Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are an unlikely pair of adversaries.
But they fell out due to the escape artist’s persistence in debunking spiritualists and the author’s insistence that there was indeed “another side”.
In the 1920’s, Houdini, tired of escaping from water tanks and misplacing elephants, began to attend séances in disguise in an effort to prove that the mediums were bogus.
He would habitually leap out of his get-up at the end of a séance and immediately demonstrate how the tricks of the trade were accomplished with nothing more than mirrors and sleight of hand.
He even toured the US, offering $10,000 to anyone who could demonstrate supernatural powers he could not replicate with Earthly means.
Sherlock Holmes would have snorted contemptuously at his author’s theories as Conan Doyle came to the opinion that Houdini could not have accomplished several of the escape acts without resorting to the supernatural. He even saw Houdini’s debunking of spiritualists as evidence that the magician could block others’ abilities.
Both Houdini and Doyle continue to fascinate to this day, and collectors are always eager to purchase items that bring reality to an era that the majority of us will only read about.