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Christie’s Harry Houdini straightjacket brings $46,980 – 50% over estimate

Harry Houdini’s $46,980 straightjacket went for twice as much as a similar piece, three years ago

Legendary escape artist Harry Houdini alluded the grasp of many bidders at Christie's Film & Entertainment Memorabilia sale last night (November 23) in which values of his collectibles shot up well beyond their pre-sale estimates.

Estimated at just £20,000 ($31,320) was a straitjacket of khaki canvas by Swanfeldt Tent & Awning Co. The straightjacket was owned by Houdini circa 1915, and in the end sold for £30,000 ($46,980) - 50% more than Christie's estimated value.

This is even more impressive considering that another Houdini jacket sold for $22,000 in a Las Vegas auction back in 2008. In other words, the value of one of these pieces have more than doubled in three years.

Houdini's Swanfeldt Tent & Awning Co straightjacket - sold for $46,980 

It's no surprise that Houdini's collectibles are going up value. Key to any historic icon's collectibles prices is their legacy, and Houdini remains possibly the most famous magician in history.

We've added rare Houdini items to our stock in recent times, including this black and white photograph bearing the magician's autograph and an inscription.

It reads "Best Wishes, Harry Houdini, 4/1/11", clearly across a darker part of the photograph. This rare piece is now more than 100 years old, and older that the straightjacket sold by Christie's for $46,980 - yet we're offering it for just £2,750.

As Christie's sale of Houdini's straight jacket demonstrated earlier this week, the value of this Houdini autographed photo will likely grow in value in future years. But even this is nothing compared with the pleasure of owning and piece held and signed by history's most famous magician.

As Houdini’s straightjackets rise in value, smaller collectibles like this autograph for sale dated 1911 – actually older than the $46,980 straightjacket sold at Christie’s – offer a bargain entry into the ‘Houdini markets’


Meanwhile, Christie's sale this week also saw a pair of Houdini's cast metal Judd leg irons, used as locking ankle restraints, bring an impressive £5,000 ($7,830) above their £3,000 ($4,698) higher estimate. The leg irons sold with two letters confirming their provenance.

All of Christie's auction results included Buyer's Premium.

Recent and related articles

  Houdini's handcuffs and other magic memorabilia go under the hammer in Chicago | 14 May 2011

Potter & Potter prepare to present more conjuring collectibles with a flourish

  Harry Houdini memorabilia that should not escape your attention | 24 March 2011

On the anniversary of Houdini's birthday we reveal the escape artist's collectibles

  $20,000 Houdini poster finally escapes from cellar to lead a collection for sale | 9 March 2011

Later this month, over 100 rare and antique images from the world of magic go under the hammer

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Images: Christie's

Last updated: 24 November 2011