Showing posts with label Hofzinser. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hofzinser. Show all posts

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Magic Christian and His Crusade

I first heard the name Magic Christian many years ago when he appeared on the cover of Genii Magazine, November 1980. I was just a kid but I still recall reading about this interesting gentleman from Austria. His issue was filled with original magic that he created. I know I have seen articles on him in the years since as well.

A few years ago, I came across his name again when doing some research on Hofzinser. I would say that Magic Christian is the leading authority on Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser today. If you don't have his books on Hofzinser you are really missing out. He has a two volume set called Non Plus Ultra Volumes 1 and 2. Volume 1 is subtitled Magic of the 19th Century. Volume 2 is subtitled Hofzinser's Card ArtistryThey have been written, researched and compiled by Magic Christian. Volume 1 originally was published in German in 1998. The second Volume followed in German in 2004. They were translated into English in 2013 and these are the books I proudly own and am carefully reviewing.

I got to meet and talk with Magic Christian at this years Yankee Gathering and he told me that The Conjuring Arts Research Library is currently editing Volume 3 of the Hofzinser books! This is amazing news and I can't tell you how thrilled I was to learn that! I remember when I read the first two books that there was yet a third one out there, but it was in German I believe. Well, now its being translated! 
Besides his work on Hofzinser, Magic Christian is also working to get the grave of Compars Herrmann repaired. During the Yankee Gathering, he showed a short slide presentation of before and after photos of the grave site. The first photo, to the left,  is what the grave looked like around 1906. You'll note it has an iron fence around it, an ornate wreath and metal vines on the face of the stone and then a decorative firebowl at the top. I understand there were also rose bushes behind the grave itself.

Now, fast forward to around 1988 and you'll see the deterioration of the gravesite. Rust has overtaken the iron fence, and the ornate wreath and other decorative items on the grave were stripped off the grave during World War 2. Actually, there is another photo that Magic Christian sent me that shows the grave around 1988 and vines and leaves had totally overtaken most of the grave. So the photo below must be after some initial work on the grave.  

It's clear by the photos that the front of the fence, the gateway, is gone. And as I mentioned all the ornate decorative items on the tombstone are also gone.

In 2009, the Magic Club of Vienna and Magic Christian began plans and work to restore the grave. It appears the first thing they did was clean up the tombstone itself and clean up all the vines and such that had grown up around the grave.

Then they set about to restore the grave to the way it looked originally. The wreath and metal vines on the face of the grave were remade. Gold lettering was redone on the face of the tombstone and white lettering on the black plaque at the bottom part of the tombstone.

Next, it appears that they had the iron fence totally redone, along with the ornate gate at the very front.  The work they've done is remarkable. During this entire time they have raised funds from magicians and magic organizations to help pay for the restoration.

The only things left to do are to replace the firebowl at the top of the tombstone and replant the rose bushes behind the grave.  At the Yankee Gathering, Magic Christian took up a donation for the continued restoration. I wanted to include the information here in case anyone else wants to contribute. You will find that information underneath the next photograph. 
The tomb is situated in the Central Cemetery of Vienna in the old Jewish section
Group  6 – Row 29 – Tomb 38

Dear friends we hope that you will support this big project: Please send your donation to Magic Christian and the Magischer Klub Wien:

Bank: Postsparkasse PSK 60000
Account: Magischer Klub Wien
Number: 00002349219

IBAN: AT696000000002349219

And if you have other questions for Magic Christian, you can contact him through his website at All the grave photos here were provided by Magic Christian and used with his permission. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Flags of All Nations

The Magic Detective is up to his old tricks, actually NEW old tricks. Over these past several months you may have noticed my absence from the blog. This is mainly due to my performing schedule. It's great to be busy! But along the way I luckily and happily stumbled upon a great opportunity. I'm currently working to recreate part of the act of a magician from the past and I'll be presenting it in the Fall.

The act I'm working on is a silk/flag/ribbon act. The key feature of the act is something known as The Flags of All Nations. This was apparently the creation of Johann Hofzinser. Yes, he created more than just card tricks. From what I've found his version was called 'The Patriot'.

It's been a lot of fun digging up information on this old gem. I have also found it in the book, The Modern Conjurer by C. Lang Neil, simply called The Flag Trick, but this book also mentions it was known by other names such as 'The Congress of Nations' and 'The Multiplying Flags'. It was a popular routine in the Victorian era and early 20th Century. And it evolved over time into a very elaborate series of productions.

In it's simplest form it began as several small flags that vanished or transformed into colored ribbons. From the ribbons larger flags would be produced and eventually a giant flag and flagpole! It seems that each performer added his own touches to the routine.

Who performed this trick?  Hofzinser, Eugene Laurant. Edward Maro, David Devant, Karl Germain, LeRoy, Talma and Bosco, J.B. Bobo, and even Harry Blackstone Sr. had a unique twist on the concept. It must have been an extremely popular effect because the trick is featured on a number of stock magic posters.

The Flags of All Nations isn't really made anymore. There have been some small reproductions of parts of the routines in the past, but I've not found the whole thing anywhere. Thankfully, by combing through my large library of historical magic books, I've been able to figure out where to find 'some' of the items required. My most recent acquisition were two Silk Fans which are spring loaded. In the photo above I'm holding the silk fans. These aren't flags, but they will do for what I need. I may end up having larger versions of this item made for the routine.

If you're wondering why this was such a popular routine well there are multiple reasons. People were flocking to the United States in droves during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. They came here to become Americans, but had their roots in other lands. So when a magician produced a flag from the country of their origin it was exciting for them to see. And then when it concluded with the Stars and Stripes, well who would not be proud of that? The wonderful thing about the routine was it was easily adapted to whatever country you were in. For example, if you were in England, the final flag would not be the US Flag but the Union Jack. All the other components of the routine could remain the same but the final flag production would change to the country you were in.

Some performers had to learn the hard way about this. One magician was performing in Canada and finished with the US Flag. It actually got boos from the audience because at the time Canada and the US were involved in a trade dispute. So this magician changed the final flag to that of the Canadian National Flag and had much better results.

I venture to say that once I've finished all the research and found or built all the items, I'll be the only 21st Century magician performing this classic from yesteryear. I'll have more news on my 'recreation' of the act later in the Summer as well as info on whose act I'm recreating. For now, enjoy this image below of a magician who featured The Flags of All Nations (his was called The Flags of The World) prominently in his show.
In addition, check out the incredible Friedlander Stock Image here, and a small image of an incredible LeRoy, Talma and Bosco poster here.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What Came Before The Rabbit and Hat?

When lay people think of magicians, one of the first things that comes to mind is the Rabbit and Hat trick. Thanks to John Henry Anderson, the Great Wizard of the North, this effect has become the most iconic image of the magician. It dates to the Victorian era by the way. But there is another creature that has been the magical sidekick to many magicians, probably even before the Rabbit. That creature is the Goldfish.

I am not really certain who produced the first goldfish via magic, but I do know that it was in the act of Robert Houdin in the 1850s. If Houdin had it, then so did John Henry Anderson who got a great deal of his act from duplicating Robert-Houdin's act. Robert Houdin produced a bowl of goldfish. Magicians since that time have created many wonderful illusions with these little guys.

In Vienna Austria, probably slightly before Robert Houdin was Johann Hofzinser who presented a
Fountain of Love
very interesting effect called The Fountain of Love.  It begins with a glass goblet containing some sort of murky dark water apparently from the 'Fountain of Love'. A borrowed ring is tossed into the water to test whether the volunteer who lent the ring has true love, for if he/she does, the water will turn crystal clear. The performer covers the glass goblet with a scarf for a moment and then when it is removed the water can be seen to be clear and there are a a couple goldfish swimming inside the goblet. But the even more amazing part, one of the fish apparently has the ring in it's mouth! A net is used to retrieve the fish and the ring.

Hofzinser continued to develop the trick and eventually developed a slightly different routine he called 'The Ink of the Enamored'. The effect was similar, but the method had been changed.  A very primitive version of the trick is sold as 'Ink to Goldfish' today.

Chung Ling Soo presented an effect called Aerial Fishing where he would take a fishing pole and cast it out over the heads of the audience and a fish would appear on the end of the line. The fish would be reeled in and removed from the line and dropped into a fish bowl. Then the effect was repeated several times. Today, Mac King presents a slightly streamlined and very funny version of this effect.

Jack Gwynne, the illusionist, was known to magically produce a stack of goldfish bowls. This was one of his signature tricks. In fact, this particular trick is so associated with Jack Gwynne, that the Stack of Goldfish Bowl Illusion is actually etched into his tombstone! Jack Gwynne also had a Goldfish bowl illusion where he would produce a woman from a large goldfish bowl.

Maybe the craziest and in some ways coolest fish trick of them all is the Educated Fish by David
Devant. In this particular trick, the Magician has a large bowl of water and fish. On the bottom of the bowl are cards with letters on them. Words are chosen by audience members and written down on a blackboard. The fish them proceed to spell the words! They apparently hit the cards as they swim around and then the proper letters gradually float up to the surface! I told, crazy, but oh so cool.

As mind boggling as the effect seems, the method to produce the illusion is even crazier. Unfortunately, I don't give away magic secrets on this blog, but you may want to check out OUR MAGIC by Maskelyne and Devant  just to discover how the illusion works. To top things off, I had heard someone recreated this trick for one of the magic conferences a few years ago! Wow.

Today, Teller from Penn & Teller, presents a version of Miser's Dream in which coins are produced from a large tank of water. At the end of the routine 100 goldfish are magically produced as well. Interestingly, on page 283 of OUR MAGIC a very similar effect is described in the same article about the Educated Fish. Given that Teller is well known for his knowledge of Magic History, I guess it's possible that this was the source of his inspiration. The routine described in the book is a Misers Dream where the magician produced handfulls of coins and they are dropped into a large glass bowl on stage. It doesn't say if the bowl contained water, nor does it mention anything about a goldfish ending. Those additions are Tellers.

I too have ridden the Magic Goldfish Train. In fact, some of my friends jokingly call me the Goldfish Magician because of the countless number of ways I've developed to magically produce fish. I even do a goldfish routine in my School Assembly Show, but it uses fish images rather than actual goldfish.

David Copperfield has a really interesting goldfish routine where water mysteriously vanishes and the reappears in a glass and then with his barehands he produces a quantity of fish. 

My favorite Goldfish trick by someone other than myself is by Luis DeMatos. The first time I saw his routine I was blown away. I had been working on a similar thing myself but ran into a problem. When I saw his routine he had something unique, a cloth with a large hole in it. This allowed him to reach into the tank while it was covered.  About ten years ago, I emailed Luis and asked for permission to use this same cloth with a hole and he kindly gave me permission. I honestly don't know if he uses that anymore. I know though I used it for a time, I eventually moved onto other ways of producing fish.  But still today, I think Luis's routine is fantastic. The amount of fish that appear is astonishing. It's a beautiful effect and I'm glad he still performs it

I'm currently working on a NEW Goldfish effect for my Steampunk Illusionist Show. I'll post a link to it once it's completed.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The ULTIMATE Hofzinser Books - Review

The books are called Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser Non Plus Ultra, Volumes 1 & 2. Volume 1 is subtitled Magic of the 19th Century. Volume 2 is subtitled Hofzinser's Card Artistry. They have been written, researched and compiled by Magic Christian. Volume 1 originally was published in German in 1998. The second Volume followed in German in 2004. They were translated into English in 2013 and these are the books I proudly own and am carefully reviewing.

Non Plus Ultra. Interesting title for a book. It's Latin meaning Nothing Further Beyond, in other words, the Ultimate. I'd say, it's a fitting titled for these three books. What? Yes, I said three. There are 3 Volumes of Non Plus Ultra. The third was published in German in 2012 and covers all the apparatus and non card magic of Hofzinser. It is listed as 'forthcoming' so the English translation is being worked on and we will one day get to enjoy even more of Hofzinser's magic.

For now, there is much to learn about Hofzinser. Apparently, much of what has been written about the man biographically in the past was incorrect. Magic Christian has painstakingly set the record straight by correct every detail possible. Right off the bat, we find the correct date for Hofzinser's birth June 19, 1806.

Then we begin to learn of the rather larger Hofzinser family. It turns out that one of the siblings, Franz-Xaver Fidelis, was so famous in Austria that he is still recognized today in books on the most famous Austrians. His claim to fame was writing a very influential set of books on Light and Heavy Cavalry for the Military that had a profound effect on how horses were treated during military service.  There were several other siblings but they did not have note worthy lives.

Ludwig Doebler
One thing that does seem to remain true from previous histories of Hofzinser is his relationship to Ludwig Doebler. It is assumed they were cousins and more than likely Doebler was the inspiration for Hofzinser's interest in magic. Born in 1801 in Vienna, he was a few years older than Johann. Doebler was certainly a magic celebrity in his day. He even finds his way into many magic history books, where Hofzinser is often sadly neglected.

Doebler was an apparatus magician, as were many of his time. He also used the occasional automaton. The opening of his show was breathtaking, as he walked out and fired a pistol, instantly lighting 200+ candles. Another of his famous effects was producing hundreds of flower bouquets from an empty hat. One particular routine that intrigued me by Doebler was making borrowed objects vanish and reappear tied to the roots of plants and flowers. This very effect can be found in the beloved Tarbell Course, though it is attributed to someone who was born many years after Doebler had passed away. One other interesting note about Doebler that I found. One site claims he was referred to as The Father of Moving Pictures because of his unique use of multiple still images that would turn off and on to create the appearance of movement. THIS is something I'll need to look into for another article.

No doubt, the magic that Doebler performed was enough to spark the interest in his young cousin, Johann. Volume 1 clearly states that the very early years of Hofzinser's life are unknown or as yet uncovered. But they do an incredible job of tracing his life once he get's into school and then into job as a civil servant in the Viennese Government. Job records still exist on Hofzinser's work life right up until his retirement and Magic Christian did an amazing job to uncover them. But I wish to skip this section and get to the meat of things, The Salons.

The first revelation you'll find is that Magic Christian has uncovered information showing the Hofzinser was not the first magician in Vienna to open a magic salon. There were two prominent magi who beat him to it and you must read the book to find out who they were. It was interesting to read that the whole idea of the Salon was used by many more artists and entertainers than just magicians and was in fact, an important place for prominent individuals to attend and to be seen.

One of the first things we see in regards to the Hofzinser Salon shows was that his wife performed in the show as well. Johann presented card miracles while she presented clairvoyant demonstrations. The papers of the time noted how advanced their magic seemed as compared to those who used mechanical devices. But remember, the mechanical automaton and gimmicked apparatus were signature routines from this time period. So the Hofzinser's were offering something very different in the eyes of the public.

J.N. Hofzinser
His early show had the title of "An Evening of Deception". A rather ordinary name for today, but as Magic Christian points out, Hofzinser was the first to use it. And he kept this name for his show as he later left the Salon performances and took his show in the road, after his retirement from his government job. The book goes into great detail about his travels and follows with many reprints of newspaper articles. Most of the reviews are kind and generous but one in particular stood out at me. The review though complimentary at first changed it's tune due to the high admission price charged and then further went to calculate the amount the Hofzinser made at a performance and how this price was far more than a conjurer should be making. And again, as Magic Christian points out, the same sort of mind set can still be found today.

Volume 1 covers Hofzinser's entire life, his death, burial and then his students, his letter and his contemporaries. It is so comprehensive, I can't help but wish that every biography of a magician was so thorough.

Getting into Volume 2 however is just a mind bending affair. Whereas Volume 1 was history and mostly newly uncovered history of Hofzinser. Volume 2 gets into his card magic. I'm not even sure I can describe it and do it justice.

One of the first things I turned to when I was first just browsing through the volume was a section on what we know of today as the Electric Deck. It is a site gag used by poor performers basically and generally used for a cheap laugh. Or so I thought. Hofzinser's use of the Electric Deck is a huge wake up call to the modern magician. Here, Hofzinser shows how by switching a real Deck for an Electric Deck, one can create some highly incredible flourishes that all appear to happen with an ordinary pack of cards. OMG, it's BRILLIANT!

But there's more. Imagine my own surprise, shock even, to learn that one of Hofzinser's prized possessions resides only  25 miles from me. It's Hofzinser's Card Box, and again, if you think you know the Card Box, well, it's time you got reeducated like I did. The Hofzinser Card Box is made of metal, and it's round and it's INCREDIBLE! Oh, and it resides at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.. So I'll be making an appointment fairly soon to go check it out for myself.

The shear amount of card material in this Volume is just mind blowing. Magic Christian again, goes to great lengths to clarify the proper handling of card moves, the history of these routines, the back story, he covers it all. Magic Christian also has no problem with setting the record straight when it comes to what Hofzinser created and what he has been credited with creating but wasn't his. For example, Johann has been credited with discovering or inventing the Rough and Smooth Principle for cards. But Magic Christian shows how this technique existed before Hofzinser and even goes to show how he was mis-credited in the first place.

I must point out another effect that is in Volume 2 and that is the Card Star. I had heard that Hofzinser created the Card Star but as I read the description, I realized that his Card Star was very different from what I called a Card Star. His, was a metal star with points on the ends to which cards could be attached. Then a pointer was placed in the center of the star and spun and it would land upon the correctly chosen card. The reason I point it out is that I am adding a Spirit Dial to one of my shows. I've used it many times in the past and out of no where came up with what I thought would be a great final sequence to the routine. My idea was to add playing cards to the edges of the glass and spin the dial to have it land on a previously chosen card........YES, my idea was almost identical to the routine described in the book! In no way do I claim to have the mind or even the mindset of Johann Hofzinser, but it was a nice coincidence. Hofzinser's Card Star was more like the Spirit Dial in methodology. The 'other' Card Star was a five pointed star mounted on a pedestal. Five cards are chosen and returned to the deck and the deck is then 'sprung' towards the Card Star and the five selections appear on the points of the star. This apparently was not a creation of Hofzinser.

I'll be completely honest, I've not yet finished reading Volume 2. The richness of material in this book is just not something you can go through quickly.  Volume 2 has so much material, sleights, flourishes, gaffed and gimmicked cards, none gimmicked routines, card routines with apparatus and more. It's just overwhelming to try and go through it quickly. This material needs to be taken in slowly and carefully. I'll tell you this, you simply can never get this amount of detail in a DVD, ever! Johann Hofzinser was a genius. Magic Christian truly has created the Non Plus Ultra (The ULTIMATE) work on Hofzinser, and there is still a third Volume yet to come out!!!! If you love magic history you have to have these books. If you are a performer in search of killer material you have to have these books. If you call yourself a magician and you DON'T have these books, you might want to reconsider that title. Go purchase these books before they are gone! 900 sets will be sold. Don't wait, get them now. Conjuring Arts has a deal whereby you can make monthly payments on the books, so you don't have an excuse not to get them!!!!

The only thing I can add is the magic world owes a huge debt of gratitude to Magic Christian for these remarkable books! Thank you!!!!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hofzinser Books - WOW

Ok, pardon my excitement. The 2 Hofzinser books arrived while I was in Nashville, but now that I'm back I got to open the box and I'm just dumbfounded. I've not started reading them yet, but I am expecting a real treat. Volume 1 is a more complete history of Johann Hofzinser than has ever been written before. In fact, it corrects some errors that have been made in the history books in the past. Volume 2 is filled with tricks, card tricks mostly and I can't wait to dive into these books!  I will write a review when I finish reading them.

There is a Volume 3 in the works on all of Hofzinser's Parlor Magic. I do not have any idea when when that will be published.

IF you are interested in getting these books, go to

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Grave of Compars Herrmann

photo courtesy Heinz König
I received the quite the surprise in my email today from Heinz König who found and photographed the grave of Compars Herrmann. I had a photo from the Sphinx magazine which showed the grave and location but now we have a full color image of what the grave site looks like today. Some of the decorative metal work is missing, and the names have been painted in with gold leaf recently. So I assume that there are repairs going on. Actually, if I'm not mistaken, Magic Christian was working to get the grave of Compars Herrmann repaired, so perhaps we are seeing the grave in transition. It does appear that the top of the structure is missing. There was a marble piece at the top in the shape of an urn or vase.

Also buried in this cemetery are fellow magicians Johann Hofzinser and Kratky Bashik.

Compars Herrmann -Born Jan 23, 1816 Died June 8, 1887
Wiener Zentralfriedhof (Vienna Central Cemetery)
: XI. Simmeringer Hauptstrasse 234, Vienna Austria
Section: T1 Group: 6 Row: 29 Grave: 38

 photo courtesy Heinz König

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Great Salon Magician Hofzinser

J.N. Hofzinser
I can't say I've been as nervous and unsure about a topic as I am with this one. I have been doing some research on Johann Hofzinser, the great Viennese Magician. However, during the course of my research, I've discovered that much of what I read was probably wrong. The early history of Hofzinser was recorded by Ottokar Fischer, but according to magic scholar Magic Christian, Fischer was wrong about a lot of his information. Because Fischer was wrong, many of the later biographies of Hofzinser are also incorrect. Houdini gets a lot wrong in his Conjurers Monthly Magazine about Hofzinser.

One fact that is clear, Johann Nepamuk Hofzinser was born June 19th, 1806 in Vienna Austria in the Landstraße district. He was a cousin to fellow Viennese Magician Ludwig Dobler. It's possible that Dobler is the one who first sparked Hofzinser's interest in magic. Johan held a job within the Viennese government in the financial ministry from which he would eventually retire from in 1865.

Several years earlier he opened his first Magic Salon in 1857. He moved to 5 different locations from 1857 to 1865. Then after his retirement from the financial ministry it appears that Hofzinser took his show on the road. But it's his Salon work that is what is most important. Hofzinser was basically the father of Parlor Magic or Salon Magic. In his parlor presentations he presented both card magic, manipulation and apparatus magic.

According the Dai Vernon, Johann Hofzinser was the Father of Card Magic. I'm intrigued with his card magic but sadly am not quite as familiar with it as I would like to be. I know a bit more about his none card magic mainly because of the book 'The Magic of J.N. Hofzinser' by Ottokar Fischer.

The Rose Mirror
There are many intriguing pieces in his repertiore, but I am personally drawn to the routine known as The Apotheosis of the Rose.  

The effect begins with a hand held mirror which is shown on both sides. Then it's covered for a moment with a scarf and when the scarf is removed the image of a red rose is seen on one side of the mirror. As the performer speaks the rose grows paler and paler until it has completely lost it's color. The scarf is held in front of the mirror again and the image vanishes. The scarf is held over a glass vase and the white rose appears inside it. When he removes the rose from the vase it again changes color leaving the red rose.

And to that I say, WOW! I can't go into the workings, because I do not divulge magic secrets on this blog. But look at the photo to the left and you'll see the actual Rose Mirror used by Hofzinser, now in the collection of Ken Klosterman.

Fountain of Love
The next routine that I find really interesting is called The Fountain of Love. It begins with a glass goblet containing some sort of murky dark water apparently from the 'Fountain of Love'. A borrowed ring is tossed into the water to test whether the volunteer who lent the ring has true love, for if he/she does, the water will turn crystal clear. The performer covers the glass goblet with a scarf for a moment and then when it is removed the water can be seen to be clear and there are a a couple goldfish swimming inside the goblet. But the even more amazing part, one of the fish apparently has the ring in it's mouth! A net is used to retrieve the fish and the ring.

That is a fantastic effect, but according to the book, Hofzinser was not happy with it and changed the props and even altered the method. The later routine became known as The Ink of the Enamoured and it was basically the same general idea but Hofzinser added some additional beats to the routine to prove there was really ink in the vessel. He put a white feather into the liquid which came out black and used a ladle to remove some of the ink and pour it into a glass.  In the collection of Ken Klosterman is the original Fountain of Love goblet along with the Ink Ladle which can be seen in the image to the right.

Another interesting effect in Hofzinser's show was called The Card Automaton. It was a small box in which a pack of cards was inserted. Any card could be called for and it would rise out of the box. According to the book 'The Magic of J.N. Hofzinser', the prop is actually in the possession of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. I do know that Ken Klosterman also has a Card Automaton in his collection but it looks a little different than the one pictured in the Ottokar Fischer book. Still, Klosterman might very well own the original, I don't know. I was not aware that the Library of Congress possessed any Hofzinser items, but apparently they do.

The list of Hofzinser's original sleights, card effects and apparatus tricks is staggering. He was an incredibly inventive artist who not only invented many methods still used today, but improved on countless props that existed in his time. On top of that he wrote poetry that was used in his presentations and also composed music for his act as well. In the video below, you can hear one of the pieces that Johann Hofzinser wrote for his show and see a number of wonderful images of the great Viennese Conjurer. Enjoy!

According to Magic Christian's wonderful website on Hofzinser ( the final performance that Johann Hofzinser gave was New Years Eve 1875. He would become ill shortly after this and was sick for six weeks until he finally passed away on March 14, 1875. He is buried in Vienna Central Cemetery in Vienna Austria.

By the way, there is a wonderful tribute to Hofzinser in the Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants Show. Ricky does a version of Everywhere and Nowhere with a nice twist at the end.  The routine is at about 36 minutes the link to see the entire show on youtube.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The grave of Hofzinser

Johann N. Hofzinser
Vienna, Austria
photo courtesy Magic Christian
I was just thinking that in some way Houdini is like a gateway drug. You get interested in magic because of him and then you get hooked and move on to bigger things! One of his fascinations was visiting the graves of famous and not so famous magicians. Somewhere along the line this too became an interest for me. So much so that I started collecting images of these famous graves. They are not always the easiest things to find. The photo above is the grave of one of the GREATS! He came years before the golden age of magic. This is the grave of Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser (1806-1875) and he was a great Viennese Magician. He has been referred to as the most important card conjuror of all times. He was also one of the early Salon performers and as I suspected after so much of my research on Robert-Houdin, he was probably just as influential in Austria as R-H was in Paris. Both of their contributions to magic are still felt today!

Hofzinser was a cousin of Ludwig Dobler. Dai Vernon held  Hofzinser in high regard. He even gave one of his sons the middle name of Nepamuk. Hofzinser’s card work lives on today in many ways. His effects are still popular as are his sleights and even a number of his gimmicks. In fact, even I use one of his forces and spread cull. The charming ‘Everywhere and Nowhere’ card routine is Hofzinser’s and I’m wondering if it wasn’t first called “To Think and Forget”. One famous piece of magical apparatus that I am familiar with was called ‘The Rose Mirror’. I have seen the Rose Mirror in person as it is in the collection of Ken Klosterman. There are a number of Hofzinser’s apparatus pieces in the collection as a matter of fact. His ‘ink to goldfish’ is there as well.

As I continue down the road researching Victorian magic, I look forward to learning more about Johann Hofzinser. By the way, the photo above and much of the biographical information here is courtesy of Magic Christian who gave me permission to use the above photo. Please visit his website at to learn more about this wonderful Viennese magician. Ottokar Fischer wrote two books on Hofzinser which were translated into english by S.H. Sharpe which is no doubt how much of his card magic survived. Magic Christian has also written a couple books on the card magic of Hofzinser. For those that might not have these books, try ‘Greater Magic’ as there are several references to Hofzinser in the pages of that book.

The grave is located at the Vienna Central Cemetery, Group 4, Row 2, Tomb 16
J.N.Hofzinser, Rest in Peace.

(most of this is a reprint from a previous blog post I did at