Cloth skullcap with a human hair plait, which belonged to American magician William Ellsworth Robinson aka Chung Ling Soo - $8500 (£6800) at Potter & Potter.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

A Chinese embroidered coat worn by him, to be offered for sale by Van Ham in Cologne on May 27, featured in last week’s issue.

Across the Atlantic another distinctive Chung Ling Soo stage prop surfaced in the Potter & Potter (20% buyer’s premium) May 2 magic auction where it achieved one of the highest prices.

The Chicago auction house was offering one of Robinson’s hairpieces: a flesh-coloured cloth skullcap to which is attached a human hair plait measuring almost a yard in length, dating from c.1915.

Robinson met a tragic end when his bullet-catching trick misfired onstage. This wig was acquired by the performer Eric Mason (The Great Masoni) at a sale of Robinson’s/Soo’s personal property in 1920.

It was then obtained from Mason by the Irish magician Billy McComb, then given by McComb to John Fisher. Offered at Potter & Potter with an estimate of $3000-6000, it ended up selling for $8500 (£6800).

Houdini notebook

The auction also included a selection of items relating to the famous escapologist Harry Houdini. Among these was a signed notebook from c.1908 written in two different hands, featuring notes, diagrams and descriptions of magic tricks which trebled expectations at $7500 (£6000).

The signed salary receipt to Houdini for the week ending April 10, 1920, when Houdini worked at the Empire Cardiff, and the postcard sent by him to a hotel proprietor in Odessa (both previewed in ATG No 2439) sold for $2000 (£1600) and $3400 (£2720) respectively.