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Lot # 1356 (of 1525)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Five Pairs of Harry Houdini Iron Cuffs With Incredible Provenance From His Brother

Starting Bid - $8,000.00, Sold For - $16,240.00

Auction Description Modification: Additional research on this lot suggests that there is the possibility that one of the five handcuffs in this lot may have actually been cuffs used by Houdini's brother Hardeen, as opposed to Houdini.

Presented is an astounding collection of authentic Houdini relics, actually owned by the legendary master who was renowned for his performances of daring escape. Offered here are five pairs of Houdini cuffs, together with three keys. This is a very special group of Houdini materials by virtue of their unrivaled provenance. Over the past several years many items represented as Houdini relics have been offered by other auctions. Most have sold for many thousands of dollars, but all have been accompanied by little provenance other than hearsay. This collection is accompanied by a letter of authenticity directly from Houdini's brother, Theodore Hardeen, written in 1937, and specifically referencing each and every professional effect. There is no better provenance that could possibly exist to accompany Houdini's performance props. When Houdini was alive, he never gave away the tools, or the secrets, of his great escapes. When he died in 1926, his magic-related materials were passed on to his brother, Theodore Hardeen, himself a magician of great renown who, as his stationery notes, served as the president of The Society of American Magicians. Upon Hardeen's passing in 1945, he left most of the collection to Sidney Radnor, a Houdini scholar and protégé of Hardeen, who operated a Houdini museum in Las Vegas. While some or all of the items represented as once belonging to Houdini which have been sold in recent years are no doubt authentic, there is no comparison between the direct provenance of this collection of materials, and that of the many other relics we have seen sold in recent years, which are accompanied by no such documentation. This Houdini instruments-of-escape ensemble, framed together with the typed letter of provenance from the magician's brother, Theodore Hardeen, "Hardeen," makes for an extraordinary museum-quality display, all the more so because the ornate "Houdini Show" letterhead features portraits of both Hardeen and Houdini. As noted, Hardeen makes specific reference to each piece in the group. The letter, addressed to "A. Nugent" of Richmond, Virginia, and dated "October 14, 1937," reads as follows: "Re the Lily iron, Ratchett cuff, Rankin cuff, German folding cuff, also the Malby eighteen inch bar cuff, they are the regulation cuffs and were in the Houdini collection. Also the Palmer cuff. The Palmer cuff was used during the Civial [sic] War. Re the Egyption [sic] hand-cuff that you have. That was brought to Houdini while he as playing at the Alhambra theatre 1900 London, It is hand made and hundreds of year[s] old. Yours truly, Hardeen." ("10"). While numerous Houdini relics appear on the market, this is the first we have seen with provenance from a member of Houdini's family. Beautifully matted and shadow-box framed (no glass) to total dimensions of 26 x 24 inches. Total 9 items (5 cuffs, 3 keys, plus letter). LOA from James Spence, Steve Grad & John Reznikoff/PSA DNA. Reserve $8,000. Estimate $20,000/$30,000. SOLD FOR $16,240.00

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