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Normally, per my somewhat loose auction reporting policy, I wouldn't post about this until after the auction had ended. However, these rarities have created quite a stir among collectors and just their appearance has been news. Also, in this case, I think I can help correct the auction listing.
You'll notice that on this card Houdini has written: "A new Chinese magician is expected over here soon." The seller, who is a non-magic antiquarian dealer, speculates that Houdini could be talking about Chung Ling Soo, and includes this in the auction heading and description. It would certainly add interest and value to this item as Soo is the most famous "Chinese" magician of them all.
However, this was written in December 1900, and William Robinson had already established himself as "Chung Ling Soo" earlier that year. In fact, Houdini and Soo shared the bill at the Alhambra in July of 1900. So this is not a reference to Chung Ling Soo.
It's also unlikely this is Ching Ling Foo, a genuine Chinese conjurer who was responsible for making "Oriental magic" all the rage at this time. Foo actually returned to China in 1900 and would not reappear in the UK until 1904, at which time Houdini helped arrange a showdown between Foo and Soo -- which is one of the wildest stories in magic. (If you haven't read Jim Steinmeyer's brilliant Chung Ling Soo biography, The Glorious Deception, it's a must.)
So who this "new Chinese magician" might be is a mystery to me, although I admit I haven't tried very hard to suss it out. If you have any ideas, drop a comment below. And let's all enjoy watching this last beauty sell.
UPDATE: Final sale price was $2,150 with 20 bids.