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Collector Coins Celebrate Harry Houdini
by Mike Sussman

The Republic of Palau has issued two non circulating legal tender coins that celebrate the life of magician Harry Houdini. The coins were issued on October 31st and marked the 85th anniversary of Houdini’s death on October 31, 1926. The two coins are a dollar made from copper-nickel and a two dollar piece made from .925 fine silver.

Houdini real name was Eric Weisz. He was born on March 24, 1874 in Budapest, Hungary. Houdini was one of seven children born to Rabbi Mayer Samuel Weisz. In 1878 Houdini arrived in the United States with his mother and four brothers. The family changed the spelling of their last name to Weiss and Eric’s name to Erich. His friends called him “Ehrie” or “Harry.”

Houdini was always interested in magic. His notable escapes included the Milk Can Escape, the Chinese Water Torture Cell, the suspended straitjacket escape, the overboard box escape, and the buried alive stunt. He was most interested in debunking fake spiritualist mediums, who he felt took extreme advantage of people when they were most vulnerable after the death of a loved one.
Towards the end of his life, Houdini claimed that he could withstand a punch to his stomach from anyone. On October 22, 1926, a student gave Houdini an unexpected punch in the stomach. Houdini had not enough time to prepare himself. He had suffered abdominal pains a few days before, which became worse. On October 31, 1926, he died of a burst appendix.

Both of the coins show Palau’s coat of arms with an image of Houdini on the reverse. His name, dates of birth and death, top hat and wand are also on the reverse. They both measure 22 mm in diameter and have an antiqued, uncirculated finish.

Composition: $1.00 copper-nickel
$2.00 .925 silver
Weight: $1.00 6.5 gms.
$2.00 7.5 gms.
Diameter: 22 mm.


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