Houdini’s modified handcuffs to sell in Chicago

A pair of Harry Houdini’s modified “lily iron” handcuffs will appear in Potter & Potter’s Blackstone Magic Auction in Chicago on October 28.

The sale features pieces from the collection of Harry Blackstone Sr (1885-1965), one of the most popular American magicians of his generation.

Houdini king breaker

These cuffs are almost impossible to open

These handcuffs are known as “king breakers”. Houdini designed them especially to mess with his rivals.

The auction house explains: “Houdini had these cuffs altered to stump other escape artists; they do not operate like a normal handcuff.

“They were meant to ‘stump’ a would-be handcuff artist so they cannot get out even with a key.

“Only two ‘king breakers’ have sold publicly, both from the Dick Wresch Collection.”

The cuffs are valued at $8,000-12,000.

A tailcoat Blackstone wore on stage is expected to make $6,000-9,000.

The piece dates to the mid-1940s and features the requisite secret pockets for performing a trick called the Enchanted Garden, with which Blackstone opened his show.

It’s the only matched set of Blackstone’s stage wear known to exist.

There’s also a pair of rings, originally belonging to Dutch sleight of hand magician Fred Kaps in the 1960s, that can be linked together.

Kaps is said to have had them especially made by a jeweller. 

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