Rare 1901 pictures of Houdini Manacled


April 26, 2016 by houdiniandhardeen

I recently purchased a rare 1901 magazine featuring an article about Houdini published January 5th, 1901. According to Wikipedia: “Black & White Budget was a Victorian illustrated weekly printed and published by W.J.P. Monckton in London. The first issue appeared on 14 October 1899 under the name Black & White. Thereafter it continued as Black & White Budget until 30 May 1903, after which it appeared as Black & White Illustrated Budget until 17 June 1905. There was one more issue on 24 June 1905 under the name Illustrated Budget, at which point it was discontinued. The weekly provided English readers with coverage of the AngloBoer War.”

2016-04-25 12.00.53

A 25 year old Harry Houdini posing in several handcuffs, leg irons, and a restraint for the criminally insane.2016-04-25 11.57.07

Handcuffed in the infamous Bean Giants!2016-04-25 11.57.40

Shown here in the Lunatic Restraint, and escaping from two pairs of handcuffs.2016-04-25 11.59.09

A pair of Palmer Irons sit on the ground, an unknown leg Irons on his leg (possibly an early plug or Lily Leg Iron) and in his hand, and a lunatic restraint sits on the ground to his left.2016-04-25 11.57.47

A rare sight to see Houdini with only one pair of German Berliners on both wrists (below). It has been noted by the historians that Houdini did not typically use just one pair placed on both wrists. Instead he would use several pairs linking them together. Speculators believe the reason for this might be that it is very difficult to escape with both wrists restrained so tightly. I disagree having escaped a pair of Berliners placed on both wrists. If you know the method you can get out! Another more likely reason might be that he used several pairs for a visual impact. I found it difficult to use just one pair of Berliners on both wrists in conjunction with several other old pairs of cuffs. The fact that they restrain the wrists so closely doesn’t allow room for the other cuffs to be applied.2016-04-25 11.57.53

A pair of Berliners from my collection.2015-10-27 16.57.30

Other pictures (not from the Black and White Budget article) of Houdini in Berliners and several other cuffs. As you can see if the Berliners were on both wrists it would be impossible (or at least very painful) to apply the other cuffs.

Below Houdini restrained in a pair of Lily Irons:2016-04-25 11.59.39

Here he is being manacled with Palmers and the Lily Irons on his wrists and the Lily Irons on his biceps.2016-04-25 11.59.52

This interesting lunatic restraint. It appears to cover the manacled hands in order to protect you and others.2016-04-25 12.00.00

2016-04-25 11.59.44


3 thoughts on “Rare 1901 pictures of Houdini Manacled

  1. These photos make it clear that even with the keys, it isn’t easy to get out of manacles when you are shackled in certain positions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very true. I own a small collection of antique handcuffs and have researched and tried escape techniques that Houdini most likely used. He definitely used Keys and picks and tools to hold or extend the keys, but for him to always be successful at affecting his escape it took skill, strength and guts to work in nearly impossible situations without fail.


  2. Absolutely, Harry must have had to manufacture specialized tools like extensions for keys from scratch to get the job done. Many of these shackle escapes were also performed in dark cabinets. The path of the Handcuff King is not all roses.


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