|Lot#125 Potter & Potter Auctions
Lot#125 in the Potter & Potter Houdiniana Auction this coming Saturday is for the above photo. It's listed as Houdini & unidentified man. Well, now he is identified. The man standing next to Houdini is Nino Pecoraro, an Italian Medium.
The magazine Scientific American was investigating Pecoraro. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had been present during a Nino Pecoraro Seance was totally convinced of his genuine abilities. Then again, Sir Arthur fell for anyone who claimed mediumistic powers.
What made Nino Pecoraro unique was that he claimed to speak with, Eusapia Palladino, who was herself a very controversial spirit medium who had died several years before. Milbourne Christopher, author of Houdini-The Untold Story points out that Hereward Carrington, who was on the Scientific American Investigating Committee, had actually been Palladino's manager, and had been the one to make the arrangements to investigate Nino Pecoraro.
During the first two committee sittings with Pecoraro, he was able to produce numerous manifestations. Even after having been trussed up in a sort of straitjacket-like coat, he still contacted Ms. Palladino. But one thing was missing from these sittings, Houdini. When word got to him about a third seance, Houdini broke from his tour to head to NYC to attend the third seance. This came as a surprise both to the committee and to Mr. Pecoraro. According to the Kenneth Silverman biography on Houdini, it took one hour and 45 minutes for Houdini to completely tie up Pecoraro. Houdini was quoted as saying "I won't guarantee that Nino can't get loose, but I will guarantee that he will never get back."
This time around, the manifestations stopped. Well, all except for some gentle rapping sounds created by the same technique that the Fox Sisters used, according to Houdini. All the grandiose spirit manifestations ceased. No award was given to Nino Pecoraro thanks to the intervention of Houdini.
The one thing that always made me wonder is why these mediums would take their photos with Houdini. The photos must have been arranged before the sittings, because after they had been exposed or stopped, I can't imagine anyone would want anything to do with ole Harry.
A similar photo to the one above appears in Houdini The Untold Story. In that photo, the two men are wearing overcoats. Otherwise, I'm sure the photos are from the same sitting.