Some of the interesting items in the Monticup collection
I have been collecting magic memoriabilia since the age of seven, when Prof. Henry Bessette the local magician gave me an antique Change Bag and started my career in magic.
Currently, my magic collection includes more than 11,000 items, ranging from playbills and posters to photos and letters and even to magic props and personal items used by the great magic performers of the past.
Of course, this includes items related to Harry Houdini.
I pulled out a few interesting items to show you here.
If you'd like to see close up photos of them, just click on the links below.
Hope you enjoy them!
Houdini spent a great deal of time and energy exposing "spirit mediums", people who promoted themselves as being able to speak with the dead. After trying desperately to connect to his deceased mother through such mediums, Houdini realized that their claims were fraudulent- and very painful to the gullible public who paid money to these spiritualists. Enraged, he set about publicly exposing their frauds, especially through public demonstrations explaining exactly how these mediums were producing the so-called "spirit manifestations". His biggest target was the psychic who was most successful- and raking in the most money- Mina Crandon aka MARGERY. Though he was vicious and relentless in his campaign against her, she nonetheless remained popular and successful, outliving Houdini by 15 years.
CLICK HERE to read more about Margery.
WORLD FAMOUS HOUDINI BOOKLET and the inside of the booklet
This was a booklet promoting Houdini's short story in an upcoming issue of WEIRD TALES magazine.
CLICK HERE to read more about Houdini the fantasy story writer!
Look at the left margin to see Houdini's autograph
Bank slip from a deposit made in March 1926, the year of Houdini's death
Ever the publicity hound, especially early in his career, Houdini would issue a "challenge" directed at police departments local to where he was appearing onstage. Houdini offered to get out of any handcuffs brought to him. Of course, he was always successful.
LETTER FROM DISTRICT ATTORNEY REGARDING FAKE MEDIUMS
Houdini was always after information that would help him expose fraudulent mediums. This letter contains information about an invetsigation in Cleveland.
HOUDINI'S ADVENTUROUS LIFE
This booklet from 1922 was sold by Houdini at his shows. It is 64 pages of photos and reprinted news stories about his many escapes.
THE HOUDINI MESSAGES BOOKLET
Years before Houdini died, he and his wife Bess devised a secret message that only the two of them knew. The idea was that when one of them died, this was the message that the deceased partner would convey to the survivor- to prove that there really was life after death. Houdini died in October 1926, and a grief stricken Bess soon fell under the influence of the psychic Rev. Arthur Ford. He conducted a seance with Bess in February 1928, which supposedly conveyed a message from Houdini's mother. Somehow, he then persuaded Bess to tell him the secret message she devised with Houdini. Ford then conducted a second seance in November 1928. At that sitting, Ford purported to get a message from Houdini. The message was: "ROSABELLE - ANSWER - TELL - PRAY, ANSWER - LOOK - TELL - ANSWER, ANSWER - TELL." A nonsense string of words to most people, this was actually a code that was used by Houdini and Bess in their vaudeville days, when they did a mindreading act. Bess would be blindfolded, and Houdini would walk through the audience, holding random items belonging to audience members. Bess would then tell the audience what Houdini was holding. This was accomplished by what Houdini said to her; he would use certain words which related to letters of the alphabet. For example, the word "answer" was the letter "B", the word "tell" was the letter "E", the words "pray, answer" together were the letter "L", etc. If Houdini was holding a bell, for example, he would say, "Roseabelle" (which told Bess the code was to begin) "I hold an object in my hand. ANSWER me, can you TELL me what I am holding, PRAY ANSWER my question...(etc.) So the so-called message Ford received from Houdini spelled the word B-E-L-I-E-V-E, the secret message agreed upon by the Houdinis. Pretty clever! But unfortunately, since Bess gave the message to Ford before the seance, it certainly wasn't a message from Houdini. Nevertheless, Ford capitalized on this, and sold this booklet for a number of years.