Just think- you can own a piece of magical history-
something that was handled by the great Harry Houdini in his daily life!
This is a one-of-a-kind collectible, perfect for framing.
What a great gift!
About this envelope:
This is one of the envelopes found in Harry Houdini's personal desk.
The postmark is June 28, 1925.
The return address is Thomas Ollive Mabbott, 14 Fifth Ave, New York, NY.
Thomas Ollive Mabbott (1898-1968) was American scholar and professor, most known for being an expert on Edgar Allan Poe. At the time of the letter, he was a professor of English literature at Northwestern University in Illinois.
"Maelzel's Chess Player", an essay by Edgar Allan Poe, was about The Turk, a real chess-playing machine exhibited with great success in the US and Europe in the 1800s. Also known as the Mechanical Turk or Automaton Chess Player, this sensation looked like a life-size wooden man in a turban who would play chess against- and usually beat- any audience members. The figure was plainly solid wood, and the table and chair holding the figure were shown to be empty except for spinning gears and wheels.
How did it work? Was it truly a mechanical marvel, an early computer perhaps?
No- it was an elaborate hoax.
We won't be exposing the secret here, but Poe did just that!
Most likely this correspondence was in reference to that very essay.
See a larger version of the image here.
The story behind the Houdini Envelopes:
In the late 1980's, magician Peter Monticup (owner of MagicTricks.com), purchased Harry Houdini's ornate personal desk.
The desk had been in storage in Houdini's former NYC home from 1926 until it was sold in 1980.
Peter purchased the desk from this buyer, along with some other personal items from the Houdini home.
The desk had a number of secret compartments and hidden drawers.
Inside one of the drawers was a stack of envelopes from correspondence Houdini had received.
The envelopes were from all different sources- his lawyers, his fans, fellow magicians, etc.
He even wrote notes on some of the envelopes, either noting the importance of the contents, or just scribbling on them as scrap paper.
In researching each of the envelopes, we've found an important connection to an event or person in Houdini's life.
Of all the thousands upon thousands of letters he received each year, he saved each of these envelopes for a reason.
Houdini was a notorious "saver".
These envelopes were used as his personal Rolodex (address directory).