Monday, December 18, 2017
These are impressive looking. It's nice that the US Postal Service has recognized magic as an art. I do like the artwork for these, though not particularly thrilled with the subject matter. The Rabbit/Hat is iconic to magic, though, you could count the number of magicians who pull an actual rabbit from a top hat on one hand, and likely no one does it currently. The Turban Wearing Crystal Gazer is another kind of tired image. but hey, I like the design work, so I'm not going to complain. Im THRILLED the USPS will have these available. I'll be using them like crazy for business, as well as saving a bunch for my collection. I still have tons of sheets of the Houdini stamp from a few years back.
Here is a write-up I found on the stamps, "The Postal Service celebrates the art of magic with this pane of 20 stamps featuring digital illustrations of five classic tricks magicians use to amaze and delight audiences: a rabbit in a hat (production), a fortune teller using a crystal ball (prediction), a woman floating in the air (levitation), an empty bird cage (vanishing), and a bird emerging from a flower (transformation)."
The designs were done by Jay Fletcher, his instagram can be seen here. I'm not sure the actual date they get released other than some time in 2018. Keep watching for them!!!
Monday, June 8, 2015
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.
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.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Before there was Harry Potter and Mac King, someone else apparently invented The Cloak of Invisibility. This dates back to 1949 and was the creation of a fellow named Felix Korim. It's clever to say the least. Basically the effect begins with a girl being covered with a jet black cloak/cloth. The cloak gradually changes color and becomes transparent. The cloak is then removed proving the girl has actually vanished. I love the fact that the illustration doesn't give away the method, but in a subtle way it does. A very visual effect for 1949 and quite ingenious.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Hardeen, brother of Houdini. I was unaware that Hardeen was the creator of The Book of Life Illusion. This came as quite a surprise to me actually. I found it in The New Conjurers Magazine Vol 1. Number 6, which is an issue devoted to Hardeen. There is a big two page spread on the Book of Life Illusion by Hardeen. Apparently he got the inspiration from seeing Thurston walk through a giant book to be introduced. However, Thurston's was not an illusion but just a unique way of introducing the magician.
Hardeen wanted to turn the idea into something magical so he devised a Giant Book that would open so that you could see nothing inside. The front and back covers would be closed and instantly a person would magically appear! I will state for the record it's a beautiful effect and it works like a charm. I know because I own the one that once belonged to Harry Blackstone Jr.! I used to use it at the Underground Magic Theatre all the time and it never failed to astound.
Monday, November 22, 2010
I must say, the AskAlexander.com site is truly a wonderful resource. While looking up information on the Prison Cell & Barrel Mystery, I came upon an ad in an old Sphinx Magazine. I could hardly believe what I was reading. So I pulled out my old magazines and searched that issue, which I had. It's just an advertisement there was nothing else in that issue about the Barrel, but what a find!
Near the bottom of the ad it says "Owing to the fact that Hardeen has to give up his Storage Houses, I was able to get hold of these Houdini Illusions" Look at what is on this list, The Milk Can, The Sub Trunk, Straight Jackets, The Radio Illusion, The Barrel Escape, The DEKOLTA DIE!!!!, Kellar's Spirit Cabinet!!! I mean wow, my head is about to explode thinking about the historical value of this stuff. The Company is Royal Magic Studio (J.Yadah) on 167 North 7th St. Brooklyn NY. I don't know enough about the old NY Magic Dealers to know who this is exactly. But he apparently picked up a treasure trove of stuff from Hardeen. This ad appeared in the Sphinx in 1934, several years before Hardeen gave the bulk of his collection over to Sidney Radner.
There is one item on here though that kind of stood out to me more than the others. The Hornmann's Original Flower Growth, with the original cost listed at $3000.00. Ladies and Gentleman, I think I've got this one covered, below is what I believe is a photo of that very prop. It resides in the collection of Ken Klosterman today. I took a photo of it when I was there because I was quite struck with the fact that Houdini had a Flower Growth in his show. It's quite the piece. I wish I knew where Kellar's Spirit Cabinet and the DeKolta Die were today. Of course there are a couple of Sub Trunks out there in various collections, as well as Straight Jackets. Oh, I'm also wondering how many MilkCan Escapes there were. I know of at least three. One is in Copperfield's Collection, One is in the Lund Collection which is currently on display at the Houdini-Art& Magic exhibition. The third is one I saw a few years ago on Ebay, which looked like it may have been a prototype, it had a similar shape but it was smaller than the other cans.
At any rate, please enjoy this picture of Houdini's Flower Growth, original cost $3000.
I have seen this poster in many Houdini books in the past, but I've never really taken a good look at it until recently. It's clearly a different routine for Houdini, but not one he seems to have kept. It dates to 1906 when Houdini finished a run in Boston in March of that year. He decided to take out a show of his own along with several other acts in the line-up. His feature, The Prison Cell & Barrel Mystery along with some handcuff escapes. He closed the show in May of the same year, so it had a VERY short run.
The description at the bottom of the poster gives away the effect which seems to be identical to the Metamorphosis/Sub Trunk, except with different props. In 'Houdini-The Key' Pat Culliton mentions that Houdini got this barrel from his former partner Jacob Hyman.
Mike Caveney and Stan Allen used to perform the Sub/Trunk years ago using a barrel as well. I don't think they did the 'prison cell' part, they just used a curtain.
I just read in an old issue of the Sphinx Volume 38 and article by Hardeen. He says that at one time he performed as Theo Houdini doing a Barrel Escape. Houdini asked him to change his name and came up with Hardeen for his brother so it wouldn't be confusing to audiences. I wonder if the Barrel Escape was from the routine above?
UPDATE: There is apparently a second Prison Cell & Barrel Mystery Poster. This one is a three sheet poster. It can be seen in the photo below, however it is on the far right hand side. I don't think this poster survives today however. There are also no complete frontal images of the poster, only this angled shot. Perhaps one day it will turn up.