Sunday, July 10, 2011

Houdini Wax Recordings

Yesterday during the Essential Magic Conference, David Copperfield took all the viewers of the conference on a virtual tour of his museum. One of the stops along the way was the Edison Wax Cylinder Recording of Houdini's voice. Houdini fans have heard this before no doubt. But something struck me as odd when I first heard Copperfield play it back.
It's slightly different than the version I had heard in the past. My guess is that Houdini recorded this speech several times, but I had never heard anyone ever mention that fact. Proof of the 'different' recording was not easy as I had to replay the Copperfield clip and then find one of the other clips. The speech pattern is almost identical. However, there was one giant give-away when on the Copperfield clip Houdini is heard to say "after it has been filled to the brim with water". But on the clips you can find on youtube and other places, Houdini says "after it has been filled with water". NOT 'filled to the brim', but just 'filled with water'. There are a couple other changes in script as well, so it is a different version.

Though not a major discovery, I'm wondering if anyone else picked up on this. You can listen to Houdini speak below. But you would have had to register for the EMC 2011 Conference to hear the other version. If you did, it's on Session 9.

UPDATE: John Cox over at has an article about the original 'first' discovery of the Wax Cylinders.


  1. Check out the original newspaper article about the discovery of the tapes in 1970. Yep, there are TWO recordings of the USD patter.

    Also on those cylinders are his sister, Gladys, reading a poem and Houdini re-reading it in German.

  2. Ah ha! So I've discovered something already discovered, lol! It's nice to have the newspaper article as a back up. I will say it's really awesome to hear the two different versions.

  3. I'm losin' my mind here. I gotta hear this!!!