Envelope found in Houdini's desk - from a famous aviator and showman
Just think- you can own a piece of magical history- something that was handled by the great Harry Houdini himself! This is a one-of-a-kind collectible, perfect for framing. What a great gift!
See a larger version of the image. Please note that the picture of the airplane ad is for your information only- it is not included with the envelope.
In the late 1980's, magician Peter Monticup (owner of MagicTricks.com), purchased Harry Houdini's ornate 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 a number of 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. Houdini was a notorious "saver", so it is no surprise that he kept these envelopes. The letters 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 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.
This is one of the envelopes found in the desk. It is postmarked September 2, 1920 from Brooklyn, NY. The return address is from Harry E. Tudor, 369 Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. The street address has been crossed out and corrected by typewriter as 35 Hawthorne St.
Harry E. Tudor was a colorful personality in both the aviation and the show business worlds. As a show promoter, he was the manager of Frank C. Bostock's Bostock Jungle, a wild animal show that gained its greatest fame by staging a number of legal wedding ceremonies inside a steel cage, with human brides and grooms attended by wedding parties made up of lions and tigers. From about 1908 until 1912, Tudor travelled extensively in the U.S. and in Europe with the show. When Frank Bostock died suddenly in 1912, Tudor moved into the amusement business, selling rides and devices for J.W. Zarro Co. This experience led to his next position as manager of the famous Rockaway Playland Amusement Park on Long Island, NY, then called the L.A. Thompson Amusement Park. (L.A. Thompson was the inventor of the modern roller coaster).
It was his connection with aviation, however, that is probably the reason for his correspondence with Houdini. By 1918, Tudor was a well-known aviation expert, and enthusiastic supporter of experimental flights. The end of WWI left a surplus of airplanes, and Tudor's ideas for using those planes were widely quoted in the aviation magazines. He believed that the commercial airline industry could greatly benefit by the experience and experimentation of "average people" who became amateur pilots. From 1918 into the early 1920's, Tudor was a salesman for the Aircraft Department of the Maryland Steel Corp. He placed advertisements like the one shown above in the leading aviation magazines, selling planes like the Bellanca Two-Seater, "The Aeroplane for the Average Man".
The correspondence in this envelope could have been a sales pitch to Houdini the Pilot- or it could have been part of an ongoing correspondence between the two, perhaps hinting at Houdini's plans for another flight.
You provide the frame if desired.
This is a standard size envelope (about 3.5" x 6"). It's old, it's been through the mail, it's yellowed. Houdini tore it across the top (probably with a dull letter opener) to remove the contents. This envelope is in "AS FOUND" condition.
DISCLAIMER: Though these envelopes are absolutely original and absolutely came from Houdini's desk, we cannot be totally sure of the contents of the correspondence that was sent in the envelope, because the envelopes in the desk were all empty. What you read in the description above is our BEST GUESS about the contents of any correspondence, based on our research and our own conclusions.
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