Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Houdinis 1902 Christmas card rings in $3,120

The Houdinis 1902 Christmas card--the earliest card that I'm aware of--sold today in Potter and Potter's "Winter Magic Auction" auction for a jolly $3,120 (including buyers premium). It's a beautiful and uncommon card with a terrific photo of the young Harry and Bess. It handily beat the auction estimate of $800 - $1,200.

Notice that Bess is wearing her famous Royal Crown Brooch in this photo. This pretty much closes the door on the idea that she received this as a gift from Russian royalty as the Houdinis sent out this card four months before they ever traveled to Russia.

The auction also included a few very nice Houdini movie related lots. One was comprised of a letter on Houdini Picture Corporation stationary and a terrific unpublished photo from The Man From Beyond from the Milbourne Christopher collection. It sold for $2,280. The other was a letter and stock certificate framed with a photo of Houdini and Bess with director Scott Sidney at Inceville in Los Angeles in 1915. It took $3,840.

But the big ticket Houdini item was a locked book that Remigius Weiss used to expose the medium Henry Slade in 1882. Weiss later presented the book to Houdini who wrote about it in A Magician Among the Spirits. The auction lot included letters of provenance from Oscar Teale and Jack Flosso, whose father acquired the book from Joe Dunninger. The Houdini-Slade-Weiss Locked Book unlocked $12,000 (including premium).

Congrats to the buyers.



  1. Replies
    1. This card is reproduced in The Original Houdini Scrapbook, but the quality is poor and I never spotted the brooch (or it just didn't register). But it sure jumps out here. So at the moment, this is the earliest image of it that I'm aware.

  2. Is it me or does HH seem to falling in price?? Not the Xmas pc but everything else seems lower. Signed pc for 1800 framed, nice...
    I did like the picture of the the two billboards the brothers playing at the same time ?? That was interesting

    1. Even a huge wave has to reach the point break. The prices could also be dropping cuz the amount of desirable Houdini items has dropped considerably. Collectors have already snatched up the main body of HH ephemera.

      Looking at that Man From Beyond photo of Harry in a loincloth, it seems he enjoyed bread and butter custard a bit too much.

    2. It's certainly not dropping on the stuff I want!

      Yeah, that gut Harry. Think I would I have nixed this pic from the batch. ;)

    3. The price drops are not dramatic, if indeed they have dropped.

      Harry redeemed himself later on at the Shelton Pool where he had dropped down to Handcuff King weight and showed off his washboard abs:

  3. I made the pic of the Xmas card smaller here, but in the full size you can see Bess has what looks like several rings or some sort of jewelry across the fingers of her left hand. There even appears to be a handcuff key worked into them.

    1. Nice catch! Did Bess actually claim the brooch was a gift from the Czar? Was she quoted as saying that?