top of page
  • cyoungc

"The Last Handcuffs", third installment of five

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. Hardeen invited us to her late husband's bedroom where we might be tempted by other memorabilia.

Captivated by the aura of the room, I was fascinated by a small round mirror on a stand, perched on the dresser, that seemed out of place. Mrs. Hardeen explained that it had been her husband's make-up mirror, which always accompanied him on tour.

Nearby, a tray of trinkets contained several gold-plated buttons on which the letter "H" was fashioned. They were from jackets worn by Hardeen and members of the show. John took the mirror and I picked up two of the buttons, one of which is now at the Houdini Historical Center. The mirror joined Ken Klosterman's Salon de Magie.

Before leaving the house, I returned to the cellar for a final look, hesitant to depart because of the almost supernatural spoor of the brothers Houdini and Hardeen that lingered. A glint from an opposite wooden wall led me to become aware of a somewhat dusky pair of handcuffs fastened to it just above eye level by bent nails. It may never be known why Hardeen had placed it there, or never disposed of it, or why not one of the dealers, friends or collectors had latched on to it. Perhaps, like a horseshoe, the handcuffs had been nailed up "for Luck".

Mrs. Hardeen assured me that there were no other restraint devices in the house aside from the torture cell tops. She did have a small bag of picks treasured by Hardeen and Houdini, but had been instructed never to give them to anyone. They were to be kept in a vault or destroyed. Without demonstration of any emotion, she gave me permission to detach and keep the handcuffs.

Within two days, a friend I contacted removed all tools and debris from the cellar. Eagerly, another friend picked up a set of narrow tail mirrors, the remains of an illusion, to use them for decorative purposes in his Great Neck, Long Island, home.



bottom of page