First Rüdiger Deutsch Auction

Potter & Potter will be auctioning off the first part of the massive magic apparatus collection of Rüdiger Deutsch on October 26. A catalog is available online now. What a delight! Check here for more details.

RüdigerDeutsch


 

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Old Cups, New Cups

The other day, I got myself this lovely old set of silvery cups at a fleamarket. I doubt that they were ever used for magic trickery, but as you can see with the patina, they stack nicely and leave just enough room in between for small crocheted balls or these tiny (real) apples which I picked up on the way!

Cups_old

Some Collected Impressions from the 8th EMHC in Vienna

EMHC Vienna 2019 Head

Traveling back now from Vienna on Sunday evening, the 8th edition of the European Magic History Conference is already (very recent) history. I am more than happy to have made the trip and to have attended for the first time!

My head is spinning with interesting facts and insights from a total of 16 lectures; I have met a few familiar faces and made many new acquaintances; my magic collection has grown through a few pieces I was able to acquire; my own presentation found some kind interest; and a couple of exciting new books are about to appear!

Overall, rubbing shoulders with some of magic‘s greatest historians / collectors / luminaries like Edwin Dawes, John Gaughan, Mike Caveney, Roberto Giobbi, The Davenports, our host Magic Christian and many others has been a reverent and rewarding experience!

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Now if this blog were more tabloid style, I could yell out headlines like these:

Dutch Magician Decapitates Rabbit!
Renowned Book Collector Considered Buying A Buried Witch‘s Bones!
Famous U.S. Collector May Bring His Treasures Back Into Barnes and Attics!

 

But of course I won’t. Fortunately, I am more of the serious and responsible writing kind! However, I have no intention of giving a full and thorough review of the conference; I was there to listen, learn, and discuss. So what follows are just some facts, highlights and side notes from my very personal point of view.

For the full program and abstracts of all lectures, have a look here. For the details and the laughs you simply had to be there–sorry! But as a glimpse into the program will reveal, the diverse agenda catered to almost every field of interest: biographical notes and details on some performers and venues; books old and new and how to study them; collectors’ items; some case studies (on a gruesome illusion, a fake automaton, a famous painting, and an early trick deck from 1623), and two topics on magicians serving in wartime and political crisis.

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Wien11_Hofzinser_MC

Shortly before the conference, Magic Christian had already announced a major surprise: the resurfacing of a fine and known Hofzinser portrait, painted by Johann Matthäus Aigner in 1846, that had been missing for almost a century. Christian had been looking for it for 25 years, mainly in museums and other collections. Then, only weeks ago, he received a phone call from a lady who offered him to acquire this huge portrait from an estate. It had in fact been hanging in a private home in Gmunden for the last 100 years! Proudly, Christian unveiled it and presented it to the participants, who were duly impressed!

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Wien9_Flip

I must say I enjoyed all the talks, as diverse as they were in terms of topic, material, and presentation, but I took the most fresh knowledge and inspiration from these contributions:

Flip tracing the history of the “Decapitation Illusion”, as always with an abundance of pictures and information, and also with a word of criticism on the “trivialized” versions like “Forgetful Freddie” and the “Armcutter”. To prove his point, he successfully (non)decapitated a toy rabbit.

James and Sage Hagy with a vivid description of the magicians present (including Houdini) and their tricks at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. They very graciously handed out free copies of a beautiful little book they had prepared along their topic.

Steffen Taut shared some amazingly enlarged pictures (look here, zoom in and marvel!) and recent scientific methods to (re)assess the paintings of Jheronimus Bosch (correctly pronounced “Boss”), and he added some interesting new hypotheses on a number of details, symbols, and meanings of “The Juggler.” He concluded that there may have been an original version of this famous painting; the one we know and admire, however, was more likely painted “only” in his workshop or by a follower, but not by Bosch himself.

Francois Bost presented some exciting new findings from his own long-standing research on Robert-Houdin‘s political mission to Algiers in 1856, including a heretofore unknown letter from RH to Colonel de Neveu (who had won him for the trip). He concluded that RH had in fact played to a selected, peaceful audience of civil servants (instead of fierce, hostile Marabouts) and that the mission had caused little impact (although it was boosted by the press and RH himself), but had probably served as an early military attempt to test psychological warfare on a people with the help of a renowned magician! (This topics tied in nicely with my own presentation on magic and warfare.)

Ron Bertolla deserves our special appreciation for introducing us to French juggler-turned-creator Alain Cabooter and his wonderful (fake) automaton, “Ioni, The Magical Gymnast” (see below). Not only did he show a truly magical video presentation of Ioni’s astonishing feats at the horizontal bar, which caused thunderous applause; he also brought the treasured figure (now defunct) with their current owners to Vienna and handed out a free booklet with the full (and unhappy) story. Wow!

Wien8_Ioni

Again, I can’t help but marvel at the incredibly rich and diverse history of magic, its ingenious creators and performers, and its myriad links to other arts or historical events!

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The Venue

The EMHC Conference was held at the Hotel Stefanie, Vienna‘s oldest hotel, and their service team supplied us unobtrusively with a never-ending stream of tasty food, snacks, and drinks.

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Evening Entertainment…

…included a musical and magical dinner at Marchfelderhof on Thursday. When our bus arrived there, we were greeted and treated by the owner and his team with music and flags. Inside, the fine and fun restaurant is ridiculously but charmingly loaded with thousands of  items—lamps, musical instruments, pictures, signed photographs, figurines and what not (see below). As some collector‘s spouse suspiciously opined, the trip was probably taken to demonstrate „that other collectors put much more stuff in their rooms, see, Honey?“

The magic between courses was provided by Magic Christian, Flo Mayer and Wolfgang Moser.

Wien12_Marchf

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Friday evening was spent three stories down below city level in the very old Zwölf Apostelkeller, with traditional Viennese food and some fine strolling magic performed by Robert Woitsch and Raphael Macho.

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Wien2_RathausAufgang

Wien6_RathausEmpfang

Wien5_RathausLeuchter

Saturday afternoon saw us walking over to Vienna‘s huge and impressive City Hall (with 1,575 rooms, as a plaque said). After a formal reception at the invitation of the Mayor and Governor of Vienna, Dr. Michael Ludwig, we were ushered into the City Council where we marveled at the splendor of the enormous flambeau above us and soon took over the green felt tables. Reinhard Müller was the first to have the cards out. Soon after, Magic Christian performed an Ace routine (with a fine Graziadei subtlety) on this parliamentary stage where, on other days, more subtle deceptive maneuvers may be executed.

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Wien3_Karten_MC

Before attacking another buffet, we were treated with a magic show of one piece each by Robert Woitsch, Mark Albert, Wolfgang Moser and Flo Mayer. With the exception of Wolfgang Moser, all featured performers over those three days hail from the Magischer Club Wien, of which Magic Christian is the President.

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Wien10_Koffer

What about the Future?

The conference closed on Sunday noon with an interesting talk on the future of magic collections, how to maintain them, and all owners’ responsibility to take care of their treasures and their knowledge in due time so collections neither get thrown away, nor scattered all over the world, nor disappear in obscure museums, but rather remain within the magic community and “the big river” from which the next generation of collectors may fish.

A second topic was how to get younger magic fellows interested in the old books and tricks of our art and how to facilitate their entry into the fields of history and collecting. (I might write more about these topics in a future post.)

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Next European Magic & History Conferences:

At least, the immediate future is safe and secured: The participants confirmed to have the next meeting in London in September 2021, organized by Fergus Roy, who already announced some exciting highlights, including a look into a rather unknown collection of 1 million (!) posters. The 2023 Conference is scheduled to be held in Gent, Belgium then.

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New Book Department:

November will see the publication of the coming Bible of Bookplates (please excuse the trivialized secular term, but the alliteration was too tempting) by the late Jim Alfredson and Bernhard Schmitz. About six years in the making, Bernhard and the sic! Verlag are currently putting the final touches on the book, which will present about 1,200 magic bookplates that have been identified yet! If you want your bookplate to be included also, make sure to send it to Bernhard before October 1st!

Birgit Bartl-Engelhardt and Wittus Witt will bring out a quick encore and addition to the beautiful Zauber-Bartl Chronology (in German) that was presented to the market just last week. This one will trace the story of the „Zauberkönig“ magic dealers family, to which Rosa Bartl also belonged. (Accompanying his conference presentation, Wittus also has a lovely small book out that features about 300 magic lapel pins. It comes both with an English and a German text.)

And finally, after about 40 (!) years in the making, Volker Huber and Christian Theiß have completed the long awaited Bibliography of German Magic Books until 1945, covering some 3,100 books and booklets on 700 pages. What a monumental achievement! It will most likely set the standard for decades to come. Whether a second volume covering books from 1945 til today will follow is currently unclear, as Christian said. And if so, it might well be a decade or more away. Let’s hope and see–and in the meantime, let’s be happy about and thankful for the first volume before asking for more!

All three books are available for subscription now. Do now what you have to do! 🙂

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Wien15_Paddle

Magic coincidence No. 1: A surprising discovery

I may have found an interesting historical magic reference in the cheap decoration of my hotel room. Look at the depiction of that old and grim Japanese warrior above: If it‘s not some sort of fly swat, he may be handling a huge magic paddle! 😉

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Wien7_Hexensabbath

Magic coincidence No. 2: A spooky discovery

Taking a stroll after Peter Rawert’s enlightening presentation on books‘ provenance research (a fascinating topic I had never even thought about before), his acquisition of a copy of Reginald Scot‘s seminal work and its link to the alleged witch Ursula Kemp (whose alleged bones he almost ended up buying!), the first shop window I looked at belonged to an art gallery and presented this painting, „Witches‘ Sabbath“ by one Bonaventura Genelli!

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Wien1_Denkmal

Magic coincidence No. 3: A weighty discovery

Noticing this statue in the heart of magic Vienna, some of us speculated it could well be our host’s very own one, with MCD meaning “Magic Christian Denkmal” (in German) or MCM meaning “Magic Christian Memorial,” erected by his grateful admirers and disciples… 😉

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Jokes aside, we can only conclude by thanking and applauding Magic Christian once more for being such a very gracious and caring host who offered us over four days a cornucopia of magic history, both from our field and from the wonderful city of Vienna!

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More Magic in Vienna:

While being there, you may also want to check out the Museum der Illusionen (Museum of Illusions; I guess you figured that one out) with its fine optical illusions.

And in line with it, there’s currently a dazzling exhibition (until 26 October, 2019) at the mumok museum, Vertigo. Op Art and a History of Deception 1520–1970.”

(Jan Isenbart)


Addendum 29.08.2019

And here’s a full review of the conference by Ian Keable of the UK, who had presented a lecture on the four magicians in Charles Dickens’s life.


 

Snapshots and Pieces from The Davenport Collection

Speaking of magic websites brimming with inspiring information on tricks, tricksters, and history, I also need to mention The Davenport Collection website, which is fed (you guessed it) by the Davenport dynasty. It was started in 2016, today it already hosts about 900 entries, and it keeps growing.

The layout is so Nineties, but the content is wonderful! Serious students of the past should find the articles and conference papers of magic historians particularly interesting. Here’s an excerpt:

Davenports
Screenshot from the website

Go and have a look, but don’t complain to me later that you have just spent two or three hours of browsing, reading, and marveling over there!


 

Die Stiftung Zauberkunst lädt ein

StiftZK
Bild: Stiftung Zauberkunst

Zum einjährigen Bestehen lädt die von Uwe Schenk und Michael Sondermeyer initiierte Stiftung Zauberkunst für Mitte November zu einer Fachtagung nach Appelhülsen ein.

Die beiden schreiben:

Grundsätzliches zur Tagung

Schon vor der Stiftungsgründung hatten wir überlegt, dass wir mehr Menschen aktivieren möchten, sich bei den Überlegungen und Planungen bezüglich der Perspektiven der Stiftung Zauberkunst zu beteiligen. Letztlich war die Trennung des Projektes von unseren Personen ja sogar der Hauptgrund für die Stiftungsgründung.

Nachdem wir nun knapp ein halbes Jahr aktiv sind, unsere erste Steuererklärung gemacht und gemeinsam mit dem Stiftungsrat erste Schritte in Richtung aktiver Stiftungstätigkeit unternommen haben, planen wir zurzeit die weitere konkrete Vorgehensweise.

Wir haben im Rahmen der Stiftungsgründung einige Zauberfreunde gebeten, als Fachbeirat zu fungieren und uns eben bei solchen Überlegungen zu unterstützen. Es gestaltet sich jedoch schwierig, für einen halben Tag alle unsere Wunschkandidaten nach Appelhülsen zu bekommen, und falls einige nicht können, ist die Teilnehmerzahl schnell sehr gering. Zudem haben wir auf dem Sammlertreffen die Erfahrung gemacht, dass eine größere Gruppe von Interessierten, die an der Diskussion beteiligt werden, auch eine größere Bandbreite an Ideen und Gedanken produzieren.

Deshalb möchten wir in einem nächsten Schritt Interessierte zu einer Fachtagung einladen, die von uns und den Mitgliedern des Beirates vorbereitet wird und in der es um die zukünftige Arbeit der Stiftung Zauberkunst  geht – sowohl organisatorisch als auch inhaltlich.

Damit sich die Anreise lohnt, möchten wir am Freitag Abend mit einem informellen Treffen im Zauberzentrum beginnen, den Samstag ganz der Beratung widmen (s.u.), Abends evtl. gemeinsam essen gehen (oder weiter arbeiten) und den Sonntag Vormittag für Unerledigtes oder andere Dinge nutzen.

Freitag, den 15.11. 2019 bis Sonntag, dem 17.11. 2019

Der Termin ist so gewählt, dass er quasi als Jahrestag der Stiftung gelten kann. Insofern ist ein Bericht über das erste Jahr auf jeden Fall ein wichtiger Tagesordnungspunkt – darüber hinaus geht es aber vor allem um die Zukunft.

Programmideen und Beteiligung

Neben Informationen über das Geschehene möchten wir uns mit den Teilnehmern über Ideen, Vorschläge und Anregungen zur weiteren Arbeit der Stiftung austauschen. In der Diskussionsrunde beim Sammlertreffen sind schon einige Punkte genannt worden, die wir gerne vertiefen möchten:

  • Bezüglich der Arbeit des Dokumentationszentrum: Schaffen eines Recherchetools und eines Infopools zu anderen Quellenorten (Vernetzung)
  • Bezüglich der Zielgruppe “Nichtzauberer”: Ansehen der Zauberkunst in der Wissenschaft/Forschung implementieren und Kulturgeschichtliche Dimension betonen
  • Bezüglich des Nutzen des Projektes für den “Nachwuchs”: Universitäre Ausbildung und/oder Online-Schule
  • Grundsätzliche Vorgehensweisen und Ziele: Internationalisieren (Engl./Deutsch); Interessierte in anderen Ländern ansprechen; Zusammenarbeit mit  Zaubervereinen verstärken; Zauberkunst an das allgemeine Publikum bringen

Darüberhinaus gibt es neben diesen und den organisatorischen Dingen (Finanzierung, Örtlichkeit, Inventarisierung und Digitalisierung etc.) weitere Themenbereiche, die besprochen werden sollen: Welchen inhaltlichen Themen soll sich die Stiftung widmen? Welche Veranstaltungen sind sinnvoll und machbar? Welche Publikationen sollen veröffentlicht werden? u.v.m.

Vielleicht gibt es von Eurer Seite weitere Vorschläge oder Anregungen, die wir gerne in das Programm aufnehmen.

Rückmeldung erbeten

Bitte sagt uns kurz Bescheid, ob Ihr Interesse daran habt, an diesem Treffen teilzunehmen und merkt schon mal den Termin vor – die konkrete Einladung mit der Möglichkeit zur verbindlichen Anmeldung wollen wir im Frühsommer veröffentlichen.

Euch eine schöne Zeit und zauberhafte Grüße aus Appelhülsen

Für den Stiftungsrat • Michael Sondermeyer und Uwe Schenk

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Ich freue mich schon auf den Austausch und hoffe, künftig den einen oder anderen Beitrag für die Stiftung leisten zu können!


 

Auf zum Zaubersammler- und Chronisten-Treffen 2020

SammTr2020

Organisator Andreas Fleckenstein hat folgende Informationen zum Treffen 2020 in die Runde geschickt:

Termin:
20. bis 22. März 2020

Veranstaltungsort:
Die Fabrik
Mittlerer Hasenpfad 5
60598 Frankfurt

Programmhighlights:
• Vorabendprogramm (19.03.2020): Frankfurts Varieté-Geschichte(n)
• Kulinarischer Frankfurter Abend
• Historische Stadtführung – Von der Stauferstadt zur Bankenmetropole
• Vorträge aus den Reihen der Teilnehmer
• Podiumsdiskussion
• Varietébesuch (Neues Theater Höchst)
• Flohmarkt zum Tauschen und Verkaufen

Hinweise:
Der Preis (inkl. Verpflegung und Varietébesuch) wird bei ca. 150€ liegen. Weitere Informationen erhalten Sie per Newsletter. Wenn Sie sich zu diesem Newsletter
anmelden möchten, senden Sie bitte eine E-Mail an fleckenstein@mzvd.de.

Auch die Bewerbung für Vorträge (max. 20 Minuten) wird gerne schon entgegengenommen.

Hier gibt es die Einladung als PDF: Einladung Sammler- und Chronistentreffen Frankfurt 2020


 

Creativity in Magic (3)

Beni_4

I have always found it amazing how new tricks, ideas, or routines come into this world. Sheer luck and mere chance seem to play a far greater role in their conception and delivery than any logical thinker could ever imagine.

Here are two more examples from the Tenyo company, as told on their website in the “Development Stories” section.

This is how the principle of “Impossible Pen” was discovered by chance by its creator, the magic genius Lubor Fiedler:

When Lubor Fiedler was originally experimenting with the materials used to construct this trick, one of the items rolled along the tabletop and fell to the floor. He searched for the prop, but could not find it anywhere. When he finally located the item in an unexpected place, he hit upon the idea for a new trick.

It was also by chance that Shigeru Sugawara found the magic solution to the “Money Shredder” challenge, but no further details are given.


 

Creativity in Magic (2)

LdT2

I have always found it amazing how new tricks, ideas, or routines come into this world. Sheer luck and mere chance seem to play a far greater role in their conception and delivery than any logical thinker could ever imagine.

Here’s another fine example, this time from the Tenyo company. This is how “Squeeze Play”, one of the most famous early Tenyo items, created by Shigeru Sugawara, came into being, as told on the Tenyo company’s website:

Years ago, Tenyo released a game product called “Mental Game.” This product included ring-shaped pieces that had been punched out of a plastic sheet, so in the factory, there were many plastic disks that had been punched out and discarded as waste. Sugawara thought that he might be able to use these disks for something, so he brought some back to the office where he placed them on his desk. He happened to have some dice on his desk, which led him to think that it might be possible to sandwich a die between two disks, and to make the die penetrate through them. He left two disks on his desk, with a die sandwiched between them. As he stood to get up from his desk, he happened to place his hand on top of the upper disk. When he did so, the die that had been inside was propelled out from between the two disks. This led to the idea that ultimately became “Squeeze Play.”


 

Das Programm zur EMHC steht

Vom 22. bis 25. August laden Magic Christian und sein Team zur 8th European Magic History Conference nach Wien. Das Programm und die meisten Vorträge stehen nun fest und können hier abgerufen werden.

Auch der Autor dieses Blogs wird voraussichtlich mit einem Vortrag zum Thema “Magicians at War: Some Observations on the Manifold Relations between Magic and Warfare” vertreten sein.

Die Teilnahme ist auf 100 Zauberinteressenten begrenzt. Anmeldungen für die letzten freien Plätze sind noch bei Magic Christian möglich.

EMHC