Auctions | November 25, 2020

Books, Posters & Ephemera at Potter & Potter's December Magic Sale

Courtesy of Potter & Potter

A presentation copy of Ricky Jay's Extraordinary Exhibitions, is estimated at $400-600.

Chicago — Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce this nearly 500 lot sale to be held on Saturday, December 12th starting at 10am CST. Given current public health regulations, the event will be held online and live streamed from the company's gallery. All bidding will take place through the company's website at Phone and absentee bids are also welcome. All items are available for in-person preview now, by appointment only.  

As expected, breathtaking props made by Owen Magic Supreme take several of the top slots in this exciting sale.
•    Lot #90, Marvyn Roy’s Lady in the Diamond Illusion, is estimated at $5,000-10,000. This trick consists of a giant jewelry box resting on a low platform. It is opened, revealing a huge diamond, studded with rhinestones. The gem is replaced, the lid closed, and moments later when the box is reopened, a woman springs from the box. It was used throughout Roy’s tours as an opening act with Liberace.
•    Lot #67, a Palladian Lock from the 1990s, is estimated at $3,000-6,000. With this illusion, a giant brass padlock is closed and locked with a key by a spectator, who holds it high overhead. From across the stage, the magician turns another key in mid-air, pointing it at the lock all the while. As the key turns, the lock opens in the spectator’s hand.
•    Lot #6, a Growing Ball from the 1990s, is estimated at $2,500-5,000. Here, a small billiard ball is placed in a cabinet resting atop a pedestal. Visibly, the ball gradually expands to many times its original size and is removed from the cabinet. This illusion is enabled via an electronic mechanism, fine mechanical works, and a wireless remote control.
•    Lot #83, a finely made example of the company's classic Rice, Grapefruit, and Checkers transposition trick from 1995, is estimated at $2,000-4,000. With this illusion, a quantity of dry rice, a stack of checkers, and a bright grapefruit change places on command, between a turned wooden vase and two decorated canisters.   

Vintage props, with robust provenance or industry significance, are also well represented at this sale.
•    Lot #397, Dai Vernon’s Harlequin Act Linking Rings, is estimated at $5,000-10,000. This set of giant rings consists of two single rings, one key, and one linked pair. Vernon brought this ancient trick, in which the solid rings apparently link and unlink in a dizzying and deceptive sequence along with noises and chimes, to new heights using this custom made set.
•    Lot #105, F.G. Thayer's The Voice from the Great Beyond, is estimated at $2,000-4,000. This rare example, from the 1930s, is the Thayer version of D.P. Abbott’s Talking Teakettle. The gold leaf gesso-covered vase answers questions posed by audience volunteers in a ghostly voice.  
•    Lot #63, an Eclipse Vanishing Lamp from 1966, is estimated at $1,500-3,000. Here, an illuminated electrical lamp is wrapped in paper and lifted from the table. The paper is crushed; the lamp is gone. This rare example in fine condition, produced by Owen Magic Supreme in 1966, was recreated from an original Thayer Magic Company pattern.  

Stunning broadsides promoting some of the most famous 20th century illusionists are certain to catch the eye of collectors worldwide.
•    Lot #448, Howard Thurston's Thurston Magician and Daughter Jane. Wonder Show of the Universe, is estimated at $7,000-9,000. This 1920s-era, linen backed color litho features the performer's daughter, Jane, billed alongside him.
•    Lot #413, Alexander's Alexander. The Man Who Knows, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. This example from 1915 was printed in Bombay by Av Yaga and depicts the mind-reader holding a crystal ball as he gazes at the viewer.
•    Lot #423, a 1910-era Chung Ling Soo. A Name to Conjure With poster, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. This color litho depicts the legacy magician juggling lanterns spelling out his name, flanked by a spritely lady and dragon.  

Also available are a number of magic related scrapbooks and archives, offering researchers and historians a goldmine of firsthand data, observations, and materials.
•    Lot #240, a scrapbook from magician, escape artist, and mentalist Joseph Dunninger (1882-1975) is estimated at $1,000-2,000. This collection from 1911-17 includes 60 leaves filled with letters, photographs, and clippings highlighting the performer's achievements.
•    Lot #113, a collection of eleven Owen Magic Supreme guestbooks from 1966-2020 is estimated at $1,500-3,000. These include the signatures of the magicians, designers, promoters, and customers who patronized the magic manufacturing firm over the course of half a century and include luminaries like Doug Henning, Charles Reynolds, Don Bice, Fred Kaps, Eric Lewis, Ricky Jay, Siegfried & Roy, Dai Vernon, and hundreds of others.
•    Lot #306, a group of published and unpublished Charlie Miller (1909-1989) manuscripts and correspondence, is estimated at $1,000-2,000. This collection includes over 120 pages and is a unique and significant archive of secrets and information related to the life, career, and magic of one of magic’s great unsung sleight-of-hand artists.

Fine century-spanning magic books are bound to be best sellers at this can't miss auction event.
•    Lot #254, a first edition copy of Harry Houdini's The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin, is estimated at $1,800-2,400. This book was published 1908 in New York by The Publishers Printing Company and is signed by Houdini: “With compliments of the author/Harry Houdini/Aug 10-1912.”
•    Lot #214, Strozzi Cicogna's (1568-1605) Del Palagio De Gl’incanti Et Delle Gran Meraviglie De Gli Spiriti & Di Tutta La Natura Loro, is estimated at $1,500-2,500. This first edition from 1605 is a rare example of the author’s most important work on occultism. It was published simultaneously, by four different publishers, in Venice and Brescia. This is the first copy of this imprint at auction in over 70 years; only one institutional copy was traced, at Bibliotheque Nationale de France.
•    Lot #257, a presentation copy of Ricky Jay's Extraordinary Exhibitions, is estimated at $400-600. This first edition was published in 2005 in New York by Quantuck Lane Press and is inscribed and signed to the former owner. This lot includes the letterpress broadside advertising the book and the publisher’s complimentary pictorial bookmark.

Ephemera, artwork, and other can't look away magic-related antiques bring this event full circle.
•    Lot #351, a sepia toned portrait of Beatrice Houdini inscribed and signed to Dai Vernon, is estimated at $800-1,200. This image dates from around 1915 and includes a letter of provenance from Vernon’s son, Derek.
•    Lot #296, a sculpture by Toni Moretto (1929 – 2011) is estimated at $1,200-2,400. This caricaturish porcelain work depicts a magician standing behind his table laden with cards, props, books, and flowers, with a set of linking rings in his hands.
•    Lot #442, a signed, hand painted magician sideshow banner by Fred Johnson (1892-1990) is estimated at $2,500-5,000. It was produced in Chicago around 1955 by O’Henry Tent & Awning and features a full-length portrait of the conjurer at the center, livestock and props filling out the scene.  

According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "The name "Owen Magic Supreme" looms large in the history of magic, and we are honored to be offering relics and props from the company's 100+ year history in our December auction. There has been a lot of buzz in the industry about the future of Owen's business - the company is now available for sale - and when you look at the scope of what it produced over the years, it's easy to understand why its stellar reputation has persisted for over a century. We're excited for auction day, and equally enthusiastic that someone new will step up to the helm of Owen to "keep the wheels turning," as the saying goes. On a personal note, I am also thrilled to bring so many important props from Dai Vernon's legendary Harlequin Act to the auction block, in concert with memorabilia and props from the career of his counterpart, Charlie Miller."