Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2021 Issue

Do you believe in Magic Again?

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Do you believe in Magic?

 

If you are of a certain age you will remember when book auctions were mostly books but now-a-days we are living in the world of collectable paper and collectibles generally and their underlying stories make the difference and raises the prices.  A case in point is material collected by Ricky Jay, the noted book collector, actor and magician.  For Sotheby’s, Mr. Jay’s recent sale was the opportunity to share their excitement and enthusiasm about how his material was recently received; V E R Y  W E L L  thank you.

 

Categories of collectors and collections can be divided between the turgid and sublime.  The vast majority of collecting focuses are interesting and understandable.  And then there have been Ricky Jay’s auctions and they have noticeably been celebrations of Mr. Jay’s acuity and judgement.  Even, after Mr. Jay has passed away, he is still talking to us as we have been reading his catalogues and browsing his upcoming auction lots.

 

And the outcome?  On the recent 28th, 600 of his lots were sold to 300+ bidders, hailing from a dozen countries.  Against the cumulative high estimate of all his lots, $3.2 million, bidders won 94% of the lots and paid $3.8 million.

 

As to what made the headlines.  Here is how Sotheby’s explains it:

 

Ricky Jay’s Bespoke Automaton, Neppy

Soars to $201,600

*World Auction Record for a Contemporary Automaton*

*More than 13 Times its $15,000 High Estimate*

 

Poster of Harry Houdini Upside Down in The Water Torture Cell Reaches $151,200

*World Auction Record for a Magic Poster*

*More than Double $60,000 High Estimate*

 

Institutions and Private Collectors Compete for Mr. Jay’s Collection Spanning the History of Magic, Popular Entertainment, Esoterica & More

 

From The Legendary Collection Of Ricky Jay, Internationally Renowned Sleight Of Hand Artist, Noted Author, Historian, Actor, Entertainer And Chronicler Of The Unusual

 

NEW YORK, 28 October 2021 – Highlighted by nearly 600 works sold, 300+ bidders across 12 countries, and two auction records, Sotheby’s marathon two-day auction of the Ricky Jay Collection concluded this afternoon in New York, achieving an exceptional $3.8 million – far exceeding its $3.2 million high estimate, with an impressive 94% of all 633 lots sold.

 

The collection of objects spanning the history of magic illusionism, popular entertainments, and other curiosities was on offer from the extensive collection of Ricky Jay – author, historian, entertainer, and one of the world’s greatest sleight of hand artists. Separate release available

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • · 94% sold by lot

  • · Strong institutional bidding throughout the sale

  • · 62% of bidders new to Sotheby’s

  • · Two Auction Records Set:

o   Ricky Jay’s bespoke automaton, Neppy, soared to $201,600 – a world auction record for a contemporary automaton

o   A poster of Harry Houdini Upside Down in The Water Torture Cell achieved $151,200 – a world auction record for a magic poster

  • · Many lots sold for multiples above estimate, including:

o   Sarah Beffin’s Study of Three Feathers, a charming rendering of feathers from the accomplished armless artist, reached $21,420 – more than 21 times its $1,000 high estimate

o   A first edition, presentation copy of Harry Houdini’s The Unmasking of Robert Houdin, sold for $25,200 – more than 12 times its $2,000 high estimate

 

RICKY JAY’S BESPOKE AUTOMATON, NEPPY

 

Ricky Jay’s bespoke automaton, Neppy, soared to $201,600 – a world auction record for a contemporary automaton. Neppy was a veteran of hundreds of performances around the world in the stage show Ricky Jay & His 52 Assistants. Constructed by Alan wakeling, Neppy was named for Viennese card artist Dr. Johan Nepomuk Hofzinger. He was designed to perform a silent routine with Ricky Jay, in which a card would be torn, handed to various members of the audience, collected, and then restored by Neppy. 

 

HARRY HOUDINI UPSIDE DOWN IN THE WATER TORTURE CELL

 

An impressive group of items from and about magic’s greatest celebrity, Harry Houdini, was led by a poster of Harry Houdini Upside Down in The Water Torture Cell – the most famous, dangerous, and dramatic of all of Houdini’s escapes – which reached $151,200 – more than double its $60,000 high estimate and marking a world auction record for a magic poster. Considered one of the most significant posters of Houdini, this beautiful and very rare poster effectively conveys Houdini's expression of concern. "Magicians' posters are usually guilty of exaggeration. But here Houdini used a stark image to emphasize the simple drama of his famous Water Torture Cell. Instead of picturing the tank of water, the locks and hasps, Houdini's face told the entire story. Each performance was a life-or-death melodrama" (Magic).

 

Other posters by Harry Houdini sold exceptionally well and above their high estimates, including Houdini again encounters the German police, which achieved $69,300 (estimate $25/35,000), and Houdini’s Newest Sensation: the Water Torture Cell, which reached $52,920 (estimate $10/15,000)

 

About this news release, the statistics are useful, interesting and seldom released.  Appreciate the clarity.

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
  • <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Gideon Welles, <i>Extensive archive of personal and family papers of Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy,</i> 1791-1914. Sold September 29 — $281,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Rock Climbers,</i> cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> watercolor, ink and gouache, 1954. Sold December 15 — $37,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Brontë, <i>Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. Edited by Currer Bell,</i> three volumes, first edition, 1847. Sold June 16, 2022 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Geoffrey Chaucer, <i>The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newlye Printed,</i> London, 1542. Sold October 13 — $106,250.
    <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Dorothea Lange, <i>Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age 32),</i> silver print, 1936. Sold October 20 — $305,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> George Washington, Autograph Document Signed, with two manuscript plat maps in holograph, 1751. Sold October 27 — $37,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Winfred Rembert, <i>Winfred Rembert and Class of 1959,</i> dye on carved & tooled leather, 1999. Sold October 6 — $233,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> M.C. Escher, <i>Relativity,</i> lithograph, 1953. Sold November 3 — $81,250.
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Original Film Posters<br>27 January - 10 February 2023</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Vertigo (1958), poster, US. The ultimate poster on this classic Hitchcock title, one of three known examples. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Lawrence of Arabia (1962), roadshow poster, US. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Star Wars (1977), style C poster, printer's proof, US. £7,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> The Navigator/ La Croisiere du Navigator (1924), re-release poster (1931), French. £5,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Bullitt (1968), special test poster, US. £3,000 to £5,000.
  • <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 817. Bellin's complete five-volume maritime atlas with 581 maps & plates (1764). $24,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 325. An early and important map of the Republic of Texas (1837). $11,000 to $14,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 45. De Bry's early map of North Pole depicting Willem Barentsz' expedition (1601). $3,500 to $4,250.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 154. Poignant map of the United States documenting lynchings (1931). $250 to $325.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 457. Extremely rare matching set of pro-German propaganda from WWI (1914). $2,000 to $2,400.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 815. Homann's world atlas featuring 110 maps in contemporary color (1751). $14,000 to $16,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 60. Miniature pocket globe based on Herman Moll (1785). $3,500 to $4,500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 8. Visscher's rare carte-a-figures world map (1652). $14,000 to $16,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 158. Matching satirical maps of the US by McCandlish: "Ration Map" & "Bootlegger's Map" (1944). $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 820. One of the finest English atlases of the early 19th century (1808). $4,750 to $6,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 59. Important milestone in preparation for 1969 moon landing (1963). $750 to $900.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 805. Superb bible leaf with image of crucifixion of Jesus with gilt highlights (1518). $800 to $950.
  • <center><b>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>including Americana<br>February 16, 2023</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. CHAUCER, Geoffrey. <i>The Works…now newly imprinted.</i> Edited by F.S. Ellis. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896. $100,000 to $125,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> [EINSTEIN, Albert (1879–1955)]. –– ORLIK, Emil (1870–1932), artist. Lithograph signed (“Albert Einstein”). N.p., 1928. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel. <i>[The Lord of the Rings trilogy:] The Fellowship of the Ring.</i> 1954. –– <i>The Two Towers.</i> 1954. –– <i>The Return of the King.</i> 1955. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne ("Mark Twain") and Charles Dudley WARNER. <i>The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.</i> Hartford and Chicago, 1873. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> LOVECRAFT, Howard Phillips. <i>Beyond the Wall of Sleep.</i> Collected by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1943. $2,000 to $3,000.

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