Harry Kellar (1849-1922) was a huge name in American magic in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. And he went out on top; after being named the first "Dean of American Magicians," Kellar retired a year later. But while he was performing, Kellar had arguably the finest posters of any performer. (Houdini's are dismal by comparison.)
As to Kellar's act, I can't really comment, but self-decapitation? Please. It's all done with smoke and mirrors and floating heads. (The guy supposedly had some pretty impressive levitation skills as well.)
These images are both from the Library of Congress; see my subset of them here or the whole LoC shebang here.