Conjurers Monthly Magazine 1906 September Vol. 1 No. 1 – Part 4

Today I finish my review of Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine September 1906 Vol 1 No 1.

Page 22 we have “Jottings and Jumblings”. It appears to be a gossip column about magicians, mediums and other entertainers. Houdini talks about attending a Medium Expose’ at the New York Roof Garden on Wednesday, August 1st. Houdini was looking forward to witnessing this expose’ but was disappointed when the lecturer told the audience he was speaking on authority of the very inventor he was exposing.

Page 23 is more gossip about the whereabouts of magicians and talk of their misfortunes. Such as Prof. Andre and his wife are in America, they played a few months in Bermuda or Java, but did not collect much of the coin of the realm. The once famous Steens have separated, and Mr. Steen spent $3000 on Billing his new act in England but only took in £11.IO (about $57.50), but in time it increased to £200 ($1,000) on each show.

Page 24 concludes Jottings and Jumblings. Leon Hermann returned to America with brother and cousin. Houdini writes that the brother looks more like Alexander Herman than Leon. The brother is no “Disciple of Magic”, but the cousin will eventually become “Hermann the fourth”. He writes about a fraud medium and her husband that went by Mr and Mrs Jackson being incarcerated in 1901. Houdini tells that this was none other than the notorious medium named “Anna Odelia Diss De Bar”. She was sentenced to 7 years in prison in 1901 for fraud and what sounds like some other “filthy” crimes. Houdini included this in Conjurers’ because she had been released from the Aylesbury Prison on August 2nd 1906.

Anna Odelia Diss De Bar

Houdini wrote a full chapter about Anna Odelia Diss De Bar in his book “A Magician Among The Spirits”. Below is excerpt from his book printed in The Daily Pantagraph on December 8, 1924.

Houdini Spiritualism Exposed Diss Debar Pantagraph Dec 81924 -

Pages 25 – 26 we have Handcuff Secrets a monthly installment written by Houdini to expose the methods used by his many imitators.

Houdini states that these so called handcuff kings make fictitious statements and offer large sums of money to anyone who can produce police regulation handcuffs from any part of the universe from which the cannot release themselves. However those that will evade the critical tests by fraud and colossal lying would have something to say about Houdini exposing their methods. He tells the reader that if they were to appear at one of these shows with handcuffs of anything other than the standard regulation type you would be taken to the nearest exit! That confederates would be planted in the audience and supplied with handcuffs and other irons by the performer and his assistants. Houdini writes all of this and states it is fact based on his meeting many of these would be imitators around the world.

Houdini states that to his knowledge no reliable work has been written on this subject, but he has come across some “flimsey leaflets” here and there but attempts at revealing the secrets are so vague, vapid and unfinished that no one could grasp the writers meaning. He goes on to say that this book is purposely written for the benefit professionals, amateur magicians and those desirous in mystifying their friends with escapes and tricks with handcuffs and other:

Houdini explains that he will not delve into the very deep intricacies of some of the more modern feats of handcuffs and jail breaking , but he will explain a way in a simple fashion “how my performances have been imitated” to enable you to give your own handcuff escape performance. He points out that some secrets have already been sold in England. I’m sure he is referring to other Exposes’ such as Pollard’s in the Strand Magazine and many others that Houdini had encountered in his entire career thus far. He signs it “Harry Houdini The Original Handcuff King”.

Page 27 Tricks With Handcuffs. Houdini explains how to escape from regulation handcuffs. His first point is that you do not need “exceptionally rare talent” to become a handcuff king. You must practice using both hands to release the handcuffs “One hand releases or unlocks the other”. He states that he practiced using his left hand until he could use it almost as easily as his right hand. He gives tips on addressing your audience “In addressing your audience do not become bombastic”, and ” it is not the trick that is to be considered, but the style and manner in which it is presented”. He re-iterates that he will not say that these methods are exactly how he performs the handcuff escape act, but they have been used by his imitators.

“I do not deliberately say that the following
methods given are precisely the
same as 1 have used on opening the
handcuffs”

Types of Handcuffs – Houdini talks about the varieties of handcuffs. Only 7 – 8 types used in England, but upwards of 175 types in America not to mention the numerous padlocks that would be added to the list of manacles. “One would need to become an expert of “picklocks” to get along outside the United Kingdom”. For this he suggests we focus only on the British Type handcuffs, and the easiest to escape would be the English Regulation.

Page 28 – Houdini says you must acquire a set of these Handcuffs (Below) and an extra set of Keys. They have Spring Locks and are manipulated by screwing in the Key to open them, but the close by snapping them shut.

The other Handcuff below is a “Plug 8”.

Three pairs of English “Darbies”.
Single Locking Darbies
Adjustable Darbies

Above two pairs of Darbies from my own collection.

Houdini explains that to perform the Handcuff escape you must adopt a method suitable to you for concealing the Key. He also says that you may need to plant some cuffs with some Confederates in the audience beforehand because your audience may not show up with several pairs. How many people in 1906 had access to handcuffs! As each comes on stage Houdini suggests that you examine each pair to ensure they are regulation pattern. Allow your committee to lock them on you, enter your cabinet obtaining possession of duplicate keys and simply unlock each cuff and hide the keys. The Irish 8 is similar but has no Spring but has a Screw Plug. For this cuff Houdini advises using your mouth to hold the Key.

Page 29 Houdini explains other techniques to hide a Key, the False Finger is one and a key with a hook on the back of it.

“You can allow your wrists
to be handcuffed with the cuffs : your
sleeves are turned up; your hands are
now placed into a small bag and in in full
view of the audience you escape from
the handcuffs, and bring out the cuffs
from the bag opened.”

The “Split Key” which is a modified key used to open English Darbies is shown on Page 29 however Houdini does not explain its use. I believe he mentions this in one of the later Conjurers’ Monthly Magazines.

Pages 30 – 31 list advertisements.

Next up – The review of the October 15, 1906 issue Vol 1, No 2

Reference – The Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine reprinted by Kaufman and Greenberg the limited edition two Volume book set. PDF scanned format from The Conjuring Arts. 

Conjurers Monthly Magazine 1906 September Vol. 1 No. 1 – Part 1

“With its medicine-show self promotion and streetfighter taunts, Conjurers’ Monthly was bound to offend, and did – Kenneth Silverman

Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine ran for two volumes from September 1906 until August 1908. Houdini enlisted the help of his brothers Nat, Bill and Leo to help out, Hardeen served as “English representative”. Where most magic magazines focused on explanations of new tricks and illusions, Houdini concentrated on historical articles, drawing much of the information, photos, and playbills from his encyclopedia of magicians research. Houdini used the magazine to confront imitators and enemies. The series, “Unknown Facts concerning Robert-Houdin” and “Robert-Houdin’s Place in the History of Magic”, ran for twelve issues which later became a book, The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin. Houdini also wrote under the pseudonym “N. Osey”, as the European Correspondent (which he had previously been doing for The Mahatma).

This is a new series reviewing each of the 24 issues of Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine. Beginning with September 15, 1906 Vol. 1. No. 1.

Below is the pre-publication flyer advertising a yearly subscription for one dollar. The address for the subscription is The New York Magical Co. on 1621 Broadway, Brooklyn NY. There is also an advertisement for the New York Magical Co. in the September issue of Conjurers’. The add says the company was established in 1869. I cannot find any further information about this company. A quick Google map search shows that there is a dollar store at 1621 Broadway.

1621 Broadway, Brooklyn NY

Pages 2 – 3 list advertisements for Martinka & Company, Harry Day Agency, Manhattan Detective Agency, The Stadium Cafe, Ernst and Basch and Mahatma the official organ of the Society of American Magicians.

The St. James Building office for the Manhattan Detective Agency

Page 4 has an advertisement for Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine. There is a telephone number listed. This might be Houdini’s telephone number at his Brownstone on 278 West 113th Street in New York City. Telephone: 1514 MORNINGSIDE.

Houdini opens with his “Salutatory”, a welcome to his readers and a rather critical review of other magic magazines and publications of the day. It is so Houdini and I love it! This is his pen, not a ghost writer.

“There is no apology to make for the
appearance of the Conjurers’ Magazine.
We do not wish to supplant any other paper
; we have no axes to grind; nothing
to sell; no one to extol; we do not seek
any free advertisement; we do not labor
under the impression that we shall have
the best paper in the world.”

Although the prior paragraph states that he doesn’t wish to “supplant any other paper” meaning replace or supersede, he does not hold back with his opinion about the shortcomings of other magic magazines.

“The few magazines that are devoted
to Magic and Magicians, especially two
published in England, are in the hands
of men who make use of their alleged
papers to maintain their own business
end, and are nothing more or less than
“grafting” catalogues.”

This next statement warns if you break your word you’re dead to us.

“One sheet in particular no more de-
serves the name of newspaper or maga-
zine than would a photograph of an old
wizened cow to be called a creation of
Gibson. This party once gave us “his”
word of honor not to do certain things,
and then deliberately broke his promise,
and when any one will purposely do this
he is dead to us in all respects.”

He takes a small jab at The Sphinx which was the leading leading American magic journal and contender to become the official organ of the S.A.M. Houdini was very frustrated with the Sphinx at this time in his career. He felt that Dr. A.M. Wilson had intentionally jilted him. The Sphinx rarely mentioned his many Handcuff exploits and once printed his name as “Haudini”.

“In America we have
the “Sphinx,” which has at certain times gone out of its way “a wee bit.”

The Mahatma Magazine is mentioned and only faulted at “being, somewhat tardy in appearance” which I believe could mean either the magazine was late to show up in the mail or behind the times graphically, but he then goes on to say “the Editor assures me that this defect will be remedied”. It’s also possible that the Mahatma owed him pay for writing as Herr N. Osey. Incidentally the Mahatma is a paying advertiser on Page 3 of Conjurers.

He gives some background on the name choice.

“The first authentic record of a magician’s
newspaper or magazine in the
English language (we’think) is the Conjurers’ Magazine, from which we have
taken our name.”

And highlights an interesting fact about a publisher’s large circulation.

“Anderson, the Wizard
of the North, had several newspapers.
He carried a printing press, and on his
tour around the world printed “The
World of Magic” and “The Psychomantic
Reporter.” Anderson claimed a bona
fide circulation of 100,000 weekly for
the latter paper, and 25,000 for the former.”

But then goes on to doubting Anderson was actually making any money!

“He must have given them away
gratis.”

He makes a pitch for Conjurers’ future success.

“We trust that the Conjurers’ Magazine
will make a strong bid for existence,
and while it is in this world (and
we hope it will be permanently) it will
be as interesting as we can possibly
make it, playing no favorites, and for
ever and alwavs promoting the interests
of Magic.”

And invites his readers to send in corrections.

“Should our judgment err, we
kindly beg of you to send in corrections
and credit will be given to all to whom
it is due.”

He finishes with the magazine’s motto.

“Impartial, Fearless and
Truthful.”

At the bottom of Page 5 is a Greek Proverb that basically says if you listen to rumors before checking the facts you are a fool!

Coming up next Part 2 of the review of the September 1906 issue No 1, Vol 1.

Unknown Facts Concerning Robert Houdin, Notes From Theo Hardeen, Notes from Herr N. Osey, Reading Rubbish, Our Mail Bag, Handcuff Secrets

Reference – The Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine reprinted by Kaufman and Greenberg the limited edition two Volume book set. PDF scanned format from The Conjuring Arts.  It is currently on sale for $9.99 on their site. Houdini The Career of Ehrich Weiss by Kenneth Silverman. Houdini the Untold Story by Milbourne Christopher.