Monday, September 16, 2013

Greatest signed Houdini photo EVER

Let's kick off our new Hinson Endowment today with what I'm deeming to be the greatest signed Houdini photo EVER. Why do I say that? Well, for starters, Houdini has inscribed this beautiful cabinet photo (which is a rare image in itself) in German. That makes this one of the very few examples of his use of the family language. He's also signed it with his real name, Ehrich. Again, only a handful of Ehrich (Weiss) signatures exist.

But what really makes this special and a major piece of Houdiniana is the fact that Houdini has inscribed this photo to his mother. Apart from the famous "Dear Ma" postcard of his youth, this is the only piece of writing from Houdini to his mother that I've ever seen. Boom.

So what does this greatest EVER inscription say exactly? That's not entirely clear, even to our benefactor, John Hinson. So I turned to a German friend, Helmut Schierer from Nuremberg, who gave me his take. Says Helmut:

It's a bit strange, sounds like somebody not having used his German for some time and not being overly concerned about orthography. It's a mix of German and English and makes a - slight - mistake, mixing dative and accusative as Berliners are prone to. It says:

'My Daer Mama, well here I am. Give me (here he used the wrong grammatical case) a kiss your Ehrich.'

Thanks to Helmut for the translation and, of course, to John C. Hinson for allowing me to share this rare family treasure. We're off to great start!


  1. Wow. Talk about a priceless photo! Wonderful.

  2. Wunderbar !!
    Thank you so much for the share and your ongoing efforts.

  3. A great photo John! Yeah--could be the greatest inscribed Houdini photo ever.

  4. Nice piece of work (writing and photo).

  5. Wow, this is great stuff! I'm so glad you were able to share this incredibly rare and special photo.

    As for Houdini's German, Google tells me that the right way to say it is "gib mir einen Kuss". I wonder what Mrs. Weiss made of her son's garbled German? Did it annoy her, or did she think it was cute, perhaps? Or maybe she didn't even notice? Hmm...

  6. John Hinson great nephew of bess and harry HoudiniSeptember 17, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    Does any one knows whst na da means?

  7. With grammar corrected, it would go something like this:
    "Meine liebe Mama,
    Na da bin ich.
    Gib mir einen Kuss.
    Dein Ehrich."

    Word for word, that's something like:
    My dear Mama,
    Well, there I am.
    Give me a kiss.
    Your Ehrich.

    Pretty much what Helmut said.

    Great pic! It's such fun to see buried treasures of Houdiniana!

  8. @John Hinson, "Na" is a filler word sort of like "Well..." or "So...". "Da" is "there" so "Da bin ich" is "there am I".

  9. Congratulations, John... both of you! Cox for the land and Hinson for finding a great way of sharing with everyone his history.

    I met John Hinson many years ago at NEMCA when we were displaying and he was a wonderful man to talk to, very justifiably proud of his illustrious ancestry. I'm certain I speak for many when I say "thank you" for pulling the curtain back on more Houdini history!

    Dave Dorsett
    Douglas~Wayne Illusioneering