Friday, February 8, 2013

The Hat of Robert Heller

A short time ago I had been contacted by an auction house who had acquired a top hat said to belong to a once famous magician. They contacted me because of my many articles about this magician on my blog. The hat belonged to Robert Heller.

It had remained in his family all these many years, but for whatever reason the family felt it was time for the hat to have a new home. I will tell you, the hat sold for more than I expected, but having said that in my honest opinion the hat is priceless. There are precious few artifacts from Heller's life that remain and this item, though not part of his performing act, is still a wonderful piece.

Heller deserves a much more prominent place in the minds of magicians, but today is mostly forgotten. I have tried as best I could to get the word out about him. In fact, I will continue to write stories and articles about Heller in the future.

I don't know who won the hat, but I hope you cherish it for the rare piece of history that it is.

For those who missed my previous articles, please check out this link to the many stories I wrote about William Henry Palmer, known professionally as Robert Heller.


  1. I love the Heller stuff - interesting character he was.

    Just sorry this story didn't end with you somehow getting his hat!

    1. Thanks. Actually, more than one person thought the hat should go to me. I gave them an estimated value of the hat that I thought it would sell for. My price was far below what the auction price was. I spent hours researching past auction prices to try and give an educated guess as to what it could sell for. If the auction had gone unsold, I would have given them an offer above my price, but it sold. I'm happy the family got what they wanted and the hat has a new home. Hopefully it's in the possession of a magic collector who will care for it. It surely would have been the crown jewel in my tiny collection, but at least I have a photo of it.

  2. And I do have more Heller stories in the works, so that's good news!

  3. Dear Dean:

    I too became fascinated by Heller back in '59 when I spied his likeness on the cover of one of Mike Kanter's great catalogs. (Yet another fellow who deserves some serious high-lighting.)

    To solve once-and-for-all the wrong that is his fame-lack, he deserves A BIG BOOK telling all that is known, (and, perhaps, even more?), and also containing more information regarding his piano prowess.

    I understand that he was of virtuoso caliber of pianistically. With which pedagogues did he study? Do we know?

    Also, he seems to have been a contemporary of composer L.M. Gottschalk's. Have you ever run across that most famous name in connection with maitre Heller? (Perhaps it might be said with some validity, that Heller was 'The Gottschalk of Magic'?)

    GREAT site!! Just now found it. (As many others have not been but should have and should-still, postmortem only, YOU should be bronzed for having created it. Hopefully, we shall never live to see such a deserved tribute but rather, perish ourselves while reading away here, blissfully unawares of the approach of that bony, clutching Hand as dispatched by the Fates. As to all of these things and more - "We shall see . . .")

    1. James,
      Thank you for the kind words. I agree, Heller deserves a BIG BOOK, but I don't yet know if those details exist to make such. I continue to search and perhaps one day will have collected enough to pay Heller the tribute he most richly deserves.

  4. Here is a bit of interesting Heller history.