Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Briggs Houdini auction listings are live

Last month I reported that a large selection of Houdini items from the private collection of former Philadelphia 76ers president Pat Croce will be auction by Briggs in Pennsylvania on February 21.

Now the auction house has put up the listings for the auction and…wow! Along with the handcuff displays cases that were highlighted in December are many more items that were not mentioned, including rare photos of Houdini, a significant Harry Kellar letter, and a 4-sheet poster from Houdini's full evening show (above).

By the way, I've always thought it was eerie that Houdini would use Halloween iconography on this, one of his last posters.

Thanks to Leo Hevia for the alert.


  1. Hey--you're welcome John! Final credit goes to Marc DeSouza for posting this on the Genii Forum yesterday.

    Those photos are awesome!

  2. That poster and the others with the very obvious Halloween theme were for the 1925-26 season. The images are also associated with witchcraft (the bats, the black cats, the witch on a broom, etc.) But they are even more Halloween than that. Now, the examples of this poster are losing their original color: pumpkin orange. It is fading to yellow. This poster is described as being black and yellow, and yet I'm almost positive that I saw this poster twenty years ago or so and it was bright orange, Kevin Connolly has a different example of the Halloween poster--or did. He was selling it. I'm not saying some these may not have been printed yellow, but, I don't think so. the colors were black and orange.
    Also, somehow the copy of Houdini Unlocked I sold to Pat Croce has developed a crimped page--which I assure you, was not there when he bought it. Anyhow, that's one page out of 800 and they are two great books. A bigger problem is that the slipcase is no longer with the books.
    I have an empty slipcase which is free to the buyer who wins the auction, if he or she has bought or will buy my magnum opus: Houdini--the Key.

  3. I'm wondering why this auction is not listed on the Live Auctioneers calendar for February. Briggs will be working with Live Auctioneers for the online bidding.

    Submission of personal sensitive information seems to be required on the Briggs website.

  4. I hasten to add that anyone who owns a copy of Houdini--the Key doesn't have to put a lot of money in the Houdini Unlocked set. That is, if you own or want the books for the information contained therein. There is no denying that the Houdini Unlocked set has charm and is rare, but, Houdini--the Key has as many words and 900 illustrations and is all about how he did his magic and escapes. The Unlocked books lacked indexes and notes and Houdini--the Key has 1200 notes and an index.
    That Halloween poster is worth fighting for.
    John Cox, you should do a post about the fatalistic symbolism in the Halloween advertising, and the glass lidded coffin photo, the photo of him waving the checkered flag at the end of an auto race. Any other examples?

  5. Patrick--are you saying that those who own a copy of The Key should pass up on bidding for Unlocked? Right now a copy of Unlocked is on eBay for $1,259.95. I have seen this set of books sell for $2,600.00 in magic forums. The price won't go down for this...unless you reprint it and take the wind out of the sails of the pirates.

    Hey--a reprint complete with an index and notes. That would be something.

  6. I would have thought he would use Potter Auction or now, Haversat and Ewing Auction. I rather have someone cataloging and writing descriptions with magic/Houdini knowledge, than just a general antique auction house.

    In my opinion, a well researched and written description can affect the final hammer price. That's what I will do my trinkets.