Monday, February 05, 2007

More Evidence of Houdini's Obsession with Spiritualism

Vincett Starrett was a correspondent of HPL's. Already a scholar, Starrett bumped into HPL and HPL told Wandrei (12 April 1927) (1) that, "the poet & critic Vincett Starrett of Chicago (who introduced the work of Machen to America) saw some of my work. According to Long, he was very favourably {sic} disposed toward it - & yesterday I received a letter from him asking to see a more representative array. Naturally I am feeling flattered, & have just sent him a dozen tales illustrating the different phases of my writing. I doubt he will find them up to the classic standard, but at any rate it is encouraging to have the notice of one so qualified to judge."

The seller states:
Catalogue of Choice and Interesting Books. Number Sixteen, MCMXXVII. NY: Dauber & Pine Book Shops, 1927. Softcover 8vo (9"x6"), 64 pp. in blue printed wraps. Condition is Very Good: some light bumping and toning to the edges of the wraps, small ink notation on top edge of front cover; otherwise clean and tight.
As well as featuring a wide assortment of new and rare books and autographs at jaw-dropping 1927 prices — and a fulsome, full-page tribute to the Dauber & Pine bookshop by author and Sherlock Holmes scholar VINCENT STARRETT — this catalogue is notable for listing an extensive selection (115 titles) from the library of HARRY HOUDINI, who had died the year before. The catalogue itself states: "As virtually the complete Library of Harry Houdini was given to the Library of Congress, the following books from the Library of the famous Magician will serve as an unequalled opportunity to procure books from his celebrated collection. Many of these books embracing works on Occultism, Spiritualism, Magic, etc., are filled with Mr. Houdini's valuable Mss. Memoranda, and in some instances are exceedingly scarce or even unique..." Interestingly, alongside the expected books on Mesmerism, Table rapping, Life after death, Ghosts, etc., the subject with the most titles is Mormonism. There is also a copy of The Case for Spirit Photography by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ("Presentation copy from the Author to Houdini, with Houdini's pencilled signature...and numerous bitter and ironic animadversions in the margins by him. A very desirable item.").

1. Mysteries of Time and Spirit, p. 76

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