Saturday, June 10, 2017

Houdini lecture slides sell for $31,980

Twenty-eight original glass slides from Houdini spirit debunking lecture sold today at Potter & Potter's auction of The Grossman-Nicholson Magic Collection for $31,980 (including 20% buyer's premium). The pre-auction estimate was $10,000 - $15,000. Some of the slides were in color, such as the slide below showing Houdini at the grave of William Davenport.

Description: Collection of Lantern Slides from Houdini’s Spiritualism Lecture. New York: Standard Slide Corp., 1920s. Twenty-eight slides total, comprising 21 (of 50) slides from the original lecture series, and seven related slides (inclusive of one duplicate) added by a second contemporary source, possibly Frederick Eugene Powell or Oscar Teale. Original paper-covered boxes, two lacking tops. Old sequencing labels affixed at edges of slides, matching the ordering of Houdini’s handwritten key sheet (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Lot 7426).

A file of ten letters written to Houdini from Harry Kellar between 1917 and 1921 sold for $7,380. In one letter dated April 29, 1921, Kellar wrote: "I really could never guess what risky stunt you were going to do at Niagara. I only hope you are not going to take any of your dare-devil chances with your life." (Read: Houdini's rough ride at Niagara Falls.)

For once it not a Houdini item that was the highest price realized. This time it was Germain's work trunk and magic apparatus which sold for $33,600, annihilating the auction estimate of $6,000 - $9,000.

Transparencies of the Houdini slides adorned the cover of the auction catalog (right), which is still available from the newly revamped Potter & Potter website.

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