Ex Libris Houdini
December 3, 2012 8:53 PM   Subscribe

Ehrich Weisz may not have had much formal education, but he grew up to be Harry Houdini, self-educated stunt performer, escape artist, and owner of "one of the largest libraries in the world on psychic phenomena, Spiritualism, magic, witchcraft, demonology, evil spirits, etc., some of the material going back as far as 1489." Houdini bequeathed much of his collection to the Library of Congress, which received 3,988 volumes from his collection in 1927, including a number of magic books inscribed or annotated by well-known magicians. Archive.org has more of the Harry Houdini Collection online. He also put a great deal of research into his tricks, as seen in his letter to Dr. W. J. McConnell, a physiologist at the U.S. Bureau of Mines, written up after Houdini's watery grave stunt in 1926.
posted by filthy light thief (5 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
See also: the easy escape diver's suit, which Houdini patented in 1917.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:53 PM on December 3, 2012

Oh sure, but nobody ever remembers Houdin.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:57 PM on December 3, 2012

Man, do I love the stationery in the second to last link.
posted by hawkeye at 10:28 PM on December 3, 2012

He had the library, of course, to help him disprove all of it as flimflam and bullshit. James Randi was inspired to bust bullshitters because he idolized Houdini.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:49 PM on December 4, 2012

Some of his collection is at least a bit lighthearted. For example: Scientific Amusements (1890): half-hours of scientific amusement is full of interesting little experiments for young people.

Oh sure, but nobody ever remembers Houdin.

The Library of Congress site has a book that may be of interest to you: Memoirs of Robert-Houdin: Ambassador, Author, and Conjurer
posted by filthy light thief at 6:54 PM on December 4, 2012

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