Sunday, February 21, 2016

McSorley's Houdini handcuffs update

Here's an update from the great Fred Pitella on my recent post about the "Houdini handcuffs" in McSorley's Old Ale House in New York (Were these handcuffs left behind by Houdini?). Fred sent me this souvenir coaster that McSorley's produced a few years ago that sheds some light on the subject.

So while the story of Houdini visiting McSorley's might still be true, it looks like these are not the original handcuffs that Houdini affixed to the bar himself. According to Fred, one of the older bartenders told him they've had to replace the handcuffs because people took them for souvenirs.

But I still think any Houdini tour of New York requires and stop and a pint at McSorley's. In fact, just thinking about it is making me thirsty!

Thanks to Fred Pitella. Check out Fred's site: Houdini & Escapes Museum. Also check out this recent article about McSorley's anniversary: New York’s oldest Irish pub celebrates 162 years.



  1. There isn't anything mysterious about the serial number on a pair of handcuffs. I suspected that bar patrons had stolen the cuffs over the years. It would explain that padlock we see holding the cuffs in that photo.

  2. What was Houdini's attitude toward imbibing alcohol? We know he didn't really drink but did have an occasional beer. Gresham discusses it in his bio and mentioned that HH would have a pint or two of beer with his crew.

    1. Houdini said he didn't smoke or drink alcohol. I don't think he was against drinking, and he maybe he took an occasional drink to be sociable, but I don't think drinking or getting drunk held any interest for him. He was so much about keeping his mind and body sharp. It's probably why he got so much done in life!

  3. You got that right John! I remember you mentioning that HH fired on all cylinders during the last years of his life, but that applies to his entire lifespan. Studying his life is a kind motivational course.

  4. You can order stuff other than beer, etc in a bar. Soda for instance. Harry may just have had a ginger-ale or something.

  5. I remember reading in Gresham's bio that Harry would on occasion have a beer with his assistants after the show. He may have also drank champagne in social gatherings. But no a regular drinker by any means.

  6. The handcuffs were placed on the bar rail by Major Walter M. Murphy, USMC....KIA Hue City 31Jan1968. Buried Arlington National Cemetery. awarded the Silver Star. They were placed there December 1966

  7. I went to a ceremony honoring major Murphy USMC alpha one, one Anonymous is correct. SINY.