As I've already reported, the most publicized lot, the unpublished manuscript for The Cancer of Superstition, sold for $28,000 (all prices noted here are before 23% buyer's premium). A collection of letters from Houdini's manager, Martin Beck, which I considered to be the most historically significant item in the entire auction, went for $26,000. A Houdini scrapbook sold for $43,000 in what I believe was the highest price realized. Houdini scrapbooks have certainly become hot auction items lately!
The Castle Lock display case featured in the 1953 Houdini biopic starring Tony Curtis locked up $27,000. (It sold for $22,000 in the 2014 Pat Croce auction.) A Houdini lock pick brought $3,200 while a ball and chain, authenticated by Dunninger, went for $8,000. A pair of black McKenzie Mitts grabbed $5,500.
Martin Beck correspondence - $26,000.
Houdini scrapbook - $43,000.
Castle Lock display case - $27,000.
Houdini's Needles - $18,000.
A set of Houdini's Needles, complete with box, fetched $18,000. Twenty-six minutes of film footage, including film of Houdini's funeral and some missing footage from The Master Mystery, brought in $4,000. A 1904 "Caught" and "Flown" Christmas card sold for $3,200 while a colorful 1908 Christmas card sold for $3,000.
But the image I thought was the photo of the auction -- and the one I most wanted for myself -- was the infamous "frenemies" shot of Houdini and Margery at Lime Street. I bowed out and let it go at $1,300 (and will probably kick myself forever).
Houdini and Ching Ling Foo - $300. Houdini and Margery - $1,300.
Street shoot - $1,900.
A postcard showing Houdini's historic Australian flight flew away with an impressive $3,200 (estimate $1,000 – $1,200). Another postcard showing Hardeen and his two "prize winning" pups brought $400 (another one I'll kick myself over). A wonderful pen and ink cartoon from 1905 -- "Oh! He’s here again, is he!" -- drew $2,600.
1905 pen and ink - $2,600.
The best bargains seemed to be books. A copy of Handcuff Secrets in very good condition sold for $375. A near fine copy of Magical Rope Ties and Escapes went for a low $250, and The Right Way To Do Wrong for $175. The pitchbook Houdini: His Life and Work in Prose and Picture by Hardeen sold for only $60.
Surprisingly, posters came in at the lower end of their auction estimates. The famous "Houdini for President" lithograph featured on the auction catalog cover sold for $12,000 (estimate $12,000 – $18,000). A King of Cards sold for $9,500, below the estimate of $12,000 – $15,00. In a 2014 Potter & Potter auction a King of Cards sold for $17,000. Finally, a sensational original lobby display and transport case was a steal, IMO, at $7,000 (estimate $7,000 – $9,000).
Houdini lobby display and case - $7,000.
Poster fragment - $650.
Congrats to Potter & Potter and all the buyers and sellers in what was yet another historic and exciting Houdini auction.
UPDATE: These two lots came late in the auction so I missed them yesterday. An unusual signed photo of Bess and Julia Sawyer in French costumes and wigs sold for $2,400. A Robert-Houdin glass column mystery clock brought a whopping $42,000!
Bessie and Julia - $2,400. Robert-Houdin clock - $42,000.