Areas of Expertise
We're a Chicago auction house specializing in the sale of collectibles and antiques of all kinds. We specialize 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.
Recognized as the leading source for magicana - collectibles related to the art of magic - in the world today, Potter & Potter regularly auctions magic posters, books, Houdini memorabilia, and vintage magic props. Recent sales include the world record price for a magic-poster, a Houdini "Water Torture Cell" three-sheet for $114,000.00.
COIN-OP & GAMBLING
Slot machines, trade-stiumlators, vintage vending machines, playing cards, poker chips and virtually anything else related to games of chance are specialties of the house. Previous sales have included record-setting prices for rare books on poker and cheating, cased sets of ivory poker chips, and unusual handmade playing cards.
We specialize in historic collectibles ranging from the wreckage of the Hindenburg disaster, a typewriter owned by the creator of “The Shadow” Walter Gibson, John F. Kennedy’s personally owned Zippo lighter, and Lee Harvey Oswald’s personally owned and worn dress suit.
CIRCUS & WILD WEST
From Buffalo Bill to Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey, Potter & Potter regularly offers material related to some of the "greatest shows on earth." Previous sales have featured giant sideshow banners, early advertisements, circus wagons, carousel horses, carnival games, and one-of-a-kind sideshow photos and memorabilia
Maps & Atlases
Our experts on staff have over a decade of experience handling rare maps and cartographic related material. Recent results include the rare Collot map of the Ohio River ($16,800) and Mercator’s Atlas sive Cosmographicae… ($20,400). Other unique items we offer include scientific material such as orreries, library and pocket globes, early sundials, and more.
Potter & Potter offers rarely–seen Americana at auction. Recent sales include exceptional almanacs, civil war diaries and broadsides, and one of the rarest narratives of the Revolutionary War by Ethan Allen, which sold for $78,000.
POSTERS & PRINTS
From travel and circus to exhibition posters, fine prints and more, Potter & Potter specializes in bringing scarce and desirable works of art on paper to the market. Vintage travel, advertising, and exhibition posters from the belle epoque to the modern era and beyond are regular features of our auctions.
PRINTS, MULTIPLES & FINE ART
Past auctions have included signed lithographs by Joan Miro and Keith Haring, a scarce Sean Scully signed portfolio from the Limited Editions Club, and an acrylic sculpture by the contemporary artist, Victor Vasarely.
FINE BOOKS & MANUSCRIPTS
From fine bindings to major works of literature, we specialize in a comprehensive selection of categories that also include travel and exploration, natural history and science, important printed and manuscript Americana, fine press and printing, livres d’artiste, modern first editions, early printed books and illuminated texts. Recent sales include historic prices Herman Melville’s Moby Dick that sold for a premium of $60,000, the signed Works of Mark Twain selling for a record $33,600, Charles Dickens’ Christmas Books ($28,800), and Hobbes’ Leviathan ($21,600).
MOVIE & MUSIC MEMORABILIA
Relics of the silver screen, including film props, posters and lobby cards, autographs, costumes and photographs, regularly cross the block at Potter & Potter. Vintage and collectible musical instruments, concert posters, and autographed memorabilia are also regularly featured in our sales. From silent-era posters to signed guitars, celebrity-owned memorabilia, and more, we regularly offer relics from the entertainment history.
Over the past decade, P&P has handled some of the choicest material on the market including a massive album of William Henry Jackson photographs of the west ($22,800), rare unpublished Vivian Maier photographs, Margaret Bourke–White architectural photographs, and numerous Diane Arbus sideshow photos. We have handled several important single consignor offerings including the collection of Gary Bart which is considered one of the most significant collections circus and sideshow photographs of its kind in private hands.
Historical Documents, Letters & Autographs
Our expertise is wide ranging, from presidential documents of Abraham Lincoln and signees of the Declaration of Independence, to historic letters from important authors and scientists including Herman Melville ($11,400) and Albert Einstein ($28,000). Other excellent results include a Peter Force engraving of the Declaration of Independence ($16,800) and a rare Nicola Tesla letter ($10,800).
We have had handled numerous rare civil rights posters and broadsides, including the two only known copies of “A March for Freedom Now!” placard, the most recent of which sold for $11,400. Other items include inscribed Martin Luther King books and a James Baldwin letter with an unpublished essay ($10,800).