Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Thurston's strangely familiar window card

When Houdini launched his "3 Shows in One" in 1925, Howard Thurston was touring with the 19th season of his own full evening magic spectacular. Houdini was certainly looking to emulate Thurston's success, and eventually hired away one of Thurston's assistants to help buck up the magic portion of his show. But it wasn't just Houdini who did some borrowing.

Below is a window card for Thurston's 23rd tour in late 1928. Look familiar? It's strikingly similar to Houdini's now well-known 1926 window card featuring Halloween imagery. There's even an owl perched over the first letter of his name. I've not dove too deeply into this, but it appears this artwork was unique to Thurston's 1928-29 tour.

For comparison, here is Houdini's window card.

So was this a delibrate effort by Thurston to evoke Houdini's show? Could this just be coincidence? Or maybe these elements are part of a basic template used by printers of the time? It's hard to say for sure, but the similarities here are unmistakable.

Reproductions of the Thurston card are available from the Museum Outlets website.


  1. Did not know HH hired one of Thurston's assistants for his 3 in 1. Is that in Gresham, or Christopher? I wonder if he was one of those guys we see in the Hoboken building photo in the workshop.

    1. It's in a letter and I'm not sure who he was. It's a bit of an untold story that I'd like to nail down.

    2. Thank you! I'd love to read more if you do nail it. That Thurston window card is definitely a copy of HH's card. Poster art copying by magicians had been around already by the mid 1920s. If it was a printer template we should be seeing more window cards like that from other magicians.