Martin's Magic Collection

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Coin Vanishing Stand
1 out of 5 stars Poor - Sat May 1 13:43:20 2004
Looks good but too noisy
I love the look but the coin makes a loud sliding noise when vanished, so bad that I won't ever use it.
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George Guerra

Thousand Oaks, CA

5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Apr 29 9:05:09 2004
Always loved this one!
Blasted is one of those effects you just have to love it when you see it performed for the first time. It is dramatic..Copenetro without the fancy mechanics. This is particularly true when you are an adolescent, many years ago, new to magic, and a demonstrator at Hollywood Magic brings this out to blow your mind. It was then made by Tannen's and somehow it left my collection many years ago.

However, recently Mario Carrandi put this beauty on ebay, a mint Blasted made in the 1960's by England's Harry Stanley and I went for it. Oh, what nostalgia!

Tannen also released in a "smaller" version, Blasted Jr., using a simple low plastic cover instead of the glass goblet, The coins were a dime/penny instead of the larger English coins (though Tannen's used a Kennedy Half for the English Silver in their version of Blasted).

The effect is two contrasting coins are shown. The Silver one is placed on the metal tray and covered with the inverted glass. The copper is held above on the glass, then suddenly and visibly, it appears inside alongside the Silver coin. Glass removed and the coins freely showned. Beautiful magic!
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George Guerra

Thousand Oaks, CA

Hopping Half
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Tue Apr 20 19:34:08 2004
The most versatile gaffed coin set
The Hopping Half is the most versatile coin set one can buy, especially for someone coming aboard coin magic for the first time. The gaffs can be used individually for other effects as the most important gaffs make up this set.

Johnson Products is still the leader when it comes to commercially produced coin gimmicks. There are others in this business but their quality is questionable. Once you have reached a certain level, you can turn to custom coins by the likes of Todd Lassen using more "exotic" coins for that ultimate presentation..

I have a set I bought over 15 years ago and the qualtity is very good. Johnson also makes this same set using a 1964 Silver Kennedy Half and the Walking Liberty.. the latter set I recently purchased and was very disappointed with the expanded Walker shell. However, I have heard that Johnson Products has exceptional customer service, but I decided to turn to Todd for a replacement.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Fred Kaps Seeing is Believing
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Apr 14 22:05:48 2004
Fred Kaps was The BEST!
If you ever doubted that Fred Kaps was the best all around magician ever, then this video clearly demonstrates it.

When you watch Fred Kaps perform you really do believe in Magic. He was the best of that there is no doubt! This DVD contains great footage of Fred performing on stage, close-up, and interviews.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Tue Apr 13 0:12:33 2004
An Explosion of Entertainment Possibilities!
The sub-title for Plastique could not be more accurate: An Explosion of Entertainment Possibilities!. Embodied within these cards are many subtle codes and systems that the mind boggles how Larry Becker and Lee Earle could have come up with so many ideas. Well if you are familiar with their previous output it won't surprise you at all. These guys are geniuses, and this little collection shows that very clearly.

The package comes with 11 "gimmicked" credit cards, but you would never know. They are amazingly subtle until you know how. The instruction details 5 routines that are wonderful. Some can be combined to bring your audience to a fever pitch. Wherever possible they have incorporated the memory work into the cards themselves, so you have to learn very little to perform any of the effects.

There are no switches or sleights (well one routine has a tiny move, but sleight is too big a name for it!). The other great thing about these cards is because they have so many features built into them creating new routines from them becomes something that is very possible and exciting. These cards are simply frothing with potential!

They are very high quality cards, and easily pass for real cards. You've just got to love these guys' minds!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Combi-Loc Prediction
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Apr 8 14:35:50 2004
This is a wonderfully useful utility device for the mentalist. It comes with 5 ideas but really can be used for many more with a little imagination.

It looks like and feels like a combination lock. Period. But it is very easy to set it such that the combination can be changed to any number you want. You can dress up almost any routine now that involves 4 numbers or a year.

A wonderful item that you will be sure to use.
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Andy Martin

Austin TX

Ball Thru Hand (again)
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sun Mar 31 21:31:05 2004
Self Working and Amazing!
One of the great Viking Classics. This effect is built with precision brass props and works like a charm. It appears totally impossible! If you combine this with Field Sobriety you have a totally clean and amazing routine, bigger than both of them and with everything 100% clean!
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Timothy Arends


Learned Pig Project, The Magic CD No. 1 and 2
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Apr 5 21:41:58 2004
Years of pleasure from this treasure trove of magic!
Have you ever had one of those dreams were you suddenly come into possession of a huge cache of magic books or apparatus? Nice dream, isn't it? Unfortunately, when you wake up, the goodies are no longer there. Well, purchasing the Learned Pig CD-ROM book collection is like living this dream--only when you wake up, you still have the stuff!

In short, the Learned Pig collection is a tremendous value for the money. Where else can you get 50 or 60 books for the price of two or three printed volumes?

CD #1 has a marvelous variety of books. Si Stebbins explains his famous card setup in his own words and Stillwell of Stillwell handkerchief ball fame explains his handkerchief manipulation act. There is a very unusual manuscript on the frozen alive stunt, similar to what David Blaine did on live television, and Marco even offers his own very commercial sightless vision act. Plus there are books by Houdini, Robert-Houdin, J B Bobo and many others.

CD # 2 is a card worker's dream! It has not one but three multivolume encyclopedias of card magic. Card Manipulations by Jean Hugard is in five volumes while More Card Manipulations runs into four volumes. Plus Ellis Stanyon has written four volumes of card effects.

I like CD #1 better than #2 (even though I already had the print edition of eight of the books) because of the greater variety of books, but many magicians will no doubt prefer disk #2. Some of the most outstanding books on CD #1 are the Encyclopedia of Card Tricks by Jean Hugard, Modern Coin Magic by J. B. Bobo and the Expert At The Card Table by Erdnase. Disk #2 includes Expert Card Technique and Royal Road To Card Magic by Hugard and Braue and Annemann's Practical Mental Effects. These books alone are worth the price of the CDs.

When I got the CDs, I was surprised to find that all the books were saved as a single PDF file on each disk. This makes it impossible for the user to organize or sort the books, for example by author or subject, but it probably makes searching for a specific name or phrase in the entire collection much easier, as well as jumping from one book to another. All of the text in the books was scanned in and transformed via optical character recognition (OCR), into real computer type--text that you can select, copy, and paste into other programs. This means that you can print out just a snippet of a book if you wish, or send an excerpt to a fellow magician in e-mail to get his opinion on something. You can even have the computer, via speech synthesis, read from a book to you while you follow along with coins or a deck of cards in hand. Best of all, converting the books into text format allows searching of the full text of any book, so if you want to find out how to do a particular trick or sleight, you can quickly do a search of the entire collection to find an explanation.

The quality of the conversion to PDF is overall very good. The tables of contents of each book is hyperlinked to take the reader directly to the corresponding section. Some books are even hyperlinked to each other. For example, if you click a mention of an effect in one of the Stanyon books, it will take you directly to that effect, even if the effect is on a different page or in a different book entirely. On rare occasions I have found that a hyperlink does not work--it points to a location on the creator's computer which, of course, we can't access. Generally, though, I have found few errors in the books. One quibble is that I would prefer if the illustrations had been saved at a bit higher resolution, but for the most part they are all perfectly legible. I like it when a scan of the front cover of the book is included, as this gives more of a feeling of actually owning the book.

You could get something pretty close to a complete magical education out of the two Learned Pig CDs. There are books on sleight-of-hand magic, non-sleight-of-hand magic, card magic, novel magic, escapes, history, biography, mentalism, illusions and even patter and presentation (including one of the best books on the subject, Our Magic by Neville Maskelyne). There is even a book on self promotion, Making Magic Pay. Although this book is just a tad out of date (having been written while vaudeville was still alive) I suspect that magicians could pick up a few tips from this book even today. Some of the sample promotional letters could even be used with a little updating of the language. True, some of the books, such as the ones on chemical magic and handcuff escapes, are outdated today, but almost all have at least something to offer (and the book on handcuff escapes, written in Houdini's time, is fascinating for its historical information). All in all, magic changes over the years quite a bit more slowly than, say, the field of computers.

Although this is a review, it is appropriate to add a few words on how to get the most out of this collection. One of the drawbacks of e-books is the inability to make notes in the margins or to mark one's favorite effects in the table-of-contents. What I have done is to copy and paste the table of contents of each book into a word processing document and save it in an easily accessible place on my computer. That way, I can make all the notes for the book I want in the corresponding section of the word-processing document. Since I need to have my computer running when viewing an e-book anyway, it is no trouble to open this document at the same time I open an e-book.

All of the books in the collection have a colored or patterned frame around each page. These frames are not gaudy or distracting, and they help to differentiate each book from one another. Strictly speaking, you should not need to print any of the books as some of them are very large and you will lose some of the benefits of the electronic format, such as space saving and searchability. However, should you want to print one or two books in the collection, the colored frames around the pages can use up more ink or toner than necessary. One way to get around this is to go to the page setup dialog box in Adobe Acrobat and choose an enlargement percentage of something like 130%. This will increase the size of the page area on each sheet that comes out of the printer and decrease the size of the colored frame, saving ink. Also, needless to say, you should pay very close attention to which pages you want to print, as shown in the page status bar at the bottom of the Acrobat window and, in the print dialogue, enter that range of pages. You do not want to send to the printer all 5000+ pages of books on the CD!

Although it is a nice feeling to get totally free books on the Learned Pig website, it is definitely worth shelling out the money to buy these CDs. One gets so many books for the price, it is almost like getting them for free. The prices for comparable books at another magic e-book seller are much higher. In short, getting these Learned Pig CDs was like finding out a long-lost magician uncle had just died and left me two trunks full of magic books!

Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Criterion Demo Table
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sat Mar 20 19:14:27 2004
Ah look at these beauties!
The Criterion Demo Table fills a great void in my close-up magic performances and practice sessions. I have tried a number of different tables and table tops, but when it comes to performing they all fall short of my requirements. When it comes to close-up you need a larger top and more accessible space beneath to place your new and shown items.

Not only does the Criterion Table look beautiful, it works really well too. The size is perfect for any close-up performance I do and with a lot of easily accessible space beneath the table, I can store my whole act and get to it very easily too.

The display of effects on this table were all made by the talented George Robinson, and what better way to show them off than with a very classy demo table. This is the one to impress them all!
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Joey Butler

Memphis TN USA

Buy This Now!

Mind Chips (again)
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Fri Mar 19 9:51:47 2004
A Quick Addition for Multiple Performances
I love this trick. It comes with two possible outcomes in color selection. (I am trying not to give anything away here.) To be able to have both available to me, I cut a "false bottom" out of black felt. That way, I can store the alternative color chip in the bottom of the box and still have it immediately available if someone says, "Hey, do that one with the chips again." This would make this trick more useful for walk around.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Val Evan's Improved Stop Trick (again)
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Fri Mar 19 3:04:40 2004
Beautiful, Convincing, and Great Value!
This is a very clever little device that allows you to perform the classic "Stop Trick" everytime without any funny moves or gimmicked cards.

The quality on this piece is wonderful and only $55 ... what is that all about? I don't know where else you can get such fine workmanship for such a low price - it even comes with a deck of cards too!

In effect, a card is chosen (free choice) and the cards are placed in the houlette. A ribbon covers the houlette to aid in retrieving the cards without touching the cards at the appropriate moment. You show the front and back card to ensure it is not their one, then you begin to remove a card one at a time - each one you remove you place in the clip in front of the houlette. When the spectator cries out stop, you simply pull the ribbon and the very next card pops into view ... of course it is their card. The houlette works so well that the audience member themselves could be pulling the cards out each time. And they can even pull out the final one too.

I overlooked this effect when I first owned it, but realise now how very nice it is.

Highly recommended.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Buy This Now!

Haunted Bottle - Natural
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Mar 18 23:29:21 2004
Grab these while you can!
As I look at all the magic I've puchased over the last 32 years it becomes very clear to me that there are very few real craftsmen around still making quality magic. Craftsmen like Alan Warner, Mel Babcock, and Richard Gerlitz are all on my list of course. But sometimes I forget to add to that same list: George Robinson of Viking Mfg./Collector's Workshop. When I look at the quality that he consistently pumps out it is quite amazing, and then you factor in the price - there is noone else in the industry, period, that produces the same quality at the same price.

This little bottle is a wonderful piece that you will be proud to own. It is easy to do and comes with some great ideas. I suggest you snap these up because I don't know how George is able to offer these at such low prices. For the amount of work involved they are a huge deal!

In fact I would say the same thing about a lot of Viking pieces - George has kept his prices very low for a long time. You can get some of the same effects for less from the rip-off guys, but if you want the real deal pay a fraction more and you will be much happier. Viking quality really shines when you take the time to appreciate it.

I suggest you point your browser to the Viking site and load up on many of the cool effects that George has to offer - I have owned nearly all of the pieces from the current Viking catalog, and only now am really starting to appreciate how much better they are than so much of the other dross out there.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Satanic Book Test, The
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Mar 18 22:17:09 2004
Finally a Book Test that is Entertaining!
I have owned five different book tests and only performed one of them. The reason is that, with the exception of Lee Woodside's Dream Revelation, I've never really felt that there was much point to them - the methods are often clever (hence their appeal to magicians), but they really lack in entertainment value.

Brad Henderson has come up with a very funny and amazing book test that draws value and entertainment from the books themselves as well as the final revelation. The Satanic Book Test is clearly a performance piece - you can't just roll it out the afternoon you receive it, and it does require some careful practice and talent to do it justice. The mechanics are easy to grasp, with plenty of tips and subtleties to handle various situations, but you will need to be confident in your acting abilities to pull it off.

This is a "good thing" - if more magicians spent time actually rehearsing their shows we would see better performances. I think in the right hands this could easily become the greatest eight minutes of your act. I plan on spending a long time before I roll this out in my act, but I am confident that I will in fact roll it out, which will make it a very good book test indeed!

As it arrives you get a very well produced 25 page booklet with numerous photos, tips, patter, and subtleties. You will need to purchase the actual books required for the test, but these are readily available.

Highly recommended if you really want to entertain your audiences, rather than just show a few tricks to your friends.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Jack and Jill - Collector's Version
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Mar 15 0:54:14 2004
Wow! These are beautiful!
Ok so Howie and Bob spent some time with less worthy craftsman - that glue and pencil guy, that tricky shamrock guy, ... now finally they are working with a real pro. If you saw the old Jack and Jill that Howie sold these are so much better its like a whole new trick.

They are very thin and beautifully finished. The cards are expertly made and the effect is just so clean now. You place the jack in one holder and the queen in the other and instantly they swap places. Even though they can see the cards at all times.

If you are a medium to high high-end collector that appreciates the fine Magic of craftsmen like Alan Warner and Mel Babcock, you will surely appreciate the workmanship in this new release.

You can only buy them from Howie and Bob over at the Trickery - do so now before the run is over. They are exquisite!
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Shaun Moss

Highlands, NC

ABC Gumball Recycler
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Tue Mar 2 13:28:17 2004
Wow! See the kid show's Sparkle!
I have never seen such a beautiful kid show prop! Bright, colorful and BRILLIANT! Thanks to Andy Martin's website for the referral to Wolf's products ... I have just placed an order for this art and can't wait to set it on the stage! Thanks Chance and Shelley.

Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Just Name It
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Tue Mar 2 1:54:33 2004
Clean and Convincing, but practice required.
This is a very clean prediction effect. Performed well, it is hard to beat for cleanness in fact.

It has shades of Ultissimo in its method - but without the stand or extra deck, which is a big difference! To do it effectively a sleight is required (the Cull). This is a fairly standard sleight, but if you buy packet tricks and gaffed decks because you don't like doing any sleights then this might not be for you. It does come with an alternate method that requires less sleight of hand, but it is not as strong.

I can think of at least one way that all sleights could be removed, and to the lay person I'm not convinced they would notice any difference in the effect.

Having said all this the Cull is a very useful one if you don't already know it, and if you can just break your rules once you will not only have a hugely clean prediction, you will also have a great sleight that you will be able to use for all sorts of things.

As much as the purists like to keep all gaffed cards out of their lives, and the gaffers like to keep all sleights out their lives, sometimes a beautiful mystery comes from the combination of both worlds.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Free Will
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Tue Mar 2 1:53:59 2004
Strong, Direct Mentalism with no funny business!
This is more than just predicting 1 out of 3 choices - which is not that magical on a good day - you provide a prediction, of which there is just one, that predicts 3 out of 3 choices.

You predict what goes in the bag, what goes in the spectators hand and what goes in your hand. Every time. The other cool thing about this effect is that it is always ready to work. No set-up at all. Just put the prediction and the wooden disks back in the bag and you are ready to roll. Everything can be examined too!

In fact, it almost sounds too perfect to be true. But it is true. You will like this effect for its clever method and the impact it has on your audience. And I'm sure you will use it often because of its simple requirements and set-up. Highly recommended!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

MINE (2003 Edition)
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Tue Feb 24 19:13:55 2004
Beautiful Wood and Funny Routine!
This is my sort of magic these days. It's made with very nice props that are small and pretty much indestructable. There are no electronics or things to remember or any real set up. And the price is very reasonable.

The routine has great comedy potential and no tricky moves. Instead of just handing out 5 envelopes and you win the one with the $20 bill in as with the usual Bank Night type effect, you have some fun with it. You show these 5 "Turned Discs" that you give the audience the chance to win some cash with. Through a seemingly fair sequence of eliminations you end up with the last remaining disk. It uses a known technique that I have personally never seen or used before, and it works very well.

What makes this different is the way in which you first reveal what each specator won and then what you finally have won. You're entertaining them with these lines directly related to the words written on each disc, and then wow them at the end as you split open your Disc and pocket the cash!
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George Guerra

Thousand Oaks, CA

Mini Instant Transposition
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Feb 23 22:10:50 2004
Just Love Mini-Magic!
OK, I was excited when I received this little beauty from Mel today. I had been waiting for it since October but it was well worth the wait. I already own his "regular sized" Instant Transposition and it is probably one of Mel's best items. Well, in July I received my "last" parcel, barring new releases, from Alan Warner. I still had that "hunger" for more mini-magic. I had received the new book on Mel Babcock "The Magic House of Babcock" and two things struck my attention: 1)he had previously released a "mini-sized" version of this desirable and clever piece, and 2)one of the exotic woods Mel has used in the past was Teak.

It didn't take much thought to realize the potential magic here and I asked Mel for a custom made teak mini-sized version of his Instant Transposition; he agreed. It's gorgeous and the pictures don't give justice to the beautiful workmanship and the grain/color of this wood. I have placed a quarter in the images so you have an idea of the size of the apparatus. This little gem is definitely going on display among my Warner collection. Thanks so much, Mel..hmm, let me think now, what other items does he make in a mini-sized version.
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George Guerra

Thousand Oaks, CA

Stull System III
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Feb 23 14:15:15 2004
Stull Prediction with the Modern Touch
Rich Bloch of Collectors' Workshop introduced an award winning effect back in 1979 called "Stull Watch Outdone" using a modern digital travel alarm clock. As CW was perhaps an idea to be borned, this item was released through Tannen's. With CW coming into the picture in the mid 1980's, this best seller was modified and improved. It was renamed Stull System III in their first full catalog(1987).

The effect is the usual Stull prediction. An innocent looking digital travel alarm clock(Radio Shack) is introduced and shown the two buttons to change the hour and the minutes. Next, a prediction is introduced and set aside in full view. A handsome hard leather case is shown and the clock inserted into it. There is an opening for the buttons and a flap to view the screen. Again the controls are shown to change the time. The flap is made to cover the screen and the spectator starts playing with the buttons to randomly set an unknown time. As you would expect the clock is removed from the case and the time matches your prediction. Once the clock is inserted in the case, the performer never needs to handle the clock again.

Great effect and one of the most practical effects released from Collectors' Workshop. One problem..this was discontinued many years ago( I bought this item in the late 1980's). Unless George Robinson decides to reintroduce this little gem, it's now highly collectible, a beautiful item from the early CW years.
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Richard M. Mendez

San Antonio, Texas

Boo Boo Bar
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sun Feb 22 17:39:14 2004
Best Parlour Prayer Stick
This prayer stick is beautiful! It is manufactured by Ickle Pickle and is (like most of their products) precision made and of the highest quality possible for the cost. A must for those fond of prayer sticks! It can even be separated at the conclusion of your routine!
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George Guerra

Thousand Oaks, CA

Card Changing Frame
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Feb 16 21:09:37 2004
No plastic on this one
Most of Eddy Taytelbaum's line of handcrafted mini-magic is made in plastic, but the quality is unsurpassed, the work of a true craftsman. This is all wood construction and beautifully painted in semi-glossy black with a gold trimming..very elegant, first class prop. This one is very thin, has a open space in the middle, and the card to be changed slides in and out of the open box frame. Yes, a "flap" is used as in the more common card boxes, but deceptively hidden on this Taytelbaum piece. This is the second Taytelbaum item I have acquired and I am now starting to understand the reason behind the demand for his magic. This, as all Taytelbaum pieces I acquire, is stored with my Warner collection in a special place separate from my main magic collection as a honor to these two greats.
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San Francisco, CA

Cervon File, The
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Tue Aug 24 10:47:49 2004
Great Book!
I was quite surprised to read the previous review, it is obvious that this person knows very little about magic or didn't actually read this book. I have been lucky enough to have seen Mr. Cervon perform at the Magic Castle and he is truly one of the best. I have also seen him fry magicians and layman alike with some of the tricks in this book. There are nearly 70 items and if you only got the "Devil's Elevator" you would have gotten your moneys worth. It is a very easy and an extremely commercial trick. Looking at the contents I see many items that I use but will only mention a few of what I think are "classic" tricks. "Perfect Speller" (a killer for magicians and layman but be sure to use the option to tell the spectator if he lied or told the truth), "Aerodynamic Aces" (the original invisible palm ace routine, a great trick no matter how you cut it) and try his "Open Prediction" I saw him do this on TV once and thought it was a stooge. It's that good.

In short this is book that any magician should not be without, I own all the books with his name attached as I find them to be FULL of top quality practical professional magic.
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George Guerra

Thousand Oaks, CA

Gold Micro Chop Cup Set #7
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Feb 16 15:58:56 2004
Gold is so lovely!
Jim Riser spins the beautiful Micro Chop Cup from copper and it has become an incredible hit(2004 may be the last year it's available). Dennis Loomis, his partner in this venture, provides the routine where all the magic occurs on the palm of your hand. Dennis is releasing a very limited edition heavy gold plated cup sold with a nice presentation case to house the balls and accessories. A signed certificate accompanies the case. Special gold crocheted balls were made for this piece and will not be available as a separate item. Trust me the pictures do not give justice to the set, especially the gold balls.

You also get printed material for several routines,including the use of the Micro Chop Cup as a coin cup. For the coin routine, you also get gold plated Sacagawea dollar coins, one gaffed by Jim Riser himself. Overall, a beautiful boxed set strictly limited to 10-20 only.
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John W. Watson

Wayne, NJ

5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sun Jul 18 19:25:10 2004
Best of the Best USABLE packet effects!
We all know Phil Golstein for Monkey in the Middle, Mo' Monte, and Shrinkhasen, to name a few. We also know that he doubles as Max Maven, world renowned Mentalist.

If you think you're getting a book about packet tricks that only magicians will appreciate, think again! This book is chuck full of tricks for laymen, restaurant workers, bar magicians, close-up workers, etc.

One of the best parts of the book is the explanations. Golstein explains EVERYTHING in crystal clear detail.

The only thing he left out when writing this book is the effects that would get 9.5 stars instead of 10 out of 10. Yes, they are THAT good!
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George Guerra

Thousand Oaks, CA

Lead to Gold
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Feb 16 15:45:39 2004
Another winner from Richard Gerlitz
Remember the item "Hydro Die"? Well, Richard took the concept to a higher level with an appropriate and fascinating theme..the alchemist's ultimate goal of changing lead to gold. You now have a reason to put the water inside the glass chamber..Richard introduces a "secret" potion poured from a nice Oriental flask that colors the water a reddish tinge, only to become crystal clear again after the metal transmutation has occurred. What a remarkable concept and what an entertaining piece of magic. The magic occurs smoothly and practically automatic.

Unfortunatley, this was a very limited editon item and is now all sold-out. You may find one on ebay one day, but be prepared to spend a bundle as Richard's older stuff is starting to become expensive and desirable collectibles.

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A.J. Polizzi


Enchanted Snapper
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Feb 16 10:01:48 2004
A Great Collectible
I know that the Snapper is a very old effect, and many consider it to be part of "the slum magic" category...but I must say that it is still an incredibly baffling effect to the non-initiated. I have fond memories of the first Snapper I purchased at a Carnival as a child (yes, many, many years ago)...I fooled more people with that little item than I could ever remember.

All of which brings me to the Enchanted Snapper...it is extremely well made...a collector's piece for the nostalgia in all of us. I have this on my magic shelf to remind me of all the great moments I had as a child with the Snapper. I even bring it out now and again to mess with the minds of people who ask what that little item is on my shelf.

If you are looking for a collectible that carries the nostalgia of the past, I highly recommend the Enchanted Snapper.
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Thomas Holbrook

Chicago land, Illinois

Tarbell Study Guide
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Fri May 28 13:41:29 2004
The Tarbell Study Guide By; Burton
With the release of Vol # 8 by d.Robbins in 1991 historian and author Steve Burton puts it all together for magician's and students (of Magic) to study the newer revised editions (originally published by N.L. publishing in the 1940's.) as it was released in the original 1926 Tarbell System. Now we can all go step by step the way Tarbell had ment it to be. If you have the revised tombs vols 1-8 you will need to add this very informative book to your shelfs.

I have been a collector and historian on Dr. Harlan E. Tarbell for nearly 14 years now and I am always looking to buy Tarbell items and add new info to my ongoing historic time-line project on the Maker of Magician's Harlan Tarbell.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Sphinx, The - Vols: 1-52, eBook
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Sun Feb 15 8:01:26 2004
Never mind the Quality, feel the width!
Ok, so I'm the first to admit that I am totally not a lover of eBooks. I'm sure they will continue to grow in popularity each year since they have four primary advantages over our beloved hardbound originals: they are cheap, they are easy to search, they take up little room, and they last forever. However for me, I want the real thing. Having all my books in some sort of electronic form would be cool too, but for the most part I just want the books.

In the case of The Sphinx, the eBook advantages are huge. These two DVD's contain almost 17,000 pages or 50 volumes of some of the most important writings in magic history.To buy a full set of The Sphinx, if you can find one, will cost upwards of $5,000 - and then you run the risk of pages falling apart in your hands. Once you do manage to track down a copy that doesn't fall apart on you, then you have the task of housing them somewhere - a 3 foot shelf is needed!

So this is one eBook that is really worth owning. Chris Wasshuber and his Lybrary.com takes a lot of heat from the book buying magic community, but he is providing a wonderful service to magicians. Particularly for the large or difficult to find volumes. In many cases he is providing access to books that to all intents and purposes cannot be viewed in any other way. When put in that context you can't argue with the need for eBooks.

Chris is very helpful and dedicated to his task of preserving magic one book at a time. His books primarily ship in an HTML format and I prefer the Adobe PDF format, and he spent quite a lot of time helping me convert my copy into PDF. This was a long and time consuming process, and I thank Chris for helping me do it. However, I do wish he produced these things in PDF up front. I believe that the PDF format and Acrobat is a much better technology and portable platform for eBooks than HTML. Chris has is reasons for using HTML and I'm sure they are fine. But for me PDF is much better, and will continue to get better over time since ADOBE will continue to invest huge resources in it.

This then is my one criticism of the eBook phenomena - it is still early days and the media, software and hardware to view them is still changing. It is not a high-tech, high-gloss world, and particularly in the case of these facsimile versions, where the text itself is not converted, being able to sit down and read them on your computer is not as easy as it could be. You'll find yourself resizing pages and trying to find the optimum reading set-up.

The Sphinx eBook does come with an impressive index and table of contents which is searchable. If you want to find articles about John Northern Hilliard type it in and 12 articles come back. Of course if you type in John Hilliard nothing comes back which shows up one of the issues with the technology.

I would like to give this 5 stars for time and effort that Chris has put into this. Unfortunately, I believe that as an eBook it could be better and I urge Chris to reconsider using PDF as a medium for his books, and let ADOBE do the development whilst he focuses on finding and converting the books.

Regardless of the technology limitations, this is still a very impressive effort and as a research aid it is invaluable. Just be prepared for the road to be a bit rockier than you might expect. As they say on the old maps: Here there be Dragons ...
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Varese, Italy

Cervon File, The
1 out of 5 stars Poor - Tue Mar 23 14:59:00 2004
I regret to say that this is probably the worst book ever written by a great of magic. I purchased it in the hope to find a choice of inner secrets from the Magic Castle but, apart from a good force (Flip Over Force, page. 193), there is absolutely nothing practical in it. In my opinion this book simply should not be in between those other gems of magical literature. Stay away!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Ring Vanishing Hank
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Sun Feb 15 7:32:16 2004
Wow, why the heck has someone not done this before?
This is a a wonderful hanky to vanish a ring. It is heavy weight with a real heavy and sold ring embedded within the hanky, and the mechanism works perfectly.

I immediately pulled out my Samurai as soon as this arrived so that I could add it to my show. This is soooo easy, and so convincing.

Well done George - a great idea with a simple, high quality prop that will last a life time!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Expert at The Card Table (2002)
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Fri Feb 6 19:20:16 2004
A classic piece of magic history for just $52.
This 2002 Facsimile version of Expert at the Card Table by the, still mysterious, S.W. Erdnase is an incredibly faithful reproduction of the original book. It was published in 1902 and has had a profound impact on card magic ever since (after some prodding from (Dai Vernon). With the exception of using better quality archival-grade materials and a modern binding technique it is as close to the original as possible - the anonymous publishers even found what is to believed to be the same cloth.

This seminal work on card and gambling moves is a must have for all serious card workers, and now it is available as it was first delivered by Erdnase over 100 years ago. This book is small enough and cheap enough to be carried around with you wherever you go. Unlike the original which can fetch $2000 and is likely to fall apart in your hands.

Of course you might find reading something like The Annotated Erdnase easier going and more practical today. So get both.

There are only 750 of this 2002 version so I suggest you order one now - it is a truly amazing how authentic this book looks and how much you will gain from reading it in its original form. Thanks to Michael Canick for distributing this amazing book.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Buy This Now!

Mind Chips (again)
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sun Feb 1 8:53:54 2004
I love this effect!
This is a very simple and clean prediction effect that looks great and is very reasonably priced. Mikame Craft have thought of everything on this one. Reset is easy, the turned wood box for the chips is a delight and each move in the routine makes perfect sense.

The basic effect is this: you show the box, tip out the 6 chips, place one on the top of the box as your prediction, then spread out the other 5 face down on the mat. The spectator chooses any one and it is stacked on top of your prediction chip. You then show the other 4 are all different colors, and turn over their chip and the prediction chip and they match. There are no sleights and there can be a different result for repeat performances and reset is a few seconds.

The chips are made of a heavy plasic that will last a lifetime, and it is true that it would be nicer if they were made of wood but for the price its really hard to fault this effect. The reason they are using the plastic chips is because the chips were marketed separately as a different effect and all that Mikame have done is add the box. But by adding the box they turn this into a wonderful little piece and make use of the box in a number of ways that ensure the prediction is clean and smooth.

I highly recommend this effect!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Man Who Was Erdnase, The
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Thu Jan 29 23:19:38 2004
A bit too heavy for me!
This is a very thorough book about the man who susposedly wrote one of the great card Classics: The Expert at The Card Table by S.W. Erdnase. Unfortunately, for me it was a bit too heavy going. Over 430 pages of fairly small type. I managed the first 100 pages and flipped through the rest.

The conclusions reached by Bart Whaley, Martin Gardner and Jeff Busby are the subject of a great deal of contention and there appears to be a lot of evidence to support the theory that S.W. Erdnase was not Milton Franklin Andrews. A great thread on this whole subject can be found on the Genii Forum by clicking here.

I think you would find this very stimulating reading if you were a big fan of Erdnase, but given that I have not read it yet (oh my word!) its hard for me to get too excited by it. I have however just ordered the 100 year Anniversary edition so maybe I will revisit this book another day after I have emersed myself in the classic itself!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Chameleon Chest (again)
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Jan 29 9:36:09 2004
A Beautiful Box and Routine!
This chest really is very beautiful and works very well. One of my favorite routines is this:

You distribute 15 different pieces of paper to them - 5 green, 5 yellow and 5 blue (or whatever colors) - and each member writes a question on their piece of paper - one on travel, one on sports, one on politics (or whatever - basically you ask them to ask a question in a topic area based on the color). They all replace them in a box and then another person chooses one piece of paper for each color and then you write the answers BEFORE they ask the questions.

There are many other effects, but I really like this one. The box looks very clean from all angles and its like a suggestion box.

It comes with a big book of instructions and routines with 21 pages from the ever fertile mind of Larry Becker. A great utility prop. Mikame Craft have a box that looks kind of similar and I was at a dealers store recently and looked at it. Although the Mikame Craft box is nice, it is nothing like this box and certainly cannot do the things you do with this one.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Buy This Now!

Marvelous Mikame Drawer
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Wed Jan 28 7:27:42 2004
A Clever Piece that Magician's will like!
This piece from Mikame Craft is beautifully made with a clever mechanism to allow you to reveal a card or image that is placed beneath the close-up mat.

It is made to the usual high standards of Mikame Craft, though interestingly enough is finished in black instead of their more usual natural wood. It can be used as your close-up case with 3 felt lined drawers to put items, and at any time you can have them choose a card or write on a piece of paper with your back turned. Then to ensure no one can see it you ask them to place the card underneath the mat. When you turn back around you remove from one of the drawers in the unit a pad and paper and proceed to describe the card, etc.

This is one of those effects that will surely please magician's but it seems a bit unnatural to put it under the mat, what's wrong with just turning it face down. It's a small point but worth considering. The way I justify it is that I first have them choose a card freely using a marked deck and get them to put their hand over it. I then reveal their card by stroking the hand and reading the vibes. Then I say "Let's make it really difficult this time. When I turn my back I want you to take out any card look at it and slip it under the mat so there is no way whatsoever I can know your card." Of course I still get the card right.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Buy This Now!

MC Arm Guillotine
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Jan 28 7:21:58 2004
It's not Milson Worth, but it is very close!
This is a solid and beautiful arm chopper from Mikame Craft. It has a solid blade and is very well finished. It doesn't quite match up to the finish and quality of the Milson Worth chopper - but it is much easier to find and is a very fine attempt.

The mechanism is straight forward and classic and allows for a carrot to be placed beneath the arm when the chop is made. It looks very convincing. It also has the blade extend past the stocks to add to the illusion of the chop.

It's hard to go wrong with Mikame Craft!
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Andy Martin

Austin TX

Buy This Now!

Double Flap Drawer Box (again)
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Jan 28 7:12:02 2004
Forget about everything else, this is the one!
I like the fact that Mikame Craft props are much easier to come by than a few years ago, since it gives people a chance to realise what they should be expecting from a magical manufacturer.

This box is heavier than a lot of Mikame's pieces, beautiful, and very convincing with TWO changes! It's a wonderful piece with a lot of uses and very quiet. It fits jumbo cards and other flatish items.

The only slight problem I have seen with this item when setting it up is sometimes the flaps fall prematiurely - I have found this usually because the box is not used enough. If you use it on a regular basis this never seems to happen. So the answer is to ensure you get it off the shelf and use it! Once set correctly I have never had any problems with this part however.
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George Guerra

Thousand Oaks, CA

Buy This Now!

Spirit Cabinet
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Jan 28 2:35:40 2004
I am one happy guy!!
I received this gem from Andy today and it's a beautiful item. Under Andy's loving care, the teak has developed a gorgeous patina...what richness the wood takes in appearance with time. I now look forward to all my Warner pieces to do the same in the years to come. Well, I am very happy as this piece now completes my teak Warner collection and what a finish with this special item.

The workmanship on this piece is impeccable... but that is why Alan's magic is in such great demand by discriminating collectors. He is no doubt the Taytelbaum of teak mini-magic. Thanks Alan for bringing such Art to magic and thanks Andy for selling me such a precious piece from your collection.

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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Merlin's Coffer
3 out of 5 stars Average - Tue Jan 27 7:53:22 2004
This is almost a Great Effect!
This prop looks intriguing with these funny looking wizards/witches in a distressed looking box. It's bascailly the same as Quantimental, but dressed up, and it also uses the same method. When looked at by the spectator the box appears to be finished well. The figures are not the best quality and neither is their paint job, but they suffice.

However, like so many props these days it suffers from some fundamental usability flaws. Firstly, the set-up on this item is tricky and requires some luck and practice to get it right smoothly each time so that the gimmick does not dislodge. Secondly, when the wizards are standing up you cannot close the box. This seems really stupid to me, why have a presentation box that you can't close. This means that once you set-up this unit you have to carry the box around with the lid open and the wizards balancing. Now for technical reasons the box does need to be a bit deeper than the space taken up by the figures, but why not have different figures that are lying down or something so that they fit the box? Finally, the colors of the wizards do not match the gimmicks that prompt you with the answer and you have to do some mental decoding: purple is white, orange is yellow.

Quantimental does not suffer from these problems and in fact, because it has a stand that is ordinary looking it raises much less suspicion. This Coffer is however very quiet in operation, even quieter than Quantimental.

If only inventors would use their props a bit more and see how impractical some of them are for real performers. Unless, of course they are planning for magicians to never really perform these things. If that is the case then this is actually a very nice prop, as long as you don't take it apart and look at the glue marks on the underside of the felt!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Marked for Life
3 out of 5 stars Average - Mon Jan 26 3:18:29 2004
Good book to breathe a new lease of life into your Readers!
When you first start out in magic it seems you quickly go off using stripper decks and marked decks. I remember using a marked deck all the time before the age of 15. I also remember have great fun with Deland's Deck, which of course is a combination of a stripper deck, a marked deck, and a stacked deck all in one. In fact I used to do all sorts of miracles with the Deland Deck. But I haven't picked one up now for over 25 years!

At some point you figure these tools are not good magic and move on. Well Kirk Charles' book Marked for Life reminds you that marked cards are still very useful and by mixing in sleights, non-reader effects, and reader effects you not only can create some huge miracles, but also you can keep the audience guessing.

This 95 page soft covered book spends about a third of the book going through various types of marking systems and its very interesting to see the different approaches various people take. I decided to give the bold, but easy, Ted Lesley's Working Performers Marked Deck a shot.

Once you read this book you will start using a marked deck again. It has many wonderful routines that just are so much better with a marked deck. And providing you follow the tips and tactics mentioned in this book no one will ever suspect a marked deck is being used. I think that is the key thing for me: by combining the marked deck with other principles you can make a good effect into a complete mind blower that could not be easily achieved in any other manner.

The book is well written and researched and comes with a large bibliography of other areas to continue reading about marked decks. Many of which I'm sure you already have, much to your surprise. It may not be a classic book, but it does provide you the path back to an old friend that really should be in every magician's toolkit.
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George Guerra

Thousand Oaks, CA

5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sun Jan 25 0:33:35 2004
Possibly the cleverest piece of magic from Mikame Craft
I have bought several Mikame Craft pieces in the past. With the exception of the MC Case and this item, all are now stored away from my collection, that is, I don't care for them. Now, this little jewel is a real treat. Simply, beautiful magic and quite mystifying...so clever and well built. If this had been made in teak, it would take a well deserved place in my Warner collection...now that is quite an accolade! Get it and you will agree.
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George Guerra

Thousand Oaks, CA

Buy This Now!

Mind Chips (again)
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Wed Apr 24 18:12:17 2002
Another interesting item by Mikame
This is nice piece. The wood work on the cup is classic Mikame workmanship and very well done. However, my main disappointment are the chips--I would have preferred the chips to have been made in wood rather than the cheaper looking plastic...oh, well. The effect is well described by any dealer on the web.
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George Guerra

Thousand Oaks, Ca

5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Apr 24 15:34:21 2002
Nice workmanship; beautiful wood
Mikame make some nice wooden pieces and this is one of the nicest. Card is selected and lost in the deck. Deck divided into two piles. One pile examined and card not there, so must be in the other pile. This pile is put into the case which is then shaken. One card comes out of the slit at the end and it's the selected card. One of my favorites of Mikame's recent releases.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

A. Atsma's Chicken Sword
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Fri Jan 23 17:17:50 2004
The Wolf is Back!
One of the biggest problems with "expensive" magic props is they are frequently delicate, complicated to set-up, more suited to shelves than performances, work inconsistently, and sometimes just don't work at all. This is great if you just want to have nice things on the shelves, but if you plan on performing them ... forget it!

click here to buy this wonderful creation.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Buy This Now!

Gravity Box #1
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Jan 22 10:12:35 2004
When 100 is really 500.
This is a very interesting turn of events. This box was meant to be an exclusive from Paul Gross at Hocus-Pocus of just 100 units. The phrase that Paul likes to use is "Once they're gone, they're gone!." So excitement builds and the first 100 people shell out the cash to get this "exclusive" item.

A couple of months pass and suddenly not only is this box being sold everywhere on the Internet, but the boxes themselves have numbers on them that far exceed 100. In all of the boxes, but this one since it was the first, there is a label that says the box was exclusively made for Hocus-Pocus by Doug Malloy Magic. Why then can I go online and buy this product from any dealer?

Could it be that Paul Gross wasn't being exactly accurate when he said it was a limited edition of 100? I have noticed a trend recently where Paul gets the so called exclusive on a new item, and then a few months later it ends up at Murphy's and every dealer has it. You can often pick-up these "exclusives" at lower prices too if you just wait a few months.

My advice is to be very wary about buying so-called "exclusives" from Paul Gross because it appears that this term doesn't mean very much to him.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Fri Jan 16 7:51:09 2004
Clever, Convincing, and Easy!
Heaven only knows why I sold this the first time around - its such a great effect. Quite simply: the key is seen clearly running through a chain at one end of the piece of wood, and then within an instant it is seen running through a hole in the center of the wood.

The method is huge. It's easy to do and its beautifully made as you have come to expect from Mikame Craft.

A great trick for all levels and priced to move!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Buy This Now!

Flying Coins and Tray
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Jan 15 22:02:31 2004
Now this is a Coin Stand!
This is the finest Coin Stand I have owned. It looks deceptive, works very smoothly and has the unique ability to produce 4 coins back on the stand at the end! The holes drilled beneath each coin make the illusion even more convincing.

The coaster idea for making the coins appear in the glass is also a winner - not quite as effective as Copenetro or Hughes' Coins in Glass - but given the simplicity it still scores high.

This was a real pleasant surprise when it arrived on my doorstep. Another really winner from Mikame Craft!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Psychic Sword (again)
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Thu Jan 15 21:49:35 2004
A Beautiful Box and Routine!
This is the Viking version of this effect and is certainly better than the original. Although, it comes with a clean prediction of any card that the spectator chooses using the sword it has many other uses where a card box is required. It has a unique release mechanism for the transformation which means the box can be handled by the spectator before the transformation if so desired.

The only real downside with this effect as it arrives from the dealer is that the sword it comes with does not fit in the box! This is quite annoying because one of the real justifications of having the box in the first place is to store the knife, deck of cards, and prediction.

However, after a quick look on ebay I found this great little 6" sword that looks the part and fits the box perfectly. If you look at the original version of this box you'll see how the knob on the lid has this big wide brass ring where the knob is, and on the newer version that does not exist. It's this sort of attention to detail that makes George Robinson such a fine craftsman!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Jan 15 21:36:55 2004
Very clean switch indeed!
This beauty from Mikame is a wonderfully clean switch of a heart shaped locket that is in full view all the time and just by pulling on the chain the locket is switched. There doesn't appear to be any funny moves - just pull the chain and hand the locket to the spectator. Yes they can open it!

You can use this device as a mentalism utility or for a magical transposition, vanish or appearance. You are left clean and because the locket is in full view all the time before the switch there is no heat when you load the duplicate that it is switched for.

It is easy to do and within minutes you will be able to acomplish the switch - a compelling routine will take more practice of course, but you're off to a great start having made the switch so smooth. The price is a steal so get one of these now!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Ping Pong Fantasy
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Mon Jan 12 7:01:56 2004
Good old Howie!
Well this is something I have only see advertised on the site of the cuddly and honest dealer: to check this out and other exclusives that Howie is carrying. You won't be dissappointed with what you find!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Mini Guillotine
3 out of 5 stars Average - Mon Jan 12 6:56:39 2004
Surprisingly well made for MAK!
This is a simple mini guillotine effect that is surprizingly well made for MAK. There are a few glue marks near the base - shades of NIck "Glue Master" de Palma, but otherwise a very well priced mini guillotine.

The problem with this mini version, as with the large 7 foot stage one is that I'm not sure how convincing it is. What you really want is a Guillotine designed where the blade tips are at the outside of the stocks too, and you see it fall through the finger. Then it would be a lot more convincing.

But played for laughs you can still have fun with this ... and for the price its a bargain.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Buy This Now!

Lucky Lady (again)
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Apr 8 23:00:02 2002
This is great fun and really works!
Well this is way more than the old pin the queen trick. I did it on my kids over the weekend and they loved it. You can keep pinning the queen they cannot, and then in the end you ask them to close their eyes and they finally do pin the queen, but only because it has changed to one jumbo queen.

I love this trick!
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Todd Reis

Orange County, CA

Card Mirage (again)
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Fri Mar 22 3:03:35 2002
Excellent effect!
This trick is a lot of fun even just to play with! Since Ton does not sell separate gimmicked cards or a whole deck that is gimmicked (once upon a time he did), I suggest getting several sets so you can vary the chosen card.
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Indonesia. East java

Coins in Glass
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Wed Jan 7 0:31:50 2004
good made and clever idea.
This is very nice and clever idea. The quality is well made. I own this for years and still good in working. Never stuck.

I just wanna know how much it is cost for this trick today? Can I get it now in magic shop or this is old antique magic??


Chan - this is an old Jack Hughes item, and this version is no longer available.- Andy
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Ken Driscoll

Baltimore, Md 21222

5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sun Jan 4 15:25:21 2004
Reflecta Thot's Great
We recently purchased the manufacturing rights to this effect from Helene's Magic and it is great... If I had enough money I would stop production and keep this one all to myself. As for now we are selling the remaining of Helene's stock at an unbeleivable low price of just $12.50 each for the first 50, then back to $15.00 for the rest. This is a great effect, we have some additional thooughts that might make this even easier to perform, as if that would be needed.

Anyway this is a great effect and if anyone can get their hands on a set they should grab'em up

Ken Driscoll

Thomas Holbrook

Elgin, Illinois

Tarbell Scrapbook, A
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Jan 1 7:30:50 2004
Tarbell scrapbook by Kaufman
As a collector and Historian on Dr. Harlan E. Tarbell. I know how rare and hard to find the wonderful historic info and items contained inside. Here the reader will see items from nearly 100 years ago from rare file of Edwards Monthly ( a magic magazine that ran from 1909-1910 ), items from the original Tarbell System (1927) not avail in the vols on the market. Fantastic articles and writtings of and about Tarbell,delightful copies of the wonderful booklets given out durring Tarbell's teaching lectures his life and work in magic and more. A bounty of fun reading and an interesting look back at some of the magicial offerings and more that Tarbell has left us. Note this book by Kaufman is very limited and only 100 copies were produced. Making it a bit hard to find as the historic info contained inside it's pages. If one is interested in magic and it's history they would enjoy this book very much.

Just a note... I am always looking to add to my historic timeline and display on Tarbell's life and work.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Classic Secrets of Magic
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sun Dec 28 17:08:35 2003
If you could choose just one book on magic ...
... I believe this would be a very worthy contender. Bruce Elliott's Classic Secrets of Magic is a small book by modern standards: it has only twelve fairly short chapters, with each chapter focusing on a single basic effect and some variations. However, if you were to thoroughly study and learn the magic and routines contained within these chapters and nothing more, ever, you would have enough material to last a lifetime of magical performances.

Very few props are required, the sleights are straight forward, and the magic is beautiful.

In my magical youth I used to perform three card routines from Chapter 1 (the Spectator's Card is Produced) with the highlight being the Card on the Ceiling; the rice bowls from Chapter 3 (Water, Water, Everywhere!); two paddle routines from Chapter 4 (The Very Peripatetic Paddle); the four ace routine from Chapter 5 (Those Four Aces!); the Egg Bag from Chapter 7 (The Egg Bag, Well Done); two matrix type effects from Chapter 8 (The Two Covers, and the Four Objects ...); some simple billiard ball moves from Chapter 9 (Billiards, Magic Style); and the Ambitious Card from Chapter 11 (The Ambitous Card!). I also dreamed of performing effects with Razors, Money and the Cups and Balls from the other remaining chapters.

If you bought this book today and spent one month on each chapter and spent say $100 on props you really could be in the top 1% of magicians in the world after just twelve months. Of this I have absolutely no doubt - provided you were committed to the task, and focused just solely on each chapter of this book.

Of course if everyone did this a lot of magic dealers would go out of business. And you wouldn't have the excitement of trying out 100's of different tricks, gimmicks, gadgets, fine wooden and brass collector's pieces in a vain attempt to find the ultimate effects. This book contains them all, but where is the fun in that? One book, hardly any props to buy and just reading and practicing the same routines for a year? That doesn't sound very magical does it.

Maybe the true secret of magic is that buying magic props from dealers won't make you a good magician, knowing 100's of tricks won't make you a good magician, but learning just twelve effects really well will.

Like so many magicians before me I have fallen into the trap of thinking more props will allow me to create routines for all occaisions. In reality of course, just twelve effects are needed. I know it's fun collecting magic. I have been doing it for over thirty years. But in fact if I just had the balls to stick with the Classic Secrets of Magic, I would be more rewarded, save a fortune, and give back a lot more to the art.

Well it's something to think about at least as we enter the new year!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

With Frances in Magicland
3 out of 5 stars Average - Sun Dec 28 14:53:31 2003
Amusing anecdotes and great Kid Show Advice
This is the second book I've read by Frances Ireland (Marshall) written in 1952. It's not as informative or detailed as her other one, You Don't Have To Be Crazy, but it still makes for interesting, light reading.

It has many anecdotes of famous and not so famous magicians which help you relive the past golden years of magic. I don't know if such things continue to happen as the magic community has been watered down over the last twenty years or so but I hope there are similar parallels today.

Of particular interest is the section on the Chicago Magic Bar scene which gives a glimpse into a world that I certainly have never experienced and would like to.

Also, there is a very helpful section on performing to kids. This section is certainly filled with the real meat and potatoes for performing to children and is worth checking out if you plan on performing to this difficult, but rewarding, age group.

Overall a worthwhile relaxing read, from one of the most wonderful ladies in Magic.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Buy This Now!

Hand of Cleopatra
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sun Dec 28 9:20:25 2003
Ah Original, Quality Magic!
Harold Voit has marketed some great magic. This item and one of my other favorites, the Wandering Mummies, are both beautifully made, effective, and clever - a collector's dream.

This particular piece, made by the German Master Craftsman Tony Lackner, is really a utility item, in that you can control what the hand points to - and it can be different each spin. But when you dress it up like this, the performance and story aspects really incease and you can perform some very impressive, and scary, magic. Perfect for bizarre performances, or any Alan Warner collector who is inspired by his Equptian themes.

Briefly the effect is: 6 items are chosen - these can be anything within reason, and laid around the stand. A spectator selects one and is handed the box with Cleoptra's hand encased. The spectator removes the hand and plaecs it on the base. They then spin it and as it spins it slowly comes to a stop and points to their chosen card. The key thing is that the spectator places and spins the hand themself without any interaction from the magician.

A very beautiful effect. Be wary of cheap knock-offs that have recently been offered, get the original if you can. (But, of course, that warning could be on all high quality magic available today.)
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

3 out of 5 stars Average - Sun Dec 28 8:39:46 2003
Works well, but not "Classic"
Ok, so there are a lot of watches that took the idea of, Collector's Workshop Perfect Time, and apparently improved the mechanics to produce a watch where the spectator's thought of time shows up on the dial. In the world of magic, almost everything is a "refinement" of an existing effect so it becomes a grey area when we talk about rip-offs. This watch is in fact closer to a rip-off of Watch & Wear rather than the original Perfect Time. However, since Watch & Wear did improve the ease of use of the original Perfect Time it is certainly arguable that Watch & Wear was a significant enough change as to make it an acceptable "innovation". Not all will agree, but I'm not convinced that Watch & Wear is a blatent rip-off of Perfect Time either. This watch, and the others from Magic Makers, clearly copies from Watch & Wear which in turn copied from Perfect Time ... but once we open the flood gate of copies it gets harder to know where to place the blame. Of course, the blame ends up squarely in the Magician's lap, rather than the manufacturer's - without the demand for cheap knock offs there would not be such a huge market for them. But we could say that if the dealers didn't make it so easy to buy them then people wouldn't. But in the end as long as there is a demand there will be some way to buy them. Magician's, for the most part, don't care where the idea came from or how well manufactured a piece is as long as they can get it cheap and it works ok. This was a gift so I can claim innocence :-) - by displaying it on my site however I get the opportunity to blab on a bit about it which might help others.

Magic Makers has pretty much made a living on making direct copies of well know effects. They make cheap copies, that look pretty good to most people. And a lot of people buy their stuff. If I can offer a product that to the uninitiated looks the same (or better), that is a third of the price, and that is also available for purchase then many people are going to go for it. I don't blame them.

Of course you do get what you pay for. Personally I have given up expecting the best for less - I have yet to buy a prop that was significanly cheaper than the original and that was better. This watch is a good example of that. The watch works well, for now, and looks good, and is easy enough to use. However, it does not look old or "classic". It is clearly a new watch and as such fails on the fundamental premise that it is your Grandfather's Watch who has special psychic powers. Of course you could change the patter, or you could spend more and get a real gold watch. And therein lies the problem - if you want it to be truly authentic you can't pay bottom dollar - if you don't care then you buy this.

Magic has certainly been watered down over the last few years with increasingly larger numbers of inferior products flooding the market from all parts of the globe - Magic Makers' Wonder Clock is a perfect example of this. However, the watering down began before the rip-offs - in fact as far as I can tell the rip-offs have been there forever. The Internet has helped promote the rip-offs, but it has also helped promote magic too - so its not all bad.

When you are in such a small industry there is almost no legal recourse to the rip-offs. The only way I know to combat rip-offs is to continue to make better products and spend more time practicing and performing them so that people can spot the difference between the real thing and the rip-offs. Of course, the really talented, professional magicians are not performing any of this expensive magic anyway - they just pull out their deck of bikes and amaze you with their bare hands.
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Tyler Argo

Central Ohio

Blade Runner
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Fri Dec 19 19:12:24 2003
Just Beautiful
This is a beautiful piece made from walnut that can be a functioning piece or is worthy of keeping in a display case for collection's sake. It is nicely made and works great. I've had great reactions from it. The fact that there is absolutely no gimmick to find and that it is made of such fine materials elevates the effect to the next level. A great piece. I love mine.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Buy This Now!

Penny Pour
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sun Dec 14 0:05:43 2003
What a Wonderful Paddle and Routine!
So I saw this new paddle on allmagic.com pioneer, Richard Robinson, is great fun and very magical.

It will take some practice to make this appear smooth and effective, but it does come with everything you need to perform, and with the solid routining from those Bad Boys in New Jersey, you'll be on your way to performing this sooner than you think.

I am really looking forward to seeing the other new items that these guys come up with, now that they have finally found a craftsman who can do justice to their ideas. Go Howie & Bob!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Color Cube - Deluxe
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Sun Dec 14 8:04:36 2003
Very nice Color Cube!
Sometimes the old and simple effects are the best. This version of the Color Cube by George Robinson is wonderful. In fact, I've been trying to think of a routine with two of them so that I can justify buying another!

The size of this is bigger than the kids toy version which lends itself to some very real miracles. The box is Asian mahogany with a hand-rubbed finish and even the cube is hand-crafted with inset acrylic spots, so it can be seen quite easily for close-up and parlor work.

Time to revive this old chestnut, with some imagination! If you spend half of the effort and time that George put into making this, I'm sure you'll have a very pleasant experience.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Four Aces Paddle
3 out of 5 stars Average - Sun Dec 14 7:57:27 2003
Not up to Joe's usual Standards!
I really like the paddles and other machined props of Joe Porper and was looking forward to receiving this new effect.

Unfortunately I think this paddle is not as well produced as his other paddles and is really quite hard to do convincingly. It is a great idea for a routine with a paddle, but to pull it off is going to take a good deal of practice and skill.

The cards seem somewhat squashed and the back card has a real risk of slipping. The paddle move itself is difficult because you have to be very wary of your angles.

If you collect Joe's paddles I'm sure you'll still want this one because it clearly is different from other paddle effects, but I just don't think the production and practicallity of this one is quite there.
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Kevin Wenker


Duco's Dice Box
1 out of 5 stars Poor - Fri Dec 12 10:50:50 2003
For me, this was an absolute waste of money. It was apparently made incorrectly as neither of the effects worked whatsoever. The construction itself was likewise shoddy. The only thing good about it was I now have an extra pair of dice.



Murder Inc.
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Nov 27 18:17:10 2003
I own this Beauty
I purchased this well made,colorfull,professional piece of equipment about 2 years ago for only $180 at The Magic Shop In Hicksville NY.I got an AMAZING buy.It had a price sticker of $180 on the box,which I think was an old sticker that was never updated.They now have another one, but I believe it is priced at around $300 or so.I also see this selling anywhere from $300 to $475 online and I am Amazed at what a great buy I recieved!It is a beautifully made illusion and still looks as new as when I purchased it.


California, USA

Close-up Card Magic
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Mon Nov 24 23:23:38 2003
Review for Close-up Card Magic
This book is simply one of the most influential book in my magic learning - and it'll remain in the magic library for many years to come. However, it'll mainly benefit newcomers of card magic. If you dabble at card conjuring then you will want to take a look at this. It contains a lot of beautiful routines that are very easy to do. This is the genuine 'easy to master' card miracles. If you know your basic sleight-of-hand (hindu shuffles, double lift, glide - to give you a rough idea of what level) you'll have no problems learning the routines in here. Even if you don't, it'll only require a little practice before you'll be entertaining your friends and family with a deck of cards. What I love most from this book is some of the routines end with a beautiful layout. There are some routines I relearn once in a while because they are so effective. The downside is the description is very wordy at times and the routines have too many unnecessary actions from an effect standpoint. You'll also have to accept the fact that names to moves like the bluff pass will not be given because Harry Lorayne wrote the book way back in the 1960s. Otherwise, it's a great classic!!!
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California, USA

Classic Magic of Larry Jennings, The
4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Mon Nov 24 16:59:35 2003
Review for The Classic Magic of Larry Jennings
This rather large book contains lots of routines that are real gems. It covers coins, cups and balls, and cards. However, more on cards than the previous two. I won't comment on the coins and cups and balls as I don't have any experience with them, but I will give you an idea about how I feel concerning the card routines.

There are definitely strong card routines you'll find in this book. The sleights are so devious that makes it worth your buy. You'll find a lot of useful sleights that will fool the audience. However, a drawback is that it contain many unwanted ideas that make the learning process difficult (some of them are based on opportunity). Perhaps if you have all the time in the world, but we magic aficionados want only the best material - in which is embedded within these pages but it is diffused among other less satisfying ones. You'll have to plow into these pages and find great ideas here and there.

You will also run into the problem of finding some routines so great except for that 1 or 2 parts you know you don't want to do in front of people. Perhaps it's more about practice however I personally felt even with practice I wouldn't be able to fool people with certain moves - only a person with strong presentational control can do it. In such a case then great, get this book. It has lots of great ideas. However, don't expect every routine to be intellectually gratifying.

I have to give this book an B+. While this book contains a great amount of sleights for use, it's bogged down with information we don't want to know as well. I believe it is worth your time to look through this book because you'll get a lot of sleights you won't know through magic fad.
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California, USA

Darwin Ortiz At The Card Table
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Nov 24 2:50:21 2003
Review for Darwin Ortiz At The Card Table
Everything I've said about CardShark applies here as well. You can go read that. However, you can bet there are more magical effects in this book than in CardShark. Some magical card plots you might be familiar with thats in this book is Do as I Did (spectator and performer cuts to the same card from two different decks - I was badly fooled, it's real magic!), Signed Card-to-Wallet, an Ace Assembly (what people know as Jazz Aces - his sequence is very nice), and much much more. His gambling routines are superb . . as always. There is one (ok all of them but this one in particular) in here that was way too good to be revealed. It will leave people with the impression you can do anything with a deck of cards - as you demonstrate control of all 52 cards by dealing grand slams in a bridge game.

I should mention what I failed to last time that Darwin Ortiz belongs to the traditional school of sleight-of-hand. His main concern is how to entertain an audience with a normal deck of cards. Unlike some performers, Darwin Ortiz gears his routines to fool even the spectators on his left and right. His routines are not angle-prone like some tricks sold on the magic market today. You'll really love his routines in that he's very practical for fooling a small group of people with sleight-of-hand - just as one might expect from a real cardshark. No, he's not a flashy, finger-flinging performer - but I remember after watching his performance that he was one person I did not want to play poker with - in fact, I was very afraid because he could hustle me without my realization.

I believe books written by Darwin Ortiz are superior to any of that I've read from others. His books are collegiate level. He does not offer quick tricks that stuns them for a brief moment. Every routine has the right performance duration, twist/climax, and end clean. How every trick should be performed by every performer. If you're ready to take your card performance further that to a professional level, study his books.

Another A+. Consider this and CardShark as the same only they cover different grounds with a slight more emphasis on magic (if weighed on a balance scale). You should begin with this as it predates CardShark and also because it contains more magic schemes than it does gambling.
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California, USA

Annotated Erdnase
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Nov 24 1:50:37 2003
Review for The Annotated Erdnase
Ed Marlo felt magicians have very short memory. We often use concepts without knowing where they originated from. I can testify to that fact because recently I met a magician who could not vocalize the proper terms for each sleight-of-hand technique he used. Whenever he wanted me to realize what move he was thinking about, he just did it and said "that one." Furthermore, whenever I spoke the magic language, he always asked me to show the move so he could say "oh that!"

The Annotated Erdnase is your reference to all of the sleights created since "Expert At The Card Table" was written (back in 1902). It is simply a copy of "Expert At The Card Table" with additional sidenotes from Darwin Ortiz. For those of you who don't know, "Expert At The Card Table" is an extraordinary book offering technical description on gambling sleights such as false cuts, false shuffles, and shifts (what magicians call the pass). These sleights described however assumes the performance is at the card table. Because it was written back a century ago, it needed an update. What the reader will find valuable is the references to many other modern, variant sleights created since then. Let me tell you, this book is loaded with information. This is one book card conjurors need in their library. If you wanted to know everything related to the slip cut, this book will let you in on that! I should mention a different book called "Revelations." The format is the same only it was written by the "Professor" Dai Vernon. In that book the focus was on the technical moves themselves, providing tips overlooked by the original author.

The Annotated Erdnase isn't just a reference guide; it also contains informational tidbits regarding the book itself (like how many technical errors the author of "Expert At The Card Table" made). Also included is documents from Martin Gardner concerning the identity of the original author, who we still don't know. If you're interested on that topic, I know that new research has been done that is not in this book. Check out Genii and Magic Magazine - I believe sometime in 1999-2000.

I give this book also an A+ because it is readable, rereadable, and loaded with essential information. It will appeal to people who are interested in the history of sleight-of-hand as well as people who are looking for gambling techniques. If you're a flashy, finger-flinging type of magician wondering if the sleight-of-hand in this book is good, look elsewhere. The sleight-of-hand techniques described have their roots in gambling.
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California, USA

Cardshark (Deluxe Edition)
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sat Nov 22 16:54:57 2003
Review of Cardshark
I had the benefit to see the reaction from a fellow magician. What shocked me is that he appeared rather less than enthusiastic about the tricks - commenting that its way too long and too difficult.

I believe the large majority of magicians will feel the same. However, I contend that the materials contained within these pages are not for the average magic hobbyist - nor is it intended for the intermediate card performer. It's only for those very special few who have what it takes to bring the art of magic to a professional level. If you are advance in sleight of hand (particularly gambling techniques explained in "Expert Card Technique" and "Expert at the Card Table" / "Revelations" / "The Annotated Erdnase") or willing to put in the effort here you have Mr. Ortiz to provide excellent routines that will maximize their usage.
They are not easy. I can tell you right now that one sleight requires over 700 hours of practice before mastery - which Darwin Ortiz claims that 1 in 10,000 people can do. But the dividend it pays back more than suffices for your time spent. These are genuine card miracles for the close-up conjuror.

As the title suggests, this book consists mainly of routines regarding gambling themes such as the Scarne effect (cutting to four aces after spectator shuffles the deck). However, it also contain routines with magical themes - such as Mr. Ortiz's construction on a Card-to-Wallet effect and Mr. Ortiz's version of Brother John Hamman's famous signed card. But what a student will find most valuable is the performance tip that the author gives from his experience through performing his creations over hundreds of time. He offers his rather sharp insights and observations. Everything he discusses has been performed before being in print.

I wish I could write more on the book but I need to get offline and pay attention to my wife. You'll have to just check it out to know what I mean. I remember being nonplussed (and that's an understatement!) when I first saw Darwin Ortiz's performance. My mind was racing for an explanation when I saw him perform One-Handed Poker Deal; I was wondering if it was real magic because intellectually I could not understand it. But even if you don't plan on using his routines, it is worth reading to see how he thinks. He has a very special mind thats worth looking at. When he describes other people's sleight like Mike Close's Spread Control, he changes the handling in such a subtle way. Alright, I got to go. I hope the review was useful.

Strong presentation, readable, reread value, and great illustrations. I must give the book an A+.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Rib Blok (Leslie)
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Nov 13 0:02:04 2003
Ah, such rich and vibrant colors!
I just recieved my new version of Jay Leslie's Rib Block with the new and dramatically improved yellow paint! This really is a very well produced work of art, the paint job is beautiful, and is right up there with Milson Worth.

If you're a collector you'll like this and if you're a performer you'll like this too! The effect whilst as old as the hills themselves, is a very clean penetration of the block from the ribbon and its easy to set-up. There are a few angle issues and the clever method takes a bit of practice to do smoothly, but once mastered you have an impossible illusion!

And of course the colors are so rich and vibrant!
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Southern California

Silk Pistol
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sun Nov 2 22:21:42 2003
Magic Hands Silk Pistol
This is a very well made prop. It fires a .22 cal blank. Not as loud as a big handgun, but certainly a very respectable bang. The mechanism works very well. It sets easily and is very dependable.
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Osterlind Breakthrough Card System, The
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Oct 30 23:49:18 2003
Wow, this is amazing!
So maybe you're ready to move up from Si Stebbins or the Eight Kings to a stacked deck that not only looks like a shuffled deck, but is still easy to learn.

Then Osterlind's Breakthrough Card System is for you. Just setting the deck up once you very quickly get the idea, and if you just spend an hour dealing out cards you'll have the stack down. It's really quite amazing how this works, but it does and I thank Richard Osterlind for publishing it.

Apart from the stack rules, it comes with some extra tips to get very proficient, fast and a selection of effects. Of course there are so many effects that could benefit from a stacked deck that you'll soon be breathing new life into many old chestnuts.

Highly recommended!
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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Predator Wallet
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Oct 30 7:18:40 2003
Very Beautiful and You Will Use It!
I have owned a lot of wallets. So why would I drop the unheard of $250 smackers on one more wallet?

Well, because it's a bloody marvel! It looks like a real wallet, it feels like a real wallet, it can be shown like a real wallet, but it is an incredible utility device that blows away every other wallet I have seen - even one of my favorites the Versadex Wallet.

It can be used to perform countless miracles. It comes with 3 routines but you will quickly use it for more. The first effect that you will do is called Psycho Killer - and this is just pure gold. Grab one now, before they stop making them! Highly recommended!
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Quad Rope Lets
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Oct 29 10:30:08 2003
the best quality for the rope
Well, this is the best rope in quality. The audience can not see the joint even in the close distance. hard to believe, how they make it.....
And the effect is stand in the same high as the quality.

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Andy Martin

Spicewood TX

Legacy Malini Egg Bag - Silk
5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Oct 9 20:37:26 2003
This is how an Egg Bag Should be made!
I have not performed the Egg Bag for over twenty years. However, recently I was reminded of all my earlier performances by reading Classic Secrets of Magic by Bruce Elliot. Once reminded I then read about the work of Lynetta Welch at Fabric Manipulation so decided to order the Silk Legacy Egg Bag.

And what a beauty it is - very small, very supple, and perfect for all the standard Egg Bag moves and more. I am very excited about getting this true classic back into my act. Thanks Lynetta for doing such a nice job and suggesting the Silk version - it truly is beautiful.

Apart from the quality of seams, material and manufacture there were three other things that caught my eye with this bag:
  • It has a double edge of sewing on the gimmick side,
  • The silk material makes it very easy to turn it inside out,
  • The sheen and lightness of the sheen tend to make it fold in a nautral way thereby further adding to the illusion that the bag is empty.

    The silk of course is not like silk handkerchiefs, a much stronger and thicker quality is used so this will last a long time. Finally, this bag is small but that is how an Egg Bag should be. I have seen some huge bags that could hide a dozen eggs ... hardly amazing to loose one little egg.
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  • 1064781131
    George Guerra

    Thousand Oaks, CA

    Magic House of Babcock, The
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Oct 6 0:29:48 2003
    A well honored craftsman
    For those who know Mel Babcock and his work, this is an excellent collection of stories, tidbits, descriptions, and pictures of his life and his workmanship. Mel builds some great items and his prices makes these pieces a real steal. His Nested Boxes and Instant Transposition, all handcrafted in exotic woods, are truly exceptional items and speak well of his skills.

    The book is well written and adorned with black and white photos, but the color images of his magic towards the end of the book is a real treat. I liked the chapter detailing Mel's steps in making a die box and the one describing the various exotic woods used in his apparatus. This is definitely a fact filled book on a wonderful man and his contribution to magic. Most highly recommended!! Only 500 copies were printed.
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    Joe Douglas MMC

    Corpus Christi, Texas

    Amateur Magician's Handbook
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Fri Sep 19 15:26:36 2003
    A great textbook for a college level course
    I first read this book when I was in the 8th grade (along with Expert at the Card Table by Erdnase). The title could well be "The Magicians Handbook" as it is truly professional in its scope. The appendix is great for magic terms and proper names of magic props. I first found this book in a library and now I own my own copy. I hope it never goes out of print.

    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    Tricky Bowling Pins
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Sep 18 3:09:53 2003
    Well look at the Flocking on these!
    So the Tricky bottles trick, invented by James Swoger, has been around since the late '50's and there are some good and bad versions out there. This latest version, by the master craftsman Jay Leslie, doesn't use bottles it uses Bowling Pins.

    Not only is the method different from the bottles the tubes are very high quality and lovingly made. Jay even Flocks the interior of the tubes with this black, felt like material that really adds a nice smooth finish to the tubes. The tubes are very nice indeed - great paint job, solidly constructed, and will last a lifetime. Did I say I liked the tubes? They are so much better than the tubes you normally get for this sort of effect.

    The other nice thing about this version is that not only can either Pin be chosen and examined by the spectator but also either tube too. But from even close-up with the easy to learn handling that never becomes apparent. The routine is pretty much the same Do-As-I-Do, but with wonderful apparatus. Its easy to do too!

    Great Job Jay! Certainly Recommended!

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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    By Choice and By Chance
    4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Sun Sep 14 14:13:53 2003
    Simple is normally the Best!
    As I wean myself from high priced electronic miracles, it becomes obvious that so many seemingly impossible effects are possible with very simple props, that don't require eight batteries and two transmitters!

    Paul Richards has a real winner here for the casual or strolling performer, it is simple to do, easy to remember, and reset, and works every time. There is even a presentation that doesn't require a table or the dice. All in the mind.

    Very nice!
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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Sun Sep 7 8:19:25 2003
    Great Trick with Comedy and Magic Potential
    This trick has great potential to play well for kids. There is some byplay to be had with making up funny names for the two animals chosen and showing the animals in the first place, some laughs to be had as you show your sketches as predictions, and some killer magic as you do in fact successfully predict both choices without any funny business.

    I knew how this effect was going to work when I ordered it and was hoping for a nice stand to spin around. The makers credit the idea to Burling Hull's Radar Vision, I am not familiar with that effect but would say that this effect is exactly like Ultissimo - I am not sure which came first.

    For $39 don't expect the best props in the world - note to self if its less than $100 don't expect too much! However, these props are certainly workable and as long as you're not trying to impress the local Magic Collector's club you'll be fine. The stand, unlike Ultissimo does not spin around but its a big stand so that maybe just as well. There is a smaller version of this effect and I think for most performances the smaller one would be better. But if you're doing big shows to 100's of kids then this will be perfect for you.
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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    Buy This Now!

    Gravity Box #1
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Aug 27 15:29:59 2003
    Beautiful Box, Great Comedy, and Without The Hassle!
    So Robert Houdin's Light and Heavy Chest has always intrigued magicians. However, most versions, including the expensive modern one from order one now, before they are all snapped up! This certainly can be used and used and I see no reason why it won't keep on working for years to come.

    Thanks Ron for sending me #1 of this limited edition!
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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    Haenchen Deluxe Chinese Sticks
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Tue Aug 26 2:41:17 2003
    A Wonderful Version of a True Classic
    We all remember being fooled by the Chinese Sticks as kids and what better way to reproduce that feeling than with this wonderful set from my good friend George Robinson at Viking Mfg/Collector's Workshop.

    These sticks look stunning in their bright red and gold tips and have a nice solid feel to them. The mechanism is smooth as silk and all that is needed is practice and a fun routine that they also come with.

    Good to see these back in production, get a set now before they run out again!
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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    You Don't Have To Be Crazy
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Sun Aug 24 0:08:33 2003
    What a wonderfully upbeat Author!
    Frances Ireland (Marshall) wrote this wonderful book in 1946. It is the only magic book I have read by a female magician, and it makes for a very refreshing read. She covers almost all areas of magic with advice and anecdotes, but she does so in such an entertaining way that you feel positively gushing with goodwill towards your fellow magicians at the end.

    She makes you feel lucky to be in the magic business! And for those who want to make a go of magic as a professional performer or dealer she offers some very sound advice. Here is what she has to say about the benefits of magic:

    "If you're sick, magic will help you feel better. If you're poor, you won't buy a lot of useless equipment, but will concentrate on sleight of hand, which some day may make you rich. If you're rich, you don't have to practice sleight of hand, but can become a collector and the envy of the poor. And if you're grouchy, brother, you'll mellow and melt like butter when your audience applauds your first show. You can't stay grouchy in show business. I guess the only kind of man who can't benefit from magic is a corpse."

    Frances sadly passed away last year, having spent over seventy years in the magic business as a performer, author, and magic dealer. From reading just this one book she surely sounded like a wonderful lady!
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    George Guerra

    Thousand Oaks, CA

    Uncanny Die Box
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Fri Aug 22 0:14:17 2003
    Now I believe the hype on this craftsman
    This is the first Taytelbaum item in my collection and it's a great piece. Small black box houses three different colored dice. One die is simply tilted out, placed in the pocket, and the box clearly only shows two remaining dice. Box is closed and slightly shaken to demonstrate that there are still the dice loose inside. Magic words, box is opened and the die has returned to the box. The method is quite diabolical and automatic in execution. No palming and no fancy moves. I would never have guessed it...what a clever mind!

    Constructed of some plastic material, standard material for Eddy, doesn't detract from the quality of this item. I had previously commented that Eddy's stuff was probably just "fancy Tenyo" stuff. Well, I must apologize and retract those words. This particular item is definitely on a different level of craftsmanship. I love it so much that it now resides with my beloved Warner collection. I first heard of Eddy Taytelbaum when I became interested in Alan Warner. Eddy was actually the inspiration for Alan to develop his line of Mini-Magic.

    It's just too bad that quality like this is rare.
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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    Marker Epic
    4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Wed Aug 20 18:04:30 2003
    Great Idea, Ok Props.
    This is a really great idea for doing the standard Mental Epic with nothing more than the 3 pens and some cards. It works well and is convincing.

    However, my pens could have been gimmicked better ... I ended up gluing them myself when they arrived. On talking to the inventor I think I had an isolated case and in fact the pens that are used are good quality markers and once you play with them a while they work fine.

    If you love Mental Epic, but want to travel light these are perfect for you!
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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    Dean's Box (again)
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Aug 18 22:29:53 2003
    Sometimes you can sell too much!
    Most magicians I have known have, at one time or another, sold a prop that they never used only to really regret it later. Dean's Box is one of those for me.

    I don't really know why I sold it, but I'm glad to have purchased a new one. Interestingly enough, the cloth has changed color from red to black since the first time I purchased this effect.

    This is a beatifully made box with a really wonderful series of three effects with some rope and a ring. It is easy to do, though it takes some handling practice.

    Highly recommended, and this time I won't sell it!
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    Steve Thomas

    Southern U.S.

    Kids Kards (again)
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Aug 13 19:03:31 2003
    Kid's Kards Kick!
    I usually hate writing a review of a new item because if it's a good effect and a good review, then EVERYBODY will go buy one. I'll make an exception here. Ordered this from Elmwood Magic (their service is great, too) and absolutely love it. I'm a fan of the simpler things, and this, as you may have guessed is another incarnation of a Svengali Deck. The difference is...this one has a purpose and reason. The cuteness of the deck also adds a lot. The deck is shown as a hand-made pack of cards that a class/group of children made for you after you performed a show for them. You then (there's a storyline) change it to a real (like a storebought) pack. You then do a brief mental effect, and since you feel bad about changing their handy work...you change it back to its original state. Nothing astounding about the effect, but the props and the story make the effect what it is. Now, that being said, DO NOT go buy one of these.

    Steve Thomas
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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    Jumbo Balloon Wand
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Aug 13 0:39:14 2003
    Workable and Beautiful Props!
    This is the third item I have from the very talented Mr.Wolf over at Wolf's Magic. As with the others, it is beautifully made and very functional. It took me about 30 mintues to try this out including opening the well packaged box.

    The instructions are bright and very clear and on the very first attempt of trying this effect all the balloons worked exactly the way they should. For a balloon wand/table type effect this is almost unheard of. Every effect I've owned up until now has required quite a lot of tweaking to get the balloons to pop and blow away on cue. Not so with this. Chance has clearly thought through the usability aspects of this effect.

    Unlike his previous two items this effect does not have quite the same unique, zany routine but it still is a wonderful prop with all the fun of any other Balloon Wand. The set-up is very easy and the props very solid.

    What I like about the Wolf's Magic line I have seen so far is that not only are the props beautifully made, very colorful, and uniquely designed - they actually can be used by real performers for real shows. This is sadly not something I can say about a lot of higher end collectable props.

    Wolf's Magic is certainly turning a few heads in the magic Industry, and about time too - this is the way magic should be built and operate. Highly recommended!
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    David Hira

    Dallas, Texas

    Vanishing Bandanna
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Aug 6 23:23:40 2003
    Bandanna Drives 'Em Bannanas!
    Howard Hale has really made this a dynamite hit for virtually ANY performer! The bag you get is first rate, and the cassette tape is professionally recorded. Stick in the cassette either on stage or off, and just "go with the flow...". The Acme Magic company will "teach you a trick", and you just follow along. Your audience will laugh over and over again! Highly recommended if you want great fun, lots of laughs, and NOT a lot of work!

    Note: You will need a real bannana each performance. Be sure to throw it out after each show!

    James G. Robinson

    Sachse, Texas USA

    Mystic Mummy, The
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Aug 6 22:46:51 2003
    Magnificient Mummies
    Richard has outdone himself. The Mystic Mummy is truly exquisite. They are by far the most beautiful set of props I have seen. Simply gorgeous.

    Pit Finn

    Colorado Springs, CO

    Fantastic Silk Frame
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Aug 6 0:47:02 2003
    This is the best Silk Frame I ever bought. It works on the "bank" of the silk pistol. No need of an assistant. But Security loves items like these now. I always have tons of fun at the airport.....

    Too bad that The Magic Hands is not any more...

    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    Blow Yur Stack
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Aug 4 19:27:22 2003
    Another Winner from Wolf's Magic!
    Another beautiful effect from Chance Wolf.

    This item is to be redesigned this summer. I don't know what the changes are but I do know this is a wonderfully unique effect that visually looks stunning, and plays like a scream too!

    It's a Do-As-I-Do effect, but with stacking cups. Try as the child may they never seem to get it right. Just as the kids are going crazy your secret little helper pops up and you can create even more thrills with a Run Rabbit Run type effect at the end. Where is that mouse?

    I think this is beautifully made and looks wonderful. It makes a great follow-up to the ABC Gumball.

    In a world of inferior props and old ideas, Wolf's Magic is producing a very fine line of new and original magic. Keep up the good work Chance!
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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    ABC Gumball Recycler
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Mon Aug 4 19:08:38 2003
    Chance Wolf has a wonderful line of Magic!
    This is a marvellous effect from Chance Wolf. In fact, I don't ever remember seeing a Children's effect that visually looks more appealing to kids. The routine is also instantly recognizable as a winner. It deals with Already Been Chewed (ABC) gum which is icky enough to make even the most doubting child smile.

    It is based on the old Square Circle, but has a number of key features that really hide that. In addition, the routine is so good and well thought out that it puts the whole effect into another league.

    These are pretty hard to come by, but if you can buy one, you won't be disappointed.
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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    Complete Magician, The
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Jul 30 23:08:04 2003
    The Perfect Book for the Beginner
    The Complete Magician by Marvin Kaye (or the Stein & Day Handbook of Magic as it is known in the USA) is a wonderful book for the serious beginner who wants to perform magic as a hobby or as a profession.

    What I liked most about this book when I first read it 27 years ago was that it didn't just focus on tricks and sleights. It did provide some great routines in each of the main areas of magic, including a wonderful section on Children's magic which I was performing most of at the time, but it also had chapters on patter, style, perparing for the big Stage show, routining and all the other things that make up a real performance. These other aspects of magic are often overlooked by the beginner.

    The book also ends many chapters with a brief description of commercially available effects and gives sources of dealers and magical publications. As a budding young magician these of course inspired me to want to save up my paper round money to buy more magic!

    I found this book a wonderful entry into performing magic for real audiences and for many many years used ideas and magic directly from it. Soon I will read it again and feel sure it will still provide me with some useful tips and ideas that I have forgotten.

    (Notice: Although the printed word is basically the same in both versions of this book, the Complete Magician is a far superior quality book, with a bigger format, better quality paper and numerous black and white photographs. So if you can, get the Complete Magician instead of the Stein and Day Handbook of Magic.)
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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    Money Paddle
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Thu Jul 31 2:40:12 2003
    The Best Money Paddle!
    This is easily the best Money Paddle I have owned. Better than the Jay Leslie one, which I thought was real nice too.

    Its made of black aluminum and the mirror is shiny and real looking, and its very well machined, with notches for the rubber bands and a good weight to it. Joe Porper makes some real nice pieces!
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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    Stein and Day Handbook of Magic, The
    5 out of 5 stars Outstanding! - Wed Jul 30 23:08:04 2003
    The Perfect Book for the Beginner
    The Complete Magician by Marvin Kaye (or the Stein & Day Handbook of Magic as it was known in the USA) is a wonderful book for the serious beginner who wants to perform magic as a hobby or as a profession.

    What I liked most about this book when I first read it 27 years ago was that it didn't just focus on tricks and sleights. It did provide some great routines in each of the main areas of magic, including a wonderful section on Children's magic which I was performing most of at the time, but it also had chapters on patter, style, perparing for the big Stage show, routining and all the other things that make up a real performance. These other aspects of magic are often overlooked by the beginner.

    The book also ends many chapters with a brief description of commercially available effects and gives sources of dealers and magical publications. As a budding young magician these of course inspired me to want to save up my paper round money to buy more magic!

    I found this book a wonderful entry into performing magic for real audiences and for many many years used ideas and magic directly from it. Soon I will read it again and feel sure it will still provide me with some useful tips and ideas that I have forgotten.

    (Notice: Although the printed word is basically the same in both versions of this book, the Complete Magician is a far superior quality book, with a bigger format, better quality paper and numerous black and white photographs. So if you can, get the Complete Magician instead of the Stein and Day Handbook of Magic.)
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    Andy Martin

    Spicewood TX

    Quicker Than The Eye
    4 out of 5 stars Very Good - Sun Jul 27 14:08:27 2003
    Eye witness tales about Magicians all around the world
    Written in 1932 this book by John Mulholland takes you on a virtual tour of many distant lands as he tells tales of magicians from almost every culture and part of the world.

    It is quite amazing to think how much Mr. Mulholland travelled with magic so long ago. It has some great stories and anecdotes that are very entertaining reading. It is not a book of tricks, but rather of cultures and people and the types of magic they have performed.

    I'm sure 75 years on much of this is no longer quite the same, but it is still a thrill to read about the old days when you can help thinking there was a bit more "art" to our magic. One quote by Jack Gwynne is worth repeating:
    "Mr. Gwynne, I have seen your act and I think it is perfect."
    "Thank-you," Gwynne replied, "I'm glad you liked it. I feel that it has many flaws, but after all it should run smoothly, for it takes but twelve minutes to do and I have worked twelve years on that act. Allowing a year's rehearsal for every minute's performance it would be astounding if it were not smooth".

    Can you imagine a modern magician spending so much time on one act? Maybe this is one of the reasons, that there are so many bad performances out there ...
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