Sunday, June 14, 2015

Houdini photos test auction records

Haversat & Ewing Galleries auction this weekend of The Ed Hill Collection may have set new records for the sale of unsigned Houdini photographs. First and foremost is this terrific 3.5" x 2.5" shot of Houdini being put into a straitjacket. The auction estimate was $250-300. The final sale price was a whopping $3,890 (including 17% premium).


The only photo I can think of to rival this one recently was the group shot at Bessie's 35th birthday party, which sold for $4000 in last year's big Potter & Potter Houdini auction. But that photo had what appeared it be Bessie's handwriting on the back and was larger.

A production still from The Grim Game (this year's hot topic to be sure) blew past its 250-$300 estimate to land at $1,228. I'm thinking this could be a new record for a Grim Game still.


Other big ticket Houdini items were an original portrait postcard (Lot #99) which went for $1,630. A Grim Game advertising postcard (Lot #111) fetched $1,433.

Congrats to Haversat & Ewing Galleries for another successful auction, and thank you for being supporters of WILD ABOUT HARRY.

20 comments:

  1. The first shot, the 3.5" x 2.5", is fantastic. His profile, the sea of hats, it's just tremendous.

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    1. It really is! Someone commented to me that it almost looks like a panel from a graphic novel. The composition is just so dramatic.

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  2. That straitjacket photo looks to be about when HH began performing the outdoor escape. He still looks fairly young.

    John, how did you find out that the Bessie 35th birthday photo has her handwriting on the back? Did the winner of that photo tell you?

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    1. The original auction listing had a photo of the back. Someone has listed all the attendees. Might be Bess's handwriting. Not 100% sure though.

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  3. Okay, I have the Potter & Potter catalog for this auction but haven't dug it up to check it. That the GG still photo fetched a high price is not surprising. The GG is on fire right now.

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    1. The GG advertising postcard going for $1,433 is even more surprising to me. I don't see what's all that special about it.

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  4. I agree. Some folks get caught up in auction fever and refuse quit once the bidding is underway. Not unlike hitting the gaming tables at a casino. Then again, there are also serious Houdini collectors with deep pockets out there.

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  5. Many items went far higher in this Haversat and Ewing auction then I'd personally spend, especially on photos. But that's good, shows the market is very strong for Houdini! This auction company had full page ads in many of the magazines and perhaps it encouraged a new generation of bidders to get involved.

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    1. And they advertised here, which made me very happy. I'd like to think it brought them some bidders.

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  6. Nothing better than seeing a "new" Houdini picture, and that straightjacket shot is amazing!

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    1. Isn't it wild how we continually, constantly, see new photos of Houdini?

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  7. Yeah only one person overpaying for Houdini and thats Copperfield, that auction was nutz.

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    1. I'm not sure Copperfield "overpays" for Houdini. He'll go the max, but I believe he steps back if the price gets silly.

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    2. I think he makes them silly, but 3900 is nuts for a picture 2.5 X 3.5 unsigned in my humble opinion. I made a copy from your site for free like alot of others did. We have seen huge crowds before, not sure what the value is on this. Maybe to just prove hes got more money then everyone else interested in Houdini.

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    3. I agree the price on this was surprisingly high for what it is. But do we even know Copperfield is the one who won it? There are other collectors with money and a will to win out there who send Houdini items soaring in price. I've seen it with my own eyes.

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    4. Yes, absolutely it was Copperfield. I agree some people get caught up in an auction and keep bidding. But NO one pays what he pays, I know people intentionally bid Houdini items knowing he will just keep bidding. What he does with it is his business but he has the means to share the collection, at least do something good.
      BTW have you read the reviews on his Vegas show?? Not so good. I was going to see him but not now / Penn and Teller yes

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  8. FYI: Jay Hunter has posted on the Thayer Forum that the straitjacket pic is from Baltimore on April 26, 1916. Christopher mentions the escape on page 142 of Untold Story.

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  9. This straitjacket photo conjures up the image of the shot of HH posing with his bronze doppelganger. It was in the same year, which means HH's haircut, long wavy salt and pepper hair, and general looks in the bronze bust photo match this one.

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    1. Good point. Might be my favorite time period for him, looks wise.

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