Monday, July 2, 2018

Mystifier, Fourth Quarter 1993

Continuing my look back at the Mystifier, the newsletter of the Houdini Historical Center that ran from 1991-2003.

The Fourth Quarter 1993 Mystifier starts with an article  by Morris N. Young about "Houdini's Journeys into Code-Breaking." Who knew? Says Young:

Early in his career as a magician, Houdini discovered that the secret arts of magic extended into unsuspected fringe realms. When presented with a challenge to decipher a group of scrambled letters, he succeeded in doing so.

By relating his knowledge of cryptography to the performing arts, Houdini was able to fathom methods used in training animals to respond to questions, as well as the mysteries of second sight, mentalism, and alleged communication with the spirit world.

The issue continues with Houdini's own unedited draft of article he wrote for the March 1926 Aeronautic Review called "Flight and Magic." This was provided by collector Manny Weltman. One interesting tidbit is that Houdini says he regrets not leaving his plane in a museum in Australia "for it was the first successful plane to fly there." He also claims to have held the first insurance on an airplane.

An article by Library of Congress curator Joan F. Higbee Ph.D. describes the two major collections housed at the Washington institution; one willed by Houdini himself and the McManus-Young collections donated in 1956.

An update on the museum shop ("Business has been booming!") notes the arrival of a "Special limited edition" of the graphic novel Batman-Houdini: The Devil's Workshop. I'm not sure what made this edition special, but the article states it's a "a one-time printing."

Finally, Sid Radner in his "Backstage" column discusses the 1993 Official Houdini Seance, held that year in Cincinnati at the Union Central Insurance Company--the company that held Houdini's life insurance at the time of his death. The inner circle attendees were: Henry Muller, Moira Thomas, Tom Boldt, Dr. Morris Young, Dr. Bernard Dolenz, Dorothy Young, Ken Klosterman, Marie Blood, and Tom Rozoff. Sid notes that the seance this year received world-wide news coverage via CNN.

The newsletter concludes with Christmas poem reprinted from the Dec. 15, 1923 The Sphinx.

Volume 3, Number 4
Fourth Quarter, 1993
6 pages

Houdini's Journey into Code-Breaking
Flight and Magic
Magic at the Library of Congress
New Books at the Museum Shop
Backstage with Sid Radner



  1. I wish this was published in one book.

    1. It's a good idea. The Appleton museum should consider this. I assume they hold all the necessary copyrights.