Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NYPL shows us "America's Sensation" in color

Here is another amazing original Houdini poster from The New York Public Library's Digital Collections. While this is not an unknown poster like I shared yesterday, this is not one that you typically see reproduced in color. Gorgeous.


This poster was printed by the St. Paul's Printing Co. The NYPL dates it as 1900-1906, but according to collector Gale Molovinsky, who owns one of these rare sheets, Houdini commissioned it right after he arrived in London in 1900. This poster was part of selling the then only modestly successful Houdini to Europe as "America's Sensation," just as the "Europe's Eclipsing Sensation" posters were created to sell Houdini back to America. The size of this poster is another clue to how early it is. It's about the same size as the King of Cards poster. And the photo used to illustrate this image we now know was taken in July 1899 (see: Ebay auction dates first Houdini 'nude').

This could be the first real poster to advertise Houdini solely as an escape artist, which makes this an especially important piece of Houdini history. It also might be the only Houdini poster (or at least the only one that's currently known) to spell out his name as "Harry Handcuff Houdini." You also gotta love the red white and blue shorts. Eat your heart out, Rocky Balboa.

The NYPL did extensive restoration on this poster, which was found in a scrapbook. You can read the story of that restoration by Renée Wolcott and Grace Owen on the blog Refried Bean.

You can also purchase this poster as a high resolution digital image for publication, or as 8x10 or larger decorative print. Details can be found at the NYPL Digital Collections website.

Thanks again to Andrea Felder, Permissions & Reproduction Services NYPL, for allowing me to share this image here on WILD ABOUT HARRY.

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1 comment:

  1. There's no doubt Houdini was jail breaking by the time he commissioned this poster. As soon as he hit the provinces after his London debut, he began to bust out of their small town jail cells.

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