“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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.