Houdini & Davenport Auction Recap
A 95% sell-through rate coupled with a pair of lots realizing over $50,000 each propelled our April 9 auction to an unprecedented high, becoming the top-grossing sale for the company to date. The top lots were a Houdini publicity scrapbook and a mid-nineteenth century Robert-Houdin Mystery Clock (at right), both selling for $50,400.
The strength of the morning session, centered on Houdini memorabilia and featuring an impressive sweep of correspondence, photographs, challenges, posters, and books, showed that interest in the magician-escape artist has only grown since our last such sale in 2014. Historically-significant pieces, including a file of correspondence from Houdini’s vaudeville agent Martin Beck and the much-awaited typescript “The Cancer of Superstition,” (see photo lower right) both drew over $30,000 apiece.
Rare postcards of Houdini continue to trend upward. The magician’s pictorial Christmas and New Year cards of 1904 an 1907 brought $3,840 and $3,600, respectively, doubling their high estimates. And real-photo examples proved just as desirable, with one signed card depicting Houdini piloting a bi-plane also realizing $3,840.
The afternoon session, featuring selections from the Davenport Magic Collection of London, opened with a section of apparatus, the highlights of which were a Body Feke owned by Chung Ling Soo and several lots of antique European apparatus, particularly early nickel-plated pieces.
An archive of portraits of famous magicians commenced with a compositionally exciting inscribed and signed full-length image of Alexander gazing into a crystal ball, proceeded by uncommon studio portraits of De Kolta, Döbler, Servais LeRoy, and others.
The auction concluded with a section of posters organized around a series of brightly colored LeRoy – Talma – Bosco lithographs drawn from the Davenport warehouse.
Print catalogs of the sale sold out on the day of auction, but a digital edition, along with the complete results, can be found here. Please contact us with inquiries regarding consignments or for information on upcoming sales.