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, June 5, 2013
OUR MAGIC is a book by Nevil Maskelyne and David Devant originally published in 1911. I first heard about the book through an article that Jonathan Pendragon wrote for Genii Magazine which he gave a list of his top 20 magic books related to illusions. Among the list was OUR MAGIC and unlike some of the other books he listed, it was easy to obtain a copy.
Here was an eye opening book! Probably the first book to discuss magic theory and certainly the first book to really help define whether or not magic was art. My favorite chapter is called The Three Degrees of Art and it breaks down into: High Art, Normal Art and False Art. It's an intriguing chapter to say the least and it's followed by 300 other pages of incredible theory, ideas and secrets. It's certainly a must read for anyone involved in the performance of magic. Sadly, the few magicians I know who own a copy have felt the book is best preserved in the shrink wrap they purchased it in. In other words, they haven't read it. I'm sure there is plenty of room for debate on 100 year old theories discussed within the book. It's still worth a read and a great deal is still quite applicable today.
The NEXT Our Magic
I don't know if I'm asleep at the wheel, or if Facebook is just not allowing me to see posts by friends as often as it used to, but I've now missed two opportunities to contribute to film projects. One was by a fellow magician who has moved into movie making. I found out about his project just after the funding had been raised.
The next is a documentary film project by Dan & Dave Buck, Jason England and Paul Wilson. I had seen the mini-documentaries that they had posted on the internet and was enthralled with what I had seen. I only wished I had been among the folks giving their thoughts on magic because I certainly am filled with my opinions on why I think magic is art and why it often falls short. Their new project was up on Kickstarter.com to raise funds and ended on May 27th. I think I had heard about this back in April but was not aware of the timeline and the fundraising ended over a week ago.
But the good news is they raised the nessassary funds and are now moving forward with this new documentary which will be aptly called OUR MAGIC. Please watch the video below to get an idea of how these film makers are putting their hearts into this project. If it's anything like their other videos, this will be something we can all be proud of! Best wishes to all involved!