First a few thoughts about this auction. I was actually a little disappointed in the contents of this auction. I have seen Norm’s poster collection in person and it was simply magnificent. I began to think about three facts: 1. Norm still has a huge collection that he still owns. 2. This is the second auction.3. This is the key: there have been at least 4 major poster collectors who have already made their selections and worked out private deals with Norm and Lupe and those exquisite posters have already been removed and are in their new homes. I understand there is a final book being published by Potter that will have Norm’s entire collection in it. That is going to be some book and it will give you a good feel for what did not hit the auction block.
I am going to give you what I feel were a few of the best buys at the auction along with my pick for the best buy. I will follow with the opposite end of the spectrum by listing the “worst” buys and why.
007-Anderson 1851 Broadside: This was a nice looking piece from 1851. Anderson was “the” Magician then and his paper is very scarce. There was minor restoration to the borders. The price of $1,500 was a steal. Auction estimate $3,000-$4,000. My estimate $4,000
0142-Servais Leroy: This was a striking poster with much color and everything you could ask for in a magic poster. It’s half sheet size is the most desirable. This sold for $2,000 (recently the same image sold at Potter for $3,600) . The auction estimate was $2,000-$3,000. This was a very smart buy. My estimate $4,000
0283- Balsam and his Donkey, Thurston:Take the great image and the level of scarcity and then throw in the excellent condition and size of the poster and you have all the makings of a great poster. The fact that it is Thurston paper just adds icing to the cake. Sold for $4200 with the auction estimate of $5,000-$7,000 My estimate $6,000
0098-Herrmann The Great: This is my choice for best buy of the auction. The image is classic Herrmann (yes it is Leon and not Alexander but that fact does not seem to deter poster collectors). The colors are sharp and the image just stunning. The $12,000 Price tag was a steal and just barely met the low end of the estimate of $12,000-$18,000. My estimate $18,000
0050 SOO- Not an interesting image with limited colors. In fact one of the most boring of the Soo’s .Had some serious restoration with strong center folds. Rated a B for condition. Sold for $8,500 with an auction estimate of $4,000-5,000. My estimate $3,500
0071 Dunninger small poster- This is a pretty dull poster. Also fairly common. Estimate of $100-$200. Sold for $400. My estimate $75
0083 George Billboard- I believe not so long ago Norm was selling these unmounted for $350. Someone just paid for the mounting. A very specific market for these as they are very difficult to sell (along with the 8 sheets). Estimate of $2,000-3,000. My estimate would be $1,000 due to its size and fact they are fairly common. I hope the buyer had a specific use for this!
0087- Gioconda- These things were everywhere just a couple of years ago! Sold regularly on Ebay for $50. I mean dozens and dozens. I think I paid $35 for mine. Sold for $425 with an estimate of $150-$250. My price $75
0104- Houdini King of Cards is my choice for the worst buy. I am surprised I am saying that. I never thought anything Houdini could be a bad buy but the $21,000 paid for this is just over the top expensive. These are not the rarest of rare posters. I can count 6 of my friends who have them. Four more have sold in auctions over the last two years. $14,000 was about the top end for this poster until now. The price will catch up to this poster in a few years but it will be a few years. Not a great buy. Auction estimate $12,000-15,000. My estimate of value $14,000
WORLDS MOST EXPENSIVE MAGIC POSTER
I can’t let this auction review go without commenting on what is now the worlds most expensive magic poster selling for about $114,000 with premium (estimate $50,000-$80,000). Surprisingly, I almost listed it as one of the best buys. Here is why: 1. It is truly rare. There may only be 4 (I find things like that dangerous to say but for now that seems to be the number). 2. The subject matter is the “King of all Collectible Magicians” doing his most noted escape. I think this establishes a new value for this poster and not (as with the King of Cards) just an overpay. 3. There were three bidders pretty much hanging in there until the end. 4. If you are going to own one poster, arguably this would be it.
Another great auction handled professionally as always by the Potter staff. The catalog the finest ever produced in the magic collectible line and a tribute to Norm and his collection. Norm and Lupe are wonderful people who were always very open with their collection and gave everyone an opportunity to view it. I am glad they have been rewarded for their lifetime of commitment to poster collecting. Thank you Norm and Lupe for putting all of this together and then, making it available once again to the magic community!