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Ken Klosterman's world-famous collection of magicana cast a spell on collectors and conjured huge magical results, becoming the highest-grossing magic auction in history.

Part 1 of the record-breaking Salon de Magie on October 30 at Potter & Potter Auctions of Chicago brought in $1.96 million, and was also a white glove sale, with 100 percent of the 346 lots selling. It was also the auction house's highest-grossing sale to date.

Filled with historically significant ephemera, books, and apparatus, the sale set records across the board. From Robert-Houdin's Light and Heavy Chest to Harry Houdini memorabilia and more, this "museum down the mineshaft" was home to true relics of magic history. Highlights in every collecting category were part of this historic white glove sale, with many lots blowing past estimates and some by tens of thousands of dollars. 

The star lot was the Light and Heavy Chest, France, circa 1844, that was owned and used by Jean-Eugéne Robert-Houdin, known as the “father of modern magic.” Estimated at $50,000-$100,000, 26 bids pushed the final price to $156,000. Potter & Potter said this is arguably the most historically significant conjuring prop of the modern era, constructed, devised, and performed by the magician who helped invent the way modern audiences regard magicians and their shows.

This Light and Heavy Chest, circa 1844, was the top lot, selling for $156,000. It was owned and used by Jean-Eugéne Robert-Houdin, called the “father of modern magic.”

This Light and Heavy Chest, circa 1844, was the top lot, selling for $156,000. It was owned and used by Jean-Eugéne Robert-Houdin, called the “father of modern magic.”

Other highlights from one of the most significant and unusual collections of magicana in private hands include Karl Germain's Blooming Rose Bush, Cleveland, circa 1900, that sold for $132,000 - more than $100,000 above its estimate of $20,000-$30,000; a rare poster of Harry Houdini shown upside down in his famous water torture cell that sold for $112,500, which was tens of thousands more than its estimate of $30,000-$60,000; Stanley Jaks' Book of Mysteries, circa 1936, and including miniature magic props, that sold for $96,000 against an estimate of $10,000-$15,000; Harry Houdini’s small silver-toned engraved belt buckle, circa 1920, that sold for $90,000 against an estimate of $5,000-$10,000.

This poster, a decidedly dramatic and artistic depiction of the underwater escape Harry Houdini debuted in 1911, sold for $112,500. In performance, the magician freed himself from a sturdy tank made of glass, metal, and hardwood, filled with water and outfitted with a set of ankle stocks at its top. Houdini extricated himself from the locked cell after many nerve-wracking minutes had elapsed, after the audience had been instructed to hold its breath along with the magician while he remained submerged.

This poster, a decidedly dramatic and artistic depiction of the underwater escape Harry Houdini debuted in 1911, sold for $112,500. In performance, the magician freed himself from a sturdy tank made of glass, metal, and hardwood, filled with water and outfitted with a set of ankle stocks at its top. Houdini extricated himself from the locked cell after many nerve-wracking minutes had elapsed, after the audience had been instructed to hold its breath along with the magician while he remained submerged.

Stanley Jaks' Book of Mysteries sold for $96,000. A finely constructed book box approximating the size of a large Bible, it is richly bound in red leather with sterling silver detailing on the front board, including the text “PACABA” flanked by two mystical symbols, the letters set below the face of the Hindu goddess Kali, said to be a gift to Jaks from the Aga Khan.

Stanley Jaks' Book of Mysteries sold for $96,000. A finely constructed book box approximating the size of a large Bible, it is richly bound in red leather with sterling silver detailing on the front board, including the text “PACABA” flanked by two mystical symbols, the letters set below the face of the Hindu goddess Kali, said to be a gift to Jaks from the Aga Khan.

One of the compartmentalized trays of miniature magic props that are inside of the Book of Mysteries that were used for many of Jaks’ most famous routines.

One of the compartmentalized trays of miniature magic props that are inside of the Book of Mysteries that were used for many of Jaks’ most famous routines.

"Ken Klosterman's collection showcased how magicana could be appreciated and exhibited exquisitely, but without any pretense. Anyone who knew Ken knew that he wanted to share his collection - as he did with me, and so many others - to learn from and understand it better," said Gabe Fajuri, Potter president and magic expert. "As a college student, exploring and cataloging the Salon de Magie trained me for a job I never knew I would have, all because of a shared passion."

For complete auction results, visit Potter & Potter.

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