Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Master Mystery posters

Houdini's first motion picture serial, The Master Mystery, was released to theaters in 1918-19 with a spectacular collection of a beautiful full color posters. Legend has it that a cache of these posters were discovered in the walls of 278 in the 1980s where they had probably been used as insulation. Because of this amazing find, examples of these posters have survived while so many other Houdini posters have been lost.

Now wholesaler Popcorn Posters is offering reproductions of what appear to be the full set of Master Mystery posters. I've rearranged the images from their "Magic" catalog to give us a look at the entire collection in the order each episode was released. The only poster missing is Episode 15. Could it be there was never a poster made for this final chapter? In its place I've inserted a projector slide advert. Enjoy.

Click to enlarge.

Thanks to Joe Notaro of Harry Houdini Circumstantial Evidence for this find.

8 comments:

  1. Wasn't there a harsh winter where Houdini and Bess had to throw window shades into the fireplace to stay warm because of a coal shortage? Is it possible that was the winter where the posters were stuffed into the walls to help insulate the house?

    Having worked for two decades on and off as a movie theater projectionist, I can tell you that the posters used for display were eventually tossed out into the trash. Employees and collectors did take them but that amounted to a small percentage.

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    1. Yes, I do recall some mention of this. Could have been the time these were placed in the walls. If the story of this discovery is true. I don't remember exactly when or who I heard t from. Anyone else our there hear this story or know the details?

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  2. Great posters! I'd like to see them full size.

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    1. Me too. Not sure I've ever seen one in the flesh. In the 1980s I was offered my pic of several. But at the "crazy" price of between $1000 to 2,500 a piece! Don't even ask me what those would be worth today.

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  3. The Houdini Museum in nyc also has many of these reproductions for sale (don't know if they have the whole set)...on their website they seem to just have one http://www.houdinimuseumny.com/shop/master-mystery-poster/ but when I was there, I bought three different ones (http://abraidoffrostandfelt.tumblr.com/post/74117871763/pleasure-overload-goodies-acquired-at-the) and, at least purchasing them in person, they include nice clear flexi-plastic frames that have a means to mount them on the wall, as is....nice bonus. So, if anyone is in nyc and wants to pick some up I highly recommend stopping by Fantasma/The Houdini Museum of New York :)

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    1. Thanks Colleen. Some day I gotta get that place!

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    2. Yes, you really do. John! It may be small, but it is fantastic. Both my visits were very enjoyable.

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  4. I believe the story of the coal shortage in a bad winter is in the Kalush book. Unfortunately that is packed away right now and I can't confirm it.

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