But I've been reluctant to post anything about these as it all seems a little suspicious to me. First off, Houdini had throwing knives??? I've never heard of Houdini doing a knife throwing act. The only provenance I find is that they belonged to "the Hartley family, who were companions of Houdini". I've never heard of the Hartley family. Also, in 2003, a completely different set of "Houdini throwing knives" sold in a Lelands auction for a revealingly low price of $349.
The current owner of these knives appears to be a professional knife thrower named The Great Throwdini, who writes on his website:
They were once the knives of THE GREAT HARRY HOUDINI (no kidding, these WERE Harry Houdini's personal throwing knives). They measure an awesome 16.5"and have cork handles. Made by the W.S. Brown Co., Pittsburgh PA.
In the Oddites show, Throwdini appears not as the owner, but as the purchaser. Again, suspicious, but I'm learning many of these "reality" shows employ similar tactics -- like having an actor present an item and then having the owner pose as the expert. But this just makes me all the more reluctant to believe that these knives have anything to do with Houdini, and are just being used as a publicity gimmick for Throwdini's act.
However, I'm certainly willing to have my mind changed. I would love to learn that Harry and Bess did a knife throwing act in their early years.
So does anyone know anything more about these? Maybe Throwdini himself can add a comment? Let's throw some light on these knives (see what I did there?).
UPDATE: Well, it appears there is a verifiable connection between Houdini and a knife throwing act. "Mr. Know-It-All" alerts me to Houdini's first pitch book (the cover of which you can see in Ken Silverman's Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss) which contains a section called, "How to do an Impalment [sic] Act." Doesn't mean Houdini performed the act himself, but he does present himself as expert enough to teach it, so knife throwing appears to be part of his skill set. Also, cork handles appear to be in line with his suggestion: "For an effective finish saturate the handles with some inflamable [sic] stuff and ignite them and then hurl at subject."