Harry Houdini's Water Mystery to make $25,000 at Chicago magic auction?

Harry Houdini's Double Fold Death Defying Water Mystery is to lead an auction at Potter & Potter in Chicago on August 23 with a $20,000-25,000 estimate.

The lot, built in around 1909, consists of a heavy wooden crate fitted with numerous locks.

During the performance Houdini (1874-1926) would climb into a milk can filled with water.

Water Houdini trick
The trick is considered an early stage in the design for the Water Torture Cell

A curtain would be drawn and after the audience had stewed for the requisite length of time, it would be removed to reveal him soaked to the skin but alive - a sight met with roars of relief and approval.

Gabe Fajuri of Potter & Potter told Paul Fraser Collectibles: "The Double-Fold Death Defying Water Mystery is an important link for Houdini between one of his first sensational escapes, the Milk Can, and perhaps his most famous, The Water Torture Cell.

"It is my understanding that Jim Collins, Houdini's trusted assistant, built the Torture Cell, and in all likelihood built the Double-Fold box, too."

An archive containing details of Houdini's 1902 slander trial in Germany is valued at $20,000-30,000.

At a police performance in Berlin in 1900 Houdini was stripped and manacled with the force's latest locks and handcuffs, but managed to free himself in around six minutes.

Soon after he was accused in a local newspaper of bribing an officer to help him escape - an accusation that he emphatically denied.

He sued both the paper and the policeman and won. During the trial, he demonstrated how he had performed the escape. The lot thus contains a rare insight into his closely guarded technique.

Houdini's autograph is both rare and highly sought after by collectors. We have this stunning signed photograph available.

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