Saturday, July 31, 2010

Thayer's New Mystical Coin Act (Page 4 & 5)


We're already at the center to the booklet, and the more I look at the type and such, I am thinking this is much younger than the first edition I found on ebay. I am going to have to do some digging and see if anyone is still performing a trick like this!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thayer's New Mystical Coin Act (Page 2 & 3)


This is a huge list of items needed for a coin trick! The words that stuck out to me were "Obedient Coins." Since they were capitalized, I assumed it was the name of a trick, and I was right (once you get through the ads, it is an interesting science experiment):

Obedient Coin
Uploaded by RobertKrampf. - Videos of the latest science discoveries and tech.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thayer's New Mystical Coin Act (Page 1)

Here we have the first page of the trick. I am wondering is this is younger than the original version I wrote about yesterday, just because of the fonts and style used- it just looks newer than 1918.

I was curious about the "ala Miser's Dream" statement, so I started looking around and found it was still a common trick! Below was my favorite version, via

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thayer's New Mystical Coin Act


This is my 100th scanned item! I know there aren't any balloons coming down from the ceiling, but I was really excited to hit this milestone, and there is still more stuff to be scanned & cataloged!

For the rest of this week I will be focusing on this little book. The cover is made of very heavy textured paper, but the actual booklet only holds a few thin pages, and the entire thing is bound with string. I love the little lion emblem on the wrap-around flap!

I googled this title immediately, but only found this one for sale on ebay. Obviously these are not the same book. I will have to take note and see if I can find any dates in my copy to see if mine is the older or younger version.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Card Changing Tray?!

Look what I found!This cool little box is about 4x3.5x1 inches. The picture on top is inlaid, and the back of the box has a simple flower motif with some butterflies. I am not a wood expert, but it feels very light and a little fragile.

You can see that it has dual, inset trays that slide out from the right:
When you stick an object (try not to use a real giraffe) in the top tray..............

.......and pinch the left side so that you move the end piece, so it shifts like this (see how there is a notch sticking out at the end?):

The object will magically vanish!You can repeat the process to make the object reappear.

I was hoping there would be some kind of branding on the box somewhere, but so far I have not found anything. There are many card changing trays around, but none with this unique artwork on them- most are plain or too modern.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Found: Newspaper Ladder!

Hope you all had a great weekend! Sorry about the lapse in posts, I had a little technical difficulty with the scanner over the weekend. On the upside, EM reader Joseph was able to find the trick mentioned in last Wednesday's post! has instructions on how to make a ladder from a newspaper:

Thanks, Joseph!

This ladder also got me thinking of one of my favorite childhood toys, the Jacob's Ladder (not the electrical one). I had one of these toys when I was around 3 or 4, and I remember looking at it often. Mine was pink on one side and yellow on the other, and I remember that I thought of lemonade when I played with it because of the colors. I guess I enjoyed visual illusions from a young age! has a video on how to make one out of cassette tapes (you might turn down the sound though- the music is a little annoying):

Happy Monday! Regular posts will resume tomorrow :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to "Sex" an Egg


This is a fun little article, basically debunking pendulums. It would seem that chick sexing is barley a science (and a really gross, sad job), much less looking at the egg and taking a guess!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

After All.


I love this Ovette advertisement. The phrasing begins almost modern and dissolves into that strange magician-speak. As for the trick he is selling? I have no clue. I looked for Ovette tricks referencing tissue paper, wands, and ladders and came up empty. Looks like another item for the mystery file!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Kadu The Magician

When I first unfolded this article and read it, I was curious to go and learn more about Kadu. In researching all of these items I had never come across his name- I thought I had a new magician to introduce to everyone! It would appear, however, that Kadu is simply a fictional magician created to teach children magic tricks through story telling. I don't see any more Kadu stories in the clippings... I wonder how long his run lasted in the local papers!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Japanese Chameleon Handkerchief Puzzle Box

Patent Pending!

It was interesting to me that someone took the time to meticulously rip and flatten this box for preservation, but did not bother to save the handkerchief that it once housed. I have seen a red small cloth in one of the boxes, but it didn't really look "handkerchief" size.

As for the Japanese Puzzle Co, I am guessing their patent didn't go through. I could not find even a mention of them having ever existed in St. Louis.

Via Google Books, I was able to find a chapter from Hoffman's "More Magic" in which he describes several handkerchief tricks:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

.....Glass Trick


I have really hit the mystery pile the weekend! I am sure this packet is from the Mysto Set I wrote about earlier this month. Unfortunately I cannot find a listing of what was included in the set, so figuring out the title of this trick package is a little tough.

I was able to find a lot of glass magic tricks videos via you tube, but the one below reminded me the most of the illustration:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Secret of Girl-Lifting Trick


I found this fun illustration with the newspaper clippings. Hopefully I will find the article it goes with!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cigars (Cigarette)


What a strange thing to save! I can only assume this is part of a trick in some way. I am filing it under mystery items, because I could not find exactly what kind of trick this facilitates. What I did notice is that the "burnt" end of the cigarette contains red metal foil and slightly appears lit from far away. I also noticed that it does not smell like a cigarette.

There are a ton of cigar and cigarette trick instructions online. The video below was one of my favorites:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Side-Show and Animal Tricks (Gambler Illustration)


The only other illustration in this book is on this page, almost at the end. The adjacent page and chapter describes all manners of cheating at gambling- be it with mirrors, trick decks, or even contraptions mounted inside a long shirt sleeve!

As someone who was raised in Las Vegas, this section reminded me of all of the various "cheater" stories I heard growing up. Beyond the famous MIT scandal, there were always storied of people rigging coins to trick slot machines, or trying any number of ways to "beat the dealer." For further reading, I recommend this website's poker and casino cheats hall of fame for a brief history of those who tried to beat the house.

Here is a cropped & turned scan of the illustration:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Side-Show and Animal Tricks (Bostock)


Obviously a book with the words, "animal tricks," in the title will include pages of animal tricks. Mostly the guide gives many different kinds of tricks you can teach an animal to do. It was interesting to see animal training written about so plainly when today it is considered a very contoversial subject, and you have entire nations banning the use of any animals in the circus.

Today's scan features a quote from Mr. Bostock, and I am thinking that would be the Bostock from Bostock and Wombwell's Menagerie. I read a little about what a menagerie was via this article at the Fairground Heritage Trust. The Bonstock & Wombwell show was unique in that they had such a diverse and large amount of animals, and were willing to haul their traveling zoo all over the earth.

I was able to find this youtube video with actual footage of the Bostock farm:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Side-Show and Animal Tricks (Sideshow Freaks)


The center of the book focuses on the secrets of "sideshow freaks". While there have been many people who were born with deformities and made a living (sometimes willingly and other times unwillingly) traveling with the circus, this book gives you a practical guide to producing the illusion without the reality.

I have always felt kind of uncomfortable looking at pictures of "freaks" because it seems so horrible to give money just to point and stare at someone, so I admit that this part of the book was a little hard to research. You can find a list of the top ten circus sideshow freaks here...but it is slightly NSFW.

For a thorough history and collection of circus performers & sideshow folk check out

Monday, July 12, 2010

Side-Show and Animal Tricks (Jumbo)


Here is a scan of the inside pages. You'll see it is a list of who was who in circus attractions at the time this was written. The mention that caught my attention was of Jumbo the elephant. Jumbo was P.T. Barnum's prize creature. Jumbo had already traveled a lot- starting in Mali, then going to Paris, and becoming a hit in London zoos before arriving in the states.

Jumbo was extremely popular in life, but in death his story took several bizarre turns. He died after being hit by a train, and from what I've read, why the train hit him depended upon who you asked at the time. Barnum swore Jumbo protected a baby elephant. Others said he charged the train in anger. There are also stories that suggested Jumbo was drunk at the time! You can read eyewitness accounts via this article in Tufts Magazine.

Jumbo's story did not end after he died. Barnum, always quick to take advantage of a situation, had him stuffed and put on display at the Tufts museum. What happened next was the subject of a recent short documentary that was also a tribute to the filmmaker Chelsea Spear's father. You can read more about her work on the project via this article.

Below is the doc, titled, Jumbo in a Jar.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Side-Show and Animal Tricks (Carrington and Thurston)


Upon opening the book I immediately spotted the dedication to Thurston. I learned all about him back in May. You will also notice he thanks Thurston again on the introduction. Wanting to learn more about their connection, I was able to find this little story about the pair (and fellow dedicated Harry Kellar) and their meeting and investigation of real psychic phenomena.

Here is a close up of the illustration:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Side-Show and Animal Tricks (Cover)


This is an interesting little book. The cover is actually in a lot better shape than the scan would suggest- I was surprised how washed out it looks, when it is actually a very solid shade of dark blue. I was also suprised when I started looking up information about this book and finding it being sold for $175.00! It is honestly just a few pages with a card stock cover.

The first inner page:The author, Hereward Carrington, was a prolific writer. He published over 100 books on psychic phenomenon, magic acts, and 'alternative health issues'. You can buy reprints of his books around the web- the one I recognized first from the inner flap was The Boys Book of Magic.

We will be looking at this book and at Carrington for most of this week!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Mysto Box


I wanted to show you the most visually interesting box in the collection. The other two boxes that house the hundreds of clippings are cigar boxes from Chicago, but this one actually has something to do with magic!

According to Magicpedia, the Mysto company, founded by A. C. Gilbert and John Petrie, produced these sets. has an interesting article on Gilbert, where I learned:
But Gilbert was also a brilliant student, and soon went on to Yale Medical School. He helped pay his tuition by performing as a magician, and founded a company, Mysto Manufacturing, which sold magic kits for kids. In 1908, he took time out to compete in the IV. Olympiad in London, England, and came home with the gold medal in the pole vault --- thanks in part to a new, spike-less bamboo pole that he was the first Olympian to use.
This man was busy! He also went on to create the Erector sets- the first advertised toy and one of the most popular toys of all time. You can read about the Erector sets via Girders and Gears.

There are hundreds of examples of Mysto sets online. You can view a few (including the one I have) in the online collection of the Eli Whitney museum.

LiveAuctioneers has a ton to look at, and I was even able to find someone selling a complete set with my box lid!I recognize a few of the card trick packets from my collection, but I do not see the rest- especially the little balls & cups.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Paris Strong Men Unable to Lift Coulon


I've discussed Johnny Coulon in a previous post, but I was intrigued to find another clipping. While most of this article repeats what we already learned, I found this paragraph amusing:
Coulon's performance will probably start another craze, for in every place where two or more people come together they will be waiting to try to do the "bet-you-can't-lift-me" stunt.
The trend that could have been.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

List. No. 1 Special July Bargains.


What a random list of things! I was able to figure out that this is a list from Thayer.

I had a great time looking these items up! If you find any more on this list, please let me know!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Letter From Thayer

It is strange how some items in the collection practically turn to dust when you look at them, while others are so well preserved that I wouldn't believe how old this was if there wasn't a date on it. Nearly 90 years old, and there is little yellowing and the colors are still so bright!

Yet while the article held up to time, the rest of it is a bit of a mystery. This is the first time I have ever seen a specific TO: on a document. I am going to have to start digging to see who this Griffiths person is, because it is not my Grandfather's last name. His (or her) address in Chicago is now a building full of businesses.

This is also a curiously written letter. Did they forget to include an advertisement in with a mailer? Did Griffiths request information on something which they forgot to send?

Also worth noting is this signature:
It is in pencil and looks like an 'S' to me, but Magicpedia is telling me the founder's name was Floyd, so I will also have to investigate who the 'S' is!

Monday, July 5, 2010

I did not drop off the face of the earth.


I don't know where my "closed for the weekend" post went, so I am very sorry!

I decided to take a weekend with the rest of the country. I still have more scans, which will resume tomorrow. Hope you all had a happy & safe 4th of July!

Friday, July 2, 2010

DeLand's Wonder Change

This is probably the smallest print I have ever seen on something that was designed to convey instructions! If you want half a chance at deciphering the secret behind the trick, feel free to click and enlarge the scan!

The scan on the left is how I found the card tucked into the package. After reading the instructions, I had to imagine seeing this performed, and I have to admit that I think it would have been obvious that the little center panel could slide back and forth. While the scan doesn't really convey it well, the flap that the panel slides through really protrudes from the card.

Yet, one of the interesting things about these tricks is that while I am seeing them sometimes in their most primitive states when they were first introduced to the public, they have evolved and are still used today.

I learned via the Genii Magazine message boards that this trick was designed and sold by DeLand around the turn of the century, and over the years it was engineered with heavier material and became "Giant Monte". You can watch a version of it here. Although it is not in English, you will still get the idea!

Here is a better look at the sliding insert:

Here is the back of the card- I always take note of different DeLand's card designs.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

No. 157: The Mysto "Knockout" Card Trick


Just an envelope for this one- no instructions!

Fortunately, I was able to find dozens of knockout you tube videos.... although all of them are a little different and none of them involve the handkerchief as shown in the picture. Below is my favorite video from Allen- and check out his other stuff- it is worth watching!

I was also able to find a mention of a trick called Knock Out in the Encyclopedia of Card Tricks (via google books). The actual Mysto version was mentioned in the November 1916 edition of Boy's Life Magazine.