Chicago, IL — Potter & Potter's recent magic sale offered collectors a phenomenal selection of automatons, apparatus, ephemera, Houdiniana, broadsides, and mystery clocks, many from the David Baldwin Magic Collection. David M. Baldwin (1928 - 2014) had a lifelong passion for magic and a remarkable eye for the extraordinary; Potter and Potter also sold highlights from this collection in October, 2016. After the hammer fell for the last time, 33 lots made $1,000-1,999; 26 lots sold for $2,000-$9,999; and six lots lapped the five-figure mark! Prices noted include the company's 20% buyer's premium.
A trio of Baldwin's outstanding antique mystery clocks took the top spots in this sale. Lot #28, a lavishly decorated Robert-Houdin glass column mystery clock, made $36,000. It told time via a single arrow-shaped hand, which was set against a gilt-brass framed glass dial with Roman numerals. Coming in second was lot #30, a two handled Robert-Houdin square dial mystery clock which sold for $24,000. This gilt-framed example featured a beveled dial with Roman and Arabic numerals and a dotted minute track, a marble platform, and two decorative swans. And things were on the move with lot #32, a c. 1860 French magician automaton mantel clock. This breathtaking timepiece featured a magician who on the hour - or at will - turned his head and produced and transposed objects from his table. It surpassed its high estimate to realize $21,600.
Old and newer magic apparatus, with many fine examples from legacy manufacturers, was another spellbinding category in this sale. Lot #1, c. 1890 European card bouquet, formerly owned by the proprietors of the Petrie-Lewis (P&L) magic company of New Haven, CT, made $11,400 on its $6,000-8,000 estimate. This mechanically complex device was believed to be the only known example of this effect. Lot #12, a German c. 1900 spirit bell and clock dial combination made by Carl Willmann more than doubled its low estimate to ring in $10,800. Lot #170, a modern Pillar of the Magi by John Gaughan & Associates modeled on an Otto Maurer design climbed to $10,200 on its $3,000-5,000 estimate. Lot #197, a surprise Fabergé-Style Egg from Pywacked Magic in Germany beat its high estimate four times over to make $4,560. And lot #67, a c. 1930's American wooden “Sure Shot” dice box changed hands at $900 on its $100-200 estimate.
Merchandise - including props, ephemera, and personal items - associated with the legendary magician The Great Raymond (Maurice Francois Raymond, 1877-1948) proved quite popular with collectors. Lot #255, an important scrapbook of Raymond’s early escape act clippings and ephemera from the 1906-08 timeframe sold for $9,000 on its $1,000-2,000 estimate. This archive included some of the earliest and perhaps only extant material from this period of Raymond’s career. Lot #263, another archive of Raymond materials consisting of 1930's era clippings and playbills, made the cut at $2,160. Lot #246, a collection of professional correspondence and letters to The Great Raymond delivered $3,600 on its $200-400 estimate. And lot #277, Raymond's fine English alligator wallet carried the day at $1,800. This handsome accessory was detailed with a central “R” medallion and sterling silver corners bearing Birmingham hallmarks.
This sale came full circle with museum-quality selections of books, posters, photos, and other magic rarities. Lot #231, an archive of Del Ray (Raymond Petrosky, c. 1927-2003) photographs and ephemera, and a draft biography by Spooner soared to $4,560 on its $150-250 estimate. The collection included Del Ray’s gilt metal Lifetime Membership card in the Academy of Magical Arts. And lot #316, a pair of 1922 Houdini Shelton Pool stunt news photos picturing the escape artist outside and within the coffin sold for $1,800 on their $250-350 estimate. These glossy silver prints had their news service hand-stamps and annotations on verso.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "The sale marked another strong showing for items from David Baldwin's collection. We were particularly pleased with the results for the Okito-made props, and Del Ray-owned items. Houdini proved to be a hit, too. All in all, it was a very good day for magic collecting and magic collectors alike."
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, featuring fine books and manuscripts, will be held on July 28, 2018. For more information, please see www.potterauctions.com.
Image: Earliest Archive of Raymond Ephemera. Realized $9,000