JULY 2002 NZSCC stamp news on line

July Daytime Meeting

To be held on Wednesday, 3 July at 1.00pm to 3.30pm in the Philatelic Centre, 67 Mandeville Street, Riccarton. Please ring your friends to remind them about it.

Buy, sell or swap Bring your spare stamps or money. Don Walker is bringing the Exchange books.

Raffles Don will have some items to raffle.

June Evening Meeting

  • Steven McLachlan had arranged to pick up Alleyn McCarthy and Patricia Quartermain but his evening started badly when he backed his car out of the garage to find that he had a flat tyre! It always happens of course when you have a tight schedule. Luckily he was able to swiftly change the tyre and then add some more air to it at the local garage and be on his way to pick them up only five minutes behind his original schedule. Wow! That was good going.
  • The meeting went well and there were about thirty-four people present. (Iris Tyson was there and looked well).
  • Members were sorry to hear that Christine Haythornthwaite’s father, Ed Newman had just died. They stood for a minute’s silence, as many of them knew him well from his time at the stamp fairs etc. I have attended the fairs regularly and have been acquainted with Mr Newman for many years. He was a delightful person and he had a positive outlook on life. His enjoyment and understanding of philately was immense.
  • Alleyn McCarthy’s talk was fine. He told quite a few interesting tales which everybody enjoyed. He told of ‘liberating’ a stamp collection which he found in a bombed out house that he and fellow soldiers were taking shelter in one night in Italy during WWII. He also told us of his daughter’s discovery that her husband had earlier that day in Rotorua purchased a block of 12 of the Teddy Bear error Health stamps in 1996. She still has most of those stamps now safe in a bank vault. (They are catalogued at $2 500 each).
  • Steven ran a stamp and general knowledge quiz for the main event of the meeting and this went well.
  • Seven bottles of Chloramine T were sold at the meeting. (The bottles are on sale for $10 each).
  • Well done and good luck - Geoff Tyson has taken on the job of South Island delegate for Federation. He will be at the Federation Meeting in Palmerston North.
  • NZSDA Stamp show and Interclub Competition to be held on the first floor of Rydges Hotel, corner of Oxford Terrace and Gloucester Street Christchurch. Dealers from all over the country will be there.
  • Our very own Steven McLachlan is to give a talk on ‘The Silent Service’ or submarines at the 9 July meeting of the CPS at the Philatelic Centre. It is amazing to think of the directions in which your thematic stamp collection can take you! Wonder if Jeff Long and family have thought of sea horses…
  • From AskPhil I have just been given a stamp with Adolf Hitler the stamp has been used and has a postmark on it. I would like to know the value of the stamp and the history behind it. It was given to me after my uncle died who was a prisoner of war in Germany. The stamp has a profile of Hitler on a green background and the words DEUTSCHES REICH on the bottom of the stamp and the number 30 on both top corners. Quite a few German stamps of the WWII era were issued with Hitler’s image. None have much value. But, if you have an envelope from the period, it is possible the value will be in a combination of a used version of that stamp and the postal markings on the envelope. Check with stamp dealers near you. We have a list of dealers at http://www.askphil.org/b37.htm.

Stamp Fairs

Church Hall, Corner Papanui Rd & Rugby St, Merivale.

9:30am to 1:00pm on Saturdays 6 & 20 July 2002.

My brain is the key that sets me free’ – Harry Houdini alias Ehrich Weiss

According to an article in 1 July edition of Linn’s Stamp News, USPS will issue a 37c Harry Houdini self-adhesive commemorative stamp nationwide on 5 July. The design is based on a poster that advertised his act. A hidden image of chains crisscrossing Houdini’s folded arms and torso can be seen when the stamp is viewed through a plastic decoder lens available from the Postal Service.

Harry Houdini’s motto was ‘My brain is the key that sets me free.’ As a renowned magician and arguably the world’s greatest escape artist, he always emphasized that he had no occult powers and that all his tricks were done by natural means. While other escape artists might have the same physical abilities, it was Houdini’s mind that made him the master of any restraint system.

Houdini, the son of a rabbi, was born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest, Hungary, 24 March 1874. His family moved to America when he was 4 years old. He was raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, and often told people that he was born there. Houdini’s family was large and poor, so he left home at age 12 to ease the burden on his parents. He once said, ‘The greatest escape that I ever made was when I left Appleton, Wisconsin.’ Eventually Houdini’s family moved to New York City, and he rejoined them there where he worked as a photographer, messenger, garment cutter and locksmith’s apprentice.

As a teenager, he read two books that changed his life. The first was Revelations of a Spirit Medium by A. Medium. This book was an inside expose of the tricks and charlatanry of mediums and spiritualists. The second was The Memoirs of Robert-Houdin, an autobiography of Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin, considered the greatest magician of his day. Houdini began his career as a stage magician, billing himself as ‘Erik the Great.’ He changed his name to Houdini in honour of Robert-Houdin. Ironically, Houdini later became disillusioned with Robert-Houdin and wrote a book exposing him as a charlatan. Building on his early locksmith experience, Houdini began to use handcuffs and perform different types of escapes in his act. He co-opted his brother Theo into the act. They were billed as the Houdini Brothers when they appeared at the Columbian Exposition Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. In 1894 Houdini met and fell in love with Wilhemina Beatrice Rahner, a singer and dancer working at Coney Island amusement park. He was 19; she was 17. They were secretly married in a civil ceremony two weeks after they met, and she immediately replaced Theo in an act that was now called the Houdinis.

In 1899 Houdini was booked on a premier American vaudeville circuit. He toured Europe from 1900 to 1904. As his stage presence matured, escapes became more and more the focus of Houdini’s act. Houdini progressed from escapes from simple handcuffs to leg irons, straitjackets, jail cells, mail pouches, milk cans and coffins. He invented the escape challenge, which was performed free and publicly for the publicity it generated. He would challenge police or prison officials to bind and restrain him in any manner they chose. Despite chains, leg irons, handcuffs and prison locks, he always escaped. No escape seemed too dangerous or difficult for Houdini. He jumped off a bridge into San Francisco Bay handcuffed with a 75-pound ball and chain shackled to his ankles. He was buried alive and once spent 90 minutes underwater in a lead coffin before escaping. He would swallow needles and thread separately, then pull them back out of his mouth with the needles threaded. Houdini’s most famous escape act was probably the Chinese Water Torture Chamber. In this escape, Houdini was chained and suspended upside down inside a padlocked, water-filled glass cabinet.

Houdini was an aviation pioneer and bought his own airplane. In 1910, he became the first person to fly an airplane in Australia. Shortly thereafter he disposed of his plane and never flew again.

In 1919 Houdini launched a successful movie career. He starred in six movies, the last made in 1923, and he became one of the first people to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. At least two of these movies survive and are available on videotape.

Houdini tried to expose gambling cheats and psychic and spiritualist frauds. He wrote several books on the subject and often went to sťances incognito to expose the medium as a charlatan. In 1926, Houdini was invited to speak about debunking false spiritualism at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He followed up with an appearance at the Princess Theatre in Montreal. Several athletes from McGill came to see him backstage after the show. They asked if he could really sustain blows to his abdomen without ill effect, something he often did by tensing his abdominal muscles before receiving the blows. One of the athletes, J Gordon Whitehead, unexpectedly struck him three times in rapid succession before Houdini could tense his muscles. Whitehead’s unexpected blows supposedly ruptured Houdini’s appendix. (Some medical experts maintain that the appendix cannot be ruptured in this manner and that the timing of the blows with the rupture of Houdini’s appendix was purely coincidental). Houdini gave several more shows in Montreal after the incident. He gave his final performance in Detroit, collapsing after the show. On 31 October 1926, at Grace Hospital, Detroit, Houdini died of peritonitis from his ruptured appendix.

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