1890 satyr head automaton to star in magic sale

A stunning satyr head automaton built by Parisian maker E Voisin circa 1890 will auction next month at Potter & Potter in Chicago.


Is this your card?


The striking-looking prop was used in card tricks - the audience member’s chosen cards popping out the top of its head.

It’s mouth can open to reveal an item purloined by the magician earlier in the show. And if that’s not enough, it can also smoke a cigarette.

It wasn’t cheap to make back in the 1800s and it’s certainly not cheap now. Only a handful were ever produced.

This example is valued at $15,000-20,000 ahead of the April 8 sale. 

There's also a jewelled necklace belonging to Harry Houdini’s wife, Bess. It carries an estimate of $30,000-40,000.

It’s believed that Bess (1876-1943) was given the necklace by Tsar Nicholas II, while touring Russia with her husband in 1903.

The Tsar gave this necklace to Bess Houdini in 1903

The Tsar gave this necklace to Bess Houdini in 1903 


Houdini’s arrival in the country was marked with huge fanfare.

Crowds turned out in their thousands to watch him perform.

Houdini’s powers so impressed Tsar Nicholas (who was of a mystical bent) that he asked the magician to become his new spiritual advisor; replacing bonkers French quack Monsieur Philippe, who claimed to have a hat that made people invisible.

Houdini politely turned down his request.

A couple of years later the Tsar would fall under the spell of the mad monk, Grigori Rasputin.

Bess later gave the necklace to a friend, Geraldine Larsen. Together they had founded the Magigals, the world’s first female magic association, in 1939.

The necklace became the model for the group’s Houdini Award, which was given to the best performer of the year.

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