Words of Wisdom (11): Henry Hay

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The surprising thing, really, is that in the electronic age conjuring should have changed so little. The decline of the waistcoat has affected magic more than the invention of communications satellites.

Henry Hay, The Amateur Magician’s Handbook, 1950


 

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New Magic Postage Stamps

Collectors, rejoice!

In late 2017, the U.S. Postal Service Office has announced a wonderful series of five stamps celebrating “The Art of Magic”, see below. I quote:

The Art of Magic
The Postal Service celebrates the art of magic with this pane of 20 stamps featuring digital illustrations of five classic tricks magicians use to amaze and delight audiences: a rabbit in a hat (production), a fortune teller using a crystal ball (prediction), a woman floating in the air (levitation), an empty bird cage (vanishing), and a bird emerging from a flower (transformation).

I have yet to see the trick of a flower transforming into a bird in real life, but hey! I like the design of this series and will gladly add it to my collection. However, no exact publication date has been given yet.

The latest addition to my magic stamps collection came from France, where a series of circus images was issued last year, one of them featuring the proverbial rabbit in a top hat.

For more on magic stamps, look here within my world.

Stamps Art of Magic


 

Thoughts on Erdnase, 101

Erdnase, Fig. 101

Mulling over the famous figure 101 that comes with the trick “The Three Aces” within TEATCT, here is a thought I have enjoyed nurturing for quite some time: What if there was a secret connection between the opening of the book (the original title on the frontispiece, to be precise) and this more or less closing feature of the book, the final drawing?

Unlike the other figures, this one does not only explain the ruse; in fact, it does deceive you, the reader. The display of the aces looks totally regular. Only when you know that there is a subterfuge involved, you will understand that the Ace of Diamonds is not what it claims to be, but something-or someone-else (the Ace of Hearts).

Now the same may be said about the triple of ARTIFICE, RUSE and SUBTERFUGE (= ARS (lat.) = art). I have always wondered why Erdnase used three nouns with roughly the same connotation here: You are being deceived expertly and artfully at the card table. Precision? (Erdnase obviously loved describing things in detail by doubling or tripling words.) PR blurb to make his book sound utterly important? Or simply a clever means of hiding something in the middle, in plain sight? That something might be “RUSE and.”

What is more, in American handwriting, figure I0I can be read forward as well as backwards. A hint at an anagram or at shifting words around?

Remember, “RUSE and” = “and RUSE” = “Andrus” = “Andrews” (!)

Finally, the book’s frontpage promises “over one hundred drawings.” The total of 101 figures delivers this promise, but only by the smallest margin. You may not call this cheating, but probably another artful subterfuge…

Pure conjecture, I admit. This could be more convincing if, say, figure 101 were really displayed on the very last page of the book, maybe on page 202, and if the book’s title went more like ART, ARTIFICE and ACES at the Card Table to resemble the three Aces in figure 101 even more closely.

Just a thought.

Here’s a bit more on Erdnase within my site.


 

Words of Wisdom (8): Lloyd E. Jones

I have just discovered this little nugget by Lloyd E. Jones, written in the introduction to his re-publication of The Four Full Hands by Charles T. Jordan in 1947:

The pleasure to be found in discovering principles or subtleties in print often surpasses the joy in performing, for to most magicians there is a greater opportunity to read good magic than there is to perform.

So true!


 

R.I.P. Daryl Easton

Oh boy, it’s been a month already, but I am still shocked about the demise of Daryl, who, apparently suffering from severe depressions, had sadly decided to take the worst possible way “Out of this World” and end his life backstage in Hollywood’s Magic Castle at age 61.

While his hair cut has arguably improved over the years, his magic with cards, coins, cups and ropes has always been impeccable, fresh, and engaging. I am a proud owner of his rare Ambitious Card Omnibus, of some great tricks and many of his excellent teaching videos.

Just like his famous red knot jumping onto a white rope, his creations and his style have woven themselves inseparably into magic’s path over the last three or four decades, and we must be grateful that he has shared his immense talent and his professional secrets with us.

Rest in peace, Daryl!

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Creativity in Magic (1)

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.

Take the following example about Joe Karson’s creation of the famous “Zombie”, a wonderful story (if true) which I have just come across in Frank Garcia‘s “New York News” in an old issue of Magic Manuscript (Vol. 4, Issue 4, p. 45):

Incredible as it may seem, the trick called “Zombie” was invented by the late Joe Karson quite by accident. He bought a house and everything was fine but the toilet commode didn’t function, so Joe started taking the commode apart. He removed the balance ball attached to the rod and dried it with a towel. He then came upon the idea of making it a floating ball. The rest is magical history!

I will be happy to share more examples in the future. Stay fresh and stay tuned!

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R.I.P. Jeremy Le Poidevin

Very saddened to hear and read about the sudden passing of Jeremy Le Poidevin, owner of Practical Magic in Ellesmere, UK!

Not that I have known him well; but I have bought some fabulous children’s magic tricks from him, have corresponded with him on a few trick ideas and tips, and have always immensely enjoyed both his fireside chats (with the inimitable, wacky John Kimmons, a.k.a. Kimmo) and his video demos.

The dog arm puppet I got from Jeremy is simply the cutest and best one I have ever seen, and his DVD with handlings tips (see below) is a great and fun product I took a lot of value from.

I think it’s kind and caring people like Jeremy who contribute so much to our everlasting joy of watching, talking, and shopping magic. With them leaving, it feels like magic’s age of innocence—the brick and mortar shops, the glitter boxes and feather flowers, the smalltown conventions, etc.—is inexorably fading away.

My condolescences to his wife and family. Rest in peace in Eternal Wonderland, Jeremy!

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Words of Wisdom (7): Doug Henning

The art of a magician is to create wonder. If we live with a sense of wonder, our lives become filled with joy.
Doug Henning (1947-2000)

Addendum: For a fine biography of Henning, you may want to consider getting Spellbound: The Wonder-filled Life of Doug Henning (2009) by John Harrison at Amazon or elsewhere.

Addendum II: For more on this fine performer, see The Doug Henning Project website.