Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Homeowner discovers Houdini posters in her walls!

Here's an exciting one! A woman in Warwick, Rhode Island has discovered several original Houdini posters in the walls of her home during a bathroom remodel. The Houdini posters along with an assortment of other theatrical posters appear to have been used as insulation. Some were cut to form fit the wall spaces, but many survived complete. The house dates to 1925 and all the Houdini posters are all from his appearance at the Providence Opera House in Fall 1926.


The posters are window card size and are of two styles. One shows Houdini coming to Providence the week of September 20, but this actually didn't happen. Houdini remained in Boston for a third week and his Providence engagement was delayed until the week of October 4, which is what we see on the second style card. (This is a key historical detail that, IMO, confirms these as 100% authentic.)

As wild as this find seems, it has happened before. In 2006 a similar discovery was made in the walls of a home in Chicago and featured on the show The History Detectives. A window card similar to these sold at auction in 2019 for $2,200.

The lucky homeowner is weighing her options as to what to do with these, but she is open to private sales. If interested, she can be contacted HERE.

10 comments:

  1. I remember this same story happening over thirty years ago in Wisconsin. My friend Don Hinz got two of these he said came from a home that used them as insulation. He offered me one of them for for an amount I could not afford at the time. I think I still have a letter from him with the photos. Seems very strange.

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  2. Pretty amazing. I never realized that people use paper as installation in old buildings until I saw workers pull newspapers out of the bathroom walls during a renovation about 5 years ago. They unearthed ancient newspapers but no Houdini posters. (But there are other walls!) Thanks for sharing this.

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  3. I would advise people to tear out all their walls immediately! :p

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  4. Tom Rozoff over at the Magic Collectors Corner group has shown me a catalog listing from around 1982 in which these same two cards (Sept 20 date) are offered and it says they were discovered in the walls of house in Wisconsin. $150 each, btw.

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  5. Hello everyone,
    I am the Chicago man who identified and owns the posters that were found in a 1920's style bungalow when they were redoing the roof and adding a dormer. Myself and the posters were the topic of a History Detectives segment on the find. The Houdini posters were used as insulation in the rafters of the roof and hundreds were found but all but two were saved and salvageable. The posters are from Houdini's last performance in Chicago at The Shubert Princess Theatre, from March 8th 1926. Houdini played 2 months in Chicago just 6 months before he died. The Posters are in excellent shape.
    Lee Levin

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Lee. It's a great story and a beautiful poster. So there were more than one? The impression I got from History Detectives was there was just the one. Congrats on that find!

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    2. I only brought one with me to New York where we taped the 20 minute segment. Both posters were presented that year at the Collectors Weekend in Chicago where I lectured on the incredible find. At the time no one had seen this particular poster except I recognized the images from a Barnside that Jay Marshall owned, printed in the same colors. After the lecture the 2nd poster was sold to a private collector for almost $9,000 dollars. Again both images were in pretty remarkable condition and looked great especially after they had been acid washed. You can see the poster on line with Kenneth Silverman, myself and Lance Burton on the History Detectives.

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  6. I'm jumping for joy as I managed to buy two of these and they arrived yesterday. I'm not really a collector. But I have always dreamed of having a genuine piece of Houdini advertising, especially one with the “Halloween” imagery. So I went all in for a nice yellow one. But I also got a white one that is in pieces. Maybe a restoration project for another day. The homeowner, Heather, was wonderful to deal with, fair on price, and the best packing job I've ever seen!

    My plan is to do some restoration on the yellow poster and get it framed. I'll share images when I do. It will become the showpiece of WAH headquarters! :)

    I know Heather has sold some others, but I believe she still has some complete ones and some fragmented ones. It's been an adventure!

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    1. Congratulations! Mike Caveney is a pro on the subject of poster restoration. He might be able to guide you.

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    2. I know Mike is a fan of Poster Mountain here in the valley. My plan is to bring it to them. Check out their work on a Blackstone poster HERE.

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