Saturday, May 29, 2021

278 mystery fragment

Our friends at Houdini's 278 have discovered this mysterious fragment in the basement of the house. Similar fragments were also found in the floors between the basement and kitchen. It's very thick, so it's unclear if this is a poster fragment or from some sort of prop. But it's a fun little mystery, so I thought I'd share. If you have any guesses or recognize this pattern, sound off in the comments!

Below are links to more 278 finds.


  1. At first, I thought it might be old linoleum, but given the presence of what appears to be remains of a color image, plus that white bar, I would think it's something else (linoleum, if it had graphics, would be some kind of repeating pattern). It does sort of look like it could have been a poster, put over or even affixed to wood. Paper, of course, was at one time stuffed behind walls during repairs as fillers, insulation, etc., so this could be some kind of paper used to cover a section of floor that was maybe being repaired or covered with something else. Maybe it was even used to prevent bugs from coming up from the basement through the spaces between planks in the floor (this is NYC, so that's not too far-fetched). And it is even possible it could have been a poster (maybe advertising one of those OTHER magicians!) or just some kind of printed advertisement, but it must've been more substantial than newsprint. This is all wild (about Harry!) speculation, of course, but not inconceivable. I don't know if Harry would've just used a prop for construction or patch purposes, though; it would more likely be given away or discarded if it had outlived its usefulness, I would imagine. Yes, interesting little mystery!

  2. A poster was my first thought. And if it was a Houdini poster, it's not impossible we'd recognize it from just this fragment. But I don't recognize it. Houdini did have a gigantic Harry Kellar poster that's now in the David Copperfield collection that is missing some pieces, so I considered that. But then I realized 278 was stuffed to the gills with books and posters and all kinds of paper, so this could be from anything really. As far as a prop or piece of furniture, that's possible. The green and orange colors are actually a pretty good match the fragments of paint I saw on the wagon wheel that was down in the basement.

    It's a mystery! But a fun one. Just one of the perks of owning Houdini's house! :)

  3. Given the thickness and texture, the line on the bottom, and the small-ish shield design, I think it's part of the border of a 20s/30s linoleum (or similar) "rug":

    Be easier to tell by handling, or with more photos.

    1. This seems to make good sense. Thanks.

    2. Cameron, that's very interesting. I never heard of a linoleum rug. Looking at the pic again, I do see a couple faint diamonds in that white bar near the bottom, suggesting that it's part of a repeating pattern. That could apply to any image, of course, but your explanation seems logical. It would be cool to see if there are similar elements in the other fragments.

  4. Looks like a piece of old linoleum or Congoleum to me. I pulled enough of this up out old houses when I was a kid that I'd know the layered look anywhere.