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    1920 Inscribed Harry Houdini Book, "Miracle Mongers and Their Methods"

    Appraised Value:

    $2,000 - $3,000

    Appraised on: August 7, 2010

    Appraised in: Des Moines, Iowa

    Appraised by: Francis Wahlgren

    Category: Books & Manuscripts

    Episode Info: Des Moines, Hour 1 (#1507)

    Originally Aired: February 14, 2011

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 2 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Book
    Material: Paper, Ink
    Period / Style: 20th Century
    Value Range: $2,000 - $3,000

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    Appraisal Video: (2:11)


    Appraised By:

    Francis Wahlgren
    Books & Manuscripts
    Senior Vice President & International Department Head of Printed Books and Manuscripts

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: Well, I found this book when I was at college. Once a year they have a book sale. This was in the religious section of books for 25 cents. I thought it sounded interesting, so I picked it up.

    APPRAISER: It's Houdini's Miracle Mongers and Their Methods. As you may know, when his mother passed away, he was very interested in trying to reach her, and he went to a lot of mediums and he went to a lot of séances. And after a while he began to see that these were a lot of fakes and people were taking advantage of people who were in mourning.

    GUEST: Mmm.

    APPRAISER: Houdini didn't like that, and he knew a lot of the techniques they were using. So he took it upon himself, from about 1920 on, which is the year this was published, to start exposing them and going to séances and would debunk them. He put out this book, which was debunking a lot of the methods that were used. And the title says, "A complete exposé of the modus operandi "of fire eaters, heat resisters, poison eaters, "venomous reptile defiers, sword swallowers, human ostriches, strong men, and the like." So it was a real exposé on what he knew. We have the first page, Houdini has inscribed it. Erik Weisz was his original, his birth name, and he changed it to Houdini for show business. But here he's inscribed it in a bold, clear signature, "To W.S. Davis, best wishes from the author, Houdini, January 1921." So, right after publication. The book was published, like I said, in 1920. A lot of times they're dated 1920. It would have come out the beginning of '21, January. I'm sure it was an early presentation. It's a great thing. The book itself is worth several hundred dollars in this condition. It's in fairly good condition.

    GUEST: Wow.

    APPRAISER: With the inscription, though, significantly impacts it. His autograph is relatively rare. I mean, he did sign things, but on this book in particular, it's a good one to have inscribed. Copies have come up at auction, and we would estimate this at $2,000 to $3,000.

    GUEST: Really?

    APPRAISER: Yeah, so you did very well for your... on your purchase.

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