I’m sure Houdini never thought that when he donated part of his collection that it would be dispersed in a flea market type setting, but that’s where this photo wound up. Let’s start from the beginning. Houdini’s book collection was donated to the Library of Congress. The library sent people to retrieve the books. That is where the problem began. The people who came for the books only chose about 2,000 pieces. Why they left the rest of the books and ephemera collection behind, I don’t know. The bulk of the items they took back to Washington would lie in trunks for another 70 years after Houdini’s death. As a matter of fact, they didn’t even know they had the trunks until Ken Silverman discovered them while doing research for his book “Houdni: The Career Of Ehrich Weiss”.
The New York Public Library was another recipient of one of Houdini’s collections; this is where the photo above comes in. As you can see the second photo is signed by Houdini. Houdini’s name is underlined in red with “Harry” added in red. On the upper right hand corner the word “dup” is written. The photo has also been rubber stamped twice with ” THEATER COLL. PHOTO FILE A” in blank ink and “DUPl. NYPL” in red ink. Finally, the best marking, on the back of the photo, is on the lower right hand corner where someone wrote “1.00″, as in $1.00; this is what the library sold the signed Houdini photo for.
From what I can see, it is very possible that as many as five different people either stamped this photo or wrote some kind of information on the back of about the photo. The photo was then put in a box with other Houdini photos, also for $1.00, at the yearly Lincoln Center sale. Lincoln Center would sell duplicates and other items that someone thought(?) would not fit into their collection. All of the items that they sold were given to them by donors. I would think the donor gave or bequeathed these items to the center to save for future generations to see and enjoy. I guess the New York Public Library and Lincoln Center thought differently.
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