The Briggs Pat Croce Houdini Collection Auction


Briggs Houdini Pat Croce Auction begins
Our review of The Briggs/Pat Croce collection. There were no people we recognized who are the usual suspects at Houdini auctions. Since it was near the Philadelphia, and the NJ, NY area we expected to see at least 6 or so. Unlike many auctions, the auctioneer never rushed and was quite clear. Everything was nicely displayed and visible right up until auction time as well as during the auction.

We managed to buy 6 lots, but most of the bidding was high, mostly from the phone.
One item was announced to not have an original signature but a facsimile. That was item # 4 which then went for $50.00.
photo not signed

It appears new collectors often come to the fore not knowing past history and want items at any cost. This was not the case on all items however.The figures I am sending are not official, but should, for the most part, be accurate. All prices will then include an additional buyers premium of 18% or 21% (?). One of the highest bids, by phone bidder #700, who often bid items they wanted non stop to the end, was for The Houdini Hall of Fame Handcuff Collection item # 42, estimated at $60,000 - $80,000 brought $28,000.00.

Houdini Handcuff Collection Display

The Castle Lock Collection also from the Houdini Hall of Fame estimated at $50,000 to $70,000 brought in $24,000.00,
not sure the bidder # as we were distracted a bit on this one. Listed as padlock collection, was a castle lock collection.

Houdini Lincoln Spirit Photos

The large Houdini poster, which may have been his last poster series was bought by #34 for $16,000

Houdini' Final Poster

There were several omissions in the catalog and more importantly on the internet listings. For instance #6 an Orpheum newspaper ad
which was issued as a 4 page ad, only had this first half which consisted of pages 1 and 2. One of the dangers of buying online.

Newpaper Insert Houdini

#2 Photograph signed by Bess and Houdini's last picture was a great item, but not a photograph but some kind of print signed by her.

Houdini Last picture signed by Bess

#7 the Lincoln photos, one had several tears in the image.

Houdini Lincoln Spirit Photos

They went for $1300.00 to phone bidder #700 who also bought 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, 18, 20,
24 (A very nice piece but we were uncomfortable with the signature),

Houdini Alhambra Program
and 28 Houdini Margery exposure for a high of $375.00 and in bad condition, so led us to believe this bidder was not David Copperfield),

Houdini Lincoln Spirit Photos

We have one we would make available at $200.

bidder 700 also bought 31 (a good buy based on other auctions), 42, 50, 51, and probably others.

# 1 went for what we felt was a very high $370.00 to phone bidder #935 as we believe
it was the more recent copy and not the original. It was never said to be original.

Houdini Press Booklet Man From The Beyond

The scrapbook #45 went to #935 on the phone for $3,200.00 This is the same scrapbook that went at Swanns several years ago in the range of $25,000.00. We were the next highest bidders being outbid by Pat Croce at Swanns. HOWEVER, at Swans as we recall, it was two scrapbooks covering many more years of Houdini's life, BUT filled with many original items including signed ones that were culled out from this lot, many of which were some of the other high priced lots at this auction. This was very clearly announced before bidding began. When we were the back bidders at Swanns, we had decided, at that time, even paying $25,000.00, we could resell many items and get our money back, or keep them, and still retain the historical clippings. The clippings admittedly were in bad shape. This is the nature of newsprint. At the right price it is nice history. I think there may be more pages somewhere from the book, but who knows! #935 also bought 13, 14, 21, and possibly others

We bought one of the 2 display presentations #40 which they clearly announced came with provenance that the handcuff and key in the display, came from the collection Henry Miller (sic) bought from Joseph Dunninger who acquired them from Beatrice Houdini after HoudiniÕs death. (According to the letter of provenance the collection was purchased by him in 1967 and displayed at Niagara Falls. It was then sold at the Sid Radner, Butterfield auction and was purchased by Pat Croce.

Houdini Handcuff Displays

If all works out as planned this display will be sent to Williamsport, PA for a Houdini display there at a museum. Houdini appeared in Williamsport early in his career with the Welch Brothers Circus.

The other display #39, although nice, went too high for us, since we felt the nail in the display, would not have been used in the Water Torture Cell, not the glass (possibly), and the paper on the items signed by Houdini looked too new. (Just our cautious opinion!) We would have bought it at a lower price, and we were one of back bidders till we dropped out. It went, I believe for $7,500.00. Not sure who. If we were too cautious about the items, it went for an OK price.

Houdini Handcuff Displays

We also bought good friend(?) Pat CullitonÕs Houdini books, that the announcer said Pat promised he would add the slip case to. We did not want to see it sold for a very low price, as would have been other wise. There was only one other bidder. One of the pages was dog eared. We also love his non dedicated inscription signed by him in the back to the effect ... Please remember everything in this book maybe a lie!

Pat Culliton Books

I bought the Jean Hugard #55 broadside "The Great Rifle Act" as a belated Valentine gift to Dorothy Dietrich since it mentions both the Bullet Catch and the Strait Jacket escape she is also famous for. Oddly the only back bidder this time, was from the floor and not online. It went for what I felt was a bit high, but it was beautifully mounted on linen and at any rate I wanted it as a special gift.
Hugard Bullet catch and Strait Jacket Escape