Some notes (also posted at Kevin's site):
The letter doesnt say nut and nuts as Kevin suggets. It says mite and mites. You can see this in the terminal e s and in the fact that the i is clearly dotted.
Houdini is indeed making a joke about the monkeys testicles, but his joke is a reference to the Parable of the Widows Mite ( ref
). A mite is a coin of small value, and Jesus famously noted that even though the widow gave only a penny (so to speak), she gave more than everyone else because it was all she had.
To give ones mite became a common figure of speech more common a hundred years ago, to be sure for reaching deeply for charitable giving
. Houdinis joke is that the donor monkey certainly gave his
mite or his mites (wink, wink) in this case, since the particular glands may have been of minor importance to science overall, but were probably pretty important to the monkey!
Linked here are some examples of usage: the expression "to add one's mite"
and the expression "add his mite to science"