Monday, December 31, 2007

Houdini book conjured for Amazon's new Kindle

The first Houdini book made for download to Amazon’s new Kindle electronic reader device is Houdini on the Secrets of Magic.

But don’t get too excited. This isn’t a new book, just good old Miracle Mongers and Their Methods repackaged for a digital age.

Still, being on the cusp of technology...Houdini would love it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Death expert" Bill Bass to examine Houdini's corpse

If the controversial plans to exhume Houdini's body come to fruition, one of the men on the case will be Bill Bass, one of the top "death experts" in the United States. Bass spoke to Wired about his involvement in the Houdini case.

Wired: For the moment, you have another goal -- digging up Harry Houdini. What's the status of that case?
Bass: There are descendants, and they have agreed to the exhumation to settle some of these theories that are out there.
I'm a member of the committee that is supposed to exhume him, once they get all of the legal things taken care of.
A book suggests that instead of dying from a ruptured appendix, he was poisoned. The committee consists of toxicologists, dentists and anthropologists. The toxicologists will take samples to see if there are any chemicals that shouldn't be there.
I'm the one that's supposed to make the positive identification. When he was living, he apparently fractured one of his ankles. Along with other data, we want to make sure there's a healed fracture to the ankle.
Wired: Is there a question about whether the body is really his?
Bass: I don’t think so, but you want to make sure that the person is the person you're supposed to have dug up. You want to make sure that if you're looking for Houdini, that it is Houdini. You don’t want to do all that and then a year from now hear from someone who says they dug up the wrong body.

Houdini's grave in Queens, NY

UPDATE: The Houdini exhumation is back in the news.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rare Water Torture Cell presentation piece up for auction

A unique Houdini Water Torture Cell related item has gone up for auction via eBay Live Auctions. Rather than me trying to explain, I’ll let the auction description speak for itself. I think this is something very special.

1912 Harry Houdini "Water Torture Cell" Presentation Piece from Circus Busch Containing the Original Concept Art for the Performance's Famous Poster

Offered is the unique Chinese Water Torture Cell Presentation. A solid brass testimonial given to Houdini to commemorate the escape's first public performance. ... The first public performance of the Water Torture Cell was at Circus Busch in Berlin, Germany, on September 21, 1912. The Busch owners, grateful for being selected as the venue for this impressive stunt's debu presented this very heavy, solid brass frame as a testimonial (measuring 11-1/4"-wide by 13-1/4"-tall by 1" in thickness). The front is beautifully engraved, complete with an oval door that displays the circus' name and the performance date in raised letters on its facing, and when opened reveals the original artist's water color concept that was used in preparation of the finished form seen on Houdini's famous 1912 poster for this act. The obverse has been inscribed with the year "1912" above and the words "UPSIDE DOWN IN THE WATER TORTURE CELL" below a large oval window of heavy glass. The glass protects what initially appears to be a plain black and white lithograph of Houdini, both entering the cell and being fully immersed in that same device, while a Teutonic giant secures the lid. This image morphs into full color when the brass handle-fitted divider insert is raised, creating an illusion of its own! (This wooden divider's brass handle section is engraved with the performer's name, as well.)

UPDATE: SOLD for $37,500.

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