Swann Magic Auction

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Results And Pre Swann Soiree

Swann Magic Auction Results (Meir Yedid):
The annual Swann Magic Auction took place on Thursday October 26, 2000 at their newly renovated 5th floor auction hall and gallery. These new premises were much more spacious, comfortable and allowed many of the posters to remain on display. Unfortunately the attendance was very low — the fewest people ever at the magic auction.

The highlights included a fierce bidding war between Dorothy Dietrich and John Bravo versus a phone bidder who finally won the archive of Houdini materials from the Philadelphia Houdini Club for a final bid of $22,000 (not including buyers premium). The second highest bid of $9,500 (not including buyers premium) went for the “Samri S. Baldwin – The White Mahatma” lithograph and the “Houdini – Buried Alive” lithograph went for $9,000 (not including buyers premium). Most of the rest of the items sold for what I would consider fair prices.

This is the fourth magic auction I have attended in the past six weeks and one thing kept going through my mind about many of the items sold at all four auctions — there were absolute bargains being picked up or passed on by the collectors.

The Mecca Magic auction on Sep. 17 had many Rice pattern silks which usually sell in upward of $100 each going for an average of $5-20. The Egyptian Hall Museum Auction and Sale which was a high-end auction had many Soo posters selling for less than they would have gone for a year or two earlier. The Oct. 1 Magic Funday Auction had a number of items whose value is in excess of $1,000 selling for $100-$300. And at the current sale: of the 77 items passed-on, many would have been bargains if bid on at their minimum.

In trying to figure out why this seeming trend is growing, some obvious answers come to mind. E-bay auctions now averages more than 100 magic items expiring every day, more magic auctions are taking place than ever before, even mainstream auctions regularly feature magic posters and sets, and with the value of the items constantly increasing many of the aging collectors are beginning to sell parts of their collections making the quantity of available items more abundant than ever before. This increased supply of collectibles is the key since the number of magic collectors has not seemed to increase at the same rate. I would guess that there are well under 1,000 serious magic collectors in the world and the number would probably be closer to 500. In two weeks I will attend yet another magic auction and will see if the trend continues.

The official results of the auction will not be released by Swann Galleries until later this week so until then you get to read my unofficial estimates:

• There were 272 lots which were consigned by around 50 different people.
• 195 lots were sold — 77 lots were either passed or did not meet the minimum.
• Total sales came to a little more than $162,000.
• Plus 15|% Buyers Premium of around $24,000.
• Plus 8.25% New York sales tax of around $15,000.
• Total spent at the auction is a little more than $200,000.

–Meir Yedid

The Pre Swann Soiree (Richard Cohn):
As Swann Galleries “Magic” auction has become a yearly tradition amongst conjuring collectors so too has Roger Dreyer’s annual “Night Before” party in New York City. Dreyer opens his home on New York’s upper east side to a scintillating group of guests;  performers, historians, writers; a panoply of all manner of aficionados and lovers of magic.

Those in attendance at this years gathering included Dr. and Mrs. Morris Young, Norm and Lupe Nielsen, Charles Greene III, Bill Kalush, Charles and Regina Reynolds, Mike Bornstein, Hap and Linda Korsen, Meir Yedid, Harry Lorayne, Peter Maloney, Richard Steven Cohn, Todd Robbins, Krista Brown, Bill Schmeelk, Simon Lovell, Joel Miller, Jamy Ian Swiss, Peter Samelson, Bob Friedhoffer, Ted Bogusta, Michael Chaut, David Friedman, George and Nina Schindler, Jeff Moche and Mark Mitton.

Amidst Dreyer’s extensive collection of posters, books and apparatus (as well as displays of Disney theme toys and Disney souvenir chatchkas which Roger marketed for many years) guests sipped cocktails, nibbled at hors d’oeuvres and engaged in wizardly chit chat. Some congregated in “The Houdini Room,” their attention split between the many mementos of the Elusive American that adorn the walls and game four of The World Series. Copies of the Swann catalog were in evidence as prospective bidders discussed the next days possibilities.Dreyer, now associated with Marvin’s Magic of  Great Britain, has established an event in his pre-auction party that is as eagerly looked forward to each year as the sale that it precedes. The party provides an opportunity for friendships to be reaffirmed and new acquaintances made. A sense of communal anticipation is stimulated for the following days acquisition and recycling of magical memorabilia. The camaraderie of competition is in evidence but so is the enthusiasm of a shared passion. Cordial events like Roger Dreyer’s night before party contribute in a special way toward the weaving together of the fantastical fabric which enwraps the community of those who cherish magic.

–Richard Steven Cohn

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