Houdini Auction - Lovecraft and Harry

A previously unknown manuscript by horror and sci-fi master H.P. Lovecraft, for a work that was commissioned by magician Harry Houdini, has been discovered and is coming up for auction on April 9.


The 1926 work, “The Cancer of Superstition,” is well known among fans and scholars of both Lovecraft and Houdini, but was until now thought to exist only in outline.The Cancer of Superstition


Discovered by a private collector among the records of a now-defunct magic shop, the 31 typewritten pages offer the fullest picture yet of a book-length project that the writer was forced to quit after Houdini’s sudden death.  


In his investigative account of superstition in ancient and modern culture, Lovecraft explores werewolves and other monsters, worship of the dead, cannibalism, and other “barbarian” practices. He concludes, frighteningly, “most of us are heathens in the innermost recesses of our hearts.”


The lot is set to open at $13,000 with a pre-auction estimate between $25,000 – $40,000.


Other highlights of the sale include personal scrapbooks owned and kept by Houdini – filled with his own notations – as well as rare photos and posters of him, plus handcuffs, keys, autographs, lockpicks, and original film footage of the master magician.


Of major importance is an archive of early correspondence to Houdini from the vaudeville impresario who helped transform the magician from a little-known dime museum performer into a wildly popular “Handcuff King.” The trove of letters – most of which has never been seen before – was source material for two major Houdini biographies detailing his rise to stardom.


A public exhibition of the 600 lots in the sale will be held April 6 – 8 at the auction house’s Chicago gallery. A full color auction catalog is available on Potter & Potter’s website. Live Internet bidding will be hosted through Liveauctioneers.com and Invaluable.com.

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