Friday, June 11, 2021

A warning from Houdini

When Houdini returned to the UK at the start of 1913 his new feature was The Water Torture Cell (which he had debuted in Germany the year before). He was proud and protective of his new sensation, as this notice in the February 15, 1913 issue of The Era illustrates.

Click to enlarge.

The "Special Licence" Houdini is referring to is the license he received in 1911 when he first presented the Water Torture Cell as part of a play called Challenged. The mention of the two "Copyists" being fined in Germany is interesting. One is certainly Miss Undina. But who was the other?



  1. Very interesting. He protected it as a stage play, which was actually why he wrote the play about the Torture Cell a few years before this as I recall. Copyright laws must've been fairly basic in that era if the way to protect it was as a stage play (unless it was simply Houdini's choice to do it that way). Thanks for sharing this; quite cool!

    1. My pleasure Tom! It was very clever of Houdini to protect it in this way. He had patented his Milk Can, but that gave a blueprint to imitators and magic dealers. This kept the secret secret. Click the top Related link and you'll see the only know poster for the Challenged play (now in Copperfield collection).