Auctions | January 14, 2019

Potter & Potter Auctions' February Sale Features a Jaw-Dropping Collection of Chicago-Themed Publications

Chicago—Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce its nearly 800 lot Fine Books and Manuscripts sale to be held on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 starting at 10am at the company's gallery, located at 3759 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL 60613. All lots from this upcoming sale from are on display and available for public preview on Wednesday, January 30th, Thursday, January 31st, and Friday, February 1st from 10:00am to 5:00pm in the Potter & Potter facility. Everyone is also welcome to attend a special gallery celebration with hors d'oeuvres and beverages on Thursday, January 31 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm.  All times noted are CST. 

This event features over 200 lots of materials honoring a century and a half of Chicago's remarkable history. Chicago has been making headlines since its incorporation as a town in 1833 and as a city in 1837.  As such, presidential-caliber antiques related to this key city in the Land of Lincoln are well represented in this sale. Lot #153, a collection of John Dillinger materials, including his death mask, hair from his moustache, and a letter from Melvin Purvis, is estimated at $6,000-9,000.  Dillinger, an infamous Depression-era gangster, was responsible for over two dozen bank robberies and multiple other crimes.  On July 22, 1934, he was captured, shot, and killed by FBI agents - including Purvis - at the Biograph Theatre near Lincoln Park in Chicago. This fascinating grouping of Dillinger materials is from the collection of noted crime collector Michael Webb (1950—2009). Lot #172, a 20th century handmade model of Fort Dearborn said to have been displayed at the 1933 World’s Fair, is estimated at $900-1,300. Fort Dearborn's history and that of the city are deeply intertwined and include the war of 1812 and the great Chicago Fire of 1871. This skillfully rendered mixed-media model is mounted on an oak base with glass sides and features a painted canvas background. It measures 10" x 22" x 22” and is accompanied with an inlaid Fort Dearborn marquetry sign.  And lot #33, a mid-century yellow enameled Diversey Avenue street sign is estimated at $300-500.  Diversey Avenue is now a major east-west Chicago roadway; it was named after 19th century brewer, philanthropist, and alderman Michael Diversey. 

Also on offer are a number of important antique reference publications documenting the geography, roads, infrastructure, and buildings of the Chicago area during the last quarter of the 19th century. Lot #3, Atlas of the Village of Hyde Park is estimated at $250-350.  Published by Rhoades, Dobson, and Rascher in the 1870s, this 23" x 25" time capsule includes an index map showing the area from 130th Street to 39th Street, and from State Street to Lake Michigan. Rare in any state of completeness, the atlas is listed on the title page by the publisher at the handsome sum of $100 - the equivalent of nearly $2,000 in 2019 dollars. And lot #131, Edwards’ Thirteenth Annual Directory of the City of Chicago, 1870—71 is estimated at $300-500. According to its front page, this scarce tome includes a full listing of the areas "Inhabitants, Institutions, Incorporated Companies, and Manufacturing Establishments." One can only imagine how different subsequent editions would read, given the monstrous hit every aspect of the city took with the 1871 Chicago fire. 

Now let's focus on this auction's offering of collectible posters capturing stunning Chicago images.  Lot #20, a 1929 color litho poster from Chicago/ New York Central Lines featuring some of the city's highlight buildings of the "roaring 20s" is estimated at $2,600-3,500. It is by commercial artist Leslie Ragan (1897—1972), who is known - among other things - for his fantastic rendering of clouds. And lot #19, a c. 1950s Chicago via Braniff Airways color silkscreen poster by Don Marvine is estimated at $800-1,200. It features a a trio of travelers, including a cowboy, under the neon lights in downtown Chicago at night, each apparently hailing taxis. 

Impressive selections of livre d'artiste works add an international dimension to this Midwest sale. These items fall at the intersection of illustration, books, and limited editions and are often housed in boxes or folders that are works of art in themselves. Lot #297, a group of twelve erotic pochoir plates after watercolors by Gerda Wegener is estimated at &1,800-2,600. This cloth-backed portfolio from 1925 is printed in gilt and is one of 350 copies.  Lot #290, Les Aventures du Roi Pausole featuring seventeen erotic illustrations by Brunelleschi colored in pochoir is estimated at $1,200-1,500.   It is number 56 of 450 and is presented in a navy morocco over midnight blue calf binding with gold-veined marbled endpapers. And lot #264, Oscar Wilde's Ballade de la Geole de Reading with artwork by Andre Dignimont is estimated at $1,500-2,600. This rarity from 1942 is number one of three deluxe artist's copies.  It is signed by Dignimont on the limitation page, housed in a slipcased chemise with files of original and proof artwork, and includes more than 40 original drawings.

First edition and other important traditional bound books are also page turners at this can't miss auction.  Lot #244, a first American edition of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is estimated at $2,600-3,500.  Published in 1932 by Doubleday, Doran & Company, this is number 64 of 250 specially-printed and bound copies, and is signed and numbered by the author. It includes its near fine original slipcase - which often lacking or damaged - all handsomely enclosed in a quarter leather slipcase and box.  And lot #230, a first edition of Charles Bukowski's South of No North published by the Black Sparrow Press in Los Angeles is estimated at $1,500-2,000. This book from 1973 is number 5 of 50 hand bound copies and includes an original signed painting by the author. 

Potter & Potter Auctions enjoys a worldwide reputation of presenting the most eye-catching archives of all sorts, and this event will only confirm that leadership position. Lot #520, a Christine Jorgensen (1926-1989) archive from the 1940s-50s is estimated at $600-900.  Entertainer Jorgensen was an American transgender woman, and the first who became widely known for having undergone sex reassignment surgery in Sweden in 1951. This collection includes sixteen original photographs featuring Christine as well as an oversized, illustrated advertising program headlined, “America’s No. 1 Box-Office Attraction.” Lot #71, an archive of photographs, documents, and ephemera from Chicago Fire Marshal Charles Seyferlich is estimated at $400-600.  These materials span the 1890s—1910s time frame and include a bound memorial album, a lithographed memorial resolution issued and signed by the Chicago Board of Underwriters, 49 snapshots of intense scenes of firefighting at the Stockyard Fire, Seyferlich’s business card as Fire Marshal, postcards, news clippings, and other materials. And lot #165, a collection of 1933—34 Chicago World’s Fair souvenirs and ephemera is estimated at $200-300. Highlights of this most eclectic archive include a glass and rubber Firestone Tires ashtray, an engraved Oneida spoons depicting Fort Dearborn, a tin Sky Ride ashtray, a box of eight sealed souvenir matchbooks, a boxed souvenir jumbo “Key to the Chicago World’s Fair”, and three sealed “souvenir views” photo-card sets. 

This sale offers many distinctive ephemeral items, including photos, postcards, blueprints, and "everyday" goods that bring the past to life.  Lot #512, a cabinet photo of actor Richard Mansfield as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from c. 1887 is estimated at $1,000-1,500. Lot #151, a collection of eight Chicago Police Department Daily Bulletin "Wanted Flyers" from 1961 is estimated at $50-100. These are ominously illustrated with photos of wanted criminals and missing persons, including men wanted for bogus checks, bond forfeiture, armed robbery, deceptive practices, burglary, and other crimes.  Lot #8, architect Frank Lloyd Wright's signed, original 36" x 46” floor plan for the Louis Frederick House from 1956/57 is estimated at $6,000-8,000. This 2,550-square-foot home, located in Barrington, IL, was one of Wright's last projects and most recently sold for $795,000 in 2016, a mere three days after its listing. And it’s easy to get carried away over lot #409, an all-original Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup shopping bag from 1966. This first printing, color silkscreen depicts a Campbell’s Tomato Soup can on a wove Guild Paper Products shopping bag and is estimated at $800-1,200.

This auction comes full circle with carefully curated offerings of prints and drawings, photos, atlases, antiques, and other rarities, including early and collectible comic books. Lot #647, a Marvel Comics Incredible Hulk number 181 from 1974 is estimated at $1,800-2,400. This monster of an edition features the first full appearance of Wolverine as well as an appearance from Wendigo. 

According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "As a proud "Windy City" business, we are thrilled to be offering this fine collection of Chicago materials.  Despite their regional theme, they should have enormous universal appeal given our city's prominent role on the global stage. Looking over these items, it is so interesting to me to see how much the city has evolved and changed - and not - over time. The sale's other key categories, including important books, ephemera, and livre d'artiste, also offer spectacular temptations."

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. For more information, please see  Follow us on Facebook (potterandpotterauctions), Twitter (PnPAuctions), and Instagram (potterauctions).