Samri Baldwin

Samuel Spencer Baldwin (January 21, 1848 – March 13, 1924), or Samri Baldwin, most well known as "The White Mahatma" was an American magician.[1]

Samri Baldwin
Samri Baldwin.jpg
Samuel Spencer Baldwin

(1848-01-21)January 21, 1848
DiedMarch 13, 1924 (1924-03-14) (aged 76)
San Francisco, California
Resting placeSan Francisco National Cemetery


Baldwin was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He became interested in magic whilst watching the Davenport brothers perform séances. He began to duplicate the tricks of fraudulent mediums such as Anna Eva Fay.[2] He was the first to take the "question and answer" mentalism act to the stage.[3]

Baldwin exposed the tricks of fraudulent mediums and claimed to have learned the tricks of the fakirs of India.[4] He was married to the stage mentalist Kitty (1853-1934) would assist him in his performances, they had one daughter Shadow.[5]

The magician Fulton Oursler when writing on the subject of magic and spiritualism, used the name Samri Frikell. He made it by combining the names of Samri Baldwin and another magician, Wiljalba Frikell.[6]

Baldwin was one of the first magicians to have practiced a stage escape from handcuffs.[7] He had performed this feat as early as 1871.[8] Early in his career the magician Harry Houdini demonstrated a handcuff escape at the Alhambra Theatre. The manager C. Dundas Slater noted that Baldwin had performed the trick many years before Houdini.[9]

Magician Joseph Rinn noted that Baldwin in his day was believed to possess psychic powers but this view was erroneous because "he never pretended to be anything but an entertainer."[10]

Baldwin died at his home in San Francisco on March 13, 1924.[11]



I have attended at least two thousand spiritual séances, and I am more convinced now even than I was in my earlier days, that under no circumstances do disembodied spirits return to this world to produce manifestations of any character. Samri Baldwin (1895) The Secrets of Mahatma Land Explained


  1. ^ Mulholland, John. (1938). Beware Familiar Spirits. C. Scribner's Sons. pp. 197-200. ISBN 0-684-16181-8
  2. ^ Christopher, Milbourne. (1975). Mediums, Mystics & the Occult. Thomas Y. Crowell. p. 176. ISBN 978-0690004762
  3. ^ Polidoro, Massimo. (2001). Final Séance: The Strange Friendship Between Houdini and Conan Doyle. Prometheus Books. p. 59. ISBN 978-1573928960
  4. ^ Siegel, Lee. (1991). Net of Magic: Wonders and Deceptions in India. University Of Chicago Press. p. 396. ISBN 978-0226756875
  5. ^ "Kitty Baldwin (1853-1934)"[Usurped!]. Retrieved June 30, 2016
  6. ^ Mulholland, John. (1938). Beware Familiar Spirits. C. Scribner's Sons. p. 138. ISBN 0-684-16181-8
  7. ^ Woog, Adam. (1999). Magicians and Illusionists. Lucent Books. p. 60. ISBN 978-1560065739
  8. ^ Gresham, William Lindsay. (1959). Houdini: The Man who Walked Through Walls. Henry Holt & Company. p. 82. ISBN 978-0030272608
  9. ^ Randi, James; Sugar, Bert Randolph. (1976). Houdini, His Life and Art. Grosset & Dunlap. p. 43. ISBN 978-0448125466 "The manager, C. Dundas Slater, gave Houdini a trial, but was not impressed with his handcuff act, having witnessed these tricks as far back as 1871, when Samri Baldwin, the "White Mahatma, performed them. What interested him, though, was Houdini's innovative addition of the "challenge" to the audience."
  10. ^ Rinn, Joseph. (1950). Sixty Years of Psychical Research: Houdini and I Among the Spiritualists. Truth Seeker Company. p. 414
  11. ^ "Death Summons Former Resident". Petaluma Daily Courier. March 13, 1924. p. 4. Retrieved March 17, 2020 – via

Further readingEdit

  • Bruce Macnab. (2012). Houdini Meets the White Mahatma. In The Metamorphosis: The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini. Goose Lane Editions. ISBN 978-0864926777

External linksEdit