The original jacket used to challenge HOUDINI no longer exists.
Immediately after the designer, British Escape Artist VAL WALKER challenged
HOUDINI at the Kingstone Emprise in September 1926, the American showman
is reported to have cut the jacket to pieces and tossed the shreds to
the cheering crowd - which seems to suggest that Houdini had cut his
way out and then destroyed the evidence.
the time I talked to Kevin, son of the original challenger VAL WALKER
in the nineteen seventies, the jacket he showed me was a copy in very
poor condition. A photo in the magazine of the British Magic Circle
'The Magic Circular', May/June issue 1968. (For photo of Val Walker
in his jacket see end of this page) was less than impressive -
but the design principle was excellent.
specifications as given to me at the time were quite detailed - but
there remained little proof of how the original jacket looked.
The photos at the very bottom of this page show the first copy I made
in the early Eighties using high quality government surplus leather
straps and buckles and new heavyweight rip-proof canvas. This garment
gave me opportunity to explore the physical possibilities of the original.
applied, the jacket allows virtually no movement of the upper body.
Hands are trapped inside closed sleeve-ends which are attached to the
hem of the jacket. The through-crotch strap is adjustable to give maximum
As long as the Escape Artist is anchored to one spot (and is not allowed
to take a razorblade into the sleeve as the jacket is put on) the garment
gives little opportunity for escape.
that - I made the second copy - which was tested regularly since - and
is, I guess, still being regularly tested by the new owner. There's
another seventy-five years wear in this luxurious copy.