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.
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."
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.