HOUDINI, HARRY.  1874-1926.
Lot 244W
HOUDINI, HARRY. 1874-1926.
Sold for US$ 35,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
HOUDINI, HARRY.  1874-1926. HOUDINI, HARRY.  1874-1926.
HOUDINI, HARRY. 1874-1926.
A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection, comprising: a large wrist-ankle-neck shackle; ankle shackles connected by a 16-inch linked chain; ankle shackles connected by a 12-inch chain; ankle shackles connected by a 10-inch chain; ankle shackles connected by an 8 inch chain; wrist cuffs (2 pair); wrist shackles with 3-inch chain (2 pair); wrist shackles with 8-inch chain; a triple wrist cuff; and a large padlock. Housed together in custom shadowbox gilt frame with "Houdini" in gilt letters to upper quadrant. Together with a DVD copy of the Tony Curtis film Houdini (Paramount 1953).
Provenance: Originally part of the collection of the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame, Niagara, Canada (letter from Henry Muller, March 15, 1998); sold Butterfield and Butterfield, sale 6957B, February 16, 1999, lot 3576 to Pat Croce (copy of invoice present); sold Pat Croce Houdini Collection, Briggs Auctions, February 21, 2014, lot 42.

This remarkable group of wrist, ankle and body shackles is part of what remains of Houdini's personal collection of escape gear. Houdini's will contained instructions for his implements and papers to be destroyed after his death, but a large group of material found its way into the hands of a popular mentalist named "The Amazine Dunninger" (Joseph Dunninger, 1892-1975). Dunninger, who, like Houdini, specialized in debunking fraudulent mediums, purportedly purchased the present lot along with other materials from Houdini's widow Bess. Later in his career, Dunninger served as technical advisor on the biopic Houdini starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, and this lot (in its earlier frame) makes an appearance in that film.

Dunninger died in 1975, and in 1976, a group of entrepreneurs led by Henry Muller stumbled upon his storage facility in New York. They bought Dunninger's collection outright and opened The Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in Niagara, Ontario in 1968.
The museum featured memorabilia from Houdini and other famous and important magicians and illusionists of the 20th century, including Walter Gibson and "The Great Raymond," among others. (There are several 1980s vintage video clips and photographs of the Hall of Fame's premises posted on the internet, and the present collection, in its earlier frame, can be glimpsed among the contents). Unfortunately, a large fire in 1996 destroyed a third of the museum, and the contents were put in storage for three years before Muller decided to auction them off. The collection was reframed after the Butterfield & Butterfield sale of 1999, retaining the original bronzed "Houdini" lettering.
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