|Gale Molovinsky and his
rare Houdini poster
This means along with King of Cards and the two posters for The Houdinis, this is one of Houdini's earliest posters, and possibly the first showing him as an escape artist. That makes it even more special. A clue to its early age is that it's the same size as those other early sheets. Of course, once Houdini hit it big, so did his posters. But we'll get to that a little later.
While we're on the subject of the America's Sensation poster, conservationist Renée Wolcott tells me she has now finished the restoration on the copy recently discovered inside a decaying SAM scrapbook in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of the NYPL Library for the Performing Arts. Congratulations Renée!
On another front, in the original article I featured a photo of a theater display in Salem Massachusetts and speculated that the poster on the far right could be an alternate version of the more well-known Prison Cell and Barrel Mystery poster. Turns out that's exactly what it is. Confirmation was hiding in plain sight on page 24 of Houdini Art and Magic. There you can see a larger picture of the display and can clearly read on the poster: "The World's Handcuff King in the Prison and Barrel Transportation."
Dean Carnegie (Magic Detective) also alerts me to Houdini's use of enormous 24-sheet posters, none of which apparently survive today. But you can see one of Houdini's large street posters (though smaller than a 24-sheet) in Christopher's Houdini A Pictorial Life on page 22. You can also spot the still mysterious "peering through the jail cell bars" poster on the far left this shot.
|An example of one of Houdini's larger posters - also note jail cell poster on left
A portion of this large poster appears in Ken Silverman's Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss. However, the missing section seen here appears to depict a bridge jump. As with the lost and found Overboard Box poster, we again see a poster showing an outside stunt. Makes one hopeful that there could be one for the suspended straitjacket escape. The mind boggles at what kind of image Houdini's talented poster artists would have created for that.
Finally, here is another drool-worthy Hardeen poster, found on the back of his pitchbook, The Life and History of Hardeen (from my own collection). Oh to see this one in color.
Hardeen poster impressive even in black and white
Thanks to all the generous collectors and friends who have come forward to share their images and information.
UPDATE: NYPL shows us "America's Sensation" in color.