Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Houdini's Brother Figures Prominently In Upcoming Auction

Theo Hardeen - Library of Congress Photo

August 23rd is only a couple days away. Potter and Potter Auction is holding a very special HOUDINIANA Auction. There are some incredible pieces in this auction. But one thing that really stands out to me is the amount of Hardeen material.

Theo 'Dash' Weiss, Houdini's brother was known as Hardeen. For many years he performed a similar act to Houdini. He never achieved the same fame as his brother, but he sure kept busy. He inherited all his brothers props upon the death of Houdini and according to the Will, all of this stuff was to be burnt/destroyed when Hardeen died. But it wasn't, THANKFULLY!

I'd like to focus on a couple of the Hardeen items, or the ones where Hardeen contributes something but were actually Houdini items. The first is a Letter Lock that Houdini was Challenged with. This is Lot#46 and has a estimated price of $7000/$9000. It comes with a letter from Hardeen and signed by Hardeen that explains where Houdini first got this lock. In 1905 Houdini was performing at the Alhambra Theatre in Paris when a spectator throws this lock on the stage and challenges Houdini to open it. Houdini says it would take too long but tells the spectator that if he can come backstage after the show, he will open it. This happens and Houdini opens the lock. However, you must read the full write up of the letter in the Potter and Potter Auction Catalog to find out the whole story. It's worth checking out!

Lot#51 is very interesting to me. It is a hand written letter describing a presentation for the escape from Bean Giant Handcuffs. The letter is front and back on Hardeen's stationary. Bean Giant cuffs, are extremely formidable cuffs because they are rigid. If they are placed on with the keyhole facing inwards towards the prisoner, they are virtually impossible to get out of even with the key. Houdini devised a method to escape from the Bean Giants and this was no doubt handed down to his brother Hardeen. I'd love to read this letter and find out what the routine was like.

Lot#53 A lot of 64 Letters to Sid Radner from Theo Hardeen. Can you imagine??? Wow, this is absolutely amazing. The wealth of information in these letters has got to be unreal! One of the things mentions, and I'm not sure I knew this, is that Hardeen had the Robert-Houdin Antonio Diavolo Automaton in his possession. Hardeen also mentions probably throwing away the apparatus for the Walking Through a Brick Wall due to this size and trouble with shipping. What??? There is so much to learn about Houdini and Hardeen from these letters. This is a real gem!

Lot#81 16mm Film of Hardeen's Overboard Packing Box Escape. It also comes with a digital DVD copy. I'm not sure this has every been seen. What an amazing piece of history, being able to see Hardeen in action!

Lot#187 Lithograph of Hardeen. This dates to 1908 and is probably cut out of a larger lithograph. I've never seen this image before so it might be the only surviving piece of a larger litho.

There are quite a few other Hardeen items in the auction, but the ones above are by far my personal favorites. Don't forget to register for the auction which begins this coming Saturday, Aug 23, 2014

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Dean! Another great blog! I believe that 6 of those letters from Hardeen to Radner in Lot #53 are up for reading. In one of those letters, Hardeen tells Sid that he still has a letter that Radner was interested in and would sell it to him for a $100.00. Hardeen planned on burning it if Radner changed his mind. What the heck was that letter? Possibly a letter from Houdini to Hardeen explaining the method to an escape?