According to Houdini’s Lawyer, the infamous note that spells out exactly how Houdini would communicate from beyond the grave if he could “only existed in Bessie’s imagination”.
Well, thanks to a discovery by Gregory Curtis at the Harry Ransom Center, we know there is a note that was handwritten by Houdini’s widow. The front reads as follows:
This message was written by Beatrice Houdini – the original one written in 1913 having been destroyed – the name Rosabelle was substituted – the first name chosen was Mike – both names were enduring names. Rosabelle is the title song, the first Houdini heard me sing in 1894. Rosabelle – answer-tell-pray answer-look-tell-answer answer – answer.
Along with the note was an envelope from the Manufacturer’s Safe Deposit Company, then on 5th Avenue in New York. Written in ink on the envelope, in an unidentified person’s handwriting, is “Box 872 Key.” In pencil, in Beatrice’s handwriting, we find the words “In name of Beatrice Houdini.” One must assume, therefore, the envelope contained the key to Box 872, which was rented under Beatrice’s name and the Box 872 contained Beatrice’s note.
[August 2011 Magic Magazine – Believing in Rosabelle by Gregory Curtis]
Prior to this discovery, there was no evidence that the note existed or was there?
According to Kalush:
On January 4, the day before the final Ford sitting where Houdini’s code came through in its entirety, Bernard Ernst, Houdini’s longtime lawyer and confidant, was summoned to Bess’s house…
She told him that the code was in the safe deposit box of the Houdini Estate at Manufacturers Safe Deposit Company. When the lawyer informed her that he had inventoried what was in the box and that there was no secret code from Houdini, Bess neglected to tell him that she had placed the code in the box in November, using, it was later discovered, an envelope that had been manufactured after Houdini had died.
[Note: She held one key to the box, and Bernard Ernst held the other]
According to Houdini Unmasked:
While newspapers were hailing this phenomena, Mrs. Houdini accompanied by those who had attended the séance at her home, rode to 5th Avenue Branch of the Manufacturers’ Trust Co., and withdrew a sealed envelope that had been locked in the Houdini vault.
Before the witnesses, she broke the seal and laid the papers on a desk before them. The words were identical with those given by Fletcher while Arthur Ford was in trance! Even the request that Mrs. Houdini remove her ring and sing “Rosabelle” had been set down as a part of the test.
According to the December 1954 Mystic Magazine:
She replied, “Of course I knew the code message but I had no idea of what combination of words Harry would use; and when he sent the ‘believe’ it was a surprise.” Before she could check the message that came through Ford she had to go to the Manufacturers Trust Company in New York and, in the presence of reputable witnesses, obtain the envelope containing the code message, and open it.
Bottom line: the infamous note (code message) written and placed in a Safety Deposit Box by Bess after Houdini died does exist.
That said, I believe Houdini’s lawyer decided it was best if it only existed in Bess’s imagination.