Recently I have become addicted to Chris Wasshuber’s phenomenal contribution to magic in the form of his vast library of magic books in electronic form at the amazing Lybrary.com. I keep finding periodicals and out of print books that I either had once and have sold or never owned. I use these ebooks primarily for research to find out about old magic items and performers, but invariably every time I open an issue I get sucked down some rabbit hole to read about some wonderful effect or magician from the past.
The price of these ebooks is so reasonable there is no excuse to not have copies of all your favorite books and periodicals. Although I warn you once you start you might find it hard to stop, and before you know it will need more disk space! That being said Chris has made all the right decisions when offering his service with PDF’s as the primary ebook format, unlimited downloads and a list of all the ebooks you have ever purchased available on your own Digital Shelf. Chris has even added a useful Magic Knowledge Base Search that allows you to instantly search all of the ebooks you have purchased from him.
Lybrary.com might look a little outdated, which I believe even Chris would admit too, but this is one example where you can’t judge the book by the cover, because there is simply nothing else like this on the web today. Most of the ebooks that Chris is offering are not available elsewhere and the contents is certainly not available on Google.
Thank-you Chris for providing such a wonderful resource for us all, I’ll be back many more times. And although I have not mentioned the Sphinx once so far, you can read plenty about The Sphinx here.
80+ years and still going strong – wow what an achievement! And Chris Wasshuber with the assistance of Richard Kaufman, of course, provides such easy access to it all. Hard to put into words how useful and amazing having all of these back issues available at the touch of a button is. If you are looking for articles, trick effects, reviews, history, stage craft, opinion, gossip, and everything in between it is all here. The most useful resource to me when working on the History Project (https://www.martinsmagic.com/the-history-project/) is this magazine.
This is the pocket-sized version of Buma’s popular shamanistic effect: Ju Ju Man. I think the smaller size makes this more practical and easier to do too.
With reset in seconds, nothing to replace or wear out, and fully self contained this item is perfect for walk-around and table hopping situations. The little men are adorable and intriguing to lay people and this could be the perfect non-card effect you have been looking for.
Another beauty from Magic Wagon using five really elegant mummies that the spectator can freely choose from and place secretly inside the beautiful and intricate sarcophagus. Regardless of which one they choose the performer can always divine which one it is.
And better still the performer touches nothing, there are no electronics, always ready to work with zero reset, and completely self-contained.
Is it just me or are Magic Wagon actually getting better over time? You’ll love this one!
Another clever beauty from the prolific German craftsman Thomas Pohle. Thomas continues to amaze me with his incredibly precise and intricate magic. This is very different from normal die boxes in that there are no typical shells and or double doors, but you are still able to show the block inside the box at any time or vanish it completely! Thomas has made the gimmicks to such tight tolerances you can be watching this right up close but you’ll still not see a thing. Really beautiful work.
Now if only we could get Thomas to squeeze his demo videos down by 50% then we’d be laughing 🙂
Recommended for lovers of clever magic everywhere.
Another rare and collectible item from 1987 by the great German craftsman Willi Wessel. Unlike his fellow countryman, Thomas Pohle, Willi has retired from creating magic some years ago, so his magic is getting harder and harder to find. This is one of his best items.
What I like about Willi’s routines is that he extracts every inch of magic from his props. This set comes with a great routine translated perfectly by Wolfgang Wollet. The routine involves:
Red Chinese tokens appearing on the paddle and doubling
Then you raise the stakes and use Western Money which then doubles
Then some Chinese writing appears on the paddle
And finally the tokens change color
Willi packs a lot in to the routine! Comes with everything needed (use your own dollar bills) and fits neatly in the presentation case.
One of my favorite Jack Hughes items is Penetra-Spheres that was invented around 1937 shortly after Jack invented his tray version of Coins In Glass. Penetra-spheres was licensed by Abbott’s for sale in the USA and was sold for the first time in 1947 under the name Hole in One which is the name most people know this effect today.
I’ve owned a number of versions of this effect including three from Abbott’s all of which were well over 20 years old. The best version bar none that I have handled is the one released by Howie Baltus and The Trickery called Definitive Hole in One in 2004. Abbott’s have ran into some supply and quality issues in recent years which may have led to Daytona Magic creating their own version. There is no credit made to Abbott’s or the actual inventor Jack Hughes on their website or in the instructions which is a shame.
What is worse is that although Harry Allen (from Daytona Magic) actually performs the effect pretty smoothly in the video with the version I received I would say it would be almost impossible to perform it that well. Although this unit is solidly made, it is easily the worst version of Hole in One I have ever seen (and Jack Hughes would be rolling in his grave if he saw it). These are the issues I see with this version (some of which are obscure because I don’t want to expose the method):
There is zero credit to the inventor which is unacceptable for such a signature effect.
The base is very thick which makes you wonder what is going on in there – it spoils the illusion.
When the tray is resting on the table, the glass dips about half an inch and only when you pick it up does it become level.
There are steep angles for the gimmick so the silk has to cover a long way, or you do what Harry does which is have someone walk in front and do the work during that phase.
The ball requires a jolt to make the action happen – unlike any version I have seen.
Finally, there is a chance you will vanish the ball instead of making it appear in the glass due to the wide angles and you have to keep your eye on it all the time.
Now it is possible that I have a lemon, but most of these appear to be flaws intrinsic to the design.
Needless to say I would not recommend this to anyone who is not familiar with the effect already and is a collector or handy and can make some adjustments. It is a shame because Jack Hughes’ original effect Penetra-Spheres is one of the most beautiful and amazing mechanical effects ever invented and it saddens me to see what they have done to it.
What a unique and scarce nest of four boxes from the Scottish manufacturer: Silray Magic Co. circa 1950s. Silray, run by Jack Silver, specialized in lucite (Perspex) plastic props, and these are a great example of the medium. Not only do these high-quality boxes look great they use an approach that is different to all of the nests of boxes I have seen. They use a variation of the Berg method with the big difference that you can briefly show the bottom of the third box and it appears to be whole. This is accomplished by a clever locking mechanism that traps the smaller box inside precisely at the right location so that it looks like the actual base of the box.
This is the first time I have even seen these boxes and they would look perfect in your collection. Complete with ribbons and key for the outer lock. Highly Recommended for collectors of fine, vintage magic.
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