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Lot 0071
Important Houdini spiritualism scrapbook. Being a large scrapbook kept and used by Houdini in his last years, during an era in which his crusades against fraudulent spirit mediums were at their zenith. The contents include hundreds upon hundreds of clippings from American, British, and foreign newspapers and magazines, and discuss the exploits of famous and infamous spiritualists, including the famous Boston medium Margery. In addition to the clippings, a scattering of handbills and ephemeral printed matter (including two TLSs to Houdini, one with his marginal notes) related to spiritualism or specific spiritualist meetings or séances, and several feature-length clippings discussing various aspects of Houdini’s life and career. Dozens if not hundreds of Houdini’s handwritten notations fill the margins or serve to date and identify the clippings, even though many of the articles were clearly supplied by a clipping service. In specific instances, he comments about the articles in the margins (“Proves Munn is [indecipherable] & against me! [signed] Houdini” “This is minister who lied about Margery” “End of the Los A[ngeles] affair started by C. Sloan,” and more). On one page, Houdini writes the phrase “Methods of gaining information” twice, a possible allusion to a chapter in A Magician Among the Spirits regarding the methods used by fraudulent mediums to obtain apparently secret information from their sitters. Several clippings in the book are not related to spiritualism specifically, but are related to magic and allied subjects, including Floyd Thayer, trick photography, Eugene Dennis, crystal gazing, fortune telling and rival magician Howard Thurston. One clipping is inscribed and signed by the famous psychic researcher Harry Price. This heretofore unknown scrapbook was discovered in 2013 in California. A typed label on the leather cover reads “Important Scrapbook/Miscellaneous Clippings”. The contents fill 125 folio-size pages nearly to overflowing. Some clippings with ragged edges or old tears, a few pages now loose from metal three-ring binding, but contents in very good condition overall. Several larger pieces laid in at rear. Leather covers fragile but intact, original leather backstrip possibly lacking.

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Houdini's large and Important spiritualism scrapbook.

Estimate $15,000 - $20,000Aug 23, 2014
Chicago, IL, USA