Houdini, Harry (Ehrich Weisz). Houdini’s “Handcuff King Breaker” Lilly Iron. American, ca. 1875. Modified to Houdini’s specifications circa 1905. Sturdy bar-like restraint, owned and used by Houdini to “break” competing escape artists, also known as “handcuff kings.” With special key. 14 ?” long. Good working condition. The rarest Houdini-owned handcuffs are five likely made to his specifications: The Mirror Cuff, the Séance or Hungarian cuff, The Russian Manacle, the Houdini Bell Lock handcuff, and the French letter lock cuff. Other significant Houdini cuffs are known as “Handcuff King Breakers.” Several are known: two Rankin Handcuffs, two Bean Giants, and one Lilly Iron. This is the one known Lilly Iron. Houdini had these cuffs altered to stump other escape artists; they do not operate like a normal handcuff. They were meant to “stump” a would-be handcuff artist so they cannot get out even with a key. Only two “king breakers” have sold publicly, both from the Dick Wresch Collection. Lilly irons are famous in their own right, having been used to restrain the Lincoln conspirators. This example has a spanner wrench-locking bolt instead of a regular locking bolt, making it unique both as a Houdini owned/used restraint and escape artist item. Included is a certificate of authenticity signed by Sidney Radner, issued when the set was sold as part of the Great Houdini Auction held in Las Vegas in 2004.
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