Monday, October 28, 2013

100 years ago today - a gift for the boss

I'm pushing our regular Monday installment of "Unpublished Houdini" to tomorrow so I can bring you another treasure from the Hinson family collection which marks its 100th anniversary today. This silver punch bowl was given to Houdini by his assistants on October 28, 1913 in Stuttgart to commemorate his 30 years as a performer (1883-1913). The punch bowl is inscribed with the names: J. Collins - J. Vickery - F. Kukol - J. Zwettler. While the first three names are familiar ones, this is the first I've heard of an assistant named Zwettler.

This magnificent punch bowl can be spotted among Houdini's trophies in several photos (like this one). In the 1930s Bess passed it on to her sister, Marie Hinson. According to John C. Hinson, the family used it to store nuts and bolts until his father received it in 1950. The bowl passed to John in 1992 and was actually used at the New England Magic Collectors Association convention that year. It is now on display at Ray Goulet's Mini Museum of Magic in Watertown, Massachusetts, where it can be seen and enjoyed by all.

So I guess that means today is the 130th anniversary of Houdini as a performer. Let's fill up the punch bowl and celebrate!


  1. A toolbox for nuts and bolts. Good Lord. At least it's in a place where it will be cared for. Cheers for Ray Goulet.

    1. Well, cheers for Ray and John Hinson. John is the one who pulled the nuts and bolts and gave it to Ray for display (I believe John still owns it).

  2. JohnHinson great nephew of Bess and Harry HoudiniOctober 28, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    I still own the punch bowl. It lone to the Ray Goulet mini magic museum my grandparents use to keep nuts and bolts in it. when my father got it in the 1950, I got it in 1992 then to the museum. I used only once as a punch bowl at the 1992 New england magic convention.

    1. Oh, so the nuts and bolts came out in 1950 then.

      I love that it was used at the '92 convention! To drink from Houdini's punch bowl…excellent. :)

      I've updated the post with this info. Thanks, John.

  3. WRT Josef Zwettler: On page 164 of Houdini Laid Bare, there is a reference to a contract that Houdini had an assistant named Josef Zwettler sign on November 30, 1912 that was cited by Silverman in the notes he deposited at the Houdini Historical Center. Is it possible that the unknown assistant in the photo on page 264 of The Secret Life is Josef Zwettler?


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