Rare, magical lithographs up for auction

February 24, 2011 4:34:51 AM PST
In the early 1900s, Houdini, Thurston and Keller were the biggest names in show business. Now, those long-gone magicians are back in the news.

Potter and Potter Auctions on North Ravenswood has struck magic gold. Old lithograph posters of magicians, many of them over a hundred years old. The posters were discovered by a suburban woman in her basement after her husband, a collector, had died.

"She had no idea of the value. They had been rolled up in a vacuum cleaner box for almost forty years. She explained to me, you know, that she really hadn't looked at them in quite a long time," Gabe Fajuri, Potter and Potter Auctions.

Gabe Fajuri and his father, Sami, will auction off the posters on Saturday, March 26th. For fans of this type of memorabilia it will be a rare chance to look back and maybe buy a piece of the golden age of magic.

"I would say that stone lithography had its heyday from the 1880's to the 1920's and most of these posters are from that period," said Sami Fajuri. Is it art? "Absolutely."

A 1902 Houdini poster valued at about $20,000 is the rarest of the lot. It shows Houdini in a German court accused of being a swindler and a fraud by German police. But Houdini demonstrated his magic for the judge.

"He won and forced a public apology to be issued by Kaiser Willhelm II," Gabe Fajuri said. "He escaped again."

More than 100 hundred posters will be up for auction. Behind every one of the magicians is a very interesting story, like Chung Ling Soo.

"Chung Ling Soo was an Irishman from Brooklyn who performed under the name Chung Ling Soo." Chung Ling Soo might not have been who he said he was but all these poster are the real thing.