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Cell Escape Letter - Paul Daniels


Another rare insight in to David’s Escapology career and this time it’s a letter to the UK Magician Paul Daniels. David wrote to Paul in 1982 about the opportunity for a jail cell escape on his TV magic shows! The following letters are very interesting and I hope you enjoy the opportunity to see them here on the tribute website.

Firstly where did they come from? The letters were part of an Auction lot from the Dreweatt's / Bloomsbury Auction house in England. They were advertised as part of the Bibliophile Sale in December 2013 and included in the Paul Daniels collection of memorabilia. There were a total of two letters, One to Paul Daniels and one to the Producer of entertainment at the BBC about this request on behalf of Paul Daniels. Originally the letters were previously listed at the auction lot and did not sell, only selling second time round.

So what’s the interest, well there is many but the main one is about the great Houdini and David states clearly that “I am the sure I am the only person who knows the exact secret” relating to Houdini’s cell escapes. This is an exceptional statement as it is not only a rare letter but the fact he is so confident that he wants to now prove it.

This request was passed on form the spokes person for Paul Daniels called (Joyce Waldeck) to the BBC Producer (John Fisher) and to my knowledge this escape request was sadly never part of Paul's TV shows. Had it been it would have been sensational. On the top of the letter it states they were writing back to David stating they were passing the letter on as per other letter states.

The letters have been appropriate masked to avoid the exposure of private and related escapology information that would not be suitable to expose. Again more information comes to light that the letter headed paper states

The Old Vale Art Co. Limited

(In association With David De-Val Manufacturing Co.)

Public records show this company ceased trading in June 1982, further information also named David as one of the four Directors for the company. Now as information is limited there is a real possibility that either company made or assisted in the production of some of David’s escape equipment as some items were specifically manufactured, the neck slave collar loop ring was one example of having parts manufactured by others.

Further interest is the fact David states he was working on book about the magic of Harry Houdini which he was now changing in to a documentary. Sadly as far as I can tell this never did happen.

On the bottom of the letter it David’s hand writing where he has added his own escape ideas as a further short note…. He briefly talks about an escape with a bomb. No doubt quickly added in his own writing rather that type it as space was limited.

Written section from the letter:

P.S. The cell locks are on the outside, with no key hole on the inside. I have also been thinking of another idea with lock picking, in which I pick open locks on a boxes containing a bomb which is set to go off, should I not pick the locks and stop the clock mechanism. The locks would be supplied by Chubb or such like and I would not see them before the show.

Letter above was sent to the producer of enter light entertainment, on behalf of Paul Daniels from Joy Waldeck in respect of Davids initial letter. It stated about Houdini and his escape method that David had discovered.


I would like to thank the Bloomsbury Auctions & Roxana Kashani for their help and assistance which made this article possible or it would have most probably remained unknown and forgotten. Also thanks to Paul Daniels for his assistance with the letters publication on the site, and to Dan Robinson for his help with the contact support. Photos of the letters are accredited to Bloomsbury Auctions.

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