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"The Last Handcuffs", fourth installment of five

Hauntingly, the instructions Houdini had recorded in his last will and testament shouted through my mind..."devise and bequeath to my brother Theodore Franz Weiss, professionally known as Hardeen, all my lithographs, theatrical effects, new mysteries, and illusions and accompanying paraphernalia to be burned and destroyed upon his death...". Recalling this, I sought to reconcile reality with dashed hopes.


Possibly, Houdini had taken a cue from Hofzinser, an Austrian magician genius of the early 1800's, who had wanted to have all his magic properties done away with after his death. Apparently, Mrs. Hofzinser did not comply. Perhaps, too, Houdini's instructions, if revealed during his own lifetime, would add to the lustre of the Houdini fable. It could also serve as a footing for Hardeen, in establishing him as successor for presentations of the deceased mystericist's show.


It may be that economic pressures played an insidious role in directing Hardeen's course of action. He sold off most of the important materials, allowing little for his wife to dispose of similarly. After John McManus' and my final screenings and what our kind friends carted away, the customary agencies of civic sanitation were called upon for the final dispersal, except for that "little bag of picks".


Moreover, that tantalizing pair of handcuffs which I had removed from a cellar wall was the last representative handcuff to be released from the Houdini-Hardeen estates and escape oblivion. From a collector's point of view, what a prize!

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We proceeded to gather together many small objects and pack as much as possible into John's car, to be checked through as to those we felt warranted retention for historical preservation. Then Mrs. H