Magic History 101: Houdini's Desk and Bible

Posted by Peter Monticup on 5/10/2020 to Magic History 101


I have discovered many magical treasures in my travels, but probably none as exciting as finding these items that belonged to the great Harry Houdini.

Houdini's Desk
What an ornate piece!
Though it was relatively compact in size (compared to many of the grand desks of the day), it was certainly fancy.
The drawer pulls were bats, there were faces carved into the corners.
And there might have been a secret compartment or two!
Most exciting was finding a pile of envelopes tucked into some of the drawers.
Though most did not contain any letters, some did have scribblings in Houdini's hand.
The envelopes were probably kept by Houdini as a sort of Rolodex- an address file for correspondents that were important to him.
In the past few years, Jackie has researched a number of the envelopes.
By using the return address, doing some digging on who each correspondent was, and comparing the date of the letter to Houdini's life timeline, we can make an educated guess as to the probable contents of the letter.
And these envelopes are fascinating snapshots of the people who touched Houdini's life.
From angry spiritualists to expert locksmiths, from movie directors to politicians, from Jewish historians to art dealers, from magic shops to fellow magicians, each of these envelopes represents something and someone important to Houdini.
Click here to see some envelopes currently for sale in the shop


Houdini's Bible
Holding Houdini's family's holy book was quite an experience.
When I acquired it, the book was well worn, with some hand staining and lots of personal notes in Houdini's writing.
Since Houdini's father was a local rabbi in their community, this book was obviously an important possession to him.
See a photo of the inside front page of the bible here.
When I purchased the book, it was in a box of personal possessions, including fancy framed portraits of Houdini and Bess, as well as Houdini's personal (and inscribed to himself) copy of his book, Magician Among the Spirits.
What a find!
Yes, it was a difficult decision to sell the Bible, but buying and selling is what I love to do.
Besides, I had a few other investment opportunities on the horizon.
Have I told you about the time I bought the haunted automaton??

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Date 5/11/2020
Mr. G.
Very interesting!! Thanks for sharing!! Amazing how you have so many facts in your head for instant recall!!
Date 5/20/2020
David C Troutman
Been a fan of Houdini since seeing the movie with Tony Curtis. I was in 3rd grade (1967) checked out and read every book I could find from our school and public libraries, and continue to find new stuff. Can't afford to collect much but would love to see a picture of the desk if you have one! Great story and what a fortunate find!

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