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Auction History Result

1z204 MASTER MYSTERY linen chapter 3 1sh 1919 serial, Harry Houdini's 1st & 1st robot, ultra rare!

Date Sold 12/5/2019
Sold For: Login or Register to see sold price.


An Original Vintage Theatrical Linenbacked Chapter #3 (The Water Peril) One-Sheet Movie Poster (1sh; measures 27" x 41" [69 x 104 cm]) (Learn More)

The Master Mystery, the 1919 Harry Grossman & Burton L. King silent mystery magic crime serial ("A super-serial"; "By Arthur B. Reeve and Charles A. Logue"; Houdini is an agent of the Justice Department, sent to investigate a bogus giant company, which is well guarded, especially with the help of a robot, in the movie called "The Automaton", which was the very first robot ever to appear in any movie!) starring Harry Houdini, Marguerite Marsh, Ruth Stonehouse, Edna Britton, and William Pike. Note that this serial movie was Houdini's first appearance in a movie, and the producers knew what his fans wanted, and almost every chapter ended with Houdini captured, and the next one began with him making an amazing escape. Note that for years it was thought that 13 of the 15 chapters of this movie survived. But it now seems that all of the chapters exist, although they are not all in one place (at the last time that I read). Two different archives have multiple chapters, and between them, they seem to have them all. The great magician Harry Houdini only appeared in this movie and four others, and none of those were serials. Movie paper of any kind from any of those five movies is incredibly rare!
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Important Added Info: As noted above, this movie was Harry Houdini's very first movie, and it was his only serial, and it had "The Automaton", the very first robot in a movie. So it is certainly a very historic movie. Posters from it were unknown until around 35 years ago, when the son of the man who produced the movie surfaced, and he had one one-sheet from each of the fifteen chapters! Those were quickly sold, and later, another complete set of the posters were discovered at a Houdini museum. Over the years, some of these posters (from both sets) have gone to auction (we have auctioned a number of different chapters over our many years of auctioning). In 2013, we auctioned a one-sheet from "The Grim Game", another Houdini movie, but not a serial, and that poster auctioned for $67,166, a world record for a Houdini poster (either movie poster or magic poster)! In June 2019, we auctioned a chapter that we had never auctioned before (chapter 9), and that one showed Houdini pointing a gun at the Automaton, and that poster auctioned for $28,500! Now, we are auctioning the one-sheet from chapter 3 (which we have also never auctioned before), which shows Houdini pointing at a safe that he has rigged with wires (of course, he was famous for opening safes as a magic trick), with the silhouette of the Automaton is behind him! In 2016, the Houdini museum that owned an example of this poster (which may be the only other surviving example of this poster), and that example sold for $28,080, slightly under what we auctioned the chapter 9 one-sheet for in June 2019. And the fact that this is 2019 is also significant! That is because this is no longer a "collectible movie poster", but it is now an "antique movie poster", because just about everybody defines an "antique" as being a century old, and this poster now is a full 100 years old! In case you were wondering, for many years, it was thought that two of the chapters of this movie did not exist, and one of them was this chapter 3. But, as noted above, it has now been located, and in this chapter 3, Houdini is assisting Marguerite Marsh, who has stored papers in a safe, ones that if they get out, will ruin her and her business. Houdini has ingeniously rigged wires to the safe that, if someone tries to break in, will both notify him and hold the person that tries to break in, and he mentions that this might "discover who is in the automaton"!

What IS linenbacking? Learn More

Overall Condition and Pre-Restoration Defects with Quality of Restoration: very good. The poster had tiny paper loss at the top crossfold and slight darkening along the top horizontal fold, with very minor wear on the other folds. It had a 1 1/4" tear in the top border, slightly extending into the red background, and a 1 1/4" tear in the left of the bottom border, extending into the edge of the circle, with some small tears and tiny stains in the rest of the borders. Overall, the poster was in very good condition prior to linenbacking. It likely has survived in as good condition as one could hope, especially since is it a century old!
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