Tricks & Ideas (6): Coffee Cup & Capsules

Talking about the cups & balls in trick episode no. (5), I wonder why I haven’t come across any routine yet using the fancy Nespresso cups and coffee capsules that have found so much favor in many up-market households over recent years (at least in Germany). They are a pleasure to look at and to handle, the wide-rimmed capsules are perfect for palming (and likely easy to gaff for a chop cup), and the special stirrer may serve as an elegant miniature wand. As a finale, you may produce a bunch of sugar packets or pour loose sugar from the cup.

The many variations in taste and colors of capsules available lend themselves not only to a stylish chop cup routine, but to a number of other close-up effects including some mentalism, e.g. the prediction of a capsule which was freely chosen among eight differently colored ones (MO principle).

Now think – what’s stirring in your cup?


Find more tricks and ideas here.


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Tricks & Ideas (5): Clear Magic

With many laymen assuming that the bigger part of magic’s secrets lies within suspicious boxes, hidden mechanism, black art and special lighting, I feel it is an interesting concept to present certain magic effects as „clearly“ as possible (pun intended). Think of objects appearing or disappearing in crystal-clear boxes, coins through glass table or „Clearly Impossible“, Jonathan Pendragon’s spectacular sawing of a lady, etc.

On his fine blog (in English and German; login required), Alexander de Cova has recently announced his version of a clear cups & balls routine which he will premier in his lecture tour through Germany and Austria this fall. I am really looking forward to his clever thinking on this. Other clear routines with the cups & balls that come to mind are the ones by Penn & Teller, Jason Latimer and Armando Lucero.

By the way, Alexander recommends using clear tumblers made of polycarbonate now instead of real drinking glasses. These are light-weight, almost unbreakable, easy to carry and easy to drill. (The sound may be a bit flat, though.)

Now clear your mind – what can you come up with?


Find more tricks & ideas here.


Der kleine großartige Buchinger

Bereits länger angekündigt, scheint nun die Veröffentlichung unmittelbar bevorzustehen: The Greatest German Living nennt Ricky Jay sein Werk über Matthias Buchinger (1674-1739), den “kleinen großartigen Mann aus Nürnberg”, der u.a. als ein Meister des Becherspiels galt, obwohl er keine richtigen Hände besaß.

Das Taschenbuch soll laut Amazon am 9. September 2015 erscheinen und bei einem Umfang von 160 Seiten knapp 34 Euro kosten. Ricky Jay hat Buchinger bereits in seinem Buch Sauschlau und Feuerfest von 1988 ein Kapitel gewidmet.


Addendum: Fans von Ricky Jay finden hier ein dreidimensionales Portrait von ihm, das der Künstler Glenn Kaino aus Spielkarten gestaltet hat.

New Light on the Ancient Cups & Balls

Take a look at this lamentable picture from the Beni Hasan tomb in Egypt (the original mural painting is well over 4,000 years old) and marvel at the level of self-delusion and conceit only possible among majishuns. It may seem ridiculous today, but for decades we have boasted about this thing here being “the oldest proof of a cups & balls performance.” Yeah, right!

Looking at the details, the Gestalt of this very routine would actually deserve a “revolutionary” rating. Why?

  1. What we see is obviously a one-on-one performance. Thus, this image also depicts nothing less than the birth of close-up magic!
  2. It is also the first known document of active audience participation, as the spectator is clearly seen lifting one of the cups. Further research needs to be conducted on the question whether this indicates rather a “Do as I do” plot or an early “Spectator vs. Magician” theme.
  3. Preceding Tommy Wonder and David Williamson by more years than I care to count, this trend-setting routine actually features only two cups!
  4. The climax of this routine is even more astonishing: Boy, look at these loads! As we can see, two more cups (possibly solid ones) are being produced from under the lifted ones. The loads even look bigger than the cups – ample proof that the Egyptian magi were also well acquainted with optical illusions… Yeah, right!

Be that as it may, I enjoyed the point of view Scott Wells took in his introduction for Kreg Yingst‘s fine book The Magic Show in 52 Linotypes. He wrote: “Some believe they were merely baking bread but I like to think that they were magicians who may have also been chefs.”


Addendum: The above reminds me of an old joke told among magicians: “Have you heard? In Mesopotamia, they’ve found a petried man about 6,000 years old. And guess what – he didn’t wear gloves. It’s obvious that this guy must have been an early stage manipulator who had just vanished his gloves!”


A Word on Gazzo

The eternal Cups & Balls – the most versatile trick ever invented and in every escamoteur’s gibecière since the Middle Ages.

L'Escamoteur

Present time: Gazzo performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013. Boy, this man knows how to build, entertain and astonish, insult and milk a crowd!

Gazzo_Cups and Balls

For a huge collection of Cups & Balls check out Bill Palmer‘s online museum.