As I write this it is 2:00 am and I am up writing this because I promised I would and I know at least one reader will be up tomorrow morning seeing if I kept my word.
You all know that my Blackstone Sr. Dress clothes did quite well at the Potter Blackstone Auction. You can read about it here if you have not heard.
Can lightning strike twice in the auction world? Well at Potters’ Winter Auction last year I was about to find out.
It all started in Las Vegas (I guess a lot of things start there) in 2009. I was taking a break from shows and gambling and doing what I used to love to do: visiting antique shops. I was down on Charleston Ave. where a lot of small shops are located. It was midday and I was about to give up when I entered a shop not much bigger than the average living room. An older gentleman peaked over the counter and ask if he could help me. For the 20th or so time this day I said, “do you have anything related to magicians for sale?”. Half expecting him to tell me he had some song books or a trumpet in the corner I was OK when he said no for at least I knew he was not mistaking my interest in magic for music as half of the other shops did. I thanked him and headed the three feet towards the door. Then he stopped me in my tracks: “Ever hear of Milo and Roger?” Well the answer to that was a definite yes. I had learned about them through Dustin Stinett’s lectures on Milo and Roger along with his book which I had read.. Dustin is the Milo and Roger King! I knew they performed and lived in Las Vegas at one time. So, I said to him “weren’t they magician’s here in Vegas a few years back”. He said yes and that he had some of their stuff. “Can I see it” I asked. “Nope, it is all at the house. I can bring it in tomorrow if you are in town. It is expensive though” and he told me a price. I was in town, so we agreed on a time. The day was a Sunday and I wondered into the shop exactly at the one o’clock agreed time.
When I entered the shop, there was nowhere to walk. Every aisle was filled with boxes and the was a big giant green chair setting next to the cash register. The ugliest thing I ever saw (I would many years later change my mind about this chair).
He told me to take my time but hurry as it was Sunday and he was normally closed. I began digging through the boxes and it was full of all the personal belongings of Milo and Roger. Mundane household receipts to fabulous photos of them performing and other professional memorabilia. One box had in it what I knew right away to be Roger’s performance cape which I really liked as I collected performance clothing. One box had what seemed like hundreds of home movies!
I had been there about an hour when he said “I must go so make up your mind if you want it”. I asked how he got the items and he indicated there was an auction at their home after they moved to Thailand and he attended. “I bought all of this stuff for nuthin. I have never known anyone to be interested before you”. I saw my chance, so I made an offer of half what he had quoted me yesterday figuring he did not want to carry all of this home. I was only slightly surprised when he said “I quoted you the price yesterday and that is it. No more and no less”.
“OK it’s a deal” I said. “Good get all of this stuff out of here” he said.
Well now that was a problem. I was in a car, a full sized rental car but a car. I told him I could get it tomorrow and he agreed for me to come in early and pick everything up. It would take multiple trips and I was due to leave that day (Monday) so I had to figure what in the heck I was going to do with all this stuff. I thought about boxes and to the post office and then I thought of something else. My friend Bill Smith of Bill Smith’s Magic Ventures was in Vegas. I will tell you that since then Bill and I have become good friends but back then I would call us acquaintances. I called him up and explained the situation and he told me to bring it all over Monday and he would pack it up and ship it for me. I could not believe it! Problem solved!
Since then Bill has bailed me out of the flames more than once. He is truly one of the nicest most generous people I have ever met and the people he has introduced me to have improved my magic life immensely. The only way I have paid him back is to give up my bedroom at Mike Caveney’s house for Bill (actually Bill threw me out, seniority has it’s privileges as he told me). My punishment was to sleep on the floor in Egyptian Hall. Now I would have paid to sleep on the floor in Egyptian Hall so that was not much of a sacrifice for me although I did my best to make Bill feel guilty over the next three days which he never did. I still owe Bill a debt of gratitude.
OK back to the story. It took me three loads to get the stuff to Bill’s. On the last load was that ugly chair and I could not get it into the car. I started to leave it but then took the legs off and forced it in. What I did not know was that Bill was a Milo and Roger fan. He was pouring through the stuff as I arrived for the third time. He told me that he could not believe that I came to his home town of Vegas and found Milo and Rodger stuff a few miles from his home. I felt like Sherlock Holmes. We looked at that green chair and Bill made me feel a bit better about it. “It was well built” Bill said, and he should know.
It was made for a full-grown man to climb in and hide his body while sticking out just his head. It was used in the Milo and Roger Dwarf act and there was a photo of them performing it.
So, the skid of what remained of Milo and Roger’s life got shipped to me in Ohio. I put the performance robe on display and stuck the rest in a closet where it remained for the next 9 years (I still have the mundane personal stuff). I tried to sell it all multiple times in the following years offering it to Dustin for $3,000. He had no real interest. If the King of Milo and Roger did not want it who would? It all made its way to a storage unit including the big green ugly chair.
I was putting a few things together for one of Gabe’s auctions when I ran across the Milo and Roger stash. Gabe said he would take it and off I went to Chicago with the duo’s life in my rented van. When he saw the chair he said, man that is big and ugly. He asked if I had a reserve on anything and I said no reserve, I just don’t want it back. Intuitively I knew this stuff had value. It was really a treasure-trove of material for the Milo and Roger fan. I was hoping Gabe’s auction could search out that fan and that there would be more than one of them!
On December 16,2017 the Potter and Potter Winter Magic Auction started. The Milo and Roger material was about half way through the auction and by that point I was hoping it would pay for my invoice from Gabe for the auction. The cape was up first, and it sold for a surprising $2,200. Great, invoice covered and I knew then I had more than one bidder interested. The big ugly green chair was next. When it hit $2,000 I was elated and as it climbed each successive bid elation gave way to disbelief as the final hammer dropped at $7,000! The memorabilia package sold for $1,000 and the bargain of the day was the movies at $300. In total my Milo and Roger purchase brought in $10,500! That was lightening striking twice in less than 6 months and it felt good!
I hope you enjoyed this long-winded blog that I could have written in one paragraph but I wanted to tell the story as it was with all of the players.
My next blog will discuss he relationship between Houdini and Walter Lippmann (Multi Pulitzer Prize winner and the Father of Modern Journalism). In this blog Houdini will tell us” in his own words” a fact that will change the known history of one of his most famous illusions.
It should be a good one!
Until next time.