Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Another random card.

Here is a scan of both sides of the same card. Not only is it interesting as to what trick this accomplishes, I loved the DeLand ace artwork! Here and here are some other examples of antique DeLand's cards via Old West Antiques.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jumping Frog Brain Teaser

Here is a fun clipping- I wonder if anyone ever wrote in and successfully answered the question! I was also curious to know what paper these were coming from, and so I typed in some of the addresses on the list into googlemaps, and came up with Chicago and it's surrounding suburbs, so I am guessing this is from the Chicago Tribune. I tried looking it up in their archives, but was not able to find any mention of it- but I am not sure if they indexed their brainteasers.

I wonder if the answer penciled in beneath the headline was correct- I adjusted the levels to make it more readable:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Three random cards.

These were just tossed into the box- I am not even sure if they are related, but each has something interesting about it, so I figured I would scan it to show you. I am going to file these three under "mystery items" and I will revisit them if I can find their instructions.

The first card only caught my eye because it has the little pinhole punched into it. The second has that exact pattern on both sides. The red & blue reminds me of retro 3-D printing, so maybe I will try to find some old glasses and see if anything jumps out at me. The 6 of diamonds has that interesting hole on the side, but does not have the same back-cover graphic as the 5 of clubs, so I do not think they are related.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Stunt With A Suprise

I had the day off & some time to kill, so I figured I would attempt this simple parlor trick and maybe I could amuse my friends with it next time we were out somewhere that I couldn't potentially set on fire.

I set up the trick on my dining room table and had a glass of water nearby- and if you're going to try it to maybe see if you can get it to work, I suggest going out of your way to not burn something down....which is a slight tangent- you would never see this kind of thing in a newspaper today- there would be huge lawsuits from parents, whose children decided to try this while sitting on a pile of gasoline-soaked hay they had brought into the house.

Anyhow, here is my journey in photographs:

Yeah. So it did not send a fireball hurling across my dining room like I was expecting it to. There was plenty of tension between the two matches, the sticks simply didn't burn through- they just weakened enough for the tension to bend them and they fell. I guess they don't make match sticks like they used to. If anyone can get this trick to work, (safely! I am not responsible for you if you burn down your homes!) send me a few photos and I will post them on here!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Element of Purgatory (back page)


The back page of the advertisement doesn't give me any great mysteries to explore, but I loved the detailed little drawings so I wanted to share them with all of you. The ad is small- only about 5 x 51/2 inches- and it struck me as unique not only for the photographs we looked at on day 1, but also in contrast to the other ads, this one has more graphics and less overly wordy descriptions. I wonder if this was a first attempt trying different advertising techniques.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Element of Purgatory (page 2 & 3)

Thanks to googlebooks, I was able to track down the source of yesterday's photographs. The inside of the flier, shown above, gave me some keywords to look for. The tricks described were from Ovette's performances, and it goes back to the "Free Guessing Letter" I scanned back in May.

A few of the pages from the scan of the book are below- it pretty much just copies word for word what I have in the ad, and republishes the picture from the front of the pamphlet.

Looking at this photograph of Ovette from Magic Nook, I am going to weigh in with my opinion that it is him in the photographs. And judging by the hair on his head, I am also going to assume this ad was from at least the 20's if not earlier.

The back page has some hand-drawn illustrations, and I will share those tomorrow!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Element of Purgatory (page 1)

This is an interesting ad, and it is the first I have seen that uses actual photographs and not drawings. This is the first page, and I plan on exploring the whole thing this week to figure out who that is the the pictures and what this trick is all about!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Miracle in Modern Seership


I've seen this mentioned in an ad before, but I am still having the hardest time figuring out what it actually is. The ad mentions an apparatus, but the closest explanation I could find about this trick was in this scanned pdf of a typed copy of Burling Hull's dictionary of Mentalism, and after reading through the trick, it would appear that the only thing you need apparatus-wise is a short pencil and a small, thicker stock sheet of paper.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Look at a Spirit Trumpet!


You might remember my post about spirit trumpets. I was still curious to see what one looked like, and Gene, owner of the Museum of Talking Boards, was gracious enough to send me some photographs of a real spirit trumpet from his collection!

Here is is all folded up:
I was curious about the size- it looked really large. Gene told me that the trumpet is 29 1/2 inches extended, and 11 inches collapsed!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Presto Rising Cards

Today I learned that a houlette is the name of that frame magicians will place their cards in to do rising card tricks. There are hundreds of them still on the market, but I was after the Thayer one mentioned in this ad. After some looking, I think I found an example of both this and the card box from yesterday!

Live Auctioneers has a Thayer lot, and in it contains, "Locking Card Box. Card Houlette. Thayer, Thayer Magic, ca. 1930. Locking Card Box: card appears or vanishes in box. Card Houlette: card rise."

Here is a photo from the site- I think we found our items!...and wow....those are expensive.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!


I thought this was a good day to introduce you to my Grandfather, the man who originally collected all the wonderful items I blog about. Carl Backus was a man who could hold many interests and study them all passionately and thoroughly. The same dedication he had to collecting all of these vintage magic items as a boy could be seen in his love of photography, study of philosophy, and travel (he toured the country with my Grandmother, Florence, in an Airstream- how cool is that!?).

My Grandfather also had a love of technology- he helped supervise the nation's first microwave installation, which carried the first network television signals across the country. In his later years, he taught himself to use the computer, and even at 90 years old he was often seen researching something online, or scanning his huge collection of photographs and articles for further preservation. I think he would have really been happy that I am able to share his collection of vintage magic items with an online community- he loved passing on knowledge and his interests to others!

He always sent me clippings and books of whatever I was interested in, and always made me feel loved and welcome, even though he was miles away. He passed away just last November at the age of 95. It was a bittersweet passing- we all miss him so much, but were happy he could be with my Grandmother, who had passed some years earlier.

You can read more about Carl via the memories of his family on his tribute page.

Thayer's New Card Changing Tray

I was able to find a few card changing boxes and trays on the market. There is this new version, which is a clear box, and this one- which is being sold as an antique box, although they do not have a date or maker for it. I looked through a few auction sites, and as of right now, no one has the Thayer box described in this ad.

Here is a video I found of someone using a card change box:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mystery Items Found! Part 2

You will recall this set of peculiar-looking metal objects:

Reina was able to track down their family via Rob's Puzzle Page! This is a set from 1920, called the "Puzzle Party Set" by A.C. Gilbert. Worthopedia has a description:
Perfect for your antique toy and games collections is this great set made by The A.C. Gilbert Co.. Called Gilbert Puzzle Parties No. 1031, inside has 7 different metal mind solving puzzles Included is...Conjuring Rings, Twister Puzzle,Three Ring Puzzle, Question, Chinese Ring On String, Twin Rings and Wishbone Puzzle.
Here is a close up photograph of the entire set with the instruction book:And here is a look at the other pieces I was able to find in the box!Looks like I have just about everything except for the instruction book- but that still might be in here somewhere. Thanks again Reina for your stellar detective skills!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mystery Items Found! Part 1

That was so fast! Reader and google extraordinaire Reina was able to pinpoint what both sets of mystery items were! Today we will focus on the little wooden paddles.

You will recall I posted this photograph earlier this week:

And it would appear that their name is exactly what they are- paddles. You can find all sorts of info on paddle tricks. Even has a tutorial. I found various versions of magic paddles on some antique sites, but nothing matching the exact versions I have.

I was kind of frustrated to not be able to find the origin or history of the paddle trick, but someone wrote a book on it should I ever get so desperate to find out.

On the upside, Reina was also able to find this awesome youtube video of someone doing some cool paddle tricks:

I will unveil the other mystery item tomorrow!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rip Van Winkle

I learned a lot about the most random things when I started researching this Thayer ad. I learned that Edwin Brush was a magician and entertainer and got his start of the first circuit of chautauquas. I had never heard that word until today, so if you are as clueless as I was, here is the wikipedia article on them. Essentially they were traveling tents bringing education and entertainment to communities. You can view a program from one of his performances here- and if you love old Americana ephemera, you should definitely check out that site!

Also, if you have money to burn, Brush's original trunk and some costuming & other items are on auction via live auctioneers. In the description they mention the illusion in this advertisement:
sections of a cabinet and two matching Asian robes/costumes for an exchange illusion (possibly Brush's Rip Van Winkle illusion)
The starting bid is at $1,300.00.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thayer Envelope & Ordering Form

Not much to research here, but I thought readers might enjoy this Thayer envelope, and I was excited to find the blank ordering form inside:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Card Secrets No. 9 Mental Telepathy

Another from the series I posted last month. This isn't as much illusion as it is "attempt to screw with someone's head for fun & profit." Of course you would have to get really great at flipping the cards swiftly or else they would probably catch on when you paused at the one they were supposed to remember!I love the part about making the target disgusted with themselves by flipping through the cards too quickly and then acting like they are the ones who are not normal because they didn't pick a card yet.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mystery Items

I found a few things today in one of the cigar boxes, and I have no clue what they are. Since everything else in the boxes are related to magic in some way, it would be odd that these weren't part of a trick or brain teaser. Anyhow, here are two photos, and if you can help me figure out what these are or do, I would be very grateful!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Alexander's Original Luminous Ouiji Divining Board


Here is an ad that manages to do it's job a century later- I wanted one of these tremendously on first read! I would even settle for a photograph of one!

I couldn't find anyone selling or even mentioning the board anywhere, so I went to an Ouija Board expert. I emailed the awesome Gene, who runs the Museum of Talking Boards to see if he could pinpoint which board Alexander was selling. I was really surprised at what Gene was able to find- and now I know why you don't see many any of these boards anywhere:
Alexander’s Original Luminous Ouiji Divining Board was made by magician Claude Alexander Conlin (Alexander--the Man Who Knows) and sold exclusively through his Los Angeles publishing house during the 1920s. It wasn’t available through stores and that is why it is so rare and seldom seen today. What made this item special was the planchette, which was in the shape and image of Alexander’s head. It worked as a writing planchette if you inserted the pencil as the third leg and wrote on a sheet of paper, or as a regular message indicator if you replaced the pencil with the matching leg and used the supplied letter and number board.

The letter and number board was fairly unremarkable except for the glowing luminous spot in the center. The luminous spot was supposed to aid spirit communication and make the “conditions” right. What this spot was made of I can only guess but I suspect that it was radium which was used at the time to make paint glow in the dark. If this was true then it added a whole new meaning to dangerous Ouija sessions.
So if anyone has a planchette in the shape of Alexander's head, you have something special. If you have a board that glows in the center, you might need to see your doctor.

Here is the second section of the advertisement- which hilariously appears just below the top portion, only the entire thing is too long to fit in my scanner, so I had to split it into two parts:

Thank you again, Gene for being so quick with this information!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

50-Cent Colection of DeLand's Famous Card Tricks

As much as I love the awesome artwork of some of the ads, I always enjoy it when I pull out an advertisement that just makes me laugh. I admire their thriftiness- instead or reprinting the flier or renaming the collection, they simply purchased a few red stamps and went to work!

Here is a close up, in case you don't want to click on the picture to enlarge it:
Anyhow, this revised ad is for the collection from DeLand- and I wasn't able to find an online source of this complete set, but I found this deck & guide, which looks to be similar (if only adjusted for inflation).

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Letter From Alexander

This was a great thing to unfold- the colors on the logo are still so vivid! I wouldn't even suspect it was that old if it wasn't for the second page being so frail. This looks like a follow-up letter to the advertisement we viewed earlier this week.... and I really have to wonder if Alexander (or the company) was really employing people to type these, or did they mass-produce them to look that way? Also, I am going to have to do some digging for the "enclosed circular on Crystal Gazing,"- it sounds intriguing!
I have looked at this so closely, and I cannot figure out if the signature on the second page is printed or actually signed. Everything has just settled so much with age. I'm afraid to try any CSI ridiculousness, but if anyone would like to comment on if this was his actual signature, that would be appreciated.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mini Spirit Slates!

I learned about Spirit Slates at the end last month, and I guess it is a good thing I stumbled upon the ad first, or I would have had no clue what I was looking at when I found this:

It is just a little bigger than 4x6. I can see the chalk markings of where someone had once used it. The little secret take-away panel comes out a lot easier than I thought it would.

Between the panels, I found this typed description:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

No. 58 The Mysto Spotter Card Trick

I am excited to show you this today- the complete trick packet was there and intact!

So, what we have are 6 cards. They all look like this on the back, with the strange little dog staring you down:If you hold the cards correctly when showing the deck to the audience, they look like this:
You would then shuffle the deck and place them down, and have someone roll a dice- you would promise them that no mater where the ace was, the dice would correctly predict it's position. You could lay the cards out flat, or hold them in your hand.

The trick is that all of the cards, with the exception of the ace, all really look like this:
If you hold the card correctly when you reveal, it will look like the dice found the ace every time!

Here are the full instructions:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Miracles in Modern Seership and Duck Vanish (Dr. Q Ad part 4)


First we have one of those iconic images of Claude Alexander Conlin, also known simply as "Alexander"..... before I even opened these boxes, I loved vintage magic posters, and his creepy and mystical face has always been one of my favorites. It is funny to me that magicians back then were always inventing new personas for themselves- in my research of these ads I learned that Alexander created the Dr. Q character to announce newly invented tricks.

So what about the Original Duck Vanish!? There is that sad scene in The Prestige where the magician makes the bird vanish, only to discover it was simply crushed to death by the cage.

I found this video of Magician Michael Barron performing a similar trick, but could not find any exact description on making the ducks vanish. I hope Alexander figured out how to do it without killing the ducks.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mysterious Dr. Q Materialization of a Living Human Being (Dr. Q Ad part 3)

While I could not find the exact method for the trick described in this ad, the picture of the hands coming out & ringing the bell, tambourines, etc., made me think of one of my favorite Penn & Teller routines:

I think they took the original idea and made it much more entertaining.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mysterious Dr. Q Dark Trumpet Seance (Dr. Q Ad Part 2)

I've been a huge fan of seances & "spiritualism" since before I knew what those words meant. When I was 10, I tried to contact the recently deceased Heather O'Rourke via Ouija Board, and I have always loved seance scenes in the movies.

This trick would have been great to witness back in the early 1900's, when we didn't have a ton of technology and our minds would have been more susceptible to this kind of thing- and I was excited to find out how the trick actually works via The Life and Mysteries of Dr. Q @ google books.

I thought that "Dark Seance" was meant as an Occult selling point, but the trick is actually performed in the dark. This is so the audience- which is sitting around you in a circle- cannot see that the trumpet you placed between your legs has a long black hose coming from it to your mouth, where you can voice the "secrets of the dead."

Kind of hokey when you know how it works, and you would really have to practice to make sure they can't hear you mumbling into the tube, but it would be fun to see an experienced Magician perform it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Master Secret of the Swami (Dr. Q Ad Part 1)


This extremely wordy and curious ad is selling some kind of mentalist trick. My searches for "Secret Swami" in relation for Dr. Q turned up nothing. This will be another one to keep in the back of my mind and hope I can find something on it later!

This is also page 1 of a 4 page ad- all Dr. Q- the rest coming over the next few days, and I found some great background on the other tricks in the ads.

Looking over the front page, it got me thinking about the folds of the paper, and how a lot of the ads of that size are folded identically- did someone do that after it arrived? How often were these ads sent out- or did they come with other books or tricks?

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Revised List of Magical Books & Publications

From June of 1920. I am noticing that whoever was writing copy for Thayer had a hard time being concise- but this is, after all, supplement no. 2 to catalogue no. 4!

The inside reads like a "what to find on ebay" list of magic books from the time period. I did a few random searches from the list and here was what I was able to find for sale:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Race With Cards


I thought this was a fun little newspaper clipping. One of the hundreds of magic tricks someone took the time to cut and save- a lot of these are paper clipped together and tucked into envelopes. There are dozens of clippings of brain teasers and magic tricks from the newspaper in the cigar boxes.

I know my Grandfather loved to clip articles to share; he would often send me articles of interest in his letters to me. I wonder if he taught himself any of these tricks.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Poole's Latest Stage Features and Mysteries


Here is the reverse of the ad. I wonder if they were actually creating their own tricks, or buying and renaming it from other magicians.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

An Ad from the Poole Brothers


Here is page one of the ad- I will post the other tomorrow. While I recognize Mr. Hull, I could not find anything concrete on the Poole Brothers. I can figure out that they owned a store in New York, but it seems like they were publishing a ton of catalogs, yet I didn't find anything definitive on them by searching around online. There are various famous 'Pooles' from that time period- anyone know which specific Poole Brothers this is?