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BornTheodore Bernstein
circa 1871
DiedJanuary 18, 1906 (age 34)

Hanco (c.1871-1906), born Theodore Bernstein, billed himself as "Hanco the Handcuff King" in the early 1900’s.


He was known for his escapes and his unique wardrobe, which was that of a prison convict. Hanco would explain to his audience that he was an ex-convict and had learned the tools of his trade while in jail.

Tom Selwyn worked briefly with Hanco until they had a disagreement. When Hanco continued on his own, he had very little success. Many times he was secured in some restraint from which he could not satisfactorily escape.

He ended up killing the goose that laid the golden egg, by exposing his entire performance as part of his act. When he had played once around, the managers could not book him again.

He committed suicide by stabbing himself with a table knife. From the evidence gathered at the inquest, which was held at Liverpool, it appeared that the deceased became depressed through ill-health and lack of engagements.[1][2][3][4]


  1. Mahatma Vol. IX, NO 8, February 1906.
  2. Conjurers' Monthly Magazine Vol. 01, pg 87.
  3. Sphinx Vol. 04, February 1906.
  4. World's Fair, January 23, 1937