In 1986, magician Peter Monticup (owner of MagicTricks.com) purchased Houdini's personal desk, still filled with envelopes from correspondence with fans, famous magicians and other personalities of the day.
The desk was used by Houdini in his library at his home in New York City. When Bess sold the house in 1927, the desk, along with dozens of boxes of memorabilia, went with the sale, and were stored for decades in the basement of the home. In 1980, an auction was held in New Jersey to sell the items. The desk was sold privately to a New York antiques dealer, who sold the desk to Peter a few years later.
Probably manufactured in America during the 1880's, this heavy wood desk is remarkably ornate. Decorated in the polished dark-stained manner popular during that era, the carved bats and figures really stand out.
The front of the desk is decorated with full carved figures of gods guarding the desk corners, ornate phoenix birds on the plaques, and huge lion feet. The back of the desk features carved doors that swing open to reveal sets of drawers with carved bats as drawer pulls.
There are also secret drawers, spaces, nooks and crannies that apparently came in handy when the desk was used during Houdini's séance demonstrations held at his home. Not only were the floors wired for sound, but furniture like this desk were "tricked out" to help Houdini produce the "spirit phenomena" for his gatherings.
Several years ago, the desk was again sold to another private collector, where it remains today. The envelopes which were found inside the desk, however, are available for purchase from MagicTricks.com.