I have been following this company’s auctions for quite some time. Always something for the circus, sideshow, magic, collector. I wanted to find out how this auction house got started so I contacted the owner Gabe Fajuri. He was very cooperative in giving me the following interview.
btw…the upcoming auction has many wonderful items for consideration!
1. Can you tell us the source of most of the items being auctioned in the upcoming auction?
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A large portion of the auction was consigned by the widow of Giovanni Pasqua, known as “Roxy,” to his colleagues in the magic field. Roxy was a performer, lecturer, and dealer in antiquarian books, prints, and related objects in the fields of magic and its allied arts. He lived in Italy.
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2. The Potter & Potter company has numerous auctions annually. Would you say that most of them are ‘magic’ or ‘circus’ related items?
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About half of our sales are magic related, maybe a bit less. It’s what we are known for, but we deal in objects in many other categories, including rare books, vintage posters, photographs and autographs, vintage advertising, coin-operated machines, comic books and movie memorabilia, and other unusual collectibles.
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3. What is the history of Potter & Potter auction company?
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The business started on my coffee table about twelve years ago. We started the business by offering just a single collection – but what a collection! Jay Marshall was a legendary performer, who worked on the Ed Sullivan show over a dozen times, and had an illustrious career as an entertainer (mostly performing as a magician and ventriloquist). He was also a very serious collector of antique magic memorabilia and books, and virtually everything else he could get his hands on, trash and treasure alike. Jay owned something like 250,000 books, and the best of them were magic and showbiz related. After conducting four auctions of material from his collection, we were most definitely on the map in the auction world.
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4. Are you a magic collector (or magician?) and has this fascination been the original impetus for Potter & Potter Auction?
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Yes, I’ve been collecting magic and interested in its history since about the age of 13, which is what led to my interest in the field in the first place. While in college, I helped pay my way through school by selling magic collectibles on eBay. In a way, I was training for a job I never knew I was going to have (being an auctioneer). I was primarily selling items on consignment at that time, which is exactly how we do things today. I continue to be a huge fan of magic and its history, and yes, I’m still a collector.
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5. Is Potter & Potter the only company to auction off magic collectibles? Is it the company that hosts most auctions of these items nationally?
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We are not the only company that auctions magic memorabilia, but we are certainly the largest and best-known. Other companies conduct regular online auctions of magic collectibles, and occasionally a few of the big players in the auction field offer significant objects or collections.
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Thank You, Gabe. I appreciate the insight into your company’s origins.
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For information and to peruse the Winter Magic Auction catalog click HERE!
Winter Magic Auction – Dec. 14, 2019
Featuring selections from the collection of Giovanni Pasqua – aka Roxy – our Winter sale features rare conjuring books from the sixteenth century to the present day. Complementing the books from Roxy’s collection will be an assortment of collectible props, Houdiniana, and choice posters.
Catalogs ship approximately three weeks before the auction. Previews will be held in our gallery December 12—13, 10—5 pm
Featuring the circus collection of Dave & Mary Jane Price, the November sale is slated to include nearly 1000 vintage circus posters, plus costumes, model circus trains, and other relics from bygone wonder-shows. The circus collectibles will be complemented by an array of unusual, uncommon, and unbelievable oddities, sideshow memorabilia, banners, photographs, taxidermy, and relics of the “believe it or not” variety. Highlights include Tom Thumb memorabilia, sideshow electric chairs, and props, and big, bold banners from the masters of the form.
Catalogs ship approximately three weeks before the auction. Previews will be held in our gallery on November 14—15, 10—5 pm.
~Here are a few amazing items from the entire collection being auctioned~
The first item is a side-show banner painted by Coney Island USA‘s own Marie Roberts.
Roberts, Marie. Ravi The Bendable Boy from Bombay. Sideshow Banner. Coney Island, 2004. The vibrant banner shows this contortionist bent inside a trunk, text below and above. Flown at the Coney Island Sideshow. 66 x 57”.
Mule-Face Woman. Sideshow Banner by Snap Wyatt. Tampa, FL, ca. the 1960s. Enormous double-length painted canvas sideshow banner. 240 x 108”. Signed “Snap Wyatt Studios/Rt. 3 Tampa Fla”.
Currier Lithograph of General Tom Thumb. Barnum’s Gallery of Wonders. New York: Nathaniel Currier, ca. 1849. Lithograph colored by hand, the central image after a daguerreotype by Plumbe. 14 x 10 ¼”. Margins trimmed, pale soiling around edges, short tears, and creases.
Buffalo Bill Cody Cabinet Card Photograph. New York: Stacy, ca. 1900. Cody is seen wearing his Stetson hat and embroidered buckskin jacket, with few patches of grey in his hair. Facsimile signature to verso as issued. 6 ½ x 4 ¼”. Few stains to verso, else fine.
San Antonio’s Siamese Twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. The Sensation of Vaudeville. Kansas City: Quigley Litho, ca. the 1930s. Color lithograph depicting the famous conjoined twins. 42 x 27 ¾”. Linen-backed. Expertly restored losses and tears in image and margins, rubs and abrasions.
Ripley, Robert. Wilber Plumhoff the Pain Proof Man / Believe It Or Not. N.p., ca. the 1940s. Color poster depicting the performer with nails, pins, and buttons pierced through his skin. 28 x 21”. Linen-backed. Scattered restored losses to edges and along folds. B.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Side Show. Erie Litho, the 1930s. Offset color lithograph poster depicting the circus’s sideshow cast, prominently depicting violin and piano playing conjoined twins, a giant with little people, and others in the background. 18 ½ x 28”. Linen-backed. Restored losses and over-coloring, mostly in margins and edges, some inpainting to tears in image. B.
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. Francis Brunn. Greatest Juggler World Has Ever Known. The 1940s. Color lithograph portraying the performer juggling hoops while balancing balls on his fingertips and nose. 27 x 41”. Unmounted. Remnants of date-tail removal from bottom margin, folds, minimal edgewear. B.
Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. Blacaman Hindu Animal Hypnotist. Erie Litho, ca. 1930s. Offset lithograph poster depicts the performer hypnotizing massive ferocious lions, lightning bolts radiating from the hypnotist’s eyes. 27 ½ x 41”. Linen-backed. Restored losses and tears in margins; a few repaired closed tears in image. B.
World of Mirth Shows. Dolly Jacobs. World’s Foremost Lady Trainer of Wild Animals. Erie Litho, ca. the 1940s. Offset color lithograph showing the female lion and tiger trainer brandishing a whip. 41 x 13 ¼”. Linen-backed. Marginal stains and creases scattered restoration along folds. B-.
Cole Bros. Circus. The Great Grimes. Erie Litho, 1930s. Offset lithograph poster depicts the high-wire equilibrist act in which two men on bicycle balance a woman standing on the shoulders of a man on a chair. 40 x 26”. Mounted to Kraft paper. Old folds. Bright copy. B+.
Cole Bros. Circus. Harold Barnes. Erie Litho, ca. 1935. Offset lithograph circus poster depicts the acrobat on the high wire above cheerleaders in circus sweaters with tennis rackets in hand. 27 x 18”. Mounted to Kraft paper. Scattered losses and tears in image and along folds, dated in ink upper left. C.
Cole Bros. Circus. Getting Ready for the Ring. Erie Litho, 1930s. Offset color lithograph poster shows a man in baggy suit tying the slippers of a beautiful woman of the circus, as a clown and acrobat watch from the tent. 27 x 18”. Mounted to Kraft paper. Old folds. B+.
Cole Bros. Circus. Allen King. Battling, Snarling, Roaring, Man-Eating Wild Animals. Erie Litho, ca. the 1930s. Color offset lithograph. 28 x 41”. Linen-backed. Restored losses and over-coloring in margins; restored small losses and inpainting along folds. B+.
Barnum and Bailey. Cleopatra. Cincinnati: Strobridge Litho., 1912. Intricate design includes eight vignettes, the centermost being portraits of the circus’ founders, P. T. Barnum and J. A. Bailey. “Cleopatra pageant” illustrated in three others. Ornate masthead. 39 5/8 x 30”. Faint tide marks stains in the lower margin. Linen-backed. B.
Al. G. Barnes—Sells Floto and John Robinson. The Human Fly Anna Merkel. Erie Litho, ca. 1938. Color offset lithograph depicts the performer in a feat of upside-down ceiling walking. Date-tail for performance in Decatur. 36 x 21”. Linen-backed. Nice copy; minimal touch-ups along central fold; small losses in margins and image expertly repaired. B+.
Achille Philion. The Marvelous Equilibrist and Originator. Buffalo: Courier, 1898. Color lithograph. 28 ½ x 42”. Older linen backing. Chipping and tears in margins, a few extending into image; restored losses in margins. B. Another version of the poster replaces “An Attraction Without Parallel” with the name of the circus Philion performed for, Adam Forepaugh and Sells Brothers.
Living Wonders! Unprecedented Novelties! American, ca. 1870. Circus sideshow broadside featuring woodcuts of a snake charmer, “The Mammoth Fat Girl” of Illinois, and “The Arab Giant” Col. Routh Goshen, and other living attractions. Matted to 25 x 13”. Minor foxing; very good.
Annie Jones Bearded Lady Cabinet Card Photograph. York, Penn.: Pentz, ca. 1880s. 6 ½ x 4 ¼”. Mount softened and beginning to peel by layers.
Carte de Visite of a Bearded Lady. Baltimore: D.J. Wilkes, ca. 1860s. Original mount, studio imprint to verso. 4 x 2 ¾”.
Betty Broadbent Youngest Tattooed Lady Photo. Boston: H. Golden, ca. 1928. 8 x 10” sepia tone photograph of Broadbent, also known as the “tattoo’d lady.” Crease at top and border damage at corners, not affecting image. In 1927 Betty Broadbent met tattoo artist Charlie Wagner, who alongside several other tattoo artists, including, Tony Rhineagear, Joe Van Hart, and Red Gibbons, would tattoo a bodysuit on her consisting of over 565 images.
Four Sideshow Attraction Cabinet Cards. American, nineteenth century. Including Lewando Baldwin, “Armless Wonder,” (Boston: J. Katz, 1880s); together with Mrs. May L. Baldwin, and photos of unidentified “Skeleton Man,” by Wendt, NJ; Bob McKay, sideshow “Fat Man”; and a “Fat Lady” by Eisenmann of New York. Evidence of wear, biographical information penciled in on verso to some.
Wild Men of Borneo Cabinet Card. New York: Wendt, ca. 1880. Cabinet card depicts sideshow “Wild Men of Borneo.” Identifying back stamp. Very good.
Carlton and Smaun Sing Hpoo Photograph. Bath, England: W. G. Lewis Studio, ca. 1880s. Sepia tone photo depicts “Carlton and Smaun Sing Hpoo, The Tallest and Shortest Artistes in the Variety Profession.” 8 x 10”. Clipped corners of card.
Charles B. Tripp “Armless Wonder” Cabinet Photograph. York, Pa.: Pentz Studio, 1887. Cabinet card of Tripp with samples of his calligraphy, and other work accomplished through the use of his feet. Signed and dated on verso “Charles B. Tripp. Woodstock Ontario. Age 32 ys”. With an endorsement, also in Tripp’s foot reading “William Kennedy, July 30 ‘87.” Very good.
John Robinson Circus. Group of Photos and Ephemera. Including a female cast photograph on cabinet mount (4 ¾ x 6 ½”); The Bartlett Sisters cabinet photo (6 ½ x 4 ¼”); Millie Irwin Iron Jaw Act halftone card; a cabinet photo of a horse-drawn wagon outside a large tent; a 1906 route card and booklet; and a 1927 program.
Siamese Twins Postcards. Four images, including a RPPC of Siamese twins Mary and Margaret Gibb, as well as Rosa and Josefa, The Hilton Twins, and unidentified RPPC of girl twins.
Siamese Twins Daisy and Violet Hilton Signed Photograph. Studio portrait of the twins posing with a dog, inscribed to the recipient “with love and best luck/always your pals/Daisy + Violet Hilton/Jun-9 1929”. Ornately carved antique wooden frame, overall 14 x 12”.
Skull and Human Bones Chapel Photo. Italy, ca. 1890s. Sepia tone photograph of Roman chapel decorated with skulls and bones, and with skeletons dressed in Capuchin robes. Framed to an overall size of 9 ½ x 12”. Not examined out of frame.
Fox, Johnny. Group of X-Rays Showing Johnny Fox Swallowing a Sword. Five original X-rays depicting the sword thrust down Fox’s throat as seen from various angles. 17 x 14”. Original Johns Hopkins Department of Radiology envelope.
Portfolio of Large Format Modern Sideshow Photos. New York: Val Duarte, 2004. Group of ten original full color photographs (14 x 11”) titled “Very Special People.” Submitted by Val Duarte, a photography student of Amy Arbus, for entry in an exhibition at the Gallery of the School of the International Center of Photography, NY. These include photos of sword swallower Johnny Fox, clown dwarf, dwarf fire eater, tattooed sword swallower, tattooed transgender woman, front and rear pictures of whole body tattooed man, and others. Together with a quantity of over fifty similar size photographs of various sideshow performers, including several of the octogenarian human blockhead, strip tease show, and others. Very good.
Wyatt, Snap. King of Swords. Sideshow Banner. Tampa: Snap Wyatt Studios, ca. 1947. Attractive canvas sideshow banner bears a full-length portrait of a sword swallower in performance, with a handful of shiny blades in one outstretched hand. 103 x 119”. Soiled and worn from use.
Wyatt, Snap. Headless Girl. Sideshow Banner. Tampa: Snap Wyatt Studios, ca. 1965. Bright banner shows a comely lady’s body that lacks a head, yet remains “Alive” and is able to answer questions and communicate through hand gestures. 101 x 118 ½”. Minor wear and tears evident, but overall well preserved. See lot 646 for a sturdy and functional version of the apparatus used to create this classic sideshow attraction.
Wyatt, Snap. Frank Lentini. 3 Legged Man Sideshow Banner. Tampa: Snap Wyatt Studios, ca. 1950. Vibrant orange and red canvas banner advertises the man with “3 Legs, 4 Feet, 16 Toes.” 97 x 115”. Worn but very good condition. Wyatt (1905 – 1984) created many iconic banner designs. He worked quickly, claiming he could paint at least one banner per day at a retail cost of $85 each. In his heyday, he reportedly produced as many as 400 banners per year.
Johnson, Fred. Human Dynamo Sideshow Banner. Chicago: O’Henry Tent and Awning, ca. 1950. Vibrant painted canvas banner depicting the classic Electric Chair sideshow illusion. 91 x 111”. Scattered holes, wear, and soiling from use, primarily in borders.
Circassian Enchantress Magic Program. Gardiner: Fountain Printing, ca. 1842. Early American program advertising a lecture by Dr. Shattuck on the Mysteries in Nature, Miracles of Indian Bramins, Hindoo Jugglers and Chinese Magi, followed by the performance of Mrs. Shattuck, the Circassian Enchantress, The Original and Greatest Lady Magician in America. Light creases and stains consistent with age, else very good.
One of my favorite magicians of all time! Cardini. Here is an item of his.
Cardini Combination Watch/Finger Reel. New York: Richard Cardini, ca. 1965. Uncommon model of this thread reel with custom-made flexible watchband and metal housing. Lathe-turned device clips in to strap or is easily removed for use in either of two manners. Interior of case stamped “CARDINI.” An uncommon model. Cardini designed and built thread reels of many types – for the mouth, shoe, and hand. He also manufactured wristwatch reels of various styles. This is the first combination finger/wristwatch reel we have encountered. The device slips securely in to or out of the watch housing with a minimum of effort, for use in the hand, or strapped to the wrist.
Head on Sword Sideshow Illusion. A disembodied human head – alive, talking, and moving – sits on the blade of a sword resting across the arms of a large wooden throne-type chair. Black art. Breaks down for packing. 62” high. Used but good condition.
Houdini, Harry (Ehrich Weisz). Houdini Signed Letter, Houdini Key, and Houdini-Era Handcuffs. Framed presentation includes a TLS from Houdini to Remigius Weiss regarding books on alchemy, boldly signed “Houdini,” together with original mailing envelope bearing Houdini’s return address; flat metal Houdini-owned key, and a pair of Houdini-era Bean Cobb handcuffs. Handsomely framed with a later photo of Houdini in restraints and chains to 19 ¾ x 22 ½”.
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This auction takes place on Nov. 1st, 2018.
These are merely ‘scraping the surface’ of the collection. Go to the site to see all of the items up for auction.
Harry Bouton Blackstone (born Henry Boughton; September 27, 1885 – November 16, 1965) was a famed stage magician and illusionist of the 20th century. Blackstone was born Harry Bouton in Chicago, Illinois, he began his career as a magician in his teens and was popular through World War II as a USO entertainer. He was often billed as The Great Blackstone. His son Harry Blackstone Jr. also became a famous magician. Blackstone Sr. was aided by his younger brother (2 years younger) Pete Bouton who was the stage manager in all his shows.Blackstone Sr. was married three times. Blackstone Jr. was his son by his second wife.
This auction presented by auction house Potter & Potter is enormous! I have posted quite a few unique items and a link to the auction catalog.
Harry Blackstone Sr.
11. Salla, Salvatore (American, born Persia [Iran], 1903— 1991). Portrait of Harry Blackstone. Oil on canvas, depicting Blackstone forming a shadowgraph of a rabbit. Original gilt wooden frame with lamp attachment. 30 x 23 ½”. Signed “Salla”. Collection of George Hippisley (List No. B1250). 3,000/5,000
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138. Blackstone, Harry (Henry Boughton). Eclipses the Sun. Blackstone. Greatest Magician The World Has Ever Known. Long Island City: National Printing & Engraving Co., ca. 1928. Billboard-size poster bearing a bust portrait of Blackstone against a bright yellow sun, the majority of the poster filled with bright, bold text. 108 ½ x 80”. Minor expert restoration at old folds and tiny losses; A-. Linen backed. One of three examples known. 4,000/6,000
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164. Blackstone, Harry (Henry Boughton). Blackstone’s Own Magic Trick Bubble Gum. Havertown, Penn.: Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corp, 1962. Complete set in box (8 x 4 x 1 ½”) with five-cent gum packets in wax wrappers, instructions, apparatus, and folding advertising banner. Banner folded, some signs of use/handling, box creased; very good. 200/300
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213. Appearing Canary Cage. Circa 1900. Finely made antique cage. A canary appears inside, visibly, at the command of the performer. Based on a design of Okito. Lacquered in gold and red with brass bars and adornments. 13 ½ x 9 ¾ x 12”. Very good condition. 800/1,200