Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Ultra rare Houdini poster found at yard sale (update)

Over the Halloween weekend David Haversat of David Haversat Magic announced the incredible discovery of a rare Houdini 3-sheet by Russell-Morgan. Here's what David sent out via email blast.

In honor of Harry Houdini on this October 31st., I would like to announce the recent discovery of this three sheet Houdini lithograph!

In August I was contacted by friends Dorothy Dietrich & Dick Brooks, the premier Houdini Historians and proprietors of the long-standing Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Dick and Dorothy put me in touch with an antique dealer who made an amazing discovery of magic ephemera at a yard sale, this Houdini poster being one of the items!

I immediately made contact with the gentleman, and negotiated a deal to purchase this 3 sheet poster. 

The other known example of this image is in the collection of David Copperfield. 

This actual lithograph was used by two other performers besides Houdini. One of them being Houdini's Protege Leonard Hicks, and contained an overlay which covered Houdini's name.

Additional details on this discovery will follow. For now, on this Halloween, enjoy this image!
-David Haversat

It's just incredible that something like this can still be found at a yard sale!

David has a gift for discovering rare Houdini posters. Below are links to some of his other amazing finds.

UPDATE: It's worth noting that this poster is different from the poster in the David Copperfield collection. On the Copperfield poster the copy below Houdini's name reads, "The Original Jail Breaker". On this poster it says, "The World's Handcuff King & Prison Breaker". It's also interesting to note that both the Copperfield and Haversat posters differ from the poster that can be glimpsed in the 1906 Salem theater lobby photo. That poster is headed "Europes Eclipsing Sensation". These surviving posters read, "The World Famous".

UPDATE 2: David Haversat has now shared an image of how this poster looked when it first discovered at the yard sale. As you can see, Houdini's name had been pasted over, first by The Great Leonard and then Heller (Bruno Warnecke). When Houdini went to Europe in 1908 he licensed his act to the Western Burlesque Wheel and Leonard Hicks for $10,000 a year. Hicks later passed this poster to Heller who used it as his own. So this header is in itself a Houdini (or at least a Houdini-approved) poster. Very cool!


  1. It's amazing! Makes me wonder what's out there. I wonder what the price was and if the seller knew its value. About 30 years ago Mike Caveney picked up old illusion props from the Thurston show in a Wisconsin barn. The seller did not let the items go cheap.

  2. Check out my update. This poster is actually different from the Copperfield one.

    1. Wow--3 different versions. Is there a link to view Copperfield's poster? So the Salem Theatre version is still missing?

    2. Found photos of the Copperfield poster on Facebook in Conjuring History.

  3. Astounding find. I noticed when I saw it that it was different from the Copperfield poster, but for me, it's all about the great depiction of HH, and this is a better image of it than I've previously seen. Thanks for sharing, and thanks to Mr. Haversat.

  4. I sold the Houdini poster to Copperfield. It was found in a collection of magic ephemera in Sydney Australia. The descendants had it all packed away and never looked at it. they brought it all in to the auction house I was working at. They had never unrolled any of the posters. As you imagine, when we did unroll this we were astounded