Sunday, November 13, 2011

Magic History Conference spotlights Minerva The Handcuff Queen

Source: Egyptian Hall/Magic Footnotes
The biennial Los Angeles Conference on Magic History has concluded. I didn't make the invite list this year, so I've had to do some detective work to find out if there was anything Houdini related. So far it appears Harry got the brush, but one lecture I'm sure was of great interest to fans of escape history was a presentation by Gary Hunt on Minerva: Queen of Handcuffs.

Minerva was no fan of Houdini and the feeling was mutual. They had a serious run-in in 1908 when Minerva, like so many others, started doing an imitation of Houdini's Milk Can Escape. Guy Jarrett, a major Houdini hater, later claimed Houdini (or one of his assistants) put lime in Minerva's water barrel and almost blinded her. The story divides magic historians along partisan lines, with Houdini fans not believing Harry would go to such lengths to put a rival out of business, and Houdini haters holding it up an example of just how vicious Houdini could be to competitors.

Where did Gary Hunt come down on the Minerva lime barrel story? According to attendee Richard Hatch (who gave me much appreciated intel via the Genii forums), Gary "seemed to think something had happened, but wasn't convinced of the details of Jarrett's account."

Gary also revealed some rare Minerva posters he uncovered while doing his research.

You can find out more about Minerva and read Gary Hunt's other fine work at his blog, Magic Footnotes.


  1. Sure would have been great to have been there in person to see the lecture. But thanks for sharing this!

  2. Sorry I don't have more to share! Had I been there I would have have blogged each day about every lecture I heard.