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Mystery clocks and vintage automatons to take center stage at upcoming Potter & Potter auction


Until his death in 2014, New York real estate mogul David M. Baldwin maintained a fine collection of magic curios and apparatus. Baldwin had a particular interest in ornate and elaborate “mystery clocks,” particularly those made by French magician and clockmaker, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. One such clock is the star lot in an upcoming Potter & Potter auction set to take place on Saturday, June 16th. The clock is expected to go for between 40 and 50 grand, but given how fierce bidding was at the company’s last magic auction, I expect it’ll fetch a higher price.

There’s a handful of other clocks that are expected to change hands for sums in the tens of thousands of dollars, including another example of Houdin’s work, and one that features a tiny autonomous magician that transposes objects to mark the hour.

 

Baldwin’s collection also included a finely-curated selection of magical apparatus, including a spirit bell and clock dial from the 1900’s, a Hofzinser 52 Card Rise Box that enabled any card in a deck to rise from the top of the box, a brass coin casket and the only known operational European Card bouquet device. 

Other standouts include the traditional selection of Houdini memorabilia that always brings in a pretty penny. There’s a set of two bound volumes of Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine signed, “Best wishes from Harry Houdini,” a photograph of the man himself posing with Teddy Roosevelt’s grandchildren, and a theatre program from 1903 billing him as the “Handcuff King.”

The sale also includes selection of linen-backed broadsides, all of which are gorgeous. 

If any of these lots catch your eye, you should check out the catalog on the Potter & Potter site. All the lots will be on display at the company’s gallery in Chicago from 10 am to 5 pm, June 13th to the 15th, before the auction goes live on June 16th.