The first thing that struck me was Hardeen starts off his letters with, "My dear brother Ehrich." Dash using Houdini's real name was eye-opening in itself. Then in a letter dated December 28, 1913, I found this intriguing nugget:
A fellow by the name of Bedwin came to me a week a go and wanted to sell me the U.S.D. trick for $250. I went to see it and this fellow must have gone to see you at every performance as he has the thing built just like yours, BUT he cannot do it upside down, he only has his hands stuck out of the top, but the trick looks great. He has worked around New York a week or so, but is a bad show man and can not get any work. I offered him a hundred dollars for the trick, but he refused to take it.Now what do you think about it, I was going to buy it just to take it off his hands, but will wait until I hear from you.
There was no follow-up in the file and I'm not able to find any mention of a magician named Bedwin performing in New York at this time. Maybe someone else wants to run with this? I do wonder what happened to his Torture Cell?
Want more? You can read Dash's full 2-page letter, which includes some interesting personal details, as a "Scholar" member of my Patreon by clicking below.