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Mystery clocks outdone by robots and eggs at recent Potter & Potter auction


Last month I reported on a then upcoming auction of a sizeable chunk of the late David M. Baldwin’s magic curio collection. Baldwin’s collection of unique mystery clocks, two of which were made by the great Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, were expected to be the stars of the action.

They weren’t.

Both of the Houdin offerings – lot #28, a glass column mystery clock, and lot #30, a square dial mystery clock – sold for less than Potter & Potter’s lowest estimates. They still fetched $36,000 and $24,000 respectively. As seasoned Ramen eater, I can tell you that is in fact a great deal of money, but the two clocks were outshone by other lots which sold for way more than anyone could have guessed.

Lot #170, a modern Pillar of the Magi made by John Gaughan and Associates was expected to attract offers of $5,000 at most, but eventually sold for $10,200.  

Lot #231, an archive of photographs and ephemera related to magician Del Ray, including a draft of a biography, was believed to be worth $250 at most, but eventually sold for a whopping $4,560.

A surprise FabergĂ©-style Egg (lot #197) turned out to be very surprising indeed. It sold for $4,560, well over its $1,000 high estimate. Lot #1, a fully operational card bouquet, sold for $11,400 against a high estimate of $8,000. 

Lots related to The Great Raymond seemed particularly popular. A collection of correspondence to and from the magician was expected to sell for $400, but eventually fetched $3,600. An archive of ephemera from the earlier part of his career sold for $9,000 instead of the $2,000 high estimate, and his wallet sold for $1,800. It was expected to fetch $250.

Oh, and because these auctions are never complete without an appearance from Ol’ Hazza’, a collection of news photos of Houdini’s Shelton Pool Stunt fetched $1,800. They were expected to sell for $350 at best. 

All in all, a very profitable day for the clever people over at Potter & Potter. Over 98% of the lots were sold, and over $400,000 changed hands during the course of the event.