Saturday, October 29, 2022

Houdini's flower table sets world record at auction

The flowering rosebush table and traveling case that Houdini used in his 3 Shows in One sold today for a whopping $324,000 (with premium) at Potter & Potter's "Salon de Magie: The Klosterman Collection Part III" auction. The bidding was fast and furious and at the hammer Gabe Fajuri announced it was, "The world record for any magic item sold at public auction."

HOUDINI, HARRY (EHRICH WEISZ). HOUDINI’S AUTOMATIC FLOWERING ROSEBUSH. New York: R.S. Schlosser, ca. 1924. The performer places a small earthenware pot atop an elaborate metal table terminating in four large claw feet. A short red flower surrounded by green foliage is then placed in the flowerpot, and the plant is covered with a gauzy cloth. On command, the flower began to grow and transform, expanding into a full size rose bush, revealed when the cloth was whisked away from the tabletop. To conclude, the performer then removed the plant in its pot from the tabletop to present it to the audience. Elaborate cast metal base with concealed crank-wound worm gear and mechanical tabletop, the claw feet on concealed rolling casters. Height of table 37”. Height inclusive of flowers 70”. As elaborate and intricate a mechanism as we have encountered. With the original compartmentalized traveling trunk. See Salon de Magie, page 182. This was one of several flashy effects used to open the production Houdini created for his final American tour, billed as “three shows in one,” being made up of magic, spiritualism exposes, and sensational escapes. In the first act, Houdini presented two rose growths – two identical tables were constructed for the show – by Rudolph Schlosser, an enigmatic New York-based craftsman. Schlosser was both creative and talented, inventing unusual mechanical devices which centered primarily around tricks with feather flowers, including hats and musical instruments that transformed into giant colorful bouquets, as well as the infamous “backpack” that visibly transformed a magician’s assistant into an enormous flower-covered tree without any special covering or apparent apparatus. Magical horticulture has been a constant theme in the shows of stage magicians, and many methods from the all-metal P&L model, to Kellar’s growth of real roses, to the now-standard Botania have been devised by dozens of makers to apparently instantly grow flowers – both real and imitation – on stage before a live audience. Germain’s model of the effect was considered especially artistic. The rose growth offered here is one of two Schlosser built for Houdini, and is as elaborate and finely made as it is inventive in its working.

 


As the description states, this is one of two tables that Houdini used in the show. The second table and its traveling case are owned by Dr. Randall Bell and currently on display at Houdini Unchained: The Legacy of Harry Houdini at MUZEO Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim.

Congrats to the winner and to Potter & Potter for setting this new record!

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13 comments:

  1. The winner can only be that guy.

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    1. When 2 or more bidders with money push the price that high, who the winning bidder is could be an open question.

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    2. The question here is who was the other bidder? Elon Musk?

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    3. It wasn't DC. I don't know who it was. My guess is it may be the same person who paid $90,000 for Houdini's belt buckle.

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  2. Are all the effects from Houdini’s full evening show of 1926 still in existence? Do we know what effects no longer exist? Would it not be fantastic to recreate Houdinis full evening show (magic and escapes) using the effects he actually used from his last tour? It would be a mind blowing evening to witnessed!

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  3. Radio 1950 is still missing. A girl appears inside an empty large 1920s radio cabinet. Not sure where the Card Star and Throwing the Clocks are now. Bill Rauscher might own them now.

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    1. Throwing the Clocks is called The Flight of Time. The Crystal Coin Casket is in the Klosterman Collection. Not sure if that has been auctioned off yet. Hello Summer and Whirlwind of Colors are still missing as far as I know.

      Houdinis magic and escapes went mostly to Hardeen. From Hardeen the items went to both Sid Radner and Douglas Geoffrey, his official successor. Bill Rauscher may have inherited some of Geoffrey's Houdini items. Copperfield now owns most of the Radner items.

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  4. World Wind Of Colors and the Houdini Spirit Slates and Chair from the second half of the show are in my collection.

    David Haversat

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    1. So it looks like Radio of 1950, and Hello Summer are the only two missing illusions. The Buried Alive equipment might be missing as well. Bill Rauscher might have Flight of Time and the Card Star.

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    2. A lady on Facebook mentioned that Klosterman had this rosebush apparatus restored and demonstrated it for guests. John Gaughan restored Dr. Bells rosebush, so it appears both props are in excellent condition.

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  5. Radio of 1950 was owned by Raymond Corbin. In the late 1990's he told me the illusion had been in storage since the time he purchased from Hardeen and had been trashed "recently" (1990's).

    David Haversat

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    1. Holy smokes! I didn't know this. I'm heartbroken it was trashed. Certainly he could have found a buyer?

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    2. Bummer man. If he had waited a little longer he could have sold it for a bundle. But he may have been too old to make it this far where Houdini is hot property nowadays. He probably couldn't find a buyer.

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