Harry Houdini Collectibles And Memorabilia


2015-06-26 11:02:00


Harry Houdini Collectibles And Memorabilia are items relating to the celebrated magician and escapologist.

Brief history/biography

Harry Houdini (born Erik Wesz) was born on March 24th, 1874 in Budapest and died on October 31st, 1926.

Houdini's career as a professional magician first began in 1894 and he became an international phenomenon thanks to his famous "escape using handcuffs" act.

Some of Houdini's most well-known and iconic acts include "escaping" from handcuffs, straightjackets, water-filled tanks and nailed-packing crates. However, his most notable act during his career was the "Chinese Water Torture Cell" act for which he would be suspended by his feet and lowered into a cabinet filled with water, after which he would then hold his breath for over three minutes to "escape."

He also pursued a career in film and released his first film, Merveilleux Exploits du Célébre Houdini Paris in 1901. He also starred in various other films such as The Master Mystery (1920), The Grim Game (1919)and Terror Island (1920), and eventually started his own production company (the Houdini Picture Corporation) as well as a film lab (The Film Development Corporation). He also became president of America's oldest magic company (Martinka & Co.).

The cause of Houdini's death remains disputable, as some claim he died from acute appendicitis, while others believe it was peritonitis. The story goes that Houdini possibly coerced a university student to punch him in the stomach to test the fact that he was unable to sustain an injury when taking a blow to the body.

Types of memorabilia


Guernsey's in New York sold a burlap straight jacket which Houdini used for his iconic straight jacket escape act for $22,000, one of Houdini's traveling show trunks for $20,000, one of Houdini's crates which he used in his famous "escape acts" during the 1910s and 1920s for $20,000, Houdini's mail bag which he used in his escape tricks for $8,000, a milk can which Houdini used in his escape acts for $13,000, and one of Houdini's prison cell locks for $16,000 in March of 2008.

Christie's in New York sold five sets of iron cuffs and three keys that were used by Houdini during his escape acts along with a 1937 typed letter by Houdini's brother for $25,000 in June of 2009.

Profiles in History in Calabasas Hills, California sold a set of 1865 Civil War handcuffs which Houdini used in his "handcuff escape act" for $7,000 in April of 2009.


Potter & Potter Auctions in Chicago, Illinois sold a 1902 color poster of Houdini for $25,000 in March of 2011.

Guernsey's in New York sold a promotional Houdini billboard (circa 1910s to 1920s) for $27,500 in March of 2008.

Christie's in London sold a rare Houdini poster (circa 1912) for £21,150 in December of 2000.

Swann Auction Galleries, Inc. in New York sold a Houdini poster (circa 1920) for $11,000 in October of 2005.


Martinka Auctions in Midland Park, New Jersey sold original Houdini manuscripts as well as 14 typed letters and over 150 typed letters covering various performers for $40,000, and a personal letter between Harry Kellar and Houdini (circa 1918) for $32,500 in April of 2011.

Christie's in New York sold six typed letters signed by Houdini to Knox Julian (circa 1922-1926) for $9,200 in November of 1998.

Guide for collectors

Memorabilia that was used on stage for one Houdini's many historic and iconic stage acts is considered to be the most rare and valuable among collectors.

Restoration of an authentic Houdini stage prop is not recommended.

For more information regarding where to find Houdini-related memorabilia, visit www.houdinitribute.com.

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