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Lot 118: Del Ray (Delbert Raymond Petrosky). Butch the Bear. Circa 1965. One of several incarnations of this faux automaton bear used by Del Ray in his famous stage act. Throughout the magicianÍs performance, he regularly produced glasses of wine from thin

The Magic Collection of David Baldwin

by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

29 October 2016

Chicago, IL, USA

Live Auction
Sold
  • Del Ray (Delbert Raymond Petrosky). Butch the Bear. Circa 1965. One of several incarnations of this faux automaton bear used by Del Ray in his famous stage act. Throughout the magicianÍs performance, he regularly produced glasses of wine from thin
  • Del Ray (Delbert Raymond Petrosky). Butch the Bear. Circa 1965. One of several incarnations of this faux automaton bear used by Del Ray in his famous stage act. Throughout the magicianÍs performance, he regularly produced glasses of wine from thin
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Description: Del Ray (Delbert Raymond Petrosky). Butch the Bear. Circa 1965. One of several incarnations of this faux automaton bear used by Del Ray in his famous stage act. Throughout the magicianÍs performance, he regularly produced glasses of wine from thin air, and after raising the glasses toward the bear, who rested on stage alongside him, the bear _ seemingly operating independently and only in reaction to the magician _ raised a bottle held in one paw to a cup held in the other, pouring real wine into the cup, then raising it to his lips and drinking a toast along with his owner. Each time Del produced a glass and proposed a toast, Butch responded in kind. The mechanical bear, originally manufactured by the famous automaton makers in Paris, Roullet-Decamps, sits on a tall table hand made for him and outfitted with a flash bulb, running lights around its rim, and a number of electronic controls at the rear and in the base. During Del RayÍs act, the table moved about the stage and the flash bulb would be fired off to accent his act, as well. Battery-operated. Table 37 _î high. With a custom ATA carrying case to hold the table, detailed operating instructions, circuitry diagram, analysis of components and construction, and a fitted case to hold the bear. Mechanics refurbished by John Gaughan. Not tested. A pioneer in the use of electronics in magic shows, Del Ray (born in Pennsylvania and orphaned at an early age) was also a master entertainer, and arguably one of the most charming and engaging personalities in his field. A magician visiting the orphanage where he grew up introduced him to the art, and as a young man, Del worked as an assistant to Harry Blackstone, Sr. Striking out on his own, he soon secured bookings on the Ed Sullivan Show, and at virtually every top night club and hotel in the United States. Developing a unique stage act that incorporated Butch the Bear alongside an unforgettable rendition of the classic Rising Cards and other miracles, Del Ray could only be outdone in the field of conjuring by himself _ at the close-up table. An adept practitioner of sleight-of-hand, he was at his most charming and engaging when demonstrating the tricks of crooked gamblers, introducing audiences to his friend Willie the Mouse, and stacking dice one on top of the other in a straight-sided leather cup. The combination of amazing stage act and peerless close-up work kept Del Ray constantly performing. It also earned him his billing _ one he would use in a career that spanned some four decades _ that seemed apt no matter the audience: ñAmericaÍs Foremost.î

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