Images courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions, PotterAuctions.com
I love Potter & Potter Auctions: There, I’ve said it. Even when I’m not bidding, I can’t help being fascinated by this smallish Chicago auction house’s specialties: circus and sideshow, gambling, coin-op and advertising, and especially magic collectibles (with occasional rare book and illustration art auctions as well). Imagine: auctions loaded with vintage magicians’ artifacts, antique gumball dispensers, retro signage, rare photos, etc., etc. Small wonder they make international news: In their Feb. 4, 2017, magic auction, Potter & Potter sold a 1912 poster advertising Harry Houdini’s Water Torture Cell escape act for a whopping $114,000.00 – a world record for a magic poster sold at public auction.
Potter & Potter’s next auction is on April 7 and features entertainment memorabilia. I think it’s a little tamer than their other auctions that I’ve seen – many of the film posters, for example, are from the second half of the 20th century and/or are foreign advertisement for American films – but don’t let deter you: There’s gold in them thar lots, and some of it is very affordable.
A 1940 Swedish poster for the horror classic Dr. Cyclops starring Albert Dekker (who later played Gregory Peck’s editor/boss in Gentleman’s Agreement) is personal favorite: pure art deco. It’s expected to fetch $600 to $800. An original Dirty Harry poster with a real early-seventies vibe is bound to be a trophy in some guy’s man cave: $100 to $200. For the high rollers – and I wish I were one – there’s an original, unrestored, unbacked first printing poster for Casablanca from 1942 (although the film was not released until late January 1943) that is anticipated to sell for $40,000 to $60,000 and may well make your news feed. A rare copy of a Pulp Fiction poster with a feline Uma Thurman smoking Lucky Strikes – withdrawn because R. J. Reynolds didn’t authorize the use of an image of their healthful product and threatened to sue – is estimated to sell for $900 to $1,300.
But there’s lots more: lobby cards, still photos, press books, stock certificates, original artwork, autographs, movie props . . . Want a mink coat that used to belong to Greta Garbo, with a signed check written to her furrier, and her old invoices for the coat’s storage and cleaning, plus a photo of the actress actually wearing it? That’s expected to sell in the $9,000 to $12,000 range. Cole Porter’s backgammon set, with his name imprinted in silver on the black leather case, has an estimated hammer price of $4,000 to $8,000. A 1931 autograph album containing the signatures of twenty-six actors and actress, including Gary Cooper, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy, and Eddie Cantor, with many lesser-known stars, may be undervalued at $1,500 to $2,000: one of those lesser-knowns is Dwight Frye – who played Fritz the hunchback (Boris Karloff’s tormentor) in the original Frankenstein and Renfield in the original Dracula with Bela Lugosi – and Frye’s autograph alone has sold in the $1,300 to $1,500 range in the past several years.
There’s also a nice selection TV, music, and sports memorabilia in a wide price range – in effect, something for everyone.
Some other personal pix:
- East of Eden poster (Italian, 1970s) with a great James Dean image, 55 x 29 inches, est. $200 to $300
- Tobor the Great poster (Italian, 1954) with a great period robot image, 55 x 39 inches, est. $500 to $700
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, two circa 1920 lobby photos, 11 x 14 inches, est. $400 to $600
- Greta Garbo’s Cartier travel alarm clock with leather case with her initials “G.G.” in gold, from her estate and with letter of provenance, est. $2,000 to $3,000
- Jimi Hendrix’s cowhide watch band, with 1991 letter of provenance from Sotheby’s, est. $3,000 to $4,000
- Ellen original “coming-out” script for “The Puppy Episode” (1997) signed by cast members, including Ellen DeGeneres, Jeremy Piven, Joely Fisher, Clea Lewis, Laura Dern, Oprah Winfrey, Demi Moore, K.D. Lang, Melissa Etheridge, Billy Bob Thornton, and others, est. $4,000 to $6,000
As always, it’s great fun to look through the catalog. You can see it in both 3-D and PDF versions at Potterauctions.com.