Potter & Potter have posted their massive August 23 Houdini sale online at Live Auctioneers. As expected, it's an amazing collection of rare Houdiniana, certainly the biggest and most important Houdini auction in years. While there are several rarities that alone would be the star of any auction, I expect most eyes (and paddles) will be on Lot 39, the original box used by Houdini in his Double Fold Death Defying Mystery. Until now, I had only heard rumors that this famous Houdini prop still existed. But now here it is for all to see!
|Click to enlarge.|
While there is a well-known poster for the escape, there are no real-life photos of Houdini doing the Double Fold. However, there is an image of Hardeen in performance (he inherited the apparatus from Houdini), which until now gave us our only photographic look at the chest.
|Hardeen in the Double Fold (Jim Collins is holding the lid).|
The auction includes a Hardeen playbill in which he's written to Sidney Radner: "This is the box escape. How would you like to do it? Not another in the world. H." However, it doesn't appear the chest went to Sid, which explains why it never showed up at the Houdini Magic Hall of Fame and has remained largely unseen (and in beautiful condition). The auction description says that the chest went from Houdini to Hardeen to Jack Lawain of Monmouth, Illinois, a well-known dealer in collectible and used magic props and ephemera.
The outer dimensions of the box measure 29 1⁄4 x 29 1⁄4 x 38 1⁄2". A ring in the bottom of the box (22 3⁄4" in diameter) shows where the Milk Can was set during performances. Also included is a later canvas cover for the crate. The auction estimate is $20,000 – $25,000. Bidding starts at $10,000. This is certainly going to be one to watch!
You can view and bid on all the items in this amazing auction now via at Live Auctioneers. You can also purchase the auction catalog or download a free PDF from the Potter & Potter website.
Stay turned for a look at more historic items from this important Houdini auction.
UPDATE: Joe Notaro of HHCE reminded me of this brief look at the Double Fold chest with the Milk Can inside from the Gene Gamache documentary Houdini (People Came To See Him Die). Thanks Joe.
UPDATE 2: For a better look at the photo above and some speculation about what happened to the Double Fold can, check out: Unfolding the Double Fold mysteries.