Tuesday, December 13, 2011

David Copperfield has a big one

Poster, that is!

Our buddy Dean Carnegie (Magic Detective) has alerted me to this video of David Copperfield giving a tour of his famous warehouse and magic collection in Las Vegas. In this installment (which promises to be the first of several) Copperfield shows off mostly artifacts from his own career, but at 2:43 he shows us an original Houdini straitjacket poster/lithograph which he says is "the only known version of this image."

While this poster is familiar (click to see the whole thing), the real revelation here is just how GIGANTIC it is! For some reason, I always imagined this as being a smaller sheet, even though 100 Years of Magic Posters does say it's 76.5 x 110 in (194 x 279 cm). The size certainly adds drama to what is already a pretty dramatic image. Can you imagine traveling down the street and seeing a dozen of these lining the block? Wild.

One thing I've always wondered; is this supposed to be Houdini in the jacket, or some unfortunate inmate in an asylum -- one of "the murderous insane"? In a way it works as both, which is quite clever and provocative. Just shows how Houdini's posters really were dramatic works of art in their own way. This poster was made for Houdini by the Strobridge Lithographic Co. of Cincinnati in 1912.

Come to think of it, there is actually a second, probably earlier version of this same poster with different text and a different face that can be glimpsed in part on page 20 of The Original Houdini Scrapbook by Walter B. Gibson.

Check out the full video of "David Copperfield's Magic Tour" below. You might also want to click over to Dean's site and read his very interesting post on how Houdini Outdoes David Copperfield, What?!

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the YouTube video has been removed as it was not sanctioned by Copperfield. I actually thought it was put out by Copperfield as it looked so professional. My apologies to DC. But I'm still in awe of his big one.


  1. David Copperfield has a big one! LOL that is freaking hilarious. I wish I had thought of that, lol!!!!!

  2. I will bet you that Houdini had most of his posters made in this billboard size as well as smaller sizes. Only precious few survive. I'm still waiting for the revelation of the Walking Thru a Brick Wall or Vanishing Elephant Poster. PLEASE someone come forward with it!!!!!! (if it exists that is)

  3. It's my favorite headline ever. Hope it Googles well. Maybe it will draw David Copperfield himself to my site. He will certainly click a headline like this. :)

  4. Agree. An Elephant Vanish or Brick Wall poster would be amazing!

  5. I love that poster - stole it from somewhere and had been using it as my desktop. Now I won't be able to look at it without thinking about David Copperfield ...

  6. Surely that's by Strobridge Litho, not Stonebridge.

  7. Oops! Correct. Thanks, David. Fixed. :)

  8. You know, I wonder what ever happened to the records of the Strobridge Lithographic Co.? Certainly those could help us discover Houdini posters we don't know about, not to mention other magicians. I'd also love to know who did the artwork on these.

  9. Hi John-
    Mike Caveney might have the answers you're looking for about the records of the Stobridge Litho Company.

  10. Cool. Thanks, Leo. Next time I see him at the Castle I'll ask about this.

  11. Ah, the vid has been pulled. But what has been seen cannot be unseen.

    That goes for the big one too.


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