Cats in Juxtaposition

American Bobtail/Double Fold Death Defying Water Mystery box

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American Bobtail/Double Fold Death Defying Water Mystery box

American Bobtail

An uncommon breed which developed through mutation in the 1960s, the American Bobtail is distinguished by a short, stubby tail, about 1/3 to 1/2 of the length of a normal cat tail. They were not the result of breeding a domestic tabby cat with a wild bobcat, as urban legend has it. However, in cat shows the emphasis on the wild appearance of the breed is strong.

American Bobcats are social creatures, with a streak of sneaky ingenuity, reportedly being able to escape from locked rooms and secured cages.

American Bobtail/Double Fold Death Defying Water Mystery box

Upon reading about the American Bobtail’s ability to escape from locked rooms, I started researching escapology equipment. The box I have illustrated is based on images of the original Double Fold Death Defying Water Mystery prop. It was built in 1909 for use by the escape artist and magician Harry Houdini.

Inside the box sits a large milk can, which a man can just squeeze into. The escape has to be made from inside the milk can, which is filled with water and locked. The box is padlocked over the milk can, making the escape much harder than the original Milk Jug version. Obviously, the penalty of failure would be drowning.

The original prop used in Houdini’s show came up for auction in 2014, and sold to an anonymous bidder (rumoured to be David Copperfield, an avid collector of Houdini memorabilia) for $55,000. If you are interested in Houdini and his equipment, I highly recommend the fascinating site Wild About Harry.

My cat (based on an image of the beautiful Lady Sierra, with permission from Stacy Meester), has a box scaled to her size. Although I made a few changes to accommodate the different scale, I have tried to retain the obvious handmade nature of the original box.

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