Newly Discovered Houdini Scrapbook Headlines August 23rd Auction A scrapbook compiled by Harry Houdini was discovered in 2013 after going unseen for over 80 years. Now it is coming to auction in Chicago on August 23, 2014.
A scrapbook kept by master magician Harry Houdini – lost for over eight decades – was discovered by an antique dealer in California in 2013. Now this historic relic is going up for auction on August 23rd.
Compiled by Houdini in 1925 and 1926, the scrapbook is filled with his notes and clippings related to spiritualism and spirit mediums – individuals who claimed they could talk to the dead. Houdini devoted the last years of his life to investigating and debunking fraudulent mediums.
“Finds of this sort are once-in-a-lifetime occurrences,” said Gabe Fajuri, President of Potter & Potter Auctions, who will conduct the sale. “It’s stories like these that fuel the current trend of antique-themed TV shows and keep all collectors and dealers on the hunt for elusive, valuable finds.” In this case, the value is substantial. The scrapbook’s pre-auction estimate is $15,000 - $20,000.
The contents of the scrapbook show Houdini’s deep interest and study of spiritualism, as well as the seemingly endless amount of publicity he garnered by his association with it.
In Houdini’s most famous investigation of all, in 1925, he exposed the Boston medium Margery as a fraud. The scrapbook includes a considerable amount of material on the famous Margery case.
Other subjects touched on in the book include stories related to Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes (a devoted believer in spiritualism, and close friend of Houdini’s), Houdini’s own articles on the methods behind his magic and the tricks of fraudulent mediums, letters addressed to Houdini, and more. Houdini’s handwritten notes and signature appear in the margins of several pages.
The scrapbook is one of over 200 lots of vintage Houdini memorabilia featured in the auction.
Other sale highlights include a massive Lobby Board standing nearly nine feet tall, used to advertise Houdini’s performances at various theaters (Est. $25,000 - $35,000); the only sketches of the secret workings of an illusion in Houdini’s hand ever to come to auction (Est. $5,000 - $7,000); Houdini’s Double Fold Death Defying Water Mystery Escape device, a unique wooden crate from which Houdini would escape (Est. $20,000 - $25,000); “The Cologne Papers,” an archive of documents related to one of Houdini’s most important public appearances in Germany in 1902, and never before published (Est. $20,000 - $30,000); a plaster bust of Houdini sculpted at the beginning of his career, in 1902 and one of only two examples known (Est. $6,000 - $8,000); as well as a variety of Houdini signed books, Houdini-owned handcuffs, unpublished manuscripts, private correspondence, family photographs, costumes, and silent film memorabilia.
“We’ve offered wonderful ‘Houdiniana’ in our auctions before,” Fajuri added, “but this is the best selection we’ve ever had in one auction – and the most important collection of Houdini material to come to the market at one time in over a decade.”
The auction will conclude with a selection of choice magic memorabilia, including vintage posters, antiquarian books, ephemera, and apparatus.
Pre-auction exhibition, in the three days