Here’s a magnificent photo of Bess Houdini I recently found on an auction website (below). The glittering goodies on the table include some pretty recognizable stuff. such as the original bronze Houdini bust, the legendary Mirror Cuffs, and the Hamilton & Co. silver duplicates of those cuffs.
In her essay, “Recollections of Harry and Bess Houdini,” published in the appendix of Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss, by Kenneth Silverman (p. 423), Marie Blood, Houdini and Bess’s niece, remembers the cuffs and perhaps something else that appears in the photo:
There was a gold-leaf curio cabinet in the bedroom, with a curved glass door. Inside were treasures—the gold Fabergé ladle Houdini received for his performance before royalty in Russia; the famous Mirror Handcuffs; silver engraved rice bowls from China; and a beautiful little ivory baby carriage with a tiny satin pillow and coverlet.
Admittedly, I don’t know what the Fabergé ladle or the rice bowls look like, but do you think they’re in this picture? How about the other stuff? Recognize anything in particular? Where is all of it now? I’d love to hear your thoughts about these “treasures” and where you think the picture was taken.
Not only the Mirror Cuffs with it’s key, but the silver replica cuffs too. Funny there is only one key?……
Hi Mick. Yes, I looked for the key in that pic and wondered if it was hidden behind something.
One of those punch bowls is still owned by John Hinson. I’m going to do a post about that soon explaining exactly what it is.
Speaking of John, he told me he used to play with the Mirror cuffs as a kid, but he never saw a key.
Hey John. Can you imagine? You’re a kid and have access to those cuffs and lots of other genuine Houdini stuff. I would have been in heaven. Can you identify anything else in that photo based on any auctions or collections you’ve seen? Looking forward to your post about the punch bowls.
The statuette of the woman on the right looks very familiar. I believe that was some kind of an trophy Houdini received during his first European tour. I feel like I’ve seen an illustration of that somewhere.
BTW, is that a magic want laying in front of Bessie?
Yes, extremely familiar. If I find it elsewhere, I’ll let you know. Hard to tell for sure, but yes, it sure looks like a wand. I’d love to know for sure what all the other items are. I wonder how many of them Jon Oliver owns, if any.
There were two keys for the mirror cuffs. The silver replica was a non working model.
That scoop off Bess’s elbow looks like it could be a Faberge ladle (jewel-encrusted, in other words).
Yes, I also think that’s possible, David.