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.
Knowing Your Business: Potter & Potter opens a world of imagination
Posters and prints; books and manuscripts; movie and music memorabilia; magicana; coin-op and gambling; circus and Wild West — all collectibles to be found through Potter & Potter Auctions, a Chicago-based auction house operated by father/son team Sami and Gabe Fajuri.
The company’s raison d’etre is to offer rare and coveted paper Americana, ephemera, art and popular culture relics to the discriminating eye of the connoisseur. The duo is backed by a staff of 12 employees who render their expertise in cataloging, graphic design, photography and the logistics of getting the collectibles from Point A to Point B.
Behind the Scenes of Potter & Potter
Antique Trader: Is there traveling involved with your work? Do you ever go and inspect a collection first?
Gabe Fajuri: I travel constantly, including trips to inspect collections before consignments. ‘American Pickers’ is a made-for-TV ‘reality’ show. I live that show — for real. Barns, basements, attics, storage lockers, warehouses, homes, haylofts, and everything in between are where we find material for our auctions.
AT: What makes you different or stand out from other auction houses?
GF: Focused catalogs, detailed research, a staff that cares — we do not want to be ‘all things to all people’ — we would rather specialize in a few areas. We’re also known as the auction house that sells magic memorabilia — we essentially own the category of magic.
Paths to Business Partnership
AT: In your own words, could you tell us a little about you and your father’s professional backgrounds?
GF: I received a degree in English from the University of Michigan with an intent to go into journalism or publishing after graduation. I essentially fell into the auction business as a result of my love of magic. Having collected magic memorabilia since the age of 13, and paying part of my way through college by selling magic collectibles on eBay, I was hired to help with a massive appraisal project in 2005 – the task was to assess and appraise one of the largest magic collections in the world (which happened to be two miles from my house).
After finishing the appraisal, I helped conduct an auction of a portion of the collection, which was extremely successful. A year later, my dad moved to Chicago and we incorporated Potter & Potter in 2007. Our first sale was from the very same collection I helped appraise.
Sami was a lifelong stamp collector and paper collector. He was an attorney by trade, but ran a stamp auction in Michigan as a side business for approximately 15 years. An inveterate collector, after selling his personal stamp collection, he broadened his interest to other areas: ephemera, books, prints, and tobacciana. He does not do any traveling [for our business].
Ins and Outs of Business
AT: With you and your father having the last name of Fajuri, how did the company name Potter & Potter come about?
GF: It’s a translation of my last name, Fajuri.
AT: How does selling through Potter & Potter work?
GF: Consignments come in or we pick them up, we catalogue them and sell them. Standard auction procedure.
AT: How does the purchasing process work?
GF: Auctions — both live in our saleroom and online.
AT: How often do you hold auctions? What are some of the themes?
GF: We conduct sales once or twice per month, and each auction is centered on a main subject or theme: fine books and manuscripts, entertainment memorabilia, magic, coin-op, advertising, circus, etc.
Tips About Trends
AT: What fees are associated with buying?
GF: A 20 percent buyer’s premium.
AT: After a sale, how long does it take for a consignor to get paid?
GF: We pay within 45 days, but more often within 30.
AT: What sales and pricing trends are you noticing? Are there categories that are lagging and others that are surging?
GF: Furniture and general antiques are trending downward. We have found that ‘creepy’ and unusual items tend to do quite well for us — i.e. Halloween and horror related items, oddities, and the like.
AT: What’s the most expensive object that has sold through Potter & Potter Auctions?
GF: A three-sheet poster of Houdini in the Water Torture Cell. The poster brought $114,000 – a world record for a magic poster, and the second most expensive magic item ever sold at auction. The anonymous winning bidder participated by phone.
[The 1912-era poster was printed in London and depicts one of Houdini’s most iconic escapes – locked upside down and underwater in the Torture Cell.]
AT: What is the oldest item to sell through your company?
GF: Hard to say. We don’t sell true antiquities, but we regularly offer books and manuscripts from the 16th century.
AT: What is the most exciting element(s) of working in this type of business?
GF: New discoveries. It’s awfully exciting to find something you’ve only read about — or better yet — to discover something you never knew existed. Handling items of true historical significance is also a real thrill.
Mystery clocks and vintage automatons to take center stage at upcoming Potter & Potter auction
Until his death in 2014, New York real estate mogul David M. Baldwin maintained a fine collection of magic curios and apparatus. Baldwin had a particular interest in ornate and elaborate "mystery clocks," particularly those made by French magician and clockmaker, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. One such clock is the star lot in an upcoming Potter & Potter auction set to take place on Saturday, June 16th. The clock is expected to go for between 40 and 50 grand, but given how fierce bidding was at the company's last magic auction, I expect it'll fetch a higher price.
There's a handful of other clocks that are expected to change hands for sums in the tens of thousands of dollars, including another example of Houdin's work, and one that features a tiny autonomous magician that transposes objects to mark the hour. Baldwin's collection also included a finely-curated selection of magical apparatus, including a spirit bell and clock dial from the 1900's, a Hofzinser 52 Card Rise Box that enabled any card in a deck to rise from the top of the box, a brass coin casket and the only known operational European Card bouquet device.
Other standouts include the traditional selection of Houdini memorabilia that always brings in a pretty penny. There's a set of two bound volumes of Conjurers' Monthly Magazine signed, "Best wishes from Harry Houdini," a photograph of the man himself posing with Teddy Roosevelt's grandchildren, and a theatre program from 1903 billing him as the "Handcuff King." The sale also includes selection of linen-backed broadsides, all of which are gorgeous. If any of these lots catch your eye, you should check out the catalog on the Potter & Potter site. All the lots will be on display at the company's gallery in Chicago from 10 am to 5 pm, June 13th to the 15th, before the auction goes live on June 16th.
Magical moments at Potter & Potter bring in thousands of dollars
Magic, and all things related to the history thereof, is a lucrative niche in collecting. From antique or vintage posters to advertising, props, accessories, devices and how-to guides, it all sells. And sometimes it sells big. About a decade ago, Potter & Potter started in Chicago as an auction house specializing in magic and its memorabilia. The house has since expanded to related fields and retail. In a sale of gambling memorabilia last month, lots included the $12,000 circa 1880 brass Will & Finck Jacob’s Ladder-style brass sleeve holdout pictured here, where the card return was activated by a rubber band. Later models used a spring, and even later models were plug-in.
Early books explaining the how-to of classic tricks are extremely popular. One title, “Advantage Card Playing and Draw Poker,” where one page showed a typical sleeve holdout, fetched $14,400.
SMART COLLECTORS KNOW:
This is one collecting category where buyers seek what they like. There is no rule for what constitutes a good collection, so anything goes. Buyers are united by a fascination with flim-flam, sleight of hand, cons, illusion, cheating devices (the sale had gizmos for nicking cards and loading dice), and crooked tricks. Collecting specialties range from posters featuring great magicians to trick vintage toys and card sharping.
At the time, Will & Finck holdouts were favored by professional sharpers due to their compact construction, size and smooth operation.
The top lot at $24,000 was a rare 1882 book on how to win at Faro. A crooked-dice-making jig brought $1,140, and a reflective ring made so the wearer could read cards as they were dealt off the top of the deck sold for $1,320.
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.
Potter & Potter Auctions' May 19th, 2018 Gambling Memorabilia Event Is A Royal Flush at Nearly $390,000!
This annual signature event, featuring the Bob Rosenberger collection of books, apparatus, and ephemera, was the strongest gambling sale in the company's eleven-year history.
Chicago, IL, May 23, 2018
Collectors hit the jackpot at Potter & Potter's recent gambling memorabilia sale. When the frenzied bidding finally came to an end, 31 lots realized between $1,000-1,999; 37 lots realized between $2,000-$9,999; and three lots exceeded the five-figure mark, in a most impressive way! Prices noted include the company's 20% buyer's premium.
Enthusiasts from the four corners of the globe took notice of this sale's phenomenal collection of antique gambling books. The odds-on favorite for the auction's top sale - lot #151, Alfred Trumble's Faro Exposed; or The Gambler and his Prey. Being a Complete Explanation of the Famous Game, its Origin and Development, and how its Skins are Worked - did not disappoint. This extraordinarily rare 1882 publication dealing with the subject of advantage play made $24,000; a possible new world's record for a gambling book. Collectors also anted up to lot #126, F.R. Ritter's Advantage Card Playing and Draw Poker. This book from 1905, featuring the first photograph of a Jacob's Ladder-style holdout ever printed, Ritter’s 20 rules for playing poker, and images of cards marked with "blockout" work, more than doubled its low estimate to sell for $14,400. This exciting auction also featured a number of additional best sellers in its book category. Lot #7, John Blackbridge's 1875 The Complete Poker Player, realized $2,640 on its $500-750 estimate. And lot #139, an original, first edition copy of R.A. Smith's Poker to Win from 1925 made $1,800 on its $300-500 estimate. The book included a treatise on card sharping, including false shuffles, false deals, cons, tricks, and other sleight-of-hand poker dodges. Collectors didn't keep things close to the vest in regards to the spectacular dice, cards, and chips on offer through this sale. Lot #455, a crooked dice making jig with a pair of dice, rolled to $1,140 on its $100-200 estimate. Good things came in threes with lot #467, a trio of scrimshawed ivory mustang dice which more than tripled it high estimate to make $1,560. Lot #325, a deck of Steamboat No. 1999 playing cards made $660 on a $100-200 estimate. This exceptional deck, which was made by the Dorrity Card Manufacturing Company of New York, featured a very rare joker.
You can bet your bottom dollar that this auction presented a breathtaking array of gambling accessories and devices. Lot #254, an adjustable brass card edge notcher with a turned wooden handle was estimated at $1,200-2,000 and sold for $5,760. This c. 1890 tool was used to prepare cards for four-pin dealing boxes. And lot #260, a Shiner ring and instruction sheet, ran circles around its $100-200 estimate to make $1,320. This reflective piece of jewelry was used to read cards as they were dealt off the top of the deck.
Will & Finck's cheating devices, game accessories, and company ephemera remain the "gold standard" amongst gambling memorabilia collectors today. All eyes were on lot #249, a c. 1880 Jacob's Ladder style brass sleeve holdout mounted on a porcelain display hand. Estimated at $3,000-5,000, it quadrupled its low estimate to realize $12,000. Lot #262, a particularly petite, c. 1880 ivory handled brass card trimmer in its original wooden packing crate, was estimated at $3,000-4,000 but shuffled its way to $9,600. And lot #207, a Will & Finck gambling catalog in its original mailing envelope and a small archive of related company ephemera from 1894 sold for $6,000 on its $2,500-3,500 estimate. It was the only known original Will & Finck gambling supply catalog in private hands.
This Gambling Memorabilia sale came full circle with museum quality selections of photos, coin-op machines, and other rarities. Lot #488, a c. 1880 traveling roulette wheel in a wooden crate spun to $7,200 - more than seven times its low estimate. The clock was ticking on lot #297, a photograph of crowd at a casino in Goldfield, NV on October 1, 1910 at midnight. It made $1,020 on its $50-100 estimate. And what made the subject matter of this black and white moment so appealing? Gambling became illegal in the state of Nevada after midnight that day. And finally, bidders took aim at lot #497, a Gambler's palm pistol with pearl grips that made $9,600 - more than twice its high estimate. It was made by the Chicago Fire Arms Co., in 1893 and was accompanied by its original box, a box of 50 cartridges, and three manufacturer's parts sheets with prices.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "Strong participation in all categories made for a spirited, lively, and profitable auction on Saturday. Highlights included cheating books - including the $24,000 sale of Faro Exposed, possibly a record for a book on gambling at auction - as well as gambling devices, poker chips, and rare playing cards. Uncommon trade catalogs also fared well. This was our most successful gambling memorabilia sale to date."
Gambling Memorabilia Auction Features Rare Relics from Poker's Past
Making a living playing cards in the Old West wasn’t an easy job. Marked cards, cheaters, excessive whiskey, and gunplay were just a few of the aspects of the game that could be a bit problematic. Gambling in the 1800s and early-19th Century didn’t have the fineries of today’s high-falutin joins like the Wynn or Aria or Bellagio. Players battled it out on riverboats, bars, and smoky backrooms. Cheating was common and hucksters were ready to take advantage of those new to the game – by hook or by crook. Most of those old card decks, poker chips, cheating devices, and even vintage instructional books haven’t survived through the decades.
“We conduct a similar sale once every year, but this is our best offering to date.”
But those items that survived those backroom games are sought after by savvy collectors and a few fetch a pretty penny. Those looking for that perfect item of poker antiquity will have the opportunity on May 19 at Potter & Potter Auctions' Gambling Memorabilia Sale. The massive auction will feature more than 500 lots of books and catalogs, cheating devices, poker accessories, and gaming rarities. The auction will be held at the company's gallery in Chicago, and all lots will be on display and available for public preview May 16-18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A highlight of this signature annual event offers a range of materials from the San Francisco firm of Will & Finck, one of the most important knife makers and gambling suppliers of the American West. That includes the only Will & Finck catalog in private hands. Overall, Potter & Potter President Gabe Fajuri expects the auction to bring in as much as $400,000. “We are offering rare books on poker, rare playing cards, dice, chips, and even vintage poker and gaming tables,” he said. “We conduct a similar sale once every year, but this is our best offering to date.”
Some of the biggest sellers and most sought-after in the poker and gambling world are rare books and catalogs. In the 19th Century, finding a new decks of cards and chips wasn’t an easy proposition. The general store usually didn’t trade in gambling accoutrements, but a few companies specialized in gambling equipment. “Early poker manuals will do exceptionally well, as well as ivory poker chips, devices used for cheating at cards, and a few rare books will definitely be highlights,” Fajuri said.
Poker in the Old West was not the game it is today. Finding a square game wasn’t easy. Decks were marked and like Ed Norton’s character "Worm" in Rounders, regular players often looked for an edge that wasn’t legal. “Advantage players,” as they referred to themselves, looked beyond the cards for an edge and amazingly there were companies there to help them. One of those is a device that could be worn under the arm and along the wrist. Need an ace to complete that hand? Move your hand just right and the device moves a card right into the palm of your hand. In the 1800s, a player really might have had something up his sleeve. Fajuri believes the device should be one of the more popular in the auction and a target of poker player collectors. Another item of interest is F.R. Ritter's “Advantage Card Playing and Draw Poker,” a vintage book from 1905 about how to cheat at poker that focuses a lot on how to mark cards and use them in play. In those days, decks weren’t changed often as they weren’t easy to get. The book also features the first photo ever printed of a “Jacob's Ladder-style” holdout to conceal cards as well as Ritter’s 20 rules for playing poker. Ritter beat Penn and Teller to this topic by about 100 years – the magicians’ “How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker” debuted in 2005. The Ritter book is estimated at $6,000-8,000, and is expected to be popular at the auction as very few originals remain in print. For those looking to start their own collection, you can pick up Penn & Teller’s guide for about $10.
An Item for Every Poker Room
How big is the market for gambling antiquity collectibles?
“It’s hard to estimate – but certainly broad, since it crosses over in to people who collect cards, chips, books, dice, Old West items, and even knives and advertising collectors,” Fajuri said. Some of those items include indictments against gamblers for playing poker that go back before the game was ever even mentioned in print in English. One lot includes Alfred Trumble's book “Faro Exposed; or The Gambler and his Prey.” The 1882 publication is the rarest of all books dealing with the subject of advantage play. It provides a candid explanation of the origin, nature, rules, and history of Faro, arguably the most popular card game of the Old West and one of the forerunners of poker. Its text and visually stunning wood-engraved plates detail the methods (both mechanical and sleight-of-hand) by which unsuspecting “suckers” and their money could be parted.Potter and Potter’s offering is the only known copy in a private collection. The Library of Congress doesn’t even house an edition as its copy was destroyed in the process of converting the text to microfilm. Only two other examples of the text have been located in institutions, one of which is incomplete. The lot is expected to bring more than $20,000.Another lot features a collection of seven late-19th Century poker magazines. Estimated at $2,500 - $3,500, the group includes a complete set of all six “Poker Chips Magazines” ever published from 1896 and the July 1897 issue of “The White Elephant,” its successor publication. All were published by Frank Tousey, famous for chapbooks and street literature. This is the first complete set of “Poker Chips” to come to auction, and is one of only a handful in existence.
A Life Collecting
Most of the memorabilia came from a single lifetime collection assembled by Bob Rosenberger, 72, one of the premier historians and collectors in America. Rosenberger has always had an interest in gambling items even from an early age. “I’m a collector at heart,” he says. “I have admired risk-taking in general as long as I’ve been alive because by nature, I don’t think I am a risk taker. “When the odds didn’t necessarily favor gamblers in the past, an awful lot of them resorted to ways to improve their situation through cheat, card manipulation, and other things. When statistics wouldn’t deal them a fair hand, they kind of went other ways to improve their lot.” While Rosenberger’s collection includes cheating devices, the cards, chips, and even a table-top felt also display amazing artistry. One of his favorite items in the collection is a copy of the book “Faro Exposed” by Richard K. Fox. Faro was a precursor game to poker, and the book is so rare that it was the only item in the auction he put a reserve on. Another of his favorites is a gambling layout felt for dealers to practice. The layout in the auction is extremely ornate and meant for a gambling game called Diana. The felt shows the craftsmanship to producing gaming items at the time.
“Aesthetically it’s just gorgeous,” he says.
As a youngster, stamps and coins were his passion and that moved to slot machines as he got older and was living in Chicago. With a house too small for a “reasonable collection of slot machines,” he moved on to gambling and poker literature and equipment. The enthusiastic collector was born in San Antonio, but grew up in New Orleans. He now is retired and lives in Cincinnati. Rosenberger attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a degree in chemical engineering. He later changed careers and moved into management and strategic planning. A busy business travel schedule allowed him to search throughout the country for items. While he plays a few card games including poker occasionally, Rosenberger considers himself mostly averse to risk – but admires the quality in others. “I admire the hell out of people who are risk takers,” he says. “That’s part of the reason I’ve liked collecting these items.”
“I admire the hell out of people who are risk takers."
The book and catalog side of the collection features some of the rarest of early books on poker. Amassing such a huge collection came from a lot of effort, scounging antique shops, auctions, and every place in between. “When I get into something, I tend to research the hell out of it,” he says. “Like most people, the way to win anything is to know more than the person you’re competing against. I started doing that. I scoured. I did my homework.” The collecting began in the early-1970s and continued throughout the next few decades. He sold pieces occasionally through the years, but generally held on to the vast majority. Rosenberger may be seeing his pieces of gambling history going away, but just gathering so many interesting pieces was always the fun. “I enjoyed collecting thoroughly and only considered myself a temporary custodian,” he says. “One of the things that I’m comforted by is that even though my collection will disappear, I’ll still have the memories of collecting and the pursuits and captures I’ve made and the friends I’ve made. And that won’t go away.”
Rare Houdiniana Abound in Upcoming Spring Magic Auction
April 16th, 2018
Our Spring Magic Auction boasts a large and notable collection of Houdiniana as its main feature, ranging from glass slides and photographs to autographs and scrapbooks, as well as myriad of complementary vintage and antiquarian magic books, posters, broadsides, ephemera and magic apparatus.
The most significant items in the sale are two recently rediscovered Houdini scrapbooks, never before made available in a public sale. The two-volume set, from the collection of magician and mentalist Joseph Dunninger, spans 1922-25 (with a few additions as late as 1930). Both volumes pertain to spiritualism and related subjects, with the second volume almost entirely devoted to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s belief in spiritualism and the supernatural. This one of a kind two-volume set is estimated between $30,000 to $40,000.
Other outstanding pieces of Houdiniana include a group of seven glass photo negatives owned by Houdini (estimated between $2,000 and $3,000), unpublished Houdini history consisting of
Elliot Sanford’s Houdini manuscripts (estimated between $10,000 and $15,000), and Houdini’s throwing knives (estimated between $1,500 and $2,000).
Hundreds of uncommon and collectible magic books pepper the sale, including a first edition of Edwin T. Sachs’s Sleight of Hand, valued between $1,000 and $1,500, as well as Volumes I-IV of The Vernon Chronicles: Lost Inner Secrets signed by Dai Vernon, Bruce Cervon and Larry Jennings, richly bound in leather. One of only fourteen presentation copies, the set is estimated between $3,000 and $5,000.
Among the vintage apparatus offered is a finely constructed Eclipse Vanishing and Appearing Lamp set, built by Owen Magic Supreme in 1966, estimated between $4,000 and $5,000. Another example is a piece entitled Matter Through Matter, which is elaborately decorated in the style of Okito and is valued between $800 and $1,200.
Rounding out the sale is an array of ephemera and posters, featuring pen and ink artwork for publication of Dunninger’s Magic Tricks (estimated between $700 and $1,000), an overwhelming archive of handwritten Ed Marlo manuscripts, (valued between $5,000 and $8,000), and a bright ochre Chung Ling Soo poster (estimated between $3,000 and $5,000).
For more information, the catalog can be viewed at www.potterauctions.com. A pre-auction exhibition will be held at our Chicago gallery: 3759 Ravenswood Ave., Ste. 121, Chicago, IL 60613, on April 26th & 27th from 10am-5pm. Please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 773- 472- 1442 with inquiries.
Clicker HERE to register to bid.
Rare Entertainment Memorabilia at Auction in Chicago
April 7th Expected to Fetch Six Figures
CHICAGO - March 15th, 2018
From Garbo to the Golden Girls, the silent era to Modern Times, the stage, small screen, and the big top alike, thousands of pieces of entertainment memorabilia will go up for auction on April 7th in at Potter & Potter Auctions in Chicago. The sale is expected to generate over $300,000.00 in revenue.
Many of the items offered are personal relics of Hollywood and television stars of yesteryear. Chief among these are items from the life and career of the luminous Greta Garbo, including her monogrammed full length mink coat with buttons stamped with “G” estimated between $9,000 and $12,000, along with the keys to her safe deposit box, movie stills from many of her famous roles, and other objects. Among the props used in film and television going on the block, two items stand out. The oilcan bass Buddy Ebsen played on the show The Beverly Hillbillies is estimated to bring between $1,600 and $2,500, and is accompanied by two photographs of Ebsen with the instrument, as well as a file of related information. His suit and hat from the famous television program will also go up for sale. A prop shark tooth from the legendary film Jaws, framed and matted with a color snapshot of the shark, a handbill from the attraction where the prop was on display and a color print of the movie poster artwork, is also available for sale, and is estimated to fetch between $800 and $1,200.
Of the myriad of film, circus, and music posters, an original one-sheet poster for Casablanca is sure to be a highlight. Rarely seen in the unrestored condition – as this example is -- the poster is valued between $40,000 and $60,000. Other posters of note include those advertising the 1954 classic Dial “M” for Murder starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly, ($1,800 - $2,400) and a dazzling example of the poster for the thriller Don’t Bother to Knock, which features its star Marilyn Monroe in a sultry pose ($1,200 - $1,600). Well over 500 vintage posters will be offered in the sale.
A large array of comic and animation-related memorabilia will also be auctioned, with a poster for Chapter 6, Vault of Vengeance, of the 1940s fifteen-part Captain America serial estimated between $700 and $900. The serial is notable for being the first theatrical release to feature a Marvel (then known as Timely) superhero. Other items from the genre include a framed painting of Superman estimated between $250 and $300, and a photo of Christopher Reeve in the role of Superman signed by Reeve ($300 and $400). The auction also includes hundreds of autographs, chief among them signatures of sports celebrities and film stars. Other sessions in the sale include personal artifacts from the life and career of Rue McClanahan (of Golden Girls fame), signed guitars and music memorabilia (including Elvis Presley’s bathrobe), an array of memorabilia related movies with magic or magicians as their theme, and more.
For more information, the catalogue can be viewed at www.potterauctions.com. A pre-auction exhibition will be held at our Chicago gallery: 3759 Ravenswood Ave., Ste. 121, Chicago, IL 60613, on March 1-2 from 10am-5pm. Please contact us by email at email@example.com or by phone at 773- 472- 1442 with inquiries.
Click HERE to bid online.
Potter & Potter To Offer the Dazzling Curiosities and Rarities of the Magic Collection of John Daniel
CHICAGO- February 21, 2018
Our first magic auction of 2018 features the collection of John Daniel. The consummate collector, Daniel was also a formidable performer, builder, mover and shaker in the magic world for decades. His collection includes rarities from the shop and lathe of Floyd Thayer, vintage magic posters, spook show memorabilia, personal artifacts and relics from the show of Dante (Harry August Jansen), and illusions, tricks, trunks, theatrical material, and costumes from the Virgil & Julie show, among other curiosities.
Some highlights of the collection include: The Great Virgil’s Disembodied Princess, a large illusion estimated between $1,000-$1,500, a variety of Virgil touring trunks filled with various illusions and stage memorabilia between $400-$600, and The Whispering Buddha, given to Daniel by Owen, estimated at $4,000-$6,000. Other items offered in the sale complement Daniel’s collection such as Houdini Circus Busch Water Torture Cell Bill Card estimated between $1,000 and $1,500, Doctor Q Spirit Hand between $800 and $1,200, and Spirit Painting, a rare apparatus valued between $2,000 and $4,000.
After falling in love with magic as a Cub Scout, Daniel became the owner of his own shop, Daniel’s Magic Den and later a magic illusion manufacturer under the name Trickmasters. In the 40s and 50s, Daniel began touring with a spook show called Dr. Doom’s Dungeon of Death. In 1958, Daniel redesigned the Sawing A Lady in Half illusion, originally created by Turkey’s Zati Sungar, and catapulted him into the magic limelight. After teaming up with famous illusion builder Carl Owen (John later became the owner of Owen magic productions), they built two of Daniel’s famous shows- “John Daniel’s World of Fantasy” and “Shazzam”. Shazzam set new standards for illusionists everywhere, which led to Daniel becoming the first magician to earn The Magic Castle’s title of Stage Magician of the Year. In 2011, long after Daniel had retired, The Magic Castle presented Daniel with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
For more information about the auction, the catalogue can be viewed at www.potterauctions.com. A pre-auction exhibition of all items will be held at our Chicago gallery located at 3759 Ravenswood Ave Ste. 121 on March 1-2 from 10am-5pm. Please contact us by email through firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 773- 472- 1442 with inquiries.
Potter & Potter Introduces New Bidding Platform
One of the most frequently asked questions here at Potter & Potter is: “How do I bid in your auctions?” In the past, we have directed customers to third party bidding platforms as well as our website where you could print out a registration form for absentee and phone bidding. While this system has worked well for us, we are pleased to announce that the bidding process is getting simpler. Potter & Potter is launching our very own bidding platform.
Customers will now be able to register for absentee and telephone bids on our website as well as bid live during our auctions. Our new platform will permit us to centralize and streamline bidding, giving our customers the ability to track bids, shipments and user activity with ease. Below is a link to register as a user and bidder.
Circus Auction Wrap Up
With a flurry of activity both on the auction floor and online, Potter and Potter’s November 18th 2017 Circus, Sideshow and Wild West auction exceeded pre-sale expectations, bringing in some $420,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $250,000.
Among the 150 posters offered, a rare P.T. Barnum Jumbo poster surpassed the high estimate by more than half, selling for $18,000. Few posters featuring Barnum’s greatest attraction survive, making this example a prized and scarce object.
In the midst of the poster bidding, perhaps the biggest surprise and delight came from a lithograph depicting Dan Rice’s Blind Horse, selling for $12,000 (against a pre-sale estimate of $400/$600). This small poster was the first the firm of Strobridge produced for the circus. Later, Strogridge was perhaps best-known as the printer for Ringling Brothers and other circuses. It has been reported that in one year, Strobridge printed in excess of one million sheets of circus "paper."
After much anticipation and a great amount of buzz, the collection of Edward J. Kelty photographs brought a total of $50,000, with images of sideshows, clowns, circus casts, and the Ringling Brothers "Congress of Freaks" bringing between $2,400.00 and $6,000.00 each.
Other highly anticipated objects, including four panels of 1920s-era tattoo flash brought three times more than estimated, and a pristine poster of the "Greek Albanian" tattooed man, Captain Costentenus, doubled its estimate, selling for $10,080.00.
Potter & Potter is in the early stages of planning a circus, sideshow, and wild-west-themed auction for 2018. To discuss consignments, contact our specialists via email at email@example.com or by phone at 773-472-1442.