Scout and a flag draped Lady Liberty sold for $900 — more than double its high estimate. It was illustrated by Joseph Leyendecker and promoted the purchase of USA Bonds through the Third Liberty Loan Campaign.
Potter & Potter Auctions' August 25, 2018 Sale to Offer Remarkable Selections of Antique Magicana, Including Books, Apparatus, Posters, Archives, and Ephemera
Chicago, Il, July 31, 2018 - Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce their 467 lot Summer Magic Auction to be held on Saturday, August 25th, 2018 starting at 10am at the company's gallery, located at 3759 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL 60613. The sale includes 13 lots from the Bob Swadling collection that will be sold to help cover the healthcare costs of Sebastian Midtvaage, a young magician recovering from brain cancer. All items from this upcoming sale will be on display and available for public preview on Thursday, August 23rd and Friday, August 24th from 10:00am to 5:00pm in the Potter & Potter facility.
This event's offering of books related to all things magic spans an astonishing five centuries, with titles from the 1600's onward. Lot #9, a near fine, first edition of Isaak de Caus' New and Rare Inventions of Water-Works from 1659 is estimated at $10,000-15,000. This important volume features 26 copper engraved plates, woodcut text illustrations, and the engraved bookplate and ownership signature of Sir John Cope. Its contents promise to "Shew the earliest waies to raise water higher than the spring. By which invention the perpetual motion is proposed many hard labours performed and varieties of motions and sounds produced." Lot 16, a fine, crisp copy of Thomas Richardson's c. 1830 The Whole Art of Legerdemain; or, The Conjurer Unmasked includes a gloriously hand-colored engraved folding frontispiece depicting a conjuror flanked by a demon and a coiled snake. It is estimated at $2,500-3,500. And not escaping the spotlight is lot 98, a copy of Harry Houdini's 1920 Miracle Mongers and Their Methods. This example, published by E.P. Dutton & Co. in New York, is inscribed and signed by Houdini, “To Edward J. Rice/The man Germain hypnotized?/Good Luck/Houdini/”My Brain is the key that sets me free”/Oct 28/25”. It is estimated at $1,200-1,600.
Books specifically about witchcraft also cast their spell over this magic sale. Two absolute rarities include lot 28, Reginald Scot's The Discoverie of Witchcraft from 1665 and lot 27, William Pinchbeck's Witchcraft: or, the Art of Fortune-Telling Unveiled from 1805. They are estimated at $6,000-9,000 and $5,000-7,000 respectively. Pinchbeck's work is reputed to be only the third conjuring book published in the United States.
This sale presents robust selections of modern and vintage magic apparatus, with some examples carrying impressive provenance. Lot 455, Bob Swadling’s Magic Kettle, is estimated at $10,000-15,000. This mechanically complex vessel enables the magician to pour four different beverages at the request of the audience. It was designed and constructed by Bob Swadling and used by Paul Daniels on British TV in 1979. Daniels performed for decades on British TV and was one of the nation’s best-recognized stars of the time. This kettle is one of the items that will be sold to help defray the costs of Sebastian Midtvaage's cancer treatments. Lot 425, a pair of John McKinven custom made maple passe-passe lidded vases, is estimated at $2,500-3,500. Each of these finely tuned vases operates as an independent giant Morison pill box and measures approximately twice the height of a standard McKinven-made pill box.
Vintage highlights include lot 330, an all original, late nineteenth century French conjuring set with eighteen turned boxwood props, and lot 341, a c. 1925 Conradi card and watch pistol. The conjuring set includes eleven instruction sheets folded in a narrow side compartment; the pistol is realistically rendered with a Bakelite-like grip and an engraved stock. These visually stunning and fully functional antique are estimated at $1,600-2,400 and $1,00-1,500 respectively.
Potter & Potter has established itself as the worldwide leader in representing the best magic-related archives at auction. Recent successes include a two-volume spiritualism scrapbook signed, kept, and annotated by Harry Houdini; it was estimated at $30,000-40,000 and realized $66,000 in April, 2018. Following in this tradition, this sale also offers several choice, one-in-a-lifetime archival offerings. Lot 209, a Servais LeRoy & Co. illusion instruction archive from 1912, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. This collection includes typed and manuscript instructions and advertisements for illusions, gimmicks, pocket, and parlor tricks sold and manufactured by this short-lived but important London-based magic company. Lot 166, a Chicago Magic Roundtable 1946 cloth covered scrapbook containing signatures and club related ephemera, is estimated at $2,000-3,000. This volume features the autographs of about 500 magicians as well as brochures, business cards, signed photographs, letters, promotional materials, and clippings. The Roundtable was informal luncheon club that met at the same restaurant day after day, year after year; attendees were invited to socialize, dine, and perform for each other and guests. And it’s easy to picture collectors getting excited over lot 255, a collection of more than 200 photographs of magicians from the 1940's through the 1990's. These images - some signed - include portraits, studio poses, and action shots of top tier talent including Doug Henning, Ali Bongo, Paul Daniels, Lance Burton, Jack Gwynne, Blackstone Jr, and many others. This comprehensive grouping is estimated at $400-800.
Prints, drawings, and posters are another eye-catching collectible category in this sale. These visual treats are also perfect for adding a distinctive, decorative highlight to an important personal or professional interior space. Lot 282, a 1916 three sheet, linen backed color litho featuring Howard Thurston as Thurston the Great is estimated at $15,000-25,000. This rarity features Thurston, assisted by imps, levitating an assistant, with Kellar’s endorsement quoted in the lower margin. Lot 315, a hand-colored, cartoon-style aquatint by James Gillray titled The Theatrical Bubble is estimated at $400-600. It dates from 1810 and depicts Sheridan as Punchinello blowing soap bubbles. And lot 321, a portfolio of hundreds of mid-nineteenth to early 20th century conjuring prints and illustrations from the collection of Bob Read is estimated at $300-500. These items were collection from publications including Le Pêle-Mêle; Pasouino; La Vie Parisienne; La Caricature; Lo Spirito Folletto; Gil Blas; and others.
This sale rounds out with world-class offerings of autographs, props, cards, automata, and other magical-themed treasures. Lot 198, a letter on personal stationery from Harry Houdini to Ellis Stanyon dated Dec. 21, 1923 is estimated at $1,000-1,500. It reads, “Just a line to wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Regards/Sincerely yours,/Houdini”. Lot 431, four sealed decks of cards commemorating Dai Vernon’s 88th birthday, housed in the original custom display case decorated with Vernon’s silhouette, is estimated at $200-300. The cards were produced by Congress Playing Cards in June, 1982; two packs reproduce the famous Hal Phyfe photo of Vernon. Lot 258, two c.1930's era film reels featuring The Great Raymond and Litzka is estimated at $200-400. The first film shows the couple in various candid everyday scenarios and the second one is a theatrical film trailer for upcoming live performances by Raymond. And finally, tongues will be a-wag over lot 439, a 2003 ventriloquist’s cane with provenance to the Watertown, Massachusetts Magic Art Studio. It features a plaster dummy head with oversized green glass pupil eyes. The eyes and mouth can be moved in very lifelike ways through invisibly placed hand controls.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "It's hard to pick a highlight in this auction. Though we have had many magic auctions in our decade-long history, each new offering includes items I consider true prizes. In this sale, the LeRoy archive and associated material strikes me as truly historic and important, and a few of the books are genuine rarities. For show-stoppers, the Thurston three-sheets certainly fit the bill."
Potter & Potter Auctions' July 28th Fine Books and Manuscripts Sale To Feature A Collection of Playboy Founder and Chicago Native Hugh Hefner Letters, Artwork, and Ephemera.
These remarkable, humorous, and insightful materials are from the estate of Jane Borson Sellers, Hefner's lifelong friend of almost eighty years.
Chicago, Il, June 28, 2018 - Potter & Potter Auctions is excited to present this extraordinary archive as part of the company's 619 lot Fine Books and Manuscripts Sale to be held on Saturday, July 28th, 2018. American entrepreneur Hugh Hefner (1926-2017) is best known as the original "Playboy" and the editor of the magazine of the same name. His over the top antics and personal and professional choices made international headlines for over half a century. He met Jane Borson Sellers at Steinmetz High School in Chicago in the early 1940s and maintained a close relationship with her over the course of his life. Sellers' collections of Hefner letters, drawings, cards, photos, and clippings capture the extraordinary nature of Hugh's lifestyle and career in touching, personal, and intimate ways.
This sale offers a dozen Hugh Hefner lots with materials dating from the early 1940s thorough 2017. All eyes will be on lot #445, an archive of correspondence between Hefner and Sellers. This collection includes over 60 typed signed letters and autograph letters, dating from Hefner’s last year of high school in Chicago to his two-year service in the Army; snapshots of Hefner and other members of his high school gang; high school yearbook clippings; and a photo of Hefner’s 1949 wedding to Millie Williams. Many of the letters are embellished with original ink cartoon drawings by Hefner. The whole collection is neatly and chronologically organized in a binder, as organized by Borson, with her typed summary of the letters. The preface of the archive is a note from "Hef" on Playboy letterhead dated May 31, 2002, which states: “As I understand it, the contents of personal correspondence is the legal property of the person who wrote the letters, but you have my permission to do whatever you like with them. They are yours with my love—for all the dreams and memories we’ve shared.” This once-in-a-lifetime offering is estimated at $10,000-20,000.
Hefner was a talented amateur cartoonist and considered becoming one professionally. He appreciated fine cartoon artwork, and his publication always featured cartoons by the most famous cartoonists of the era. Several of his original early cartoons are included in this sale and reveal a rather funny and playful side of the future Playboy. Lot #449, an original Hefner High School Cartoon entitled “My Typical Day at Steinmetz,” is estimated at $1,000-2,000. This two page ink and watercolor cartoon from 1943 includes a labeled, hand-drawn diagram titled “Dissection of Soft Shell Clam,” reflecting the curriculum of Hefner's zoology class that day.
Another headliner in the Hefner collection is lot #452, Hugh Hefner's 1944 signed high school senior class sepia print photograph. This handsome headshot measures 8-3/8 x 6-1/8 and is inscribed, “To one of the sweetest, swellest gals I know-/Hef.” Of course, the “gal” here is Jane Borson Sellers. It is estimated at $1,500-3,000.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "This archive reveals the private, personal, pre-Playboy side of Hugh Hefner - something very few, if any of his millions of fans got a glimpse of. Hefner lived on a grand scale, and was constantly in the spotlight, yet the letters he exchanged with his high school classmate show he was not just larger-than-life - he could also be down to earth. Offering historically significant, unique material of this nature is a true thrill."
For more information on this sale and Potter & Potter Auctions, please see www.potterauctions.com. Previews of the material will be held on July 26th and 27th between 10am and 5pm. If you wish to preview the items, please call us at 773-472-1442 to let us know which of the materials you would like to view and we can prepare them for you. If you can't make the auction in person, bids for these extraordinary offerings can be placed directly on the company's website, by phone by arrangement, or via an absentee bid form, which can be accessed by clicking here.
Potter & Potter Auctions' June 16th, 2018 David Baldwin Magic Collection II Sales Event Steals the Show At $400,000.
This highly anticipated auction featured a 98% sell through rate and attracted bidders and buyers from across the globe.
Chicago, Il, June 20, 2018 - Potter & Potter's recent magic sale offered collectors a phenomenal selection of automatons, apparatus, ephemera, Houdiniana, broadsides, and mystery clocks, many from the David Baldwin Magic Collection. David M. Baldwin (1928 – 2014) had a lifelong passion for magic and a remarkable eye for the extraordinary; Potter and Potter also sold highlights from this collection in October, 2016. After the hammer fell for the last time, 33 lots made $1,000-1,999; 26 lots sold for $2,000-$9,999; and six lots lapped the five-figure mark! Prices noted include the company's 20% buyer's premium.
A trio of Baldwin's outstanding antique mystery clocks took the top spots in this sale. Lot #28, a lavishly decorated Robert-Houdin glass column mystery clock, made $36,000. It told time via a single arrow-shaped hand, which was set against a gilt-brass framed glass dial with Roman numerals. Coming in second was lot #30, a two handled Robert-Houdin square dial mystery clock which sold for $24,000. This gilt-framed example featured a beveled dial with Roman and Arabic numerals and a dotted minute track, a marble platform, and two decorative swans. And things were on the move with lot #32, a c. 1860 French magician automaton mantel clock. This breathtaking timepiece featured a magician who on the hour - or at will - turned his head and produced and transposed objects from his table. It surpassed its high estimate to realize $21,600.
Old and newer magic apparatus, with many fine examples from legacy manufacturers, was another spellbinding category in this sale. Lot #1, c. 1890 European card bouquet, formerly owned by the proprietors of the Petrie-Lewis (P&L) magic company of New Haven, CT, made $11,400 on its $6,000-8,000 estimate. This mechanically complex device was believed to be the only known example of this effect. Lot #12, a German c. 1900 spirit bell and clock dial combination made by Carl Willmann more than doubled its low estimate to ring in $10,800. Lot #170, a modern Pillar of the Magi by John Gaughan & Associates modeled on an Otto Maurer design climbed to $10,200 on its $3,000-5,000 estimate. Lot #197, a surprise Fabergé-Style Egg from Pywacked Magic in Germany beat its high estimate four times over to make $4,560. And lot #67, a c. 1930's American wooden “Sure Shot” dice box changed hands at $900 on its $100-200 estimate.
Merchandise - including props, ephemera, and personal items - associated with the legendary magician The Great Raymond (Maurice Francois Raymond, 1877-1948) proved quite popular with collectors. Lot #255, an important scrapbook of Raymond’s early escape act clippings and ephemera from the 1906-08 timeframe sold for $9,000 on its $1,000-2,000 estimate. This archive included some of the earliest and perhaps only extant material from this period of Raymond’s career. Lot #263, another archive of Raymond materials consisting of 1930's era clippings and playbills, made the cut at $2,160. Lot #246, a collection of professional correspondence and letters to The Great Raymond delivered $3,600 on its $200-400 estimate. And lot #277, Raymond's fine English alligator wallet carried the day at $1,800. This handsome accessory was detailed with a central “R” medallion and sterling silver corners bearing Birmingham hallmarks.
This sale came full circle with museum-quality selections of books, posters, photos, and other magic rarities. Lot #231, an archive of Del Ray (Raymond Petrosky, c. 1927-2003) photographs and ephemera, and a draft biography by Spooner soared to $4,560 on its $150-250 estimate. The collection included Del Ray’s gilt metal Lifetime Membership card in the Academy of Magical Arts. And lot #316, a pair of 1922 Houdini Shelton Pool stunt news photos picturing the escape artist outside and within the coffin sold for $1,800 on their $250-350 estimate. These glossy silver prints had their news service hand-stamps and annotations on verso.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "The sale marked another strong showing for items from David Baldwin's collection. We were particularly pleased with the results for the Okito-made props, and Del Ray-owned items. Houdini proved to be a hit, too. All in all, it was a very good day for magic collecting and magic collectors alike."
Potter & Potter, founded in 2007, is a Chicago area auction house specializing in paper Americana, vintage advertising, rare books, playing cards, gambling memorabilia, posters, fine prints, vintage toys, and magicana - antiques and collectibles related to magic and magicians. The company's next sale, featuring fine books and manuscripts, will be held on July 28, 2018. For more information, please see www.potterauctions.com.
Potter & Potter Auctions' June 16th, 2018 Sale to Feature Outstanding Automatons, Apparatus, Ephemera, Houdiniana, Broadsides, and Mystery Clocks
This highly anticipated event follows on the heels of the company's $400,000 Baldwin Collection sale held in October, 2016.
Chicago, IL, May 25, 2018
Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce the 435 lot David Baldwin Magic Collection II sale to be held on Saturday, June 16th, 2018 starting at 10am at the company's gallery, located at 3759 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL 60613. David M. Baldwin (1928 – 2014) had a lifelong passion for magic and a remarkable eye for the extraordinary. Professionally, he worked in New York real estate with Harry Helmsley. Baldwin assembled one of the most important and finely curated collections of antique magic apparatus and memorabilia in the world. All lots from this upcoming sale from are on display and available for public preview on Wednesday, June 13th, Thursday, June 14th, and Friday, June 15th from 10:00am to 5:00pm in the Potter & Potter facility. Baldwin was keenly interested in mystery clocks, especially those made or inspired by 19th-century French magician and clockmaker Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin. Robert-Houdin was the "father of modern magic" and the inspiration behind Harry Houdini's professional name. This sale features several examples of these mind-bending timekeepers.
All eyes will be on lot #28, a Robert-Houdin glass column mystery clock, estimated at $40,000-60,000. This lavishly decorated rarity tells the time via a single arrow-shaped hand, which is set against a gilt-brass framed glass dial with Roman numerals. The clock is handsomely detailed with a glass column supported by four griffins, a velvet-covered platform, and a gilt wooden and ebonized base. Lot #30, a marked, two handled Robert-Houdin square dial mystery clock is estimated at $30,000-50,000. This gilt-framed example features a beveled dial with Roman and Arabic numerals and a dotted minute track, a marble platform, and two decorative swans. And it's the best of all worlds with lot #32, a c. 1860 French magician automaton mantel clock, estimated at $10,000-20,000. This utterly amazing and entertaining timepiece features a magician who on the hour - or at will - turns his head and produces and transposes objects from his table. Two other figures peek out from the containers at his side. This masterpiece, with provenance to Sotheby’s London, has a rectangular wooden case with gilt-brass and beaded moldings, a four-inch enamel Roman numeral dial, serpent hands, and a signed Vincenti movement.
This sale also features a full spectrum of old to new magic apparatus, with several breathtaking examples from legacy manufacturers. Many of the antique selections were also owned and used by The Great Raymond (Maurice Francois Raymond, 1877-1948.) Lot #239, The Great Raymond’s Matter Through Matter device, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. This 1908 Asian inspired piece is marked and was made in New York by Okito. It was featured in William V. Rauscher's The Great Raymond on page 295. Lot #12, a spirit bell and clock dial combination, is estimated at $5,000-7,000. It was made around 1900 in Germany by Carl Willmann. And lot #1, a c. 1890 European card bouquet, formerly owned by the proprietors of the Petrie-Lewis (P&L) magic company of New Haven, CT, is estimated at $6,000-8,000. This mechanically complex device is believed to be the only known example of this effect.
More modern apparatus includes lot #175, an elegant, gold trimmed Hofzinser 52 Card Rise Box. Estimated at $8,000-12,000, it enables any card specified to rise from top of the box. This example, one of three made, was produced in Cincinnati by Joseph Young in 1999. The original Hofzinser card rise was constructed in the 1840's for the master magician, Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser. Hofzinser’s version is now in the Library of Congress. And lot #178, an unusual c. 1970's red tooled leather over machined brass coin casket made by Charles Kalish in New York, is estimated at $1,500-2,000.
Now let's focus on another key category in this sake, magic-themed photography. Several important images of Harry Houdini take the spotlight here. Lot #307, a 1925 glossy silver print of Houdini with eight of Teddy Roosevelt’s grandchildren, is estimated at $500-700. Lot #317, a 1920 banquet photo taken at a dinner given by The Magicians’ Club in London is estimated at $600-900. The Houdinis are shown standing beside the chairman of the dinner, Maurice Raymond. And lot #315, a silver print of Houdini performing outside The Oregonian Building in Portland, OR, is estimated at $600-900. It depicts a large crowd witnessing Houdini free himself from a straitjacket while suspended high above the street. There is certain to be more than a passing interest in this auction's phenomenal offerings of magic related ephemera. Lot #256, an archive of Great Raymond materials including scrapbooks and photographs, is estimated at $2,000-3,000. This career-spanning collection is a treasure trove of unpublished and candid images and scarce printed matter. It includes clippings and programs, as well as illusion, backstage, performance, snapshot, travel, friends, and family photos spanning the 1900-1940 timeframe. Lot #377, Hartz’s 1873 Illustrated Descriptive Catalogue of Conjuring and Magical Apparatus, is estimated at $500-700. This time capsule is illustrated with apparatus available at the Hartz Magical Repository, located at 850 Broadway in New York. It is believed that Hartz, which opened in 1870, was the first American magic store. Lot #306, a set of two bound volumes of Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine from 1906-1908 in a custom drop-spine box, is estimated at $1,500-2,500. Both front flyleaves are inscribed and signed “Best wishes from/Harry Houdini." And lot #304, a German letterpress theatre program dated October 4, 1903 billing Houdini as the "Handcuff King" is estimated at $1,800-2,600. This performance was held at the Central Theater in Dresden and also featured other acts.
This sale's selections of stunning, linen-backed broadsides are certain to cast a spell over magic enthusiasts. Lot #359, an eight-sheet color lithograph The World’s Greatest Psychic Sensation. Samri S. and Miss Baldwin in Oriental Hypnotic Dream Visions is estimated at $3,000-5,000. This large, c. 1895 graphic pictures Miss Baldwin - blindfolded and empowered with second sight by magical forces - sitting and surrounded by red imps rushing to her with questions. Lot #281, The Weird Witches Cabinet, is estimated at $1,500-2,000. This c. 1910 half sheet color lithograph features The Great Raymond and a cacophony of spirits, ghosts, a witch, and binocular toting imps. And lot #285, simply titled Enchantress, is estimated at $1,000-1,500. This c. 1920, six-sheet color lithograph poster is illustrated with a mystical looking woman whose form appears from the flames of a pedestal and question slips at her feet. This sale comes full circle with museum-quality selections of books, tricks, props, and other rarities. Lot #36, a c. 1900 magician musical automaton from the Parisian firm Leopold Lambert, is estimated at $8,000-12,000. As his music box plays, the magician - blinking his eyes and turning his head - raises the cup that he holds in each hand and objects vanish, appear, and transpose underneath them. And lot #382, a first edition of the two volume La Magie de Robert-Houdin. Secrets et Souvenirs de Soirées Fantastiques from 2005 is estimated at $600-900. The first book describes the secrets of Robert-Houdin’s tricks; the second is a faux tome containing recreated Robert-Houdin souvenirs, including booklets, bank notes, and a DVD.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "We are thrilled to offer the second installment of the David Baldwin Magic collection. His mystery clocks are so appealing and clearly a highlight in this upcoming sale. Although they can sell for a pretty penny - one went for $60,000 in the first sale - we also have recreated versions for those "on a budget" at this event. The Great Raymond merchandise is also important, and I wonder what secrets will emerge from his unpublished archives. David Baldwin, after buying half of the Raymond/Gibson collection, sponsored the publication of a book on Raymond. Many of the items in our June auction are included in this book. Others, which we sold in the October, 2016 auction, set truly astonishing prices. With any luck, we'll repeat our previous success this time around."
For more information on this sale and Potter & Potter Auctions, please see www.potterauctions.com. If you can't make the auction in person, bids for these extraordinary offerings can be placed directly on the company's website, by phone by arrangement, or via an absentee bid form, which can be accessed by clicking here.