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Harry Houdini The Master Mystery Vintage Antique Magic Book

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Harry Houdini Magic Book Posters Memorabilia Autograph For Sale
"The Master Mystery"
Original Vintage Antique Magic Book
Starring Harry Houdini


Extremely Rare Original Edition Book with the Original Dust jacket .  Because much of this Houdini series is lost forever, this book has exceptional historical significance, not to mention high collector value and desirability. .  The FIRST time we have seen it in our 38 years collecting!  * See enlargeable images above and below.. 

Reeve, Arthur and John Grey. The Master Mystery. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1919. Red cloth lettered in black, unclipped pictorial dust-jacket. Frontispiece, illustrated with halftones from the serial starring Houdini. 8vo. 304, [8]pp. ads. Loss to bottom front jacket panel, chipping and creases elsewhere to edges; moderate rubbing to top edge of cloth; near fine internally.

As we know, Houdini's 1918 movie serial The Mastery Mystery was published as a photoplay edition by Grosset and Dunlap. This book makes for a priceless Houdini/silent cinema collectible, especially when found with the original dust jacket . It's also a valuable tool when trying to piece together the 15 episodes of the existing film, which does not survive complete.

"This is the official novelization of the rare 1919 serial film starring Harry Houdini. A great, fast-moving example of the "weird menace" pulp fiction genre (the original *giant robot* appears as a major threat to the hero) important to collectors of magic memorabilia and general strangeness."

Background and History of the Houdini Series and This Published Book:

On Thursday morning, November 7, 1918 at the Strand Theater (1579 Broadway, New York City), the first five episodes of The Master Mystery, were shown in a special trade showing. Harry Houdini attended, seated in a stage box. From the report in Brooklyn Life, Mr. Houdini’s performance in the serial was validated by the applause from the audience and by the number of times the crowd came to their feet with each astounding escape in the picture. The review seen in the November 16, edition of, The Billboard, glowed, rhapsodized, and thoroughly encouraged, the exhibitor, of the film’s possibilities at the box-office. On Saturday, November 30, 1918, filming was complete on, The Master Mystery; this was the first time that a serial was finished prior to its official release. Within days of the completion of the series, Grossett & Dunlap announced that they would soon publish the movie-book tie-in.

By Christmas time, the serial made its bow in Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. But, the general public got its initial viewing of, The Master Mystery, at the St. James Theatre, in Boston, Massachusetts on Monday, November 18, 1918.

Harry Houdini made fifteen personal appearances during that first month of release for Master Mystery, including the first installment in Boston. Why did Boston receive the premiere of, The Master Mystery? The film’s producer, Benjamin A. Rolfe, while born in New York, had adopted the area as his home; at his death he was buried in Walpole, Massachusetts, some twenty-five miles southwest of Bean Town. I believe that I have found the reason that began our popular-modern misunderstanding of the premiere date of, The Master Mystery on March 1, 1919. By that date in 1919, the territory representatives for the series were holding Trade previews in the western States, for impending release, but nowhere in that news item is a serial-premiere mentioned. But, the Moving Picture World reported that episode one would be seen on March 1, 1919 in Chicago; this is the only link that I can find to the incorrect statement that Master Mystery opened in March of 1919 instead of the actual roll-out in December of 1918. The published evidence speaks volumes to the contrary of a March 1, 1919 premiere for the Houdini thriller.

Harry Houdini, at one point in our history was every boy’s hero, (magician, escape artist, movie star), a robot, (first portrayed in film?), “The Madagascar Madness- Gas;” all these elements coming together for a serial that is (albeit incomplete).

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