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Walking Through a Brick Wall

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Walking Through a Brick Wall was an illusion popularized by Houdini on July 13, 1914 at the Hammerstein's in New York.[1]

A wall was built out of bricks onstage. With screens on each side, the performer, concealed by screens passes through the obstacle.[2]


C. A. Alexander was performing this illusion as far back as December 1898 in Alaska, using blocks of ice. [3]

It was first performed using a brick wall by P.T. Selbit on June 15, 1914 at Maskelyne & Devant’s Egyptian Hall in London. Sidney E. Josolyne from London, who had never before presented the illusion, claimed he had invented a version in 1913 using a steel plate as the wall.[4] Houdini bought the American rights from Josolyne.[5]

Modern Performances

  • Doug Henning performed his version on his 1977 television special, World of Magic III.
  • David Copperfield, on his 1986 television special, performed his by walking through the Great Wall of China.



  1. Variety Newspaper, July 18, 1914.
  2. The Illustrated History of Magic (1973)
  3. Sphinx, October 1914
  4. 209. SELBIT AND THE LIVERPOOL UNEMPLOYED, The Complete Rich Cabinet of Magical Curiosities by Edwin A. Dawes (2005)
  5. Houdini's "Walking Through a Brick Wall" Illusion by Stephen Forrester, Mystifier, Spring 2002