Connecticut Post (Sunday)

Magical trove of ephemera hits auction block


Conjurers, cheats, hustlers, hoaxsters, pranksters, jokesters, posturers, pretenders, sideshow showmen, armless calligraph­ers, mechanical marvels and popular entertainm­ents.

Those were the things that interested the grizzled Ricky Jay, the sleight-of-hand artist, card shark, author, actor and scholar extraordin­aire on all of the above who died in 2018 at age 72. When he passed, he left behind a vast trove of rare books, posters, broadsides and other artifacts that honored many who came before him.

Now, nearly 2,000 of more than 10,000 pieces that stuffed his Beverly Hills house will make their way into the hands of those who care to bid during an unusual upcoming Sotheby’s auction after Jay’s widow, Emmy-winning producer Chrisann Verges, turned them over.

Selby Kiffer, Sotheby’s internatio­nal senior specialist for books and manuscript­s, was one of two experts from the auction house to visit Verges at home in California and select what they wanted for the Ricky Jay Collection.

“It’s really a collection of collection­s,” Kiffer said ahead of the two-day live auction starting Wednesday. “The challenge was to find an institutio­n that was interested not only in magic but also in circus, not only in books but also in posters and apparatus, and all of the elements of popular entertainm­ent.”

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