Saturday, December 20, 2014

Curious Houdini memento sells on eBay

A fragment of paper said to show Houdini's signature and a sketch for an unknown escape sold on eBay yesterday for $121. The story behind it is as curious as the fragment itself.

Pictured above is Harry Houdini's autograph and rough sketch of locks he used in his act as a master escape artist. The paper, autograph, and drawing is done in pencil and is in very rough condition. All is original work of Harry Houdini..nothing has been reproduced.

In 1923 Houdini was in Chicago. My great-grandfather was a plumber, mover and lock smith at the time. Houdini came to my great-father because he needed keys made. He drew my grandfather a rough sketch of types of locks he would be using in his next act so he had an idea of what Houdini needed. Its a very cool piece of Houdini memorabilia that my great-grandfather cherished for many years. He kept this corner piece between pages in a book for many years. It was exposed to the elements, grandchildren, and time. So it is also yellowed and faded too. It is time to pass it along to another Houdini fan who will cherish it for years... As did my great-grandfather.

Not sure what to make of this. The signature is questionable and the sketch is suspiciously like this famous shot. But it's acceptable if we believe the provenance. Koval's Illustrated Houdini Research Diary for 1923 shows Houdini in Chicago January 8-13 (Palace Theater) and May 14-19 (State-Lake Theater). I'm wondering what Houdini could have been doing in 1923 that involved locks and chains?


  1. I'm also wondering what Houdini was doing with locks and chains in 1923 when he had discarded this type of escape many years prior. Houdini still performed escapes from rope ties around this time as we know from that fiery escape of that wooden stake fire escape that almost roasted him.

  2. I wouldn't touch this with your money.......

  3. The paper looks very old, but the doodle and the signature could have been faked. But supposing it wasn't, it doesn't look like something I would want in my collection. I would prefer an unsigned original 1st generation Houdini photo over this.

  4. Hello -- First time ever posting anything. We just discovered in my in-laws' house a postcard that appears to be sent by H Houdini while he was in Melbourne in Feb 1910. It is postmarked Feb. 10, 1910 and is addressed to the last name of Duncan in New York City. There is a note to the man on the front and then it is signed H Houdini. Where is a good place to authenticate this post card?

    1. Thanks for posting. You can email me images via my CONTACT page and I can tell you what I think. But if you want a certificate, you'll need to use some kind of professional service.