Auctions | October 7, 2020

Magic Ephemera & Memorabilia at Potter & Potter's October Sale

Courtesy of Potter & Potter

German Magic Supply House Ephemera Collection. Estimate: $500-750

Chicago — Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce this 500 lot sale to be held on Saturday, October 31st starting at 10am CST. Given current public health regulations, the event will be held entirely 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. Mr. Deutsch's collection is considered among the finest assemblages of magic apparatus of the modern era. Potter & Potter Auctions' October, 2019 first sale of Deutsch materials realized nearly $325,000.

Astonishing, world-class illusions constructed by Rüdiger Deutsch take the top slots in this auction.
•    Lot #12, Deutsch's Visible Die Through Hat from 1999, is estimated at $6,000-8,000. This mechanical masterpiece, one of six units made based on an early 20th century German design, creates the illusion that a hat sinks down – bit by bit - through the die, as if one solid is melting through the other.  
•    Lot #5, Deutsch's c. 1995 Hofzinser Any-Card Called For Card Rise Box, is estimated at $5,000-8,000. This illusion was modeled on the original box of Johan Nepomuk Hofzinser and is one of three units constructed. Hofzinser was the inventor of many fundamental sleight-of-hand maneuvers and is widely regarded as one of the most significant conjurers of all time. With this apparatus, a piquet pack is dropped into the box, and any card of 32 is called for by the audience. At this command, the chosen card rises from the center of the box, followed by any other cards named by the audience.
•    Lot #1, Deutsch's c. 2000 one of a kind papier-mache Demon’s or Satyr Head, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. This illusion is modeled on apparatus described in Hoffmann’s Modern Magic (1876). The demon’s head, resting atop the conjurer’s table, opens and closes its mouth as its eyes scan the audience. Then, chosen cards appear from the figure’s mouth, while three more selections appear at the top of its head between its horns.    
•     Lot #39, Deutsch's Wine and Water Separation from c. 2000 is estimated at $4,000-8,000. Red and white wine are poured from separate glasses into a decanter resting on the centermost of three stands. The glasses and decanter are then concealed by three pyramid-like covers. When revealed again, the wines have vanished from the decanter and reappeared – separated – in the glasses from which they were first poured. This illusion, one of six manufactured, is modeled on a French design and exquisitely screen and hand painted.

Outstanding vintage posters and broadsides promoting famous and lesser known illusionists are also well represented in this important sale.
•    Lot #367, the poster Bellachini. Hofkünstler Bellachini Theater. Illusion. Magie printed in Hamburg in 1914 by Adolph Friedlander, is estimated at $800-1,500. This eye catching lithograph is illustrated with highlights from Bellachini’s magic show and portraits of the magician and (presumably) the theater manager. Deustch used the stage name of Bellachini, and displayed this poster at the top of the stairs leading to his attic filled with the vintage magic apparatus he designed, restored, collected, and used in his act.
•    Lot #369, an important letterpress broadside of Professor Caroline Bernhardt, is estimated at $800-1,600. This poster from c. 1851 bears a central woodblock portrait of Frau Bernhardt, in the “realm of magic,” with a wand in hand, surrounded by descriptive text, all inside a repeating ornamental border. This the earliest advertisement we have offered for a female magician.
•    Lot #388, a poster advertising magician Alois Kassner and his entourage, is estimated at $800-1,200. This piece was printed in Hamburg by Adolph Friedländer in 1935 and features Kassner, in white tie and tails, surrounded by animals from his show, and flanked by demons who aid him in performing the Any Drink Called For routine.

Seldom seen 19th century portrait prints of European and American magicians are certain to conjure up a great deal of interest at this can't-miss sales event.
•    Lot #379, a portrait of Hofzinser by Prinzhofer, is estimated at $1,000-2,000. Produced in Vienna around 1846, this three-quarter length portrait features the magician seated in an armchair, a facsimile of his signature underneath the image.
•    Lot #377, a c. 1831 lithographed half-length portrait of the Austrian magician Ludwig Döbler, is estimated at $800-1,200.  
•    Lot #378, a lithographed portrait of Herr Alexander, is estimated at $500-1,000. It was printed in 1840 in New York by Louis Nagel and features a three-quarter length seated portrait of the magician in costume, the edge of his cape clutched in one hand. It is interesting to note that Alexander’s reputation was sufficiently great as to secure him a mention in Herman Melville’s seminal work, Moby Dick.

Also available through this sale is a remarkable and unusual collection of 19th and 20th European card presses, with nearly 20 examples on offer.
•    Lot #347, a handsome and large example featuring a scalloped platen design with two large metal screws and a colored marquetry floral design in the upper plate, is estimated at $300-600.
•    Lot #354, a bronze press cast with the suit symbols at the four corners of its base, and an eagle incorporated into the design atop the handle, is estimated at $300-600. It is also detailed with gilt on its handle and base.
•    Lot #358, an unusually designed, heavy brass press decorated in bright cloisonné with suit symbols, parrots, and a scene of two women tearing at each other’s hair on the upper panel, is estimated at $300-600.

Collectors will no doubt want to drop a dime on this auction's carefully curated selections of coins and medallions.
•    Lot #478, a counter-stamped Wyman the Wizard advertising American cent token from c. 1854, is estimated at $700-1,500.
•    Lot #483, a c. 1980 Magic Circle of Germany Award Medallion in its original case, is estimated at $400-800. The obverse bears an artistic rendering of Kalanag’s levitation while the reverse is blank, intended for engraving.
•    Lot #477, a fine collection of 100+ American and European tokens for magicians, magic conventions, organizations, and various commemorative issues from the mid to late 20th century, is estimated at $300-500.   

Books, ephemera, legacy apparatus, and other remarkable magic-related antiques bring this second Rüdiger Deutsch event full circle.
•    Lot #192, Hofzinser’s silver plated mechanical “Wonderful Wand” from 1860, is estimated at $5,000-10,000. With this illusion, a borrowed ring would vanish from the performer’s hands, then reappear inside the small plunger-activated cup at the end of the wand, which splits in half when the end of the prop is pressed. This is one of but a few objects owned by Hofzinser to come to market in the last half-century.
•    Lot #40, an expertly carved c. 1780 ivory-handled cane or wand, said to be owned by the famous charlatan and magician Cagliostro, is estimated at $5,000-10,000. The handle and upper portion are carved in the shape of a skull resting atop a staff encircled by a serpent, the lowermost section of the handle terminates in a floral pattern.  
•    Lot #402, a signed copy of The Magic of Robert Harbin, is estimated at $1,200-1,800. This profusely illustrated tome was published in 1970 by the author and is number 401 of 500 copies in the first and only edition.
•    Lot #450, a massive collection of principally early to mid-20th century ephemera related to German magic house suppliers, is estimated at $500-750.  This archive fills seven bins, and includes instruction slips, price lists, and catalogs issued by Janos Bartl, Bartl & Willmann, Conradi-Horster, Manfredo, and other German dealers and manufacturers, together with magazines, photos, booklets, and other ephemera accumulated by Rudiger Deutsch.  

According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "Anyone interested in clever conjuring apparatus will not want to miss this auction - for about 500 reasons (well, in this case, lots). This second sale from Rudiger's legendary collection is perhaps more representative of his interests as a collector and abilities as a craftsman than last year's auction. The first session of the sale features many of the masterful pieces of apparatus that Rudiger crafted in his own workshop, often in a single example or in extremely limited numbers. The pride of workmanship shines through in each object, from the hand painted detailing to the clever mechanisms incorporated in to many of the props. As for the antiques in the auction, they are of every stripe and kind, including unusual and unique objects - and that's saying something when you consider how many unusual magic props we have handled here at Potter & Potter over the last 12 years."