A Houdini key has sold on eBay for $310. There are a fair amount of keys out there that claim a Houdini connection. Most of these originate from the Sidney Radner collection. But this key has an entirely different provenance that I find interesting and worth sharing.
This key came from the collection of lock and key collector Paul Harter of Mansfield, Ohio. Harter began a correspondence with Hardeen in 1941, and Hardeen sold Harter some 78 locks and keys that once belonged to Houdini for 25 cents each. Hardeen then sent Harter 60 pounds of keys from the Houdini collection. After Hartner's death, his widow authorized the sale of the keys. This key was part of the 60 pound stash.
All this is nicely explained in a booklet called The Story Behind The Houdini Keys that accompanies each key. I've never seen one of these Harter keys before, but with a sale price of $310, it certainly appears collectors take these seriously. Or is the booklet the thing that draws the hardcore HH collector?
One thing I'd like to know is what year these keys were originally sold.
UPDATE: There's an interesting discussion going on at Handcuffs.org questioning the authenticity of this key. Also, another auction has appeared using this same pic. This might be a case of buyer beware. (I'm considering removing this story.)