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Houdini's Seance Cuffs

May 27 2007 at 3:21 AM
Mick Hanzlik 

Does anyone here know the history of the Houdini Seance Cuffs? I know they are used at every Houdini Seance, and I know that they have a Bramah lock fitted. I have even handled them at the London Seance, but at the time I wasn't that involved in research, I'm sorry to say.

I'm trying to find out the circumstances they were used. They do appear on the famous "Europe's Eclipsing Sensation" poster, so I suspect they are European, but I don't have any detailed record of where they came from.

Maybe this was one of those "I escape from your cuffs...I keep 'em" deals that Houdini often used, and just became part of his collection, and he thought they might look cool in the picture. He wanted lots of different cuffs on the poster to show the world he could escape from any kind of cuff.

Pehaps someone made them as a challenge, and he beat them. Who knows? Maybe you. If you have any historical ideas, let's share them.

I did try to ask Sid Radner a while ago, but I'm sorry to say I didn't get a reply to my emails.

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Seance Cuff

May 28 2007, 10:16 PM 

I also have had the pleasure of handling the Seance cuffs.
It's my belief that this is one of Houdini's "custom" made cuffs. It appears to have been either a custom-made, or cuff
simply altered from a Figure 8 handcuff. The bows appear identical to most Figure 8 handcuffs, and the locking tube the
same size except longer. Any thought on this Mick??
Best, John

Mick Hanzlik

Houdini's Seance Cuffs

May 29 2007, 2:50 AM 

John...my thoughts exactly. Looks too much like a figure 8 modified to me. My thoughts are that this was the fore-runner of the Mirror Cuff. The Bramah lock mechanism was taken from a Bramah Cabinet Lock and made to fit into the tube, and connected to the screw locking bolt.

On the photographs I have, there is a letter "T" stamped on the shackle. Could it be Thomas? Who knows.

I just would like to know if anyone has any more info on when they were used, as I would like to make the connection with Froggatt. In my article, I suggested that the Seance Cuffs were made first, and Houdini wanted something bigger and brighter so that they could be seen at the back of a theater, so the Mirror Cuffs were created.


Tracing of Seance cuffs

May 31 2007, 1:06 PM 

Have been looking through some old paper work and knew that Ray McKee had sent me an actual tracing of the Radner Seance Cuffs. Hopefully Joe will be able to attach picture (must try and work out this photobucket system!).
The tracing was sent to me back in about 1985, Ray also sent me details of the Mirror cuffs which is what I based my models on, however I do not know if Ray McKee actually examined the original cuffs but certainly the mechanism seems close to the recent photos that have become available. I did make up 6 sets of the Mirror cuffs in polished aluminium and used a simple barrel key to turn the mechanism 6 times to open them. Also made up 5 sets of them in Bronze which were nickel plated and on these I used a Legge 5 pin tumbler 'Yale' type lock. I would be interested to hear who has these copies now.
As I have previously said I did examine the original cuffs when I met Sidney Radner at the Magic circle and the lock is a 5 slider mechanism which I do not think was made by Bramah - more like a cheap French copy of the lock that is typically found on small wooden boxes etc.
if you have any trouble reading the writing let me know and I will try and help.


Re: Houdini's Seance Cuffs

May 31 2007, 8:57 PM 

Hi Chris

Just wanted to let you know that I have one of your Mirror cuffs in polished aluminium that uses the simple barrel key to turn the mechanism 6 times to open them. You supplied me with a good key since one was not supplied with the cuff when I bought them a few years ago on eBay.



Mirror cuff

June 1 2007, 12:21 AM 

HI Chris,
I had one of your bronze Mirror cuffs, acquired from
Tanner years ago. Two years ago I sold it to
Stephen Sparks, the Houdini collector.

Nice tracings of the Seance and Mirror.

Also, thanks for info on the Spoof manacle.

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