Friday, March 20, 2015

WILD ABOUT HARRY's auction reporting policy


Yesterday RR Auctions sold some very nice Houdini items, including a rare lobby display for Houdini's The Man From Beyond. If you are wondering why I didn't report on this auction until after it ended, I wanted to explain my (somewhat loose) auction reporting "policy."

As a rule, I try not to report on auctions in progress. This is so my good friends in the magic collecting community don't get mad at me for outing that gem that might have been flying under the radar. I will report on such items after a sale, especially if they sold for a price that was unusually high or low. Whatever feels like "news".

Exceptions are when an item is of such historical significance that its very existence is news in itself. The recent Double-Fold Death-Defying Mystery box was an example of that. Also, if an auction house buys advertising, whether it be a sidebar ad or a sponsored post, then obviously their upcoming Houdini items will be covered. (Yes, I can be bought.)

The Man From Beyond lobby display was on the line for me. It is an important Houdini item -- one of only 4 such displays -- and it was definitely flying under the radar. It ended up selling for below the auction estimate (and well below what I think it's worth), so maybe keeping my yap shut helped a collector get a deal. But I'm actually feeling a little guilty today that I didn't do my "job" here. I'm not sure I served Houdini's legacy or the larger collecting community by not announcing that this historic gem was available for all.

I'd love to hear some feedback on this. Should I have reported the display auction? What do you think should be WILD ABOUT HARRY's auction reporting policy?

Thanks.

24 comments:

  1. A really tough call.

    There is another Houdini site that collects and he sells. If it is something he wants he keeps real quiet. BUT if it is something he owns, even several of, and does not want it he promotes it big, to increase the value of what he already owns.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah we all know about that guy, a bit unethical you might say

      Delete
  2. I agree its a tough call, but I think you must tell if you know of any Houdini auctions so we all have a chance to improve our collections. If you can't afford something well you have to pass, its all fair in love and war.........

    ReplyDelete
  3. John Hinson great. nephew. of. Bess and Harry HoudiniMarch 20, 2015 at 12:45 PM

    its nice see what the iteams are,if all went to a big collector you never see it again,at lease you say you have seen and heard of it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is your sacred duty to report any and all auctions containing Houdini items before or during the auction date. Assuming it doesn't fly under your radar-- but nothing HH related flies under the WAH radar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sacred duty...yeah. We think alike, Leo. :)

      Delete
  5. We're not your friends too???? I believe ALL auctions, Houdini & otherwise, should be known. I don't like Cliques, & if you only let certain people know, then that's exactly what it is then, a clique!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a good point. I asked a collector friend the other day, "Who the site for?" The big collectors? Or those who want to collect but might not be as plugged in. Is WAH where they come to get plugged in?

      You guys are starting to put me off my policy. :)

      Delete
  6. I see no harm in you reporting any and all significant information about Houdini, whether or not it's a current auction. That's what you do, and you do it well, out of passion and as a service to us all. If someone doesn't like it, then too bad. And frankly, even if you didn't report a current auction, nothing is under the radar in this Internet age for those who look hard enough.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes report all and everything - this is why i go to specialized blogs such as this. The more collectors buying the better.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Report everything please. And I hope collectors will consider showing their collections to the general public or donating to museums. I wonder what Houdini would say to the collectors that horde his possessions for themselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most collectors I know do share. Many share right here on this blog. And most open their collections to researchers and fans. And a huge Houdini collection was just donated to the McCord museum in Canada. So it happens. :)

      Delete
  9. The problem with reporting everything is it will all end up in the collection of the person with the biggest bank roll, never to be seen again. The.only chance a little guy has is when something slips under the radar of the collectors with the big bucks.

    I say don't publish all auctions.

    We always root for the little guy!

    Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz
    The Houdini Museum
    The Only Museum in the World Dedicated to Houdini
    See you in Hollywood!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also a very good point. That's the only way I get something.

      Delete
  10. It is hard to get to anything when there is a gorilla in the room who does not share! It is not fair to Houdini to have his things hidden away and not accessible to anyone who wants to see it. This is a unique problem in our field.
    We always root for the little guy!

    Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz
    The Houdini Museum
    The Only Museum in the World Dedicated to Houdini
    See you in Hollywood!
    Reply

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But the gorilla will always know about the auction. He doesn't need me to tell him. So by not reporting, I'm just helping him get a better price. That's another way to think about it.

      Delete
  11. There is this true story told of person being taken to the inner sanctum of a big collection. He was told upon seeing a rare poster. "There are only three known copies of that poster." The person asked, "Where are the other two?" The reply was, "Rolled up on the bottom shelf!"

    Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz
    The Houdini Museum
    The Only Museum in the

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, the owning and buying of multiple copies of the same item seems a little greedy. I understand upgrading condition. But many will then sell the older one.

      Delete
  12. So I guess I don't really have a policy. It'll be a judgment call based on the auction and item. This is the way I've been doing it, and it's worked out fine until now. But I think I blew it with The Man From Beyond display. That going up for auction should have been announced. It was news in itself.

    (Of course, RR could have bought an ad here. It would have paid for itself. I think all their magic items would have done better.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, in my humble opinion as a relatively new collector, I think you have the correct balance. Rare items that we may not see again. I would like to see. As already stated above, auction houses can take out advertising here. Generally if you research well, you can come across forthcoming auctions. I find this site and a few others invaluable and I am grateful for the advice and help.

      Delete
  13. I keep thinking about that family that owns a number of HH's diaries. They keep passing them down from generation to generation, which should be about 4 generations by now. And hiding the contents from Houdini scholars. What for? Huh? What for?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I don't mind that at all. I think they are doing Houdini and Houdini history a great service. The diaries are staying in one place, not scattered to a dozen collections, and they allow the diaries to be read by serious scholars (like Ken Silverman). No profit motive. It's about protecting sacred texts. I love it.

      Delete
  14. It's in Notes to Houdini!!! There were two big collectors that refused to allow Silverman to see anything. Silverman mentioned something to the effect that "May they live and be well, these folks." Other collectors were more generous.

    Collectors do a big service by preserving, and keeping their findings in one place. But preserving a collection to keep it hidden? What for?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've always wondered who those collectors were. To deny Ken Silverman, the best biographer Houdini will probably ever have, was doing a HUGE disservice to Houdini himself. All efforts should have ben made on the part of everyone in the magic world to help Silverman to do the best job he could, IMHO.

      Delete

Translate

Receive updates via email