Houdini’s spiritualism scrapbook could see $20,000

During Potter & Potter Auctions' Aug. 23 sale, bidders will have the opportunity to get their hands on a unique side of one of magic's masters: Houdini. Among the items once owned by Houdini, now coming to market, is a scrapbook filled with clippings about spiritualism, a focus of Hodini's efforts later in life.
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CHICAGO – A scrapbook kept by master magician Harry Houdini – lost for over eight decades – was discovered by an antique dealer in California in 2013. Now this historic relic is heading to auction August 23 at Potter & Potter Auctions.

The auction will be held at the Potter & Potter Auctions showroom, 3759 N. Ravenswood Ave., Suite 121 in Chicago. Internet bidding will be facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com.

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Compiled by Houdini in 1925 and 1926, the scrapbook is filled with his personal notes and clippings related to spiritualism and spirit mediums – individuals who claimed they could talk to the dead. Houdini devoted the last years of his life to investigating and debunking fraudulent mediums.

“Finds of this sort are once-in-a-lifetime occurrences,” said Gabe Fajuri, president of Potter & Potter Auctions. “It’s stories like these that fuel the current trend of antique-themed TV shows and keep all collectors and dealers on the hunt for elusive, valuable finds.”

In this case, the value is substantial. The scrapbook’s pre-auction estimate is $15,000 to $20,000.

The contents of the scrapbook show Houdini’s deep interest and study of spiritualism, as well as the seemingly endless amount of publicity he garnered by his association with it. In Houdini’s most famous investigation of all, in 1925, he exposed the Boston medium Margery as a fraud. The scrapbook includes a considerable amount of material on the famous Margery case.

Other sale highlights include a massive lobby board standing nearly 9 feet tall, used to advertise Houdini’s performances at various theaters (estimate $25,000-$35,000); the only sketches of the secret workings of an illusion in Houdini’s hand ever to come to auction ($5,000-$7,000); Houdini’s Double Fold Death Defying Water Mystery Escape device, a unique wooden crate from which Houdini would escape ($20,000-$25,000); as well as a variety of Houdini-signed books, Houdini-owned handcuffs, unpublished manuscripts, private correspondence, family photographs, costumes and silent film memorabilia.

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During the three days leading up to the auction, a museum-like exhibition of the lots will be available for public viewing. A full-color auction catalog is available from Potter & Potter.

For more information, visit www.potterauctions.com, call 773-472-1442 or email info@potterauctions.com.

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