Pawn Stars: Harry Houdini Straight Jacket Matched to Vintage Photo from January 1, 1915 – For Sale On eBay
May 19, 2011 by Jason DeBord
Last week’s episode of Pawn Stars featured a gentleman who brought in a vintage straight jacket that he believed to have been owned by magician Harry Houdini. In the episode, Rick calls in Murray SawChuck to help authenticate the piece, which he ultimately believes he does irrefutably via matching details (stitching, buttons, placement and style thereof) to a very high resolution vintage photo from January 1, 1915. If correct, it marks the pieces as extraordinarily rare and historically important, yet the owner of the piece and Rick cannot come to terms, with the owner at $30,000 and Rick at $25,000. It would seem to be much more valuable than that, by my estimation, and is currently listed for sale on eBay for $149,000.
Below are the two vintage photos that are believed to feature the very straight jacket that was brought into the shop on Pawn Stars:
Below are some of the images from the episode showcasing the piece and the process by which Murray analyzed and compared with the photos…
Below is a link to the current eBay auction for this jacket (eBay – Harry Houdini Straight Jacket Circa 1900):
Seller Description from eBay Auction:
I own the Leather and Canvas Straight Jacket in the picture above taken in the year 1915 of Harry Houdini. This, in our opinion, is the crown jewel of Houdini Collectable Memorabilia, and the only surviving Houdini Straight Jacket with Houdini pictured wearing one. To my knowledge there are only three surviving Houdini Straight Jackets. One is in the Smithsonian museum, David Copperfield owns one, and a long version that was in the Sidney Ratner collection that sold a few years back. Now there are four. The jacket was given to my grandfather by Hardeen Houdini shortly after Houdini’s death in the late 1920’s, and has been in our family ever since. It is in remarkable shape given that its 100 years old. The photo of Houdini was taken by an unknown photographer in 1915, and is listed on Getty Images. Here is the link to the photo. http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/3241191/Archive-Photos
The photo is of such a high quality that even the smallest details of the jacket can be seen. The photo is available for purchase in Huge high resolution, up to 32 meg, which we did, and blown up so that every detail of the photo can be compared the jacket, from size, shape, and wear of the rivets, to the stitch count, placement of the leather straps, to the wear and tear on the shoulder, ect. You have no idea how much fun it was to compare the photos to the jacket, and realize what you have is what’s in the 100 year old photograph. Its truly a miracle that a photo, probably the most famous photo taken of Harry Houdini wearing a straight jacket, is of such high quality that you can see the shape and wear of individual rivets in the collar.
In addition, three months ago we were invited to be on an episode of Pawn Stars, and the world famous Murry SawChuck verified that the jacket is indeed the one in the photo taken in 1915. Here is a link to view the episode of Pawn Stars. They saved our show for their 100th episode of Pawn Stars, and I will post the link from the History channel when it goes live.
Here is the link to the show that aired yesterday about the jacket. http://www.history.com/shows/pawn-stars/videos/playlists/full-episodes#pawn-stars-the-great-escape
If you are a Houdini Collector, or a collector of American History, there has never been a more important and spectacular piece come to market.
The jacket is available for inspection to a prospective buyer, and will be delivered personally to the new owner, either by me flying to you, or you flying to me. It will not be mailed anywhere.
For those of you wanting to know about all the great people doing the Pawns Stars show, they are awesome man, very professional, and a treat to work with. I suggest all of you go and visit the Pawn Shop there in Vegas. They have some fasinating items in the shop, and it seems like they truly love what they do. I am so very thankful to them for giving me the opportunity to place my Houdini straight jacket in front of the world. Rick, Big Hoss, Chumlee, and the old Man were awesome, and I look forward to seeing them next time I get to Vegas
The full episode can be viewed on YouTube:
It will be interesting to see where this piece ultimately ends up, in that, as noted, if authentic as demonstrated by Murray on the episode, it is truly a very, very rare and historic piece, and consequently, for the benefit of future generations, now that it has been identified it will likely be well preserved.
Special thanks to my friend Chris for pointing me to the auction, in that after I watched the episode last week, I wondered what the fate of the jacket might be.