Monday, January 10, 2011

Nicola The Handcuff King

Nicola was a successful big stage illusionist in the mode of Thurston, Blackstone, and Dante. But early in his career he dabbled in escape, even co-opting Houdini's billing as "King of Handcuffs." Oh foolish young Nicola. No matter how daring your escapes, don't you know nothing is more dangerous than to tread on Houdini's turf!

In my collection is this undated Nicola program in which he features himself primarily as an escape artist. I must say, most of Houdini's imitators looked foolish in their fetters, but Nicola appears to be pulling it off. Maybe Houdini was lucky he got out of the escape game.

John Cox Collection

John Cox Collection

CLICK HERE for terrific album of rare Nicola images, many of him escapes, including a pic of Nicola performing his own version of The Milk Can. Death-defying indeed.


  1. Ive been waiting for this one. I've got a collection of Nicola things as well. This was great.
    The additional link was amazing too. It looks like Nicola really went after the 'Milk Can' look completely. Awesome!

  2. I was thinking I really had something here until I discovered that link at the last minute. Amazing shots. Looks like Nicola did it all. Did you see in the Comments that the person who posted them says he's related to Nicola?

  3. Wow, this post has cracked my Top 5 most viewed. I had no idea it would be this popular.

  4. This is my Great Uncle. He was married to my Great Aunt Marion Eddings. In fact that is my middle name. It is wonderful to see these pictures. Thank you so much for posting these.John Cox,I don't know who posted these but if his name is Dick Wilson he is related. His mother was Marion's sister.He posts all kinds of Nicola's stuff. In fact I was doing some googling and found some of his posts and found a picture of my father as a boy I had never seen before!Our family owns his 3 carat diamond ring that he wore and I took that and a few of more of his things to the Antique's Roadshow. I told them that Marion always claimed that Houdini stole Nick's tricks. I was told that that might actually be true as the magicians had a sort of fraternity and shared their tricks with each other.I'm sure what she was angry about was the fact that Houdini got the recognition for them not Nicola. Nicola did the staight jacket bit as well. same trick hanging upside down. so the myth that Houdini dislocated his shoulder is a bunch of hooey.Elizabeth Eddings Horn Horacek

    1. Thank you for the comment, Elizabeth. I'm glad you've discovered my blog and would love to hear more about your family, Nicola, and what they thought of Houdini.


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