Friday, October 29, 2021

Houdini posters set new records at Ricky Jay auction

Seven original Houdini posters sold yesterday for astoundingly high prices in Sotheby's auction of The Ricky Jay Collection. A Water Torture Cell poster by The Dangerfield Printing Co. in the UK set what appears to be a new all-time record for a Houdini poster at $151,200. (Interestingly, another one of these posters is due to be auctioned in just a few days by Potter & Potter.) Even a King of Cards poster, which tend to sell in the neighborhood of $12,000, reached a whopping $60,480.

Below are all seven posters with their estimates and prices realized (including premium).

Poster weren't the only Houdini items that fetched head-scratchingly high prices. A challenge handbill from 1913 that might normally sell for $400-$600 sold for $3,024. A copy of The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin signed by Houdini to L. A. Anderson (the daughter-in-law of magician John Henry Anderson) sold for $25,200.

The auction reportedly took in a total of $3,835,694.

UPDATE: Chris Berry at the Conjuring History Facebook page points out yet another record that these posters beat. Chris writes:

I realize that most of those on this page think of the Metamorphasis poster as being "Magic" but at $75,600 it set the record for the most money for a CIRCUS poster (Welsh Bros. Newest Great Shows). The previous record for a "circus-related" poster was a Buffalo Bill multisheet printed by Calhoun that went for $72,000 a few years ago...

UPDATE 2: Potter & Potter's Dangerfield Water Torture Cell poster sold for $112,500 (including buyers premium).


  1. Where did all that money come from?? Ricky cleaned up!
    Like you said, cannot believe the Houdini numbers!
    Gabe must be chomping at the bit to sell the
    same poster for 150K. It was very interesting
    to see, wonder what that will do if anything to the market.
    Thanks John for posting.


  3. The high rollers who dished out those high auction bid payments are in for a rude awakening down the road. Nobody will pay them those hyperinflated prices if they decide to jettison those posters to the next guy.

  4. Did you see the George poster's normally 3/400 bucks went for 3/5 thousand. Sothebys? I see Potter did very well also.
    Maybe we have some new deep pockets magic collectors?