Friday, May 8, 2015

Houdini poster pulls a vanishing act

Recently this Houdini poster appeared on eBay with a starting price of just $15. The seller said it was found in a flea market. It seems too good to be true, but it appears this could be a worse for wear "1902" Amsterdam jail break poster which, ironically, I just did a post about HERE. Below is the poster and description:

Up for sale is this neat Houdini Prison Poster with print date Date Jan. 1902. This is being sold as a reprint, and found at a flea market. Looks great. Great for any collector of vintage pieces. Never seen one of these before! The item is in very poor condition (see pictures) and has dimensions of approximately 10" X 15". It is fragile. No returns accepted. DO not bid if you do not really want it.

The auction ended early with the explanation: "This listing was ended by the seller because the item is no longer available." This sometimes means the seller accepted an outside offer. So the mystery remains: was this an original Houdini poster? If so, perhaps we will see it reappear with the restorationists at Poster Mountain. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Below are comments from magician Chuck Romano who makes an good case for this being a fake:

The Ebay poster dimensions are odd. Also notice the missing area to the right of the seal above Houdini's shoulder. I bet the words "From Reno Collection" appeared there. The Ebay poster conveniently has that area missing. 
A 10x15 reproduction could easily have been made from a printed image of the original Amsterdam poster. Look at page 69 of The Original Houdini Scrapbook by Gibson. It's even in sepia. That image says "From Reno Collection."

In 1990 a similar Houdini Amsterdam poster (1902) sold for $8,250 at the Neil. The size of that poster is approx. 20" x 30". In Europe the English Double Crown litho size was used. It measured 20" x 30". This would make sense since the Amsterdam poster was printed overseas.

I would bet the Ebay poster in question is definitely a fake.

Related posts:

6 comments:

  1. It doesn't look like the folks at Poster Mountain have much to work with.

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    1. They are pretty amazing. I bet they could work with this.

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  2. The listed measurements are either wrong or it is a different copy of the other known versions of this rare poster. Or it is a reproduction. Our original is still available at a slightly higher price.
    Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz
    The Houdini Museum
    The Only Building in the World Dedicated to Houdini

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    1. I was wondering about that. What are the measurements of your poster? Maybe there were different sizes, but I don't think that was typical of Houdini posters. This one could indeed be a reproduction, but who made reproductions and from what source? This is becoming even more mysterious.

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  3. The Ebay poster dimensions are odd. Also notice the missing area to the right of the seal above Houdini's shoulder. I bet the words "From Reno Collection" appeared there. The Ebay poster conveniently has that area missing.

    A 10x15 reproduction could easily have been made from a printed image of the original Amsterdam poster. Look at page 69 of the Original Houdini Scrapbook by Gibson. It's even in sepia. That image says "From Reno Collection."

    In 1990 a similar Houdini Amsterdam poster (1902) sold for $8,250 at the Neil See auction. The size of that poster is approx. 20" x 30". In Europe the English Double Crown litho size was used. It measured 20" x 30". This would make sense since the Amsterdam poster was printed overseas.

    I would bet the Ebay poster in question is definitely a fake.

    By the way, Bob Lund's American Museum of Magic has a copy of the Amsterdam poster that features less text, more muted colors.

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    Replies
    1. Nice detective work, Chuck. Thanks. Yep, I'm thinking this is a fake of some kind. Maybe that's why it was removed from eBay. That strategic damage to the area that has the Reno credit is a total tell. Shame on me for forgetting about the image in Gibson!

      Check out my earlier link. I have an image there of the more muted version.

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