Saturday, February 4, 2017

Houdini Water Torture Cell poster makes history at Potter & Potter auction

An original 1912 poster for Houdini's Water Torture Cell sold for a whopping $114,000 (including 20% buyers premium) at Potter & Potter's "The Golden Age of Magic Posters, Part II" auction today.

This makes it the highest price ever paid for a magic poster at auction. It may also be the highest price ever paid for any single piece of magic memorabilia, apart from the actual Water Torture Cell itself.

The estimate was $50,000/80,000. The poster is said to be one of only three known examples.

But this wasn't the only Houdini surprise. A King of Cards poster sold for a remarkable $24,000, a new record for that poster.

A playbill for Houdini "as a Magician" took $2,706. A broadside for a 1901 appearance in Prague brought $3,936. A playbill for Houdini's 1917 Antilles benefit took in $2,952. Even a 1-sheet for Paramount's Houdini (1953) found love at $922.

In other action, a "Hardeen Brother of Houdini" poster sold for $338. A poster for Houdini competitor Brindamour came away with $8,610. And a nice poster depicting Nicola in several Houdini-like escapes fetched $7,995.

All the posters in the auction came from the collection of Norm Nielsen. The hardcover auction catalog can be purchased from the Potter & Potter website while supplies last.

Potter & Potter's Spring Magic Auction on April 8th will conatin "a strong selection of Houdini-related material, including personal family photographs, documents, movie-related memorabilia, and letters."

UPDATE: Now we know we got this. Read: Look what's inside David Blaine's magic lair.



  1. How is a poster that expensive mailed out to the winner? Is it rolled up in a tube and Fed Exed? I suppose the winner can afford to fly out to Chicago to pick it up.

  2. I certainly would not trust it to the mail. I would travel out to pick it up.

  3. BTW, the other two examples of this poster belong to David Copperfield (of course) and David Haversat. David H. had his on display at the last Yankee Gathering.

  4. That would account for the remaining 2 known copies left. Someone out there might have a $114,000 poster rolled up in their attic.

  5. I still don't know how a poster that may have been posted miles away from a performance that HH never came near is worth so much more than something HH used in a performance or autographed and touched.

    --Dale from Cleveland

  6. That's an interesting observation Dale but we haven't seen a legendary HH prop go up on the auction block these days. If one of his Milk Cans were to go on the auction block, it might sell for more than this poster.