Chicago - Potter and Potter Auctions' midsummer event 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 $1,000-1,999; 15 lots made between $2,000-$9,999; and three lots scored $12,000 or more! Prices noted include the company's 20% buyer's premium.
The three top lots in this auction all represented periods of great transition in world history. Lot #556, Emil Orlik's Aus Japan from 1904, was estimated at $10,000-15,000 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 print making techniques. His documentation of everyday Japanese life remains an important body of work today. Lot #369, an engraving of the United States Declaration of Independence realized $16,800. This example was from volume I of Peter Force’s 1837-1853 series of books, American Archives. It is suspected that only 500 copies of the Force declaration were printed, making this Potter & Potter offering quite revolutionary in its own way. And lot #383, 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 monster 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 important and rare books, with about 350 lots on offer. Lot #234, 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. Lot #38, 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 lot #26, 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 comprehensive sale. Everything worked out in the end with lot #469, a c. 1940s Louis Armstrong signed “Swiss Kriss” laxatives print advertising photo. Estimated at $400-800, it sold for $1,320. Lot #464, an inscribed and signed 1920-era publicity photo of boxer Jack Johnson pulled no punches, generating a whopping 19 bid and realizing $3,120. And lot #424, a pair of 1908 photo albums of Cincinnati building construction projects from the Ailing Construction Co. climbed to $1,320.
Museum-quality ephemera spanning three centuries also captured the imagination of collectors at this sale. Lot #411, a 1860-era Missouri Civil War recruitment broadside, battled its way to $1,440. This bold letterpress recruitment poster offered handsome bounties to veterans and recruits alike to serve in Col. Sigel’s third volunteer infantry regiment. Lot #457, a 1928 Babe Ruth “Vote for Al Smith” real photo postcard made $900 on its $200-300 estimate. This glossy original treasure pictured Ruth in bowler hat and cigar, with a flyer pinned to his lapel endorsing Al Smith for president. And lot #567, a Tate Gallery Exhibition Booklet from 1971 with Andy Warhol’s “Marilyn Monroe" on the front and signed by the artist realized $2,640.
This memorable sale came full circle with carefully curated selections of posters, illustrations, artwork, and other temptations. It was a clothes encounter with lot #31, a group of three pre-production costume design drawings for the character Dick Diver from the 1962 film Tender is the Night. They were illustrated by Academy Award winning costume designer Marjorie Best and realized $1,440. Lot #444, a binder of 1920-era German notgeld, or regional currency, rang up $1,440. This collection included over 450 different uncirculated monies. And lot #384, a 1918 poster featuring a kneeling Boy 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.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "Our book and manuscript sales continue offering diverse material, and the results of this auction show strong interest across all categories. The results show that demand for quality material is strong, and we are already looking forward to a full calendar of similar auctions in 2019."
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, its annual Summer Magic Auction, will be held on August 28, 2018. For more information, please see www.potterauctions.com.
Image: Aus Japan. Sold for $18,000 .