Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The Houdini Milk Can Poster Breaks the Bank!


A recent Potter and Potter Auction featured a Houdini Milk Can Escape Poster. This poster dates back to 1908 and was produced by Russell-Morgan Lithos of Cincinnati & New York. The poster depicts Houdini inside the can with a view of him submerged inside. The live audience never had a view inside the can but this artistic depiction helps to convey the cramped confines of this dramatic escape. On top of that, there are the words, "Failure Means a Drowning Death". 

Originally referred to as The Galvanized Iron Can Escape, it was the creation of Montraville Wood. Houdini, debuted the escape at the Columbia Theatre in St. Louis on January 27th, 1908. He had previously been pressure from the theatre manager to produce something people wanted to see, as his handcuff escape act was not pulling the crowds. Too many imitators cooled the desire to see such acts. So Houdini brought out the big guns, The Galvanized Iron Can Escape. Over time he would use it in many different ways. He would fill it with Milk as a challenge from a Dairy, or fill it with Beer as a challenge from a brewery. Over time he would add a wooden box in which the milk can was placed inside and yet he still was able to escape from everything!

I've written a longer piece about the Milk Can Escape which you can read here.

This particular poster came from Houdini's basement on 278 W 113th in NY.  The auction estimates were between $40,000 and $60,000. This poster with buyers premium sold for $180,000.00

Below is a photo of the Columbia Theater where Houdini debuted The Milk Can Escape!

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