Potter & Potter Auctions

3759 N. Ravenswood Ave. Ste. 121, Chicago, Illinois 60613

About Auction House

We're a Chicago auction house specializing in the sale of collectibles and antiques of all types, including paper Americana, vintage advertising, rare books, coin-op, playing cards, gambling memorabilia, vintage posters, prints and magicana - antiques and collectibles focused on magic and magicians. Between world-record prices, lavish catalogs, aggressive advertising and promotion, and a team that cares about your experience - as a customer or consignor - we strive to make the auction experience exemplary in every way.

Auction Previews & News

31 Results
  • Auction Preview
    A Diverse Range of Vintage Posters to Be Offered This August

    Manuel Orazi was an Art Nouveau illustrator and poster artist most recognized for his two-dimensional poster prints. Orazi was inspired by the Vienna Secession along with the Symbolism art movement. Using these sources, he created his own distinctive Art Nouveau style consisting of flowing and organic elements. An example of Orazi’s style can be seen in the poster L’Hippodrome, which is available in the upcoming Vintage Posters event, presented by Potter & Potter Auctions. The piece depicts an equestrienne in a dress and headpiece riding a black stallion whilst charging ahead. The rider is adorned in lavish jewelry.  Leonetto Cappiello, commonly known as the Father of Modern Advertising, was an Italian and French poster art designer and painter. He is mainly celebrated for revolutionizing the poster illustration of his time. His method was using exaggerated, bright subjects in unusual hues that contrasted with a very dark background to make his creations “pop out.” Such is the case for the 1927 poster Cognac Monnet, which depicts a woman in red and purple with golden rays against a dark background. It will come to auction this August. View the entire catalog and register to bid online by visiting Potter & Potter Auctions.

  • Auction Preview
    Checkers, Demons, Houdini, and More From Potter & Potter

    A magician presents a small but finely crafted cabinet to the audience along with a stack of checkers. A story is told about the checkers and how they are usually kept in the cabinet. But they have been stolen and replaced by a glass full of rice. The checkers are hidden inside a cozy built for just this purpose. The storyteller snaps his fingers, then reveals that the checkers and glass full of rice have magically transposed places. This is the illusion presented by the Okito Checker Cabinet from the collection of Jim DeLoeach, available from Potter & Potter Auctions. Other apparati in the sale include a Demon’s Head Automaton in which two selected cards appear in the Demon's mouth and two from the top of its head, a Fifth Dimension Card Frame, a Ray Vision System, and more. Beyond illusions, there are also posters such as a color lithograph from the European Wonders Horticultural Hall and advertisement posters for the Chung Ling Soo Mysteries. There are also many books on magic such as Soirees Fantastiques by Christian Fechner, Houdini’s Paper Magic by Harry Houdini, and The Magic of Robert Harbin by Robert Harbin. View any of these lots and register to bid on Potter & Potter Auctions. 

  • Auction Industry
    Around the Auction World: May 2022

    The spring auction season is officially in full swing. This month, the largest auction houses released coveted treasures to the top of the market, and mid-level companies offered fresh finds to the discerning collector. We spoke with several experts to understand the trends and take a closer look at some of the curated catalogs.  Here are the top headlines from around the auction world this May. Tiffany Studios tulip table lamp, c. 1910. Image courtesy of Rago. Auction Highlights This month, Auction Daily spoke with Potter & Potter Auctions’ president and auctioneer Gabe Fajuri following the house’s Matrix-themed sale. The mid-month event featured memorabilia, props, awards, and concept art from movies led by producers, directors, and sisters Lilly and Lana Wachowski. The Wachowski Collection sale yielded countless headlines, plus a donation of over USD 300,000 to the Protect and Defend Trans Youth Fund. We also followed up on the record-setting sale of a Jean Siméon Chardin strawberries painting that attracted attention in March of 2022. While it sold for $26.8 million to a New York dealer (later revealed to represent Texas’ Kimbell Art Museum), the Louvre blocked its sale on cultural grounds. The fate of the Chardin strawberries painting remains unknown. Detail of animal design antique Persian Tabriz rug. Image courtesy of Nazmiyal Auctions. What’s Coming Up Auction Daily looked ahead to note important events coming up around the auction world next month. From New York’s Nazmiyal Auctions comes a major vintage and modern rug sale, scheduled for June 12, 2022. The catalog especially features pictorial rugs and carpets. These weavings, which depict people, places, or scenes, have strong ties to cultures around the world. Among the top lots are Persian Mashahir carpets and Israeli Marbediah rugs from the early 20th century. Collectors can also anticipate more blockbuster sales to continue the spring auction season. Many auction houses have also set their sights on social causes that address tragedies such as the ongoing war in Ukraine. Benefit auctions are on the rise as art market players seek to divert dollars to worthy causes. Black “Nobby” Opal. Image courtesy of Bonhams.…

  • Auction Preview
    Forthcoming Auction Has Harry Houdini’s Magic Scrapbook, Other Memorabilia

    In January of 1908, Harry Houdini performed his debut magic act at the Columbia Theater. In the performance, he stepped inside of a gigantic milk can with his hands cuffed in front of him. After two long minutes, Houdini appeared from behind a cabinet, which marked his first successful performance. This moment was a turning point for Houdini’s career. This upcoming Potter & Potter Auctions event presents key items from several points of Harry Houdini’s history. One highlight is a magic scrapbook formerly belonging to Harry Houdini. It comes with magazine and newspaper clippings that date back to the 1760s throughout the 1920s.  Also showcased is a color lithograph of T. Nelson Downs. He was a self-taught magician who specialized in coin tricks. The offered lot depicts a bust portrait of Downs. The image is encircled by illustrations of his coin manipulation act. Explore more lots and register to bid online on Potter & Potter Auctions’ website.

  • Auction Industry
    Hollywood Comes to Chicago for Potter & Potter Auctions’ Enter The Matrix: The Wachowski Collection Sale

    Potter & Potter Auctions of Chicago, IL held its Enter The Matrix: The Wachowski Collection auction on May 12th, 2022. This Hollywood-themed sale featured nearly 200 lots of memorabilia, props, awards, and concept art spanning the filmography of producers and directors Lilly Wachowski and Lana Wachowski. Items on offer included materials from their movies The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Sense8, Jupiter Ascending, and Cloud Atlas. The sale realized $492,000— three times its high estimate— and had a 99%+ sell through rate.  Auction Daily spoke with Potter & Potter Auctions' president and auctioneer Gabe Fajuri to learn more about this breathtaking and incredibly successful event. Catalog cover from Potter & Potter Auctions' May 12th, 2022 Enter The Matrix: The Wachowski Collection sale. Image courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions. Auction Daily: This sale captured worldwide attention, interest, and media coverage. What was it about the consignors and their lots that resonated with so many people? Gabe Fajuri: It goes without saying that The Matrix, and so many of the other films that the Wachowskis were involved with (as producers and directors alike) were international phenomena. Once the cat was let out of the bag that these items were coming up for sale, the publicity blitz was nearly assured. And bidding at the sale was fast and furious, to say the least! Lot 48: Nebuchadnezzar concept maquette from The Matrix generated 40 bids and realized $36,000. Image courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions. Auction Daily: As an auctioneer, you get to handle a great number of interesting and one-of-a-kind items. Of all the items in this sale, which one or two of the lots personally caught your eye, and why? Gabe Fajuri: The maquettes— the preproduction scaled models used to help plan and engineer key scenes in the movies. I love anything related to the concept of "behind the scenes" and have a love for special effects. To see how model makers produced these amazingly detailed three-dimensional pieces in preparation for what were, truly, iconic films was a real thrill. Lot 47: Lightning Rifle prop from The Matrix generated 32 bids and…

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Potter & Potter Auctions’ Enter the Matrix: The Wachowski Collection Event to Offer Memorabilia, Props, Awards, and Concept Art From The Archives of Celebrated Film Directors, Writers, And Producers Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski

    This sale includes items from cult-classic movies including The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Sense8, Jupiter Ascending, and Cloud Atlas, with all profits going to the Protect and Defend Trans Youth Fund which provides direct services and funds to at-risk trans youth throughout the country. Chicago, Il, April 22- Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce this can't miss sale to be held on Thursday, May 12th, 2022, starting at 10am CDT. The event will be held online and live streamed, with a limited number of bidders physically allowed in the gallery as determined by current Illinois public health attendance guidelines. Please call the auction house, located at 5001 W Belmont Avenue in Chicago, at 773-472-1442 to reserve seats. Bidding will take place through Potter & Potter's website, at www.potterauctions.com. Phone and absentee bids are also welcome. All items are available for in-person preview, by appointment only.  5 Signed Enter the Matrix Posters Iconic, screen used props from the Wachowskis' signature films take several of the top lot slots in this star-studded sale.   Lot #4, a Neo-Seoul Speeder from Cloud Atlas, is estimated at $6,000-8,000. This original police speeder with attachments was used by authorities in the futuristic dystopian city of 2144 Neo-Seoul and can be seen during Sonmi-451’s (Bae Doona) escape. It measures 103 x 45 x 51”. Lot #114, a purple Segway scooter from Speed Racer, is estimated at $3,000-5,000. This modified transporter appeared in the 2008 film and measures 51” high.Lot #47, a lightning rifle prop from The Matrix, is estimated at $2,000-4,000. This resin, rubber, and foam weapon was wielded by Cypher (Joe Pantoliano) against Tank (Marcus Chong) and Dozer (Anthony Ray Parker) when he reveals himself as an ally of Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). It measures  18 x 28 x 10” and includes a barcode identifying it as property of Ravenswood Kinowerks, Inc. Lot #13, a stone table from Cloud Atlas, is estimated at $1,500-3,000. This original wooden prop is inlaid with pastel sea glass and appears inside of the Abbess’ (Susan Sarandon) dwelling during the final segment of the film. It measures 64 x 37-½ x…

  • Auction Preview
    Enter the Matrix with Potter & Potter’s Wachowski Collection Sale

    Potter & Potter has invited collectors to enter The Matrix with the upcoming Wachowski Collection sale. This auction is offering some of the most iconic props in science fiction history. The Wachowskis are the minds behind some of the most groundbreaking Hollywood movies like The Matrix, Cloud Atlas, Speed Racer, and Jupiter Ascending. Their collection of iconic props from these movies is going under the hammer. This sale starts with a screen-used Lightning Rifle prop from The Matrix. It is the original resin, rubber, and foam prop model. On-screen, it was the weapon wielded by Cypher (Joe Pantoliano) against Tank (Marcus Chong) and Dozer (Anthony Ray Parker) when he reveals himself as an ally of Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) in The Matrix. A chase scene screen-used banner from Cloud Atlas will be available in the auction. It is an original vinyl banner with imagery rendered in graphic style depicting the narrative in an arc. The banner begins with Adam Ewing’s opening sequence at sea and ends with the death and subsequent worship of Sonmi-451 as a deity. It was an integral part of the movie Cloud Atlas as Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) tries to escape her pursuers who are bent on retrieving her copy of Rufus Sixsmith’s (James D’Arcy) bombshell report. The Wachowskis are known for their ambitious, mind and bullet bending projects that don’t just have fans but a cult-like following. Find the listed items and more on Potter & Potter’s website and register to place a bid. 

  • Auction Preview
    The Dentzel Carousel Company, Ringling Bros., and Barnum & Bailey Memorabilia Offered in Circus and Sideshow Auction

    Potter & Potter Auctions will feature various items from the Dentzel Carousel Company, Ringling Bros., and Barnum & Bailey in an upcoming sale. Although appearing in amusement parks and at county fairs across the United States during the mid-19th century, Gustav Dentzel is credited for the rise in popularity of the platform carousel after founding the Dentzel Carousel Company in 1867. Potter & Potter Auctions will offer several Dentzel Carousel Company wooden animals, including an 1885 horse from Pennsylvania’s famous Dover Dentzel carousel at Brookside Park. This horse was made for the outside row. It is shown in a neighing position and features a carved and painted matching saddle and bridle.  After the 1919 merger of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey popularized the traveling circus across the United States, the sideshow attraction began billing itself as the “Greatest Show on Earth.” A 1909 Barnum & Bailey Circus Giant Rhinoceros poster will also be available in the Circus, Sideshow, and Oddities auction. Other items include a 1911 Tilden Park merry-go-round panel, a 20th-century musical Turkish magician automaton, and a Hobo the Bum fortune teller vendor. View the entire collection and register to bid by visiting  Potter & Potter Auctions. 

  • Auction Preview
    First Editions of Fitzgerald’s “Gatsby” and Frank Herbert’s “Dune” Come to Auction

    A first edition of The Great Gatsby signed by F. Scott Fitzgerald is available in the Fine Literature & Modern Firsts sale at Potter & Potter Auctions. It has the original publishers gilt-lettered spine. Many movie adaptations have come about based on Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, a book that explores love, passion, greed, and tragedy. The edition available in the auction was published in 1925 and signed in 1932-33 by Fitzgerald while gifting it to his friend and owner of La Paix, Margaret Turnbull. Behind the success and glitz, Fitzgerald was struggling to maintain the lavish lifestyle his family was used to. Zelda, his beloved wife, experienced mental illness. The couple rented La Paix from the Turnbulls in 1932 and 1933 because of its proximity to the Phipps Clinic, the psychiatric branch of Johns Hopkins, where Zelda was receiving treatment. Autographed American literary classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), Windy McPherson’s Son by Sherwood Anderson, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, and many more are available in this Modern Firsts auction. A book that has gained more popularity due to its recent movie adaptation is Dune by Frank Herbert. The first edition of God Emperor of Dune, signed by Herbert and published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 1981, will be available in the auction. Find the listed items and more on Potter & Potter Auctions and register to place a bid.

  • Auction Industry, Press Release
    Potter & Potter Auctions’ April 2022 Circus, Sideshow, and Oddities Sale to Feature Banners, Ephemera and Images, Lithographs, Carousel Horses, and Rare Shooting Gallery Targets

    Also of note is a fine collection of circus, sideshow, and theatrical photographs from the world-class collection of collector and historian Gary Bart. Chicago, Il, April 7, 2022 - Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce this 600+ lot sale to be held on Saturday, April 30th starting at 10am CDT. The event will be held online and live streamed, with a limited number of bidders physically allowed in the gallery as determined by Illinois public health attendance guidelines. Please call the auction house at 773-472-1442 to reserve seats, with first come, first served. Bidding will take place on Potter & Potter's website, located at www.potterauctions.com. Phone and absentee bids are also welcome. Early 20th Century American Circus Painting Fantastic antique carnival and circus relics take several of the top lot slots in this exciting sale.  * Lot #482, an outstanding c. 1890 carousel zebra made by the G.A. Dentzel Company, is estimated at $30,000-40,000. This carved, outside row wooden standing zebra has a carved saddle and bridle and measures 55 x 12 x 58”. It was restored in 1987 by conservationist Rosa Patton. * Lot #480, a very rare c. 1900 carousel rabbit also by the G.A. Dentzel Company, is estimated at $28,000-35,000. This carved wooden standing rabbit has a white body and a carved tan saddle, purple and green trappings, and an unusual pink bow. It measures 54 x 63 x 18” and was restored by artist Nina Fraley. * Lot #484, a c. 1925 carousel camel from Charles Looff of Long Beach, CA, is estimated at $15,000-20,000. The camel is leaping, carved from wood, and features its original stirrups and trappings, a brown saddle, a blue blanket, blue jewels, and its bridle. It measures 47 x 56 x 18” and was restored by Leslie Kitts. Looff built the first carousel at Coney Island in 1876, and from there his career flourished, with over 40 carousels and several amusement parks completed by his company, as well as the Santa Monica Pier. * Lot #504, a marked, c. 1911 John T. Dickman Great Clown carnival shooting gallery target,…

  • Auction Industry
    Around the Auction World: March 2022

    Images from around the auction world this March. Image credit from left to right: Akiba Antiques, Phillips, and Nation’s Attic, Inc. Collage by Heemin Moon (Auction Daily). This month welcomed the spring auction season during a period of global uncertainty and change. Auction Daily covered the top stories from around the auction world, including record-breaking London art sales in early March and a chain of acquisitions by Bonhams. We also kept an eye on results and upcoming auctions that flew under the radar.  Here are the top headlines from around the auction world this March. Bruun Rasmussen in Copenhagen, Denmark. Image courtesy of Bruun Rasmussen. Industry Trends In the midst of widespread market uncertainty, Christie’s and Sotheby’s opened the spring season with highly successful London art sales. René Magritte’s L’empire des lumières sold for $79.8 million, tripled the artist’s auction record, and contributed to the highest ever sale total that Sotheby’s has achieved in London. Christie’s London events included masterworks by Franz Marc and Lucien Freud. Both auction houses counted on the support of a global client base as effects of the war in Ukraine rippled through the art world. Despite the success, many questioned the ethics of markets continuing as normal during the crisis. Bonhams took several steps into the mid-level auction market this March. The auction house acquired both New England-based Skinner and Copenhagen’s Bruun Rasmussen within a two-week period. The acquisitions are part of Bonhams’ broader strategy to expand its digital footprint, re-connect to European markets after Brexit, and rival the largest auction companies. American Fotoplayer Style 35. Silent movie player piano/sound effect machine, c. 1920. Image courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions. Auction Highlights Auction highlights this month included a two-day sale of gambling and advertising memorabilia at Potter & Potter Auctions. The offerings included a wide range of items, from vintage musical instruments to card-playing guides. The top lot was an American Fotoplayer used to create soundtracks and sound effects in silent movies. It sold for $33,600. Auction Daily also looked back at Heritage Auctions’ sale celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s 213th birthday. The two-day event brought…

  • Auction Industry
    Two-Day Sale of Gambling and Advertising Memorabilia at Potter & Potter Auctions

    F. R. Ritter, Combined Treatise on Advantage Card Playing and Draw Poker, 1905. Image courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions. Potter & Potter Auctions will present over 800 lots belonging to the gambling, playing cards, coin-op, and advertising categories this March. The two-day auction features some rare and desirable collections of chips and books on gambling in addition to coin-operated machines, games, and a silent movie background music player.  Three of the lots leading day one of the event are the American Fotoplayer Style 35 silent movie player piano and sound effect machine, a Caille Bros. Puck five-cent musical cabinet, and a Mills Novelty Co. “On the Square” roulette game. American Fotoplayer Style 35 silent movie player piano/sound effect machine, c. 1920. Image courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions. American Fotoplayer Silent Movie Player Piano Close to 12,000 musical instruments were created in the early 20th century. The most popular ones were the Fotoplayers created by the American Fotoplayer Company. The Fotoplayer gave background music to scenes before movies had sound. Adding a background score to a silent movie scene could greatly alter or enhance the mood. Fotoplayers were essentially pipe organs and sound effects inserted into large cabinets and attached to the sides of the leading player piano. In addition to the soundtrack on the piano, a player could make music with the help of buttons, levels, and cords attached to the instrument.  Very few Fotoplayers remain in working condition. One of them is available in Potter & Potter Auctions’ upcoming sale. The instrument contains drums, tambourines, horns, woodblocks, sleigh bells, and other sound-producing percussion devices attached to the large piano at the center. It includes the original bench and 120 picture rolls inside the hardwood cabinet. It has an estimate of USD 20,000 to $40,000. Caille Bros. Puck Five-Cent musical cabinet, Detroit, c. 1890s. Image courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions. Caille Bros. Puck Five-Cent Musical Cabinet Two of the most successful companies working in the coin-operated machine industry were Caille Bros. and the Mills Novelty Company. Caille Bros. created floor machines of such high quality and design…

  • Auction Preview
    Americana Between the Boards From Potter & Potter

    Perhaps best known for both capturing Fort Ticonderoga early in the Revolutionary War and founding the state of Vermont, Ethan Allen also led a failed attempt into Montreal that resulted in his capture by British authorities. Imprisoned aboard Royal Navy ships, he was released in a prisoner exchange in 1778. Allen later wrote a detailed account of his imprisonment that was published in 1779. A rare second edition copy of this narrative features in the upcoming sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts from Potter & Potter Auctions. The available edition is thought to be the last and only copy offered at auction in over a century. The sale also includes a pristine copy of the first American edition of Huckleberry Finn and an Albert Einstein letter to mathematical physicist Daniel M. Lipkin, critiquing a set of his equations. Bidders will find a number of fine press editions including titles from Kelmscott Press, Doves Press, the Limited Editions Club, and more. Beyond books and manuscripts, there are also early stock certificates from Standard Oil, a group of awards won by American science fiction author Frederick Pohl, six fine early maps, and more. View any of these lots and register to bid on Potter & Potter Auctions. 

  • Auction Industry
    David Klein: The Mid-century’s Gold Standard Travel Poster Artist

    David Klein, Egypt / TWA, c. 1958. Image courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions. With the dark and cold days of January upon us, taking a trip to someplace warm, different, or new is certainly on the minds of many folks now. Although in reality the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted or even eliminated some adventures, dreaming about getting away is still free and without boundaries. In the early postwar period, airline posters featuring aspirational destinations were integral in glamorizing air travel. They also got "everyday" people excited about visiting places they had only read about or seen on television. David Klein (1918 - 2005), an American commercial artist and illustrator, created many of the iconic images featured on these posters during the third quarter of the 20th century. Their appeal is as strong today as it was nearly six decades ago. David Klein, Disneyland Fly TWA, 1955. Image courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions. David Klein is best known for his work for Trans World Airlines (TWA), although he also did travel-related assignments for Amtrak, Cunard, Holland American Cruises, and Orbitz over the course of his career. After a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II as an illustrator, Klein moved to New York. He worked at a theatrical advertising agency designing posters and window cards for Broadway shows.  Starting in the 1950s, Klein began creating travel posters for TWA, the airline owned by Howard Hughes at the time. Klein's signature style integrated bold colors and iconic landmarks or destinations in an exciting, abstract, "can't look away" fashion. His work caught fire and became a de facto face, direction, and standard of the travel poster industry for several decades. Klein went on to win many prestigious national and international industry awards for his illustrations. Examples of his work are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as well as the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum in Washington, D.C. David Klein, New York / Fly TWA, 1956. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries. Today, David Klein's work is highly collectible,…

  • Auction Result
    Around the Auction World: December 2021

    Images from around the auction world in December of 2021. Image credit from left to right: Sotheby’s, Potter & Potter Auctions, and Phillips. Collage by Heemin Moon (Auction Daily). December offers a chance to relax during the holidays, look back on another year, or perhaps turn over a new leaf and start afresh. Auction houses also took time to rest and prepare for 2022. While many sellers entered their slow season, the market offered no shortage of new records and exciting events. These included the first-ever tea auction at Sotheby’s, a selection of Disney-themed items at Van Eaton Galleries, and a haunting sculpture installation by Magdalena Abakanowicz with Polswiss Art. Auction Daily also seized the opportunity to look back on 2021. We looked at the rise of NFTs and curated the top Christmas items that sold this year. Now, we present the top headlines from around the auction world in December of 2021. Auctioneer Henry Highley at Phillips' London Evening Sale, October 2021. Image courtesy of Phillips. Industry Trends Sellers from around the auction world released a collective breath after the high-stakes New York marquee week concluded in November. Sotheby’s achieved new in-house records and stirred up a frenzy of excited bidding. Auction Daily examined the top lots to emerge from the whirlwind. The results from Sotheby’s and other auction houses also pointed to a broader trend in the industry: the rapid rise of ultra-contemporary art. This category— only defined in 2019 by Artnet News— is now one of the most profitable and exciting parts of the art world. Phillips has been a primary driver of ultra-contemporary art and its rise. The company has built a robust market for works by young artists, and it has fresh auction records to prove it. Another sector that continued to swell this month was NFTs. An open edition NFT project by Pak achieved USD 91.8 million on Nifty Gateway in early December. Now, the mysterious creator(s) could be among the world’s most expensive living artists. To better understand this result and the market-wide rise of NFTs, we tracked the timeline of NFTs in…