Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Is this really Houdini?

Christiana Auction Gallery is currently listing this "Vintage Harry Houdini Tintype" for sale on July 21. But is this really Houdini? While the subject does bare a strong resemblance, this photo appears to be from an earlier time period, the clothes don't look right, nor does the pose. And if this is a young Houdini, his hair doesn't look quite right. I also just don't feel him here. If I had to take a stand, I'd say this isn't Harry. But what do you think?

Click to enlarge.

Below is a tintype of Houdini from 1891 which gives an idea of what to expect from an early Houdini portrait. This comes from Doug Henning's Houdini His Legend and His Magic. Even though he looks less like the familiar image of Houdini than the above, there's no mistaking him here.


CAG's "Houdini tintype" currently has 3 bids. The auction house is also offering the "Sweetheart Mine" love letter that I posted about in 2015 and recently sold on eBay for $1,875. That listing can be viewed HERE.

Thanks to Harry Houdini (real name) for the alert.

15 comments:

  1. That's not Harry. One of the most irrefutable methods of distinguishing a person is by their eyes, and there is a big difference between those of the man in the top photo and the one of Houdini. The man's hairstyle is similar to how Harry's was in the teens, though the style of clothes points to about 1900 or earlier. The mouth is different, too, with thinner lips. Also, it appears that the man's coat is unbuttoned due to a slight paunch, something that Houdini wouldn't have had a problem with, at least at that time.

    -Meredith

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent points, Meredith. The eyes. I hadn't thought about that, but that could be why I don't "feel" him here. And you articulated hair issue very well. That's Houdini's later hairstyle.

      I also feel like the person here isn't that comfortable in front of the camera. Houdini always looks very comfortable having his picture taken, even as a 3-year-old!

      Delete
  2. I agree with Meredith regarding the eyes. If you zoom in on the photo, it's clear to see it's not him.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm trying to figure out what that object is beside him?

    ReplyDelete
  4. John Hinson great nephew Bess and Harry HoudiniJuly 19, 2016 at 11:27 AM

    His appearance is not sticking like Houdini.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Agreed not HH. I had seen something similar on eBay a few months back.
    Cabinet photo I think it was. It was being sold as possibly HH from what I can recall.
    Paging Kevin.... :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kevin has already chimed in on his Facebook group. He says: "I'm going wit no."

      Delete
  6. NOT HH, you should let the seller know.
    BTW It seems the Houdini market has cooled off a bit to me, what do you say??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wouldn't know how to contact the seller. Sent email to auction house asking how they determined this was HH. Didn't hear back. Up to buyers to beware.

      Delete
  7. Negative--this is not Harry. This man has soft, wimpy shoulders. HH had a powerhouse, athletic body that commanded attention, even in photographs.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's the eyes for me, too, but for a different reason. In virtually every photo of HH I can think of, he's looking right down into the camera lens. Not this guy; he doesn't even seem to want to have his picture taken, which is something I think we would never say about Harry.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sold for $200. If this was Harry, would have sold for far more.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I wonder if the mark knows that this isn't Harry. $200 is a lot of money for a vintage photo of an unknown individual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Watch it turn out to be the only known portrait of Billy the Kid or something. Worth a million dollars. :p

      Delete
  11. That photo could be worth a lot of money, but $200 is a steep price for a lottery ticket.

    ReplyDelete

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