Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mayer Samuel Weiss's Bible

Here's an interesting picture I found through the Library of Congress. It's an image from the opening pages of the bible that was owned by Houdini's father, Dr. Mayer Samuel Weiss. Houdini has his bookplate on the far left hand side, and I believe the hand writing in the book is probably Houdini's as well.

But the most interesting thing to me is the actual business card belonging to his father which has been inserted into the book. The address 227 E 75th Street NYC NY is shown below. However, the building they lived in is long gone and today the place where their home was is a group a tennis and recreational courts.

If you'd like to read a more extensive blog on Houdini's Father, you must go to the HoudiniFile


  1. Doesn't the word "Rev." look like a different hand than "Dr. M. S. Weiss"? Does to me. Wonder if Harry put that in. The "Dr. M.S. Weiss" is written the old German way, with the "scharfes S" at the end and the weird character for the letter "e." The rest looks like Harry's handwriting.

    Also I note that the book, a Bible, does not have a centerfold. The book in the only picture of Dr. W does. This corroborates Harry's statement that he was a Ph.D., since the German universities would confer a doctorate with a biretta (that hat he's wearing) and a book.

  2. David, yes I do think you are correct about the two different hand written styles. The upper one very likely the father, the other being Houdini.

  3. Just developed some new info re this Bible and business card.

    Contrary to all the biographies, Congregation Adath Jeshurun was a very important part of NYC Jewish life beginning in 1887 -- the year M. S. Weiss and his son Harry moved to New York. It stands today as the Eldridge Street Synagogue, a national historic landmark. Will be blogging in more detail at www.houdinifile.com.

    1. David,
      Thanks for adding this. I was going to look into the Synagogue, but you beat me to it! Look forward to reading more about it on your blog (which is great by the way!)

  4. One last note on this: the Bible in question is a German Bible from 1892, and has both Old and New testaments. This shows that Dr. Weiss was connected with that synagogue as late as 1892 and that he was far from the "ultra-Orthodox" zealot he's been called in some of the bios.

    And many thanks for the kind words!