Posts Tagged ‘Modern Magic’

Dissecting Drawer Box” from the Marco Pusterla Collection. Most images, when clicked on, will show the picture in higher definition.

One of the most enduring magic tricks, with which almost any magician, amateur or professional, has at least once played with, must be the “drawer box“, a wooden parallelepiped with a drawer which can be shown empty, closed, opened again, and shown to contain some objects that have mysteriously materialized. Today, this box is often found made in plastic, churned out in hundreds of thousands of copies by some company in China, and sold as a toy for children, as a commercial gadget to promote products, or as part of a magic set for aspiring magicians.

The object doesn’t really look like anything existing in this time and age, and it often looks like what it is: a suspicious magic device, hiding some clever mechanism to befuddle the unwary. On doing a quick search for images of contemporary drawer boxes on the Internet, one sees an interesting gallery of the most variegated, multi-coloured, collection of boxes. (more…)

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cl017-james-bond-bracesA good magician is a keeper of secrets. Secrets are at the base of magic: it is only because the magician knows the secrets behind his tricks that he can fool you. A good magic trick contains many different layers of secrets: there may be the mechanical secret that operates a box; the hidden sleight of nimble fingers that causes cards to fly from the pack; the psychological secrets that cause the audience to look in a different place just when the “secret” maneuver happens. All these elements must be coordinated to ensure the magic trick is successful.

Magicians are not the only keepers of secrets: since antiquity the practice to hide information of knowledge from another party has been used by governments, groups of people and individual to both protect themselves and to get some kind of advantage over another party. Espionage is documented to ancient civilizations and what is not often known is that some spies had a public or, more often, private attraction to the Art of Magic. I have already mentioned Hieronimo Scoto as a spy for the Duke of Parma in the European courts of the XVI century, but only recently I acquired an unknown magic manuscript of a modern spy…

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The Magic Table

"Hoffmann" Magic Table, for the discerning Victorian Performer

As a small-time collector of magic items, especially books, I tend not to accumulate apparatus, as it is not my area of interest and because it tends to take too much precious space, better left to books. However, from time to time, I find some interesting item that would simply be a pity to leave to rot. This post is about a really nice item, with an interesting story behind.

Let’s start at the beginning. Some years ago, the famous British illusionist, Paul Daniels, decided to downsize his collection: books, posters, apparatus, illusions, ephemera went out for sale, in the capable hands of Tim Reed. In about a year a warehouse outside Doncaster was almost empty, with collectors from all over the world pleased with their acquisition. While browsing the collection’s catalogue, I once saw a “Victorian magic table” being offered for sale. (more…)