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Harry Houdini’s Locksmith Skills



When you think of the name Houdini, the first thing that comes to mind is that he was a magician, but the truth is that his most incredible skill came from his ability to pick locks, which he used for many of his most famous magic tricks.


This famous magician’s life began on April 6, 1874, in Hungary, where a child named Ehrich Weiss was born. Ehrich changed his name in 1913 to Harry Houdini, as a tribute to a French magician by the name “Houdin” and his locksmith journey began when he was only 11 years old, when he was able to find a job working for a locksmith that taught him the ins and outs of the profession.



He soon found himself knowing all the details regarding the process of creating locks, and he had a natural skill for lockpicking. It was then that he managed to start the process of coming up with exciting acts that would usually involve him getting out of some kind of situation that involved being locked inside a barrel, or a large box.


Using his skills for good


Back in the days when Harry learned how to pick locks, there were only two ways to use those skills, be being asked to open damaged locks for people or locks with no keys, or to pick locks to steal from others. Those uses gave locksmiths a lot of work as they would be requested to change locks and to find ways to upgrade them to avoid burglary.


Harry Houdini created a third way to make use of this skill, as he had no interest in becoming a locksmith. He started to pick locks as a way to practice for his magic acts, which usually involved some kind of lock that he had to pick in order to escape the box or barrel that he had set for any specific show.



Trying to stop the master


Locksmiths felt that Houdini was a danger to their trade because people felt like he was able to pick any lock, and this probably meant that others could learn how to do it eventually. Many locksmiths tried to create locks that they would send to Harry to see if he could unlock them and he would always succeed.


Eventually, locksmiths created locks that were extremely difficult to unblock, and it was impossible for all of them to send one to Harry for testing, so it will remain a mystery how far Harry could have gone with his skills, but his achievements are nothing short of impressive.


While his main tricks involved escapism, he was also able to perform tricks such as making elephants disappear. With that said, most of his most notorious acts involved very heavy and robust lock mechanisms that he would always find a way to pick.



Not only was it impossible for Harry to have the opportunity to try all new locks made in different regions, but he also happened to die at the relatively young age of 52 when his appendix ruptured. A condition that would easily be fixed with a simple surgical procedure in the modern world.


Final thought


It’s easy to forget that a man like Houdini was a locksmith before he was a magician. He only worked as an assistant locksmith and never took on the trade on his own, which is also a reminder of the incredible abilities that he had with these types of mechanisms.


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