If you were observant, my last two posts on handcuffs, had references to a Hungarian Manacle and a Hungarian Cuff. And if you were really observant, you would have noticed in the ad with Houdini wearing the Hungarian Cuff that is was upside down.
According to The Key by Patrick Culliton on page 141:
Houdini named this cuff the Hungarian Manacle. It is known today as “the Séance Cuff” because Sid Radner uses it at his annual Houdini séances.
According to The Secret Life of Houdini Laid Bare on page 109:
The so-called séance cuffs were called the “Hungarian Cuff” by Houdini and they were pictured by him in numerous articles [two of them are displayed above] as well as on his famous poster.
The Hungarian Manacle/Cuff is thought to be an earlier prototype of the Mirror Cuffs. These cuffs, unlike the Mirror challenge cuffs, are adjusted by moving screws in and out against the wrists so they could have been used to challenge people with different wrist sizes. It was originally thought to feature a single Bramah lock on the handcuffs shaped like a figure eight. But thanks to Chris Gower who examined them in quite good detail when he met Sidney Radner at The Magic Circle, we know that:
They do NOT have a genuine Bramah lock on them and use a 5 slider copy lock, possibly French – the sort of cheaper Bramah locks found on small boxes. [Handcuffs.org – April 26 2007].
Unsatisfied, Houdini developed the diabolical Mirror Cuffs, which is said to consist of two nested Bramah locks.
Master Locksmith, Mick Hanzlik, suggested that Houdini wanted something bigger and brighter so that they could be seen at the back of a theatre, so the Mirror Cuffs were created. [Handcuffs.org – May 29, 2007]
As far as I know the only time that the Hungarian Manacle/Cuff was used by Houdini was to take a photo with them to be used for advertisements and the poster. If you are aware of other times, please share.
Of course, now they are used at the annual Houdini séances.
According to interviews with Sid Radner, he knows how to get out of the Séance cuff without the key. When asked how long it would take for him to get out of them, he said “not too long, but I know the secret”. In fact, I read on Handcuffs.org that there is an article on Radner and the séance handcuff that has three photos showing him shaking the handcuffs off with the cuff falling open at the locking end.
In Backstage with Sid Radner [Mystifier 1st Qtr 1994], he mentions that sometime in the near future, he will supply the missing link to the Mirror Handcuff Challenge.
Are prototype cuffs like the Hungarian/Seance cuff the missing link to the Mirror Handcuff Challenge?