Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Early handwritten Houdini letter sells at auction

RR Auctions recently offered up several very nice Houdini lots. Chief among these were the two lots below. The auction listed these as two separate incomplete letters, but it's actually one complete letter. I think the confusion came from the fact that Houdini used his 1897 stationary for page 1 and his old 1896 stationary for pages 2 and 3. The combined lots add up to a whopping $37,528 (including Buyers Premium).


The letter is handwritten by Houdini who is pitching his act to a Mr. Hixon. If anyone has any information on Hixon, who may have been part of a firm called "Hixon & Wallen", I'd love to hear more. The content is phenomenal, probably the best early Houdini letter I've ever read. You might recall I shared a page from this letter in this post.

Congrats to the winner of this incredible early Houdini treasure.

Thanks to Don Creekmore for the image. You can see close up images of the letter on my Patreon.

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10 comments:

  1. How many more early HH letters on custom stationery like this one are still floating out there?

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    1. Oh boy, precious few. Off the top of my head I can only think of one other, and it's nowhere near as good as this.

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  2. Any chance someone could write out the content of both? Far to blurry to make anything out.

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    1. I have written up the contents of the letter for the Auction Action column in the next issue of Ye Olde Magic Mag, out at the end of February. I agree with John's opinion that the lots are part of the same letter. In addition to the usual pleasanteries, this is the main text:
      We were with Rogers Orpheum Stars on percentage & after working 7 weeks received only our board, laundry & stamp money out of our share & we were getting as we thought a good thing at first. So we are a little backward in accepting your offer unless you guarantee us a certain amount of money & our board every week. I will let you say the figures. Our work is far superior to Gimbal’s, and although I am his junior, I would willingly follow his act with any magic act. His second sight act is very good but not the best in the world. And that is what our cabinet act is, it is never seen its equal & if you want me to work hand cuff why I will do so—can easily run 60–75 minutes.
      If you can’t offer us a salary, let me know just what you will do for us, as I don’t want to join the show & leave you to hay, reframing etc. etc. as that it will eat up all the money. Hermann the Great stole the idea of our act from us & he featured it. You could easily bill us as strong as you want. I don’t drink, smoke, or chew and we are good useful people, dress fair and willing workers. If you can do any thing for us we would be more than pleased to hear from you as soon as possible as I am looking forward to book our act East. Hoping to hear from you at an early date.

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    2. Thank you for deciphering the text Marco!!! I also had trouble trying to read these letters. Handcuffs in 1897? This is incredible!

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    3. The handcuffs were actually around as early as 1895!

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    4. HH was escaping from his Bean Giants? The Challenge Handcuff Act was still down the road.

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    5. He was escaping from the Bean Giants, yeah. He also did police station challenges and at the end the year accepted public challenges. All 1895.

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    6. I thought the police and public challenges came after Beck.

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    7. Remember Beck (reportedly) sent a pair of handcuffs on stage to challenge him. HH was doing it all when Beck came across him. That was the problem. Beck (again, reportedly) asked him to pair it back to his two strengths -- handcuffs and Metamorphosis.

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