Thursday, December 15, 2016

Water Torture Cell poster at auction, February 4

Potter & Potter's "The Golden Age of Magic Posters, Part II" auction is set for February 4th, 2017. The just released catalog includes several Houdini posters. The most significant of these is a 1912 poster for his Water Torture Cell. This is one of only three know examples. Auction estimate is $50,000/80,000.

I can't help but correct this listing in one regard. It describes Houdini as being 5'2". According to a 1926 physical, Houdini stood 5'5.276". Why do people keep trying to shrink him?

Also at auction is a King of Cards poster, a playbill for Houdini's Grand Magical Revue, two Hardeen posters, a poster for Brindamour (described in the catalog as "Houdini’s most successful competitor"), and a nice poster depicting Nicola in several Houdini-like escapes.

All the posters in this auction came from the collection of Norm Nielsen. Norm also owned what I believe is the only surviving poster for Houdini's Overboard Box escape. Word is that poster was sold privately.

The Golden Age of Magic Posters, Part II catalog can be downloaded as a free PDF or purchased in hardcover from the Potter & Potter Auctions website.

UPDATEHoudini Water Torture Cell poster makes history at Potter & Potter auction.



  1. What did his death certificate say as far as his height? Did it corroborate him at 5'5"? (I think it did). I would think this would be the most accurate measurement since Houdini wouldn't have had a hand in any height embellishment therein.

    1. Death certificate says 5'4".

      I put a lot of stock in the 1926 report because if you click into the story you'll see it was done by a doctor at the Smithsonian whose whole purpose was to take and document precise measurements, etc. He might have been a touch nutty, but good for us that one of his subjects was Houdini.

  2. I will have my hand in that auction, but not for the King of Cards too many of those around. Going for the WTC baby!

    1. Good luck! I'd kinda dig having that HH as magician "Novelty" poster.

  3. I had a glimpse "behind the scenes" at Potter and Potter last week and saw many of the posters to be auctioned in Feb. Magnificent items!

  4. Hey, Anonymous people (or person), it would be great if you signed your name or just came up with a nickname so I have some sense of who you are, a regular or a newbie, and whether I'm talking to one person. Not necessary, but it helps me out and I think it's more sociable. :)



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