Potter & Potter Magic Auction 2 Days Away

Inside Magic Image of Doug Henning's Merlin

Two days away from Magic Only Auction

We heard from Rebecca Kaufman of Potter & Potter Auctions that this December 15th, the distinguished auction house will hold an online only magic auction.

Magicians and collectors will be able to select from more than 200 magic collectibles, posters, books, ephemera, and apparatus.

While the auction will be traditional in most ways it will have no live floor or phone bidding.  You can check out the items to be offered online in their beautiful catalog but you can only purchase the items, one lot at a time, on the day of the auction.

You can check out the sale catalog here.

Here are some of the highlights of the auction:

  1. Lot 208, a Wu-Ling Pagoda Mystery, made in Los Angeles by F.G. Thayer & Co. in the mid-1940s.
  2. Lot 198, a disembodied wooden rapping Hand, made in New York by Hornmann around 1918.
  3. Lot 183, a Walter Sheppard 1990s era head chopper stage illusion with quality paint and a dragon motif.
  1. Lot 163, an Insull for Lewis Davenport 1950s era talking skull prop.
  2. Lot 129, a Stanislaw Miedza-Tomaszewski for Cyrk “Sawing in Half Poster” from 1967.
  3. Lot 113, A c. 1900 Casino de Paris color litho of Annie Abbott, known as the “The Little Georgia Magnet,” alongside vignettes depicting her feats of strength.

It is this last piece that intrigues us the most.  We are a student of “The Little Georgia Magnet” and  her story.  It was an amazing time in our magic history and some of her effects are still being performed today.  We also noticed that the other items belie magic’s macabre side.  Disembodied hands, talking skulls, slicing women in half and a head chopper.

When we were younger than now, we used to do the finger chopper sold in most magic and novelty stores.  It was a great trick but we had dreams of one day getting an Abbott’s Discecto or a proper hand chopper.  We once even moved up to the head chopper for stage performances and finally a guillotine.

We were asked after a show if we thought it proper to do a full-sized guillotine illusion for party guests ranging from 4 to 7 years of age.

The question came from a little kid who was not related to the person paying us for the show but we still took it seriously – or at least gave the impression that we did – as we packed up the illusion in the back of our Volkswagen Fastback to head to our next engagement.  It was a non-magic engagement, we had to buy puppy treats because of a bet we lost with our dog.

We thought about the little kid’s question and wondered if we should re-think our act.  Maybe the Sword-thru-Neck and Bullet Catch were no longer appropriate for kids’ parties or even our full evening show that could last from 15 minutes to 2 hours depending on how much equipment we could fit into our Fastback.

We wondered why we had followed the tradition of doing such gruesome magic.  Probably for the same reason we wore a full suit and tails for every performance.  That was what a magician looked like and the tricks we did were the tricks such a magician would do.

Then we saw Doug Henning.

He wore jeans and while he did have a Sawing-a-Woman-in-Half but it was done in a funny way.  He had long hair, smiled a lot and audiences ate him up.  Maybe we could change too. Maybe we could wear jeans, be funny, grow our hair long, elongate our teeth and speak with a Canadian accent.  Most importantly, he taught us we could do tricks more appropriate for the modern day.

Perhaps, just perhaps, instead of chopping of fingers, hands or heads, we could tear up newspapers.  Rather than have a child fire a gun at our mouth, we could do balloon animals.  Rather than plunging a sword through a birthday boy or girl’s neck, we could do more balloon animals.  The load on our aged Fastback would be less and parents might actually refer us to other parents for shows.

We tried to change to be just like Doug Henning.  We grew long hair, wore jeans and even used his unique hand gestures when describing the “World of Illusion.”

We were asked after one of our new styled shows whether it was appropriate to show up at a kids’ show looking like a hippie with jeans.

We love the ephemera and history of magic and will be online for the auction.  We can’t wait but we have to because for the foreseeable future, time is linear.  See what we did there?

Check out the Potter & Potter catalog here.

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