Friday, February 18, 2011

Harry Houdini, card cheat

Here's an end of the week magic treat from the mighty Arthur Moses Collection. This beautiful cabinet photo shows Houdini playing poker with an unidentified man. But look closely and you can see Houdini is using a Keplinger Holdout to feed himself the Ace of Spades.

You can see another photo of Houdini in his Holdout (with jacket off showing the full rig) in Patrick Culliton's Houdini The Key.

Thank you, Arthur!


  1. Thanks for the explanation. I was wondering who Keplinger was and why he was holding out.

    Good pic - thanks for sharing.

  2. I don't have my magic books with me, but wasn't there a time in the late 1890s when Houdini presented himself in the media as an expert on card cheats? I seem to remember seeing newspaper articles about that. Maybe this dates from that period.

  3. Yes, there are clippings in the Henning book which talk about Houdini giving demonstrations at police stations of card cheating methods, etc.

    This is a beautiful pic, isn't it? I couldn't say it was "unpublished" because it does appear in Silverman's Notes to Houdini!!! But the reproduction in that book is nowhere near as good as the image here.

    Lots more coming from Arthur, btw. :)

  4. This photo is great! I'd say this photo dates from about 1906-10. He doesn't look young enough for it be pre-1905, but he doesn't look as old as he would post-1911, plus his clothing (and the other man's clothing) looks about right for that time-frame. Maybe this photo had something to do with Houdini's 1906 book, "The Right Way to do Wrong"? I dunno, how far off am I? :p

    And the Keplinger Hold-Out: what a cool trick! Thanks for the link.

  5. Hey, it never occurred to me, but you could be right on there, Beth. This pic could have been done for The Right Way to do Wrong or the promotion of it (maybe in his Conjurers mag). And I think your dating is probably spot on. Good work!

  6. Good points. Holdouts are mentioned in chapter 16 of "The Right Way to Do Wrong."

  7. Great Houdiini picutures. Thanks for sharing.