Auction lots we'd love to own: October 2017



2017-10-05 14:27:11

Houdini's handcuffs, sinister dolls and the scrapbooks of a Star Wars princess. Here are just a few of our favorite auction lots going under the hammer this month.

Jimi Hendrix's chat-up note

(Image: Hanson

Hanson's Auctioneers, October 24

Estimate: £3,000 (approx $4,000)

Not only was Jimi Hendrix the greatest guitar player to ever strap on a Stratocaster, but like many rock stars before and since, he was also a notorious ladies' man.

There's no doubt that more than a few women have anecdotes about the night Hendrix chatted them up – but in Anthea Connell's case, she got it in writing.

Back in March 1967, Connell's then-boyfriend was supporting Hendrix at the Boston Gliderdrome with his band Sons & Lovers.

As she watched the sound check before the show, she was spotted by Hendrix from the stage, and he immediately leapt down to talk to her.

"I think it was because, at the time, I was the only girl in the ballroom," says Connell. "He started talking to me and I was so shocked I can’t even remember what we said.

"I’d love to tell you that we had a deep and meaningful conversation. I must have mumbled something but have no recollection of it. I was totally awestruck. Jimi Hendrix was a complete icon."

Hendrix then grabbed a packet of guitar strings and wrote Connell a note, which suggested his intentions went a little further.

"To Anthea. Love and kisses to you forever. I wish I could really talk to you. Stay sweet. Jimi Hendrix".

Hendrix underlined the word "really" – implying that, given the chance, he certainly have liked to get to know her better.

Fifty years on, Connell still has the note, and has consigned it to a sale of music memorabilia at Hanson's Auctioneers in the U.K.

As autographs go, they don't come much better than a chat-up line from Jimi Hendrix, and this one is estimated to fetch around $4,000.

Carrie Fisher's Star Wars scrap books

(Image: Profiles in History)

Profiles in History, October 7-9

Estimates: $2,000 - $3,000 each

Many Star Wars fans love collecting memorabilia, but they're not alone: some of the stars did as well.

These three scrapbooks were created by Princess Leia herself, the late, great Carrie Fisher, during production on Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

They capture Fisher's personal experience of filming, and the whirlwind of international publicity that followed.

They include behind-the-scenes photographs, press clippings, production materials, comic books, fan letters and artwork, all carefully collected in large folders.

During the filming of Star Wars, Fisher also kept a diary which she later adapted into her successful memoir The Princess Diarist.

In the book she described the film as a "cool little off-the-radar movie directed by a bearded guy from Modesto. A thing like that wasn’t going to make people want to play with a doll of you, was it?"

She was wrong, and as the scrapbook shows, just a few years later she was appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Fisher later wrote "Movies were meant to stay on the screen, flat and large and colorful, gathering you up into their sweep of story, carrying you rollicking along to the end, then releasing you back into your unchanged life.

"But this movie (Star Wars) misbehaved. It leaked out of the theater, poured off the screen, affected a lot of people so deeply that they required endless talismans and artifacts to stay connected to it."

You could say Fisher herself was one of those people, and the scrapbooks are packed with her own personal artifacts, connecting her to a film which changed her life forever.

Woodbridge Pit figures

(Image: Rago Auctions)

Rago Auctions, October 22

Estimate: $3,000 - $4,000

Ever heard the mystery of the Woodbridge Pit figures?

In the 1960s, workmen in Woodbridge, New Jersey discovered an abandoned shack whilst clearing the site of a former clay mine.

Inside they found over 100 carved wooden figures, all without arms, but anatomically correct in every other way. They each had unique hand-painted faces, and cork stoppers in their heads, but their purpose was a complete mystery.

Local legends suggested the site had a strange history, and had been the home to a family of outcasts descended from Hessian mercenaries who fought during the Revolutionary War.

Older residents remembered a mysterious church-like building up on the hill, unconnected to any particular religion, at which people had witnessed miraculous healings.

The questions over who made the figures and why remain unanswered to this day, but they have become renowned as fascinating – and slightly spooky – examples of American outsider folk art.

Most of the figures are now owned by private collectors, some of whom insist they contain magical properties.

This pair of previously unknown figures was recently rediscovered in a home near Woodbridge, and will cross the block at Rago Auctions on October 22.

If you like your folk art with a little added mystery, this could be the sale for you.

Keith Haring NY subway work

(Image: Julien

Julien's Auctions, October 19

Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000

Today you can find Keith Haring's work everywhere – from museums in Paris to the Google home page.

But like his close friends Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf, he first found inspiration in late 1970s New York, using the streets and subways as his canvas.

Although he was arrested many times for vandalism, his bold visual style and positive message caught the eyes of commuters and art collectors alike.

He had his first official exhibition in 1981, and went on to create more than 50 major public artworks in dozens of cities around the world.

Haring once stated: "I could earn more money if I just painted a few things and jacked up the price. My shop is an extension of what I was doing in the subway stations, breaking down the barriers between high and low art."

Haring's artwork reflected the vibrancy of New York street culture throughout the 1980s, but also confronted important social issues such as AIDS awareness, and the crack cocaine epidemic.

He passed away in 1990 from AIDS-related complications at the age of just 31, but his legacy remains stronger than ever and he continues to influence artists around the world.

This untitled work, created circa 1983, is the perfect example of Haring's work painted onto a New York City subway sign from the Christopher Street station in the West Village.

It's a true piece of New York art history in every sense, capturing the spontaneity of the city's graffiti artists and the iconic nature of Haring's stick figures, which have become a visual language in their own right.

As a tribute to both Haring and the city which inspired him, this work will be offered as part of the Street, Contemporary & Celebrity Art Sale at Julien's Auctions, with an estimate of $10,000 - $15,000.

Houdini's impossible handcuffs

Potter & Potter, October 28

Estimate: $10,000 - $12,000

Harry Houdini began his magic career in 1891, performing card tricks in circus sideshows, but it wasn't until he ditched the cards in favour of a pair of handcuffs that he found success.

Having changed his act to escapology, Houdini became widely known as 'The Handcuff King' and toured Europe for several years before returning to the U.S as a star in 1904.

His international success brought with it a great many imitators, and Houdini became renowned for fiercely protecting his act.

Not only would he sue anyone who stole his ideas, but he also set out to discredit his fellow escape artists by humiliating them on stage.

To this end Houdini created several sets of 'Handcuff King Breakers' – sets of modified cuffs which could not be opened, even with the key.

He would attend the shows of other performers, often in disguise, and then challenge them to escape from the cuffs, which he knew would be impossible.

However, by 1908 the market was flooded with handcuff acts, and Houdini turned his attentions to escaping from increasingly bizarre and dangerous contraptions.

This set of 'King Breaker Cuffs' is based on a pair of Lilly Irons, which were used to restrain prisoners in the 19th century.

Only two sets of original 'King Breaker' handcuffs have ever been sold publically, and this set is the only example Houdini ever used in the form of Lilly Irons.

This rare and important piece of magic history is expected to sell for $10,000 - $12,000 when it goies under the hammer at Potter & Potter on October 28.

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