Monday, May 13, 2019

Houdini secrecy oath sells on eBay

A handwritten Houdini oath of secrecy signed by locksmith Gilbert Dawes and witnessed by Franz Kukol sold on eBay over the weekend for $988. The oath is dated February 10, 1911 when Houdini was performing at the Empire Theater in Leeds. Below is a photo and the auction description.

Click to enlarge.

This rare and famous letter was a oath of secrecy from Harry Houdini's Locksmith; in the letter Mr. Gilbert Dawes agrees to not to disclose the secrets of Houdini. The second individual in the letter is Houdini's apprentice. We contacted the current living relatives of Gilbert to learn that the famous living magician Edwin Dawes is a relative of the late Gilbert Dawes and found records of his existence. Dated 1911. 
Henry Muller (1930 –2017), was the founder, owner and curator of the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in Niagara Falls, Canada. Mr. Muller purchased this letter in 1967 along with other Houdini original locks, keys, illusions and paraphernalia from Joseph Dunninger. Dunninger had acquired them from Houdini’s wife Beatrice and his brother Hardeen, to whom Houdini had bequeathed the collection. The Houdini Magical Hall of Fame existed from 1967 to 1991. In 1991, a fire consumed much of the museum. This item was on display in a part of the museum that was not consumed by the flames. The keys are now is custody of the late Mr. Muller’s son David. David is offering a COA and will field any questions about the keys' chain of custody for authentication purposes. I also encourage you to do your research on the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame to validate my information. These are museum pieces of history and would be a exciting item to own! (see attached photos)

Does anyone recall seeing this letter on display at the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame (because I don't)? It will be interesting to see if more Henry Muller rarities surface on eBay. Muller died in 2017

Thanks to Kevin Connolly for the alert.



  1. The letter looks familiar to me, and it may have been on display near the massive display of Houdini's locks, either on the wall or in one of the cases. Such an interesting artifact. (The excerpt from the Ebay post incorrectly states that the catastrophic fire at the Hall of Fame occurred in 1991. It actually occurred in early May, 1995; I visited there several months earlier.)

    1. He also calls Franz Kukol Houdini's "apprentice."

      I'm not sure who's handling this for Henry's son (which appears to be what's going on here?), but I can't help but think this would have done better in a proper magic auction. I wasn't even aware of this auction until it was over.