Harry Houdini - Kim Column

Items associates with well-known magician, Harry Houdini, and other magicians, will be sold Dec. 11 through Potter and Potter Auctions.

This Thanksgiving will be a memorable one for me as my daughter is coming home for the holiday weekend. I haven’t seen her since July, and she hasn’t been home for a year and a half since her move to South Carolina. Thankfully, pandemic restrictions have been lifted and life is slowly getting back to normal.

This issue of Collectors Journal is featuring a special Thanksgiving page (s) with special sales and events for the weekend. And Terry and Kim Kovel’s column about a Stickley desk struck close to home for me.

Several years ago at a thrift shop in Benton Harbor, Michigan, my daughter and I found a student-sized desk priced at $25. I’m not sure, but the store may have offered half-off pricing that day. Megan, my daughter, investigated and found that the desk was made by the Stickley Furniture Company. Looking on the back of the desk, I saw a stencil marking stamped, “Yale University.” Upon learning that, my mind was made up and we purchased the desk. Getting it back to our summer home in Michigan was somewhat challenging and required taking a lot of back roads with Megan lying in the back seat holding the desk that had been loaded into the trunk. At that time the car I drove was a Pontiac Grand Prix which wasn’t too roomy when transporting such a large piece. For about 15 miles, Megan held onto to the desk and we made it home with no problems. We still laugh about moving the desk, and she loves it. The desk has a light oak finish, but it’s not oak wood – I’m thinking it could be maple. She and I did some research on the desk and learned it was made for Yale University students sometime back in the 1940s or 1950s. Beyond that we don’t have too much information; but people with Stickley Furniture told us the desk was worth about $150, but that was several years ago –at least 15. The Stickley desk featured in the Kovels’ column this week is worth much more than ours, but we’re still happy about the unusual find. And there are several sets of initials carved into the desk – maybe someone famous did the carving. We’ll have to do more research and see what we can find out about that!

Meanwhile, this weekend offers a host of events, auctions and sales to help kick off the shopping season. So if an antique lover is on your list, look no further.

And here’s some e-mails I’ve received for additional upcoming auctions and sales:

An antique auction is planned for Saturday, December 4th by Woody Auction, live at the auction hall in Douglass, Kansas, and online via LiveAuctioneers.com, starting at 9:30 a.m. Central time. The sale will be highlighted by the Wilson collection out of Illinois that contains nearly 100 lots of Crown Milano, plus offerings from private collections that include brides’ baskets, Steuben, Quezal, Durand, Tiffany, Mettlach plaques and a sizable lamp collection — just over 400 lots in all. If you need additional information about this auction, you may call Jason Woody at 316-747-2694; or, you can email him at info@woodyauction.com.

Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce a 450-lot “Winter Magic” sale to be held on Saturday, December 11th starting at 10 a.m. CDT. This signature sale includes strong selections of posters, apparatus, and materials from marquee performers including Harry Houdini, Harry Kellar, Ricky Jay, and others.

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, with first come, first served. Bidding will take place through Potter & Potter’s website, at www.potterauctions.com. Phone and absentee bids are also welcome.

Auction #86, an Internet and gallery auction is slated for Saturday, December 18th by Mohawk Arms, online and live at the gallery in Bouckville, N.Y. Headlining the event is a White Star Line button worn by one of two barbers on board the Titanic (who survived the disaster) and a trove of items (letters, photos and ephemera) pertaining to the American naval officer, aviator and polar explorer Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd. Online bidding via LiveAuctioneers.com and Invaluable.com. If you need additional information about this auction, you may call Raymond Zyla at (315) 893-7888; or, you can email him at mohawk@militaryrelics.com.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, dining and visiting with family and friends. Check out this issue for all the pertinent information and of course, the outstanding articles devoted to antiques and vintage postcards. And please contact us with any antiques-related matters such as Auction Action results; unusual collections; Young collectors; club and convention news; mystery items and solves! We can be reached at editor@collectorsjournal.com; meego929@aol.com; or via telephone at (319) 472-4763.