Theo Bamberg (Okito) cabinet makes $10,000 in Chicago

A checker cabinet made by Theo Bamberg (aka Okito) proved the top lot of a sale of magic memorabilia on February 7, realising $10,000.

It achieved an increase of 11.1% on a $9,000 estimate at Potter & Potter in Chicago.

Okito checker cabinet
Bamberg founded a magic shop in New York during the early 1900s

Bamberg built the piece in his New York shop, which he opened after retiring as a touring magician in 1909 (he was one of the biggest stars of his era).

It dates to around 1947 and allows the magician to replace a stack of checkers with a vase filled with rice.

Illusions designed by Bamberg are highly sought after among collectors. The present lot is among the finest known specimens.

A round-top vanishing birdcage built by Jon Martin in 1944 was another highlight, selling for $3,000.

The lot is used in a famous illusion, which sees a bird disappear into thin air. In the past, a live bird would have been used but as the mechanics of the trick are pretty lethal, fake birds are usually used today.

In addition to illusions, the collection included a number of important books on magic alongside posters and other ephemera.

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