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The Houdini Handkerchief Escape by Ireland Magic Company(c. 1932) (Submit Review) (Submit Update)
This very clever effect and equally clever piece of apparatus was invented by Laurie Ireland and Carlton King c. 1932 (Carlton was the chief demonstrator for the Ireland Magic Company). It was available for purchase for about fifteen years but after that Ireland Magic stopped making it and only sold the workshop plans and instructions. As far as I can tell even after Ireland Magic became Magic Inc. and they continued to publish the workshop plans to this day, the prop itself has not been built since the late 1940’s. Once you read the instructions you will quickly understand why, there is a lot going on here and at first it is a little daunting. This unit came with the original instructions and the workshop plans that were later released and using the workshop plans is a littler clearer. Once you have walked through this effect just once it all becomes much clearer and if I do a speed demo of this you will find it even easier to understand. It is really not that complex when you see what you have to do, but it is a little tricky to describe in words.
When The Houdini Handkerchief Escape was first released it caused quite a sensation and even impressed the great Harlan Tarbell. Here is a description of what happened in the M.U.M. minutes as published in the The Sphinx (July 1932, pg. 207):
“… Lastly came the long awaited Houdini handkerchief escape which was the sensation of the three conventions. This flashy effect simply smacked the audience between the eyes, and even Tarbell, that blase old master of the craft was seen to hitch forward eagerly on his chair when “Houdini” vanished. This clever trick is by far the most outstanding small illusion that has been shown in these parts in the past year at least, and the Messrs. Ireland and King (a harmonious combination on this side of the Atlantic, at least) deserve congratulations for having produced so clever an effect.”
I’m pretty confident even if you have heard about this very clever piece of apparatus you have never seen it performed. I love finding cool prop magic like this and am always amazed at the lengths some clever inventors go to in an effort to entertain and fool us 🙂
- The unique Jail cell built by Ireland Magic Company.
- All silks required by the effect, these are already tied correctly and ready to work as in the video.
- All necessary gimmicks.
- Full original instructions and extra workshop booklet instructions that was later released.
- A dye tube (a common prop) to used to make Houdini appear on a spectators back, but this is not included. Instead I include the rope and instructions for the Silk on Rope that is a much better and more magical ending. It is easy enough to obtain a dye tube if you need one otherwise.
- This comes with everything shown in the video and you can perform this right out of the box after reading the instructions. All silks and gimmicks are in amazing condition for an almost ninety year old prop 🙂
Effect: Short description: A feature challenge. So clever mechanically that even magicians can’t explain the secret. The apparatus consists of a beautifully constructed jail cell, and two green handkerchiefs (the Guards) and an orange silk representing Houdini.
Houdini is tied between the guards by spectators and placed in the cell (see drawing). Now while one spectator holds one guard and another spectator securely holds the door of the cell, Houdini makes his escape!
He disappears from the jail entirely and the two guards are found tied together. Performer now turns one of the assistants around and there is a shout from the audience. Houdini is seen hanging on the assistant’s back.
This masterpiece is suitable for any style of show and can be worked surrounded by spectators.
A more detailed description: Here is an effect that is absolutely new. Nothing even like it has ever been offered to the magical enthusiast. It lends itself admirably to “Story Magic,” now so much in vogue.
The effect is as follows: The performer requests the assistance of three boys from the audience. He now displays three silk handkerchiefs, one orange, and two green. Upon the orange silk the name “Houdini” is printed, and on the green silks is lettered the word “Guard.” The three boys examine these silks and are told to tie them together with Houdini between the two guards. The performer now introduces a model of a jail cell, about 14 inches high with two small windows in the sides. (See illustration). The silks are placed in the cell and a portion of each guard handkerchief is left protruding through each window.
At this point the magician begins his story, which is as follows: A number of years ago while “Houdini” was traveling through England, he was challenged by the Chief of Police in the City of Sheffield to escape from the “Charlie Peace” cell, named after the notorious murderer who occupied this cell. Houdini accepted the challenge and was successful in making his escape after being locked securely in the cell. With the aid of this model the performer explains that he intends to show the audience exactly what took place.
One of the boys is asked to hold the cell and the other two boys are asked to keep hold of a guard. The audience see “Houdini” safely tied between the two guards with the boys holding the guards through the cell windows. The boys now close the door. The performer does not touch a thing. The boys from the audience are in complete control. At a given signal one of the boys releases his hold on one of the guards and the other boy pulls the “guard” out of the cell when it is seen that “Houdini” has vanished. The two guards are NOW SECURELY TIED TOGETHER.
The cell is opened. “Houdini” has again been successful in slipping out of a tight place. The boys are requested to look around. Suddenly there is a roar of laughter from the audience. The boy holding the cell turns around and hanging on his back is found the missing “Houdini.”
POINTS TO REMEMBER
- The silks are examined.
- No fake silks are used.
- As far as the audience are aware the boys do the trick themselves.
- The handkerchiefs are tied together by the boys.
- The trick is entirely mechanical and can be performed by anyone.
Approx. Price: $450.00 (2022) ***
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