Fundsache: Wie aus Feuer Zauber und aus Puncks Punx wurde…

Punx der Unfassliche

Ludwig Hanemann-Punx war nicht nur ein Meister der Zauberkunst, sondern auch des Wortes und der Ästhetik. Sein frühes, kleinformatiges Programmheft, “Punx der Unfassliche” betitelt, darf als wunderbarer Beleg dafür dienen und ist daher, obwohl nicht gerade selten, ein kleines Schmuckstück meiner Zaubersammlung.

In dem Heftchen schildert Hanemann auch, wie er als Schüler unter dramatischen Umständen zu seinem Künstlernamen kam:

Punx der Unfassliche_Puncks

Wenn’s denn stimmt, hat jener Dr. Kappe auf diesem Weg einem wahrlich zauberhaften Künstlernamen ins Leben verholfen, der um so viel magischer klingt als jeder dahergelaufene Scholzano oder Müllerini!

Mehr über das “Prairiefeuerzeug Punks” (hier nur mit ‘k’ geschrieben) findet sich übrigens in Karl Mays Der Scout, wie hier nachzulesen ist.


Free Things to Do in Corona Quarantine


Please note: This list is currently being updated regularly, with further links and suggestions coming in from loyal blog followers and Genii Forum readers. Thank you all!


Bored to the bone at home? Or even quarantined? Here are some tips on what you could get and do now. In total, it easily adds up to more than 2,000 free pages of magic to digest:

Chief Genii Richard Kaufman has just kindly provided a link to a free read of his classic work, CardWorks. Enjoy!


Or take the time to read Paco Nagata‘s fine book, The Passion of an Amateur Card Magician, which is an enlightening labor of love on 554 pages. It’s huge, and you can download it for free here.

Jamy Ian Swiss wrote 71 (!) masterful essays for Magicana featuring and analyzing many of the leading practitioners of magic, accompanied by carefully selected performance videos. You can find them here.

The Science of Magic Association has provided their newsletter readers with a lovely list of “SOMA’s Social Isolation Suggestions,” which includes several links both to videos and interesting websites. Check it out here.

Magic historian and publisher Marco Pusterla kindly offers you free access to any back issue of his “Ye Olde Magic Mag.” Learn here how to get access.

Or check out Paul Romhany‘s VANISH magazine. It’s a change bag full of diverse topics, and I feel there’s always at least one interesting piece in each issue. The eight latest issues can be downloaded for free here.

Go see my recent post on some of my personal heroes and wizards of the world wide web. There’s a lot more free stuff to get and to digest via the links I have compiled there.


Head over to or to any other magic dealer. Check out their free downloads, but also try to spend a few bucks, if you can, to help support the magic community in the new age of anxiety. And get some new books, manuscripts, or tricks in order to learn and improve in the arts. Just two examples that will keep you busy for a while: offers, among many other things, three volumes of Lives of the Conjurers by Professor Solomon for free here. Hundreds of pages for a nice and easy read. In fact, they currently have a total of 135 (!) publications that you can get for free – see them all here.

Vanishing Inc. has, among other things, Magic in Mind for free. A few years ago, Joshua Jay “set out to assemble some of the most important, influential, and helpful essays on magic ever written, and make them available to all serious students of magic for free.” That’s 500 pages of great thinking and inspiration!


Whoops, we have just missed a weekend of free access to Kozmo‘s site, Reel Magic, which he offered in order to “enjoy the weekend, learn some magic and forget about all of this crap that’s happening around us.” Nice! However, one issue of of his DVD series (No. 41) remains accessible for free. Check it out here.


Chris Michael and Danny Orleans (the latter a co-founder of AmazeKids) are working on a preschool theme show. In their words, it’s “about how to prevent the spread of the virus. You can bet it’ll be a perfect program for them when schools re-open.” Both are currently writing a complete script for it, but they allow you to create your own themed show based around their ideas, which I find quite amazing, kids, and very generous. The Title is “Scrub-a-Dub-Dub” and you can download a free outline here.

Silly Billy (David Kaye) was quick in putting together a free ebook called “11 Things Every Performer Should Do During The Coronavirus Qurantine.” It’s useful and a quick, fun read.


Videos: As the Portland Magic Jam also had to be cancelled, each of the four headliners (Max Maven, Shawn Farquhar, Stephen Bargatze, and John Shryock kindly agreed to do a small online lecture – for free. It’s scheduled for Sunday, March 28, 1:00 p.m. in Portland, Oregon (which should be Pacific Standard Time). Check it out here.

Haven’t heard much from the UK’s Magiflix project recently, but they do have a small free video section available here where you can learn the “Pre-Prefiguration” card trick (by Jennings/Elsdon), which is astonishing, simple, and totally impromptu.

The inimitable David Stone has uploaded a quick and funny short Corona Card Virus Trick here which you really shouldn’t miss!

And then there’s coin master and all-around wizard Helge Thun, who keeps us spellbound with his Chinese-American Corona Virus Coin War:

If you are rather into High Brow entertainment, why don’t you check out Teller‘s production of Macbeth which he directed a few years ago?


Plus: Already looking forward to this treas(h)ure from Milk Can Magic Motion Pictures!



Work on new ideas, thoughts, moves, tricks, and presentations! Time is on your hands. Bingeviewing may make you happy, bingeforumsurfing may make you miserable, but both options won’t make you much smarter or better in anything…


Read or learn other stuff outside of magic. The other day, my younger boy created this fine rendition for me of America’s Premier Illusionist, Master Deceptionist, Bizarrist and Contortionist, THE GREAT DONALDILI. And it just took him a few minutes. Pure magic! I’d like to learn that, too! (So far, I can only move around stuff in Powerpoint, see above…)

Donald Sternenkrieger


Make plans for the future, or at least give it a thought: How will we emerge from this global crisis? What changes are likely to happen in your personal environment, your business or maybe in your career? Do you already have a plan B? What do you want to change?

There may be lots of problems ahead; but what about the opportunities? If you’re a magician, conjure up some good spirit for yourself and for others and get to work!


Finally: Use your head! Be cautious, be sensible, take care of your loved ones and yourself, and please stay safe!


A Hocus Pocus Minded Comic

Wiseman Hocus Pocus

Just out: A new psychic comic magazine by Prof. Richard Wiseman and friends. On 28 pages, issue #1 of “Hocus Pocus” features stories about Washington Irving Bishop, the cataleptic mentalist, J.B. Rhine investigating a psychic horse and Alexander, The Crystal Seer spilling his beans to two Laurel and Hardy type FBI investigators.

For magicians and mystics, the magazine contains some simple, but fun interactive features. Stories and texts are enlightening and often tongue-in-cheek (“Who is ‘Alexander’?… Man, who knows!?”). The best thing for you pennypinchers: While you can order a print version for £6,99 in the UK, you can download a free PDF version here.

Issue #2 is already in the making. I enjoyed this first, quirky ride and learned some interesting bits along the way. Have fun with it, too!


Neues zur Kulturgeschichte der Zauberkunst

Wittus Witt hat soeben die zweite Ausgabe vom A-B-C der Taschenspielerkunst vorgelegt. Der 192-seitige Band enthält Beiträge von Peter Mika, Peter Rawert, Waldemar Hans Horster und Witt selbst. Highlights sind eine umfassende Biografie von Alexander Heimbürger sowie eine bisher unveröffentlichte Becherspiel-Routine von Reinhard Rohnstein. Dank Stefan Alexander Rautenberg gibt es aus dem Nachlass von Alexander Adrion eine CD-Beilage mit einem Heimbürger-Feature des Deutschlandfunks von 1982.

ABC Witt Bd2_sn

Schriftliche Bestellungen am besten direkt an


Ende März erscheint die recht spannend klingende Dissertation von Katharina Rein als Buch: Techniken der Täuschung: Eine Kultur- und Mediengeschichte der Bühnenzauberkunst im späten 19. Jahrhundert.

Rein Täuschung

In der Kurzbeschreibung des Titels heißt es:

Katharina Reins preisgekrönte kulturwissenschaftliche Dissertation widmet sich der Bühnenzauberkunst in ihrem “Goldenen Zeitalter” (ca. 1860–1900), das von wissenschaftlicher und technischer Innovation ebenso geprägt war wie von einer florierenden Medienkultur, den Umbrüchen der Industrialisierung oder den Erfahrungen von Globalisierung und Kolonialismus. Moderne Bühnenzauberei beansprucht keine übernatürliche Wirkung, vielmehr präsentiert sie technisch erzeugte Illusionen, deren Funktionsweisen sie allerdings verbirgt. Sie stellt damit eine spezifische Form des Mediengebrauchs dar, die mediale Effekte exzessiv ausstellt, während sie das dahinterstehende technische Geschehen zum Verschwinden bringt. Die Analyse von vier paradigmatischen Großillusionen (“Pepper’s Ghost”, “Vanishing Lady”-, Levitations- und Telepathie-Illusion) eröffnet nicht nur schlaglichtartige Einblicke in die bislang weitgehend ungeschriebene Zaubergeschichte des späten 19. Jahrhunderts. Sie geben zugleich die Sicht frei auf einschneidende kulturelle Veränderungen und Innovationen, die in diese moderne, hoch technisierte Form von Magie Eingang fanden.

Das Buch wird gebunden 34 Euro kosten und kann z.B. hier bei Amazon vorbestellt werden.

Die Autorin wird darüber auch bei Magica 2020 referieren.

Hier ist sie im Interview mit den Machern des Trickverrat Podcasts zu hören.


Do You Know this Magic Ad or Company?

On the cover of the latest issue of “Ye Olde Magic Mag,” editor Marco Pusterla has featured an old advertisement from his collection, which you can see below. It’s probably around 100 years old. However, the publishing “BM” company has not been identified yet. A textiles or yarn company? Or makers of fine linen playing cards? Or something totally different? Maybe from France or Belgium?

Any helpers or ideas?


By the way, once you are interested in this, why don’t you consider subscribing to Marco’s wonderful little journal? It’s available both in print and in PDF format, and it makes for a great read on magic history and collecting four times a year!


Well said: Robert-Houdin on “False Bottom” Conjuring vs. Art

Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, “The Father of Modern Magic,” 1868:

It is easy enough, no doubt, to play the conjuror without possessing either dexterity or mental ability. It is only necessary to lay in a stock of apparatus of that kind which of itself works the trick. This is what may be called the “false bottom” school of conjuring. Cleverness at this sort of work is of the same order as that of the musician who produces a tune by turning the handle of a barrel-organ. Such performers will never merit the title of skilled artists, and can never hope to obtain any real success.

Well said!

So beware of the “false bottom” or “push button” school of (pseudo) conjuring!


Mark Wilson’s Illusions for Sale

Mark Wilson Auction

If you have always wanted to own an illusion by Mark Wilson, the legendary TV and trade show magician, your chance is coming up this very weekend! A lot of the boxes have been created by Alan Wakeling and built by John Gaughan, two further legends in the field.

You can download the auction catalog right here. Enjoy browsing!


John Gaughan’s Chess Player at the Met

Chess Player_Gaughan_Met
The Chess Player at the Met Museum, NYC (snipped from the Met website, see links below)

If you happen to live or stay in New York City, you have but a few days left to visit the exhibit “Making Marvels: Science & Splendor at the Courts of Europe” at the Met Museum. Its magical highlight is the display of John Gaughan‘s famous reproduction of the even more famous Chess Player automaton (also called “The Turk” due to its costume back then). More than 800 books have been written on this marvelous, deceptive machine and its travels and encounters with the likes of Napoleon.

Which reminds me of a very funny anecdote Dai Vernon once shared in his column “The Vernon Touch” in Genii Magazine:

Concerning the „Chess Player,“ years ago it was on exhibit in Coney Island in the Dreamland Circus Sideshow. This show had twenty-one exhibits. Freaks of all descriptions such as the Ossified Man, Cuckoo the Bird Girl, Half Man/Half Woman, and many others.

The last one was Al Flosso, the Coney Island Fakir. One of these exhibits was the Chess Player. Flosso told me that the person concealed within the apparatus was an escaped prisoner from Sing Sing. It happened one day that another jailbird played the Chess Player and recognized the play of his ex-inmate. Smoking a pipe, he blew smoke inside the base. Presently he heard a cough and and the concealed guy inside had to exit the apparatus. This was a perfect hiding place.

(Genii, July 1989, Vol. 53, No. 1)

It might actually have happened. Even though the original automaton was already destroyed in a Boston fire in 1854, a similar Chess Player called “Ajeeb”, built in England by Charles Hooper, came to America in 1885. Later on, it was displayed at Coney Island until 1929, when it was also destroyed by a fire.

You can read some more about the Chess Player as a popular motif on postage stamps here and find some additional links and books there.


Jolting Erdnase (2)

Karr Expert

Huh, now it’s getting really exciting!

Within a few days, another major work on Erdnase has been announced, this time by Todd Karr. He claims nothing less than a “massive new biography of the actual author” including “rare photos of the author performing moves from the book” plus “the author’s own annotations to The Expert at the Card Table,” and “all evidence carefully documented; no speculation.”

Quite a promise! Let’s see if Karr delivers and if his two-volume book will actually be “coming summer 2020”!

Richard Kaufman has just called Karr’s candidate “beyond preposterous,” though. And Denis Behr writes, “I’m fascinated, but skeptical.”


I’ll sit back and enjoy the upcoming skirmishes and revelations, but I certainly won’t break any of my Golden Rules of Magic:

(1) The secret is not the secret.

(2) Be prepared.

(3) Be natural.

(4) You cannot buy miracles.

(5) Never preorder.


Nonetheless, it’s probably time to lay our bets on the table now and to take sides before these two exciting books will be out!

As far as I’m concerned, I’d love to learn one day that Dr. JameS W. E lliott, known both as “Champion Card Manipulator of the World” amongst magicians and “The Boston Kid” amongst card sharps, was in fact ErDmaSe…uumm…Erdnase! Not the most improbable candidate I have seen… Maybe research should shift more towards him?


Jolting Erdnase


Whew, this year is off to a promising start! Gambling and cheating expert Steve Forte has just announced his two-volume tome, Gambling Sleight of Hand – Forte Years of Research. It will include a 130-pages chapter called “The Erdnase Factor”, and it may bring about a major shift (pun intended) in the perception of our Dark Lord!

As Forte teases,

Was Erdnase a cheater who plied his trade with moves and systems that he invented? Unfortunately, my findings suggest that Erdnase was neither a cheater nor an expert at the card table! I expect this chapter to jolt many cardmen.

Looking forward to learning more soon!


On a side shift note: Rumor has it that Forte’s great-grandfather (on his paternal side) might have been Erdnase, as his name is artfully hidden in the frontispiece of TEATCT…