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Postby Bill Mullins » 11/06/01 08:01 AM

Did anyone go to the auction? Any comments?
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Postby Don Spurrier » 11/07/01 09:19 PM

I didn't attend but followed the auction with some interest on behalf of our friend, John Reed. John's copy of Miracle Mongers and Their Methods, inscribed by Houdini to his brother, Dash, plus a pair of engraved cuffs, brought the highest sale of the auction at $15,000! It has been reported that there was only one bidder for that item, identified as Bidder 239, but I think, in fact, there was one other previous bidder. Mr. 239 bought many other items and was probably the biggest spender throughout.

It is my understanding that there were only about 100 present, not counting the emailers, faxers and telephoners. Perhaps, the recent activities in NYC truly interfered with the attendance. I am of the impression that Swann was greatly disappointed by the restraint of the bidders and the fact, with a few exceptions, that most of the items fell far short of the earlier estimated prices. You can find the final prices at www.swanngalleries.com but you will need a catalog for it to make sense. All in all, I think the auction signalled a reversal of the previous upward spiral of prices of Houdini items. Will have to wait and see.
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Postby Tom Dobrowolski » 11/08/01 07:09 AM

There is a write up on the event on magictimes.com.
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Postby Guest » 11/08/01 08:11 PM

Don....I really have to disagree with you. Swann Galleries and I are totally pleased with the results of the 10/30th auction. A lot of the items met the reserve and few were passed. Sure...the affidavit only went for less than the estimated value but the signed playing went for $7,500-, the rare Houdini puzzle went for 1,700-, most signed photo's went for well over 3,400- each, the silhouette went for a high $8,000-, the UNsigned Christmas card went for like 1,900-, etc.,etc.
Even with the WTC tragedy, the room was packed with over 150 people and prices went high.
It truly goes to show that Houdini collecting is swiftly circling the globe with a force rivaling that of fine art, and its prices aren't far behind.
..........DOUG EDWARDS
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Postby Don Spurrier » 11/09/01 07:01 PM

Hey, Doug,

Maybe you are right. I just merely added the total sum of the actual bids and subtracted from the total sum of the expected prices and noticed a great disparity. I can't explain the fall-short. My info was that Swann was disappointed; that they expected more. I wasn't there so my information might be inaccurate. I thought, perhaps, that the cause of the monetary difference might have been from a shortage of bidders. Maybe not.

In any event, I accept you as the authority of the value of Houdini items, and I can appreciate the complex feeling you must have had on placing a great deal (small portion?)of your collection on the auction block. It sounds like you were satisfied with the realized prices.

By the way, since you were the central figure of the auction, can you tell us who the mysterious Mr. Bidder 239 was?

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Postby Jeff Haas » 11/10/01 12:46 AM

Slightly off-topic...

What's a copy of "The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin," autographed by the author, worth these days?

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Postby Guest » 11/10/01 08:45 PM

Hi Jeff-
You know, so much depends on condition and who Houdini signed it to. Last week at the Swann auction, I put up an Unmasking (signed twice to E. Rice, the curator of the Boston Library) and it fetched $3,200-. The price was on the high side by the condition was mint so its high price was justified. Also, the more he writes also signifies a high(er) price. In the auction (lot 83), there was a signed postcard of Houdini in which he inscribed "This photo was taken of myself at the London Hippodrome in 1904 Good Luck Harry Houdini." This mint postcard went for a whopping $3,800 (far above the estimated value).
So, in order to answer your question - I need more info..........Doug Edwards
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Postby Jeff Haas » 11/11/01 02:05 AM

Doug, I'd say it was in good condition, nowhere near mint. All pages present, but no dust jacket (was there one?) and some darkening to the spine of the cover.

Jeff
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Postby Guest » 11/11/01 06:04 AM

Jeff-
What did Houdini write in this book? Was it signed to anyone famous?
..........Doug Edwards
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Postby Jeff Haas » 11/11/01 02:01 PM

He just signed his name, no message to anyone else.

Jeff
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Postby Guest » 11/11/01 02:09 PM

Jeff-
I would estimate the signed book (assuming that it is a "good" signature) to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000 - $1,200.
......Doug Edwards
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Postby Jeff Haas » 11/11/01 05:42 PM

Well, that's a significant increase over the $7.50 I paid for it in 1982. Thanks for the help!

Jeff
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