Watch Houdini Escape From a Strait Jacket, Then See How He Did It (Circa 1917)

Claus­tro­phobes, take cau­tion, and for pity’s sake, don’t try this at home!

Should such warn­ings leave you unde­terred, PBS has step-by-step instruc­tions for per­form­ing Hou­dini’s strait jack­et escape. Well, almost step-by-step. Derived from the mas­ter’s own 1909 Hand­cuff Secrets (read the text online here), the direc­tions are both vague and hor­ri­fy­ing in their speci­fici­ty, falling some­where between assem­bling an Ikea book­shelf and 127 Hours.

In need of more guid­ance? Have a look below at the how-to Hou­di­ni shared with Ladies Home Jour­nal in 1918. (He also gave advice to gen­teel, post-WWI female read­ers on how to escape rope bondage.)

houdini escape

For a more man­age­able trick, imag­ine your­self a face in the crowd, gaz­ing upward at the strug­gling magi­cian, with­out tex­ting, tweet­ing, or Insta­gram­ming. Sheer open-mouthed amaze­ment is a trick we see pre­cious lit­tle of these days.

Our best guess is that the video above was shot around 1917.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Har­ry Houdini’s Great Rope Escape

Arthur Conan Doyle Dis­cuss­es Sher­lock Holmes and Psy­chics in a Rare Filmed Inter­view (1927)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day’s lat­est feat is direct­ing 16 home­schooled teens in Yeast Nation, the world’s first bio-his­tor­i­cal musi­cal. See it in New York City this week. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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