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12 Pieces of Magic Memorabilia From David Copperfield's Collection

Michele Debczak
HOMER LIWAG. © DAVID COPPERFIELD/NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY
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See a straitjacket that once held Houdini.

Before he passed through the Great Wall of China and made the Statue of Liberty disappear, David Copperfield walked into his first magic shop in New York City as a young David Kotkin. The tricks he saw there inspired not only a lifetime of performing magic himself, but years of collecting memorabilia from the great magicians who came before him. Now, he's sharing some of his most prized possessions with the world. From June 15 to September 16, the New-York Historical Society will showcase "Summer of Magic: Treasures from the David Copperfield Collection." Check out highlights from the exhibition below, including props from Harry Houdini's most famous escape acts.

1. HOUDINI'S HANDCUFFS

HOMER LIWAG. © DAVID COPPERFIELD/NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Harry Houdini escaped from these handcuffs for the London Daily Mirror challenge in 1904.

2. A VINTAGE MAGIC AD

GLENN CASTELLANO, COPPERFIELD COLLECTION/NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

This poster from 1897 advertised magician Harry Kellar's disappearing act.

3. BESS HOUDINI'S STAGE COSTUME

GLENN CASTELLANO, COPPERFIELD COLLECTION/NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Beatrice "Bess" Houdini, Harry Houdini's wife and assistant, wore this costume during shows in the early 1900s.

4. KELLAR'S NESTED BOXES

GLENN CASTELLANO, COPPERFIELD COLLECTION/NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

These magic nested boxes belonged to magician Harry Kellar and date back to between 1890 and 1908.



5. HOUDINI'S STRAITJACKET

GLENN CASTELLANO, COPPERFIELD COLLECTION/NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Houdini used this regulation straitjacket to perform his most iconic escape act.

6. MYSTO MAGIC KIT NO. 25

GLENN CASTELLANO, COPPERFIELD COLLECTION/NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

This Mysto magic kit, from the magic trick sellers A.C. Gilbert Mysto Magic Co., dates back to 1950.

7. MERV TAYLOR'S BIRD CAGE

GLENN CASTELLANO, COPPERFIELD COLLECTION/NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The appearing bird cage trick—in which a bird cage suddenly seems to appear out of nowhere—was made famous by magic dealer Merv Taylor in the 1950s and '60s.

8. HOUDINI'S METAMORPHOSIS TRUNK

Harry Houdini used this metamorphosis trunk to "transform" into his wife, Bess.

GLENN CASTELLANO, COPPERFIELD COLLECTION/NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

SKIP AD

9. AD FOR "METAMORPHOSIS"

REPRODUCTION, COPPERFIELD COLLECTION/NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

This poster from 1895 advertised Houdini's famous trick, "Metamorphosis."

10. HOUDINI'S MILK CAN

GLENN CASTELLANO, COPPERFIELD COLLECTION/NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Harry Houdini would have this milk can filled with water, or sometimes beer, before executing his escape from inside it.

11. MARTINKA'S CARD DISPLAY

GLENN CASTELLANO, COPPERFIELD COLLECTION/NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

This playing card set was displayed at the Martinka Magic Shop in New York at the turn of the 20th century.

12. ADELAIDE HERRMANN'S DRESS

GLENN CASTELLANO, COPPERFIELD COLLECTION/NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Adelaide Herrmann, also known as the "Queen of Magic," likely wore this dress between 1880 and 1910.

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