HOUDINI, HARRY. 1874-1926.  White metal vessel, 35 inches high by 26 inches in diameter at widest, bottom 22 inches in diameter, welded "milk jug" with tapered neck, 3 (of 4) wing nut screws at bottom at north, south and east, and two faux hasps at either side of the neck.

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Lot 61¤
HOUDINI, HARRY. 1874-1926.
White metal vessel, 35 inches high by 26 inches in diameter at widest, bottom 22 inches in diameter, welded "milk jug" with tapered neck, 3 (of 4) wing nut screws at bottom at north, south and east, and two faux hasps at either side of the neck.

Sold for US$ 50,075 inc. premium
HOUDINI, HARRY. 1874-1926.
White metal vessel, 35 inches high by 26 inches in diameter at widest, bottom 22 inches in diameter, welded "milk jug" with tapered neck, 3 (of 4) wing nut screws at bottom at north, south and east, and two faux hasps at either side of the neck. WITH: trick lid featuring domed top and four padlock hasps connecting to vessel (lid supplied later).
Provenance: Estate of Harry Houdini to his brother, the Magician Hardeen; sold by Hardeen (along with other items of Houdini material) to Sidney Radner; on exhibit at the Houdini Hall of Fame, 1968-1997; sold by Radner to Tom Thayer, 1997. Sold by Thayer to the present owner.

HOUDINI'S (DOUBLE FOLD?) MILK CAN.

For nearly two decades, this vessel remained on display at the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in Niagara Falls, Canada as an example of the illusionist's famous "milk can" escape, in which he was locked inside a metal can which was then filled with water, giving him only a short time in which to escape before drowning. The blogspot Wild About Houdini theorizes that this can is actually the mate to the "Double Fold Death Defying Mystery" box sold at auction in July of 2014 at Potter & Potter in Chicago, which is plausible given the unique characteristics of this can.

The Double Fold Death Defying Water Mystery, introduced c.1911, took the milk can escape and ratcheted up the drama. In the earlier escape, Houdini was padlocked into a large milk can which was then filled with water, from which he would escape while hidden behind a screen (the milk cans had "trick lids" or necks that could only be opened from inside, allowing him to escape). In the double fold mystery, the milk can was hidden inside a larger wooden crate, making the escape that much more difficult.

The strongest argument that this milk can is the Double Fold can is the hasp on the neck. Measuring 3 1/2 by 5 inches, the hasps, which appear on either side, appear to be decorative only. In an image located in the Harry Ransom Center's Harry Houdini Papers titled "Milk Can and Box used in the Double Fold Death Defying Water Mystery" (container 13.17), the hasp is clearly visible on the neck of the can sitting inside the box. Additionally, no other Houdini milk can appears to have this decorative hasp. The hasp can also be matched to images of the can as it sits on display at the HHOF.

Another piece of evidence: the diameter of the can's bottom is 22 inches, which will just fit inside the circular inset at the interior bottom of the Double Fold box sold in 2014. And finally, the height of the current can sans supplied lid is 35 inches, which, if the original short lid were added, would just fit inside the 38 1/2 inch ceiling of the Double Fold box.

Though Hardeen likely acquired the Double Fold Box and its can at the same time, at some point the two were separated. The box was sold by Hardeen to Jack Lawain of Monmouth, Illinois, who used it in performance himself, before offering it at auction in 2014. The can was sold by Hardeen to Sidney Radner, who then placed it on exhibition at the Houdini Hall of Fame.
Contacts
HOUDINI, HARRY. 1874-1926.  White metal vessel, 35 inches high by 26 inches in diameter at widest, bottom 22 inches in diameter, welded "milk jug" with tapered neck, 3 (of 4) wing nut screws at bottom at north, south and east, and two faux hasps at either side of the neck.
HOUDINI, HARRY. 1874-1926.  White metal vessel, 35 inches high by 26 inches in diameter at widest, bottom 22 inches in diameter, welded "milk jug" with tapered neck, 3 (of 4) wing nut screws at bottom at north, south and east, and two faux hasps at either side of the neck.
HOUDINI, HARRY. 1874-1926.  White metal vessel, 35 inches high by 26 inches in diameter at widest, bottom 22 inches in diameter, welded "milk jug" with tapered neck, 3 (of 4) wing nut screws at bottom at north, south and east, and two faux hasps at either side of the neck.
HOUDINI, HARRY. 1874-1926.  White metal vessel, 35 inches high by 26 inches in diameter at widest, bottom 22 inches in diameter, welded "milk jug" with tapered neck, 3 (of 4) wing nut screws at bottom at north, south and east, and two faux hasps at either side of the neck.
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¤ Without reserve