Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Here comes that crazy Houdini guy

It's a slow Houdini news day, so I thought I'd share this little bit of inspiration I had today. 

I live near a fantastic year-round Halloween store called Halloween Town. On my walks I sometimes stop in and browse, and I've always loved that they carry the three Dover Houdini books: The Secrets of Houdini, Houdini on Magic, and Houdini's Paper Magic. They also have a Houdini postcard in their racks. You just never know where Houdini is going to appear!

Now, I have many editions of the Dover books and hardly need another. But I noticed that The Secrets of Houdini recently refreshed with a new spine featuring a thumbnail image of Houdini and a new black back. Still, I don't need it. But it occurred to me today that buying this in a Halloween store made it somewhat special. Their last copy was a little beat up and being sold at a discount, so why not? And I threw in the postcard for good measure.

Here's where the madness comes in. Because this was "as-is," the girl at the register stamped the receipt with a red "no refunds" stamp, which also displayed the name of the store. As soon as I left, it suddenly occurred to me that it would be great to have that stamp inside the book itself, forever showing that it was bought in a Halloween store. So I went back and asked if she could stamp it and she was happy to oblige. Hey, she works in a year-round Halloween store, I'm sure she's seen stranger things!

Anyway, here's how to turn something that really has no collectibility into something that kinda does. At least I think so. But I'm that crazy Houdini guy.

Have you ever done something like this? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. I noticed that the quality of the photographs in the Dover Secrets of Houdini reprints have gotten muddier. My Dover copy is a late 60s or early 70s printing I picked up at the Walt Disney World magic shop in 1976. The photos are crystal clear. My first

    1. I never noticed that, but you are right! Photos in my old '70s edition much better than this new one.

      That's also the case with the latest reprint of Christopher's Houdini A Pictorial Life. Real drop off in photo quality.

  2. Yes, that's also true! The quality of the photos in the Pictorial Life reprint took a nosedive. I passed on it at the bookstore years ago. I purchased a second copy of PL and it's also an original print. I don't want muddier reprints. The early 70s Dover copy of Secrets was my second Houdini book after the Gresham bio in paperback. The photos, drawings, and secrets revealed blew me away. Some of the secrets were incorrect and the Culliton books had yet to be written.

  3. Love this story! And yes, I have done things like this (of course!) I generally save receipts from very special books and keep them in the book as a bookmark permanently. (Getting a book stamped, if the opportunity presented it, is totally something I would do.) And "The Secrets of Houdini" was my very first Houdini book - purchased here in NYC at The Drama Book Shop decades ago (After all, Harry was nothing if not DRAMATIC!)