Review by Andy Martin for Clatter Box by Jack Hughes

Review by Andy Martin for Clatter Box by Jack Hughes
Review by Andy Martin for Clatter Box by Jack Hughes
4 out of 5

Jack Hughes invented the Clatter Box c. 1949 and it appears in his World of Magic Vol. 2.  It has been copied without permission by many magic dealers throughout the world over the years 🙁

The original Clatter Box was quite small and was made of metal. Jack changed the style of the box several times over the years, but the method of release remained the same.  This version is the wooden style that became more popular over time.

This Clatter Box takes a few tries to get comfortable setting it up, but once you have done it a few times it becomes second nature. It is important that you seat each section properly otherwise the box will fall apart too soon, or will not look solid. But if you do it right it looks very convincing and is a surprise to the audience when it all falls apart.

I thought this would complement the Joseph Silk Pistol perfectly and am looking forward to working on a Speed Demo this weekend.

The best way to perform this is to whisper to the spectator to time the pull of the knob with the firing of the silk pistol so that it looks like the silk literally flew inside the box 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for Joseph Silk Gun by Joseph, Town House Magic

Review by Andy Martin for Joseph Silk Gun by Joseph, Town House Magic
Review by Andy Martin for Joseph Silk Gun by Joseph, Town House Magic
5 out of 5

The first reference I could find to a Silk Gun or Pistol was in Stanyon’s Magic May, 1910: Pistol to Vanish a Handkerchief. Mr. Joseph created his version c. 1925 and released it in small quantities. By the time of World War II all supply was eliminated and there was no supply until Lloyd Chambers took over manufacturing c. 1948.  In July of 1950 Bev Taylor of Town House Magic bought complete rights to manufacture and sell this beautiful item.

Based on the instructions and the bonus sixteen page Silk Gun Routines by Bev Taylor this gun is almost certainly from 1950 or later.  As far as I am aware there are no significant differences between the versions of the guns.

I have tried out a number of silk pistols over the years and the reason I think the Joseph Silk Gun is the best are:

  • It is custom built rather than retrofitted from an existing toy gun being primarily made of cast aluminum.
  • It is a compact size.
  • It looks like a real pistol.
  • The vanish happens by placing the silk on top of the gun away from the barrel tip instead of dangling from the tip.
  • It is very reliable.
  • It allows for a cap to fire too for extra bang action!
  • It is easy to reset without tools.

The only two downsides with the Joseph are:

  • Each use can slowly damage the silk.
  • Unless you use a black or dark silk you have some angle issues in that you cannot show the top of the gun once vanished.

With care the damage can be kept to almost nothing, but you are likely to need to replace the silk every 30-50 vanishes.  What they recommend is to practice with an old silk and only use the better silk when performing live.

For my money this is the best Silk Gun 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for The Vanishing Alarm Clock by Petrie-Lewis

Review by Andy Martin for The Vanishing Alarm Clock by Petrie-Lewis
Review by Andy Martin for The Vanishing Alarm Clock by Petrie-Lewis
5 out of 5

The Vanishing Alarm Clock has been built by many manufacturers over the years but the original ones were invented by Willmann and Conradi  c. 1904.  Versions by Thayer, Brema, Abbott’s, and others have been created through the years.  Probably the company that popularized the effect the most in the USA  was Petrie-Lewis c. 1932 and their version is shown here.  It is a beautiful version that works very smoothly.

This is a a wonderful effect that looks as amazing today as it did 70+ years ago. Even in the extreme conditions of a Speed Demo where everything if focused on the props it looks pretty convincing, so imagine how good it would look in your parlor or stage act or as a show piece in your collection 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for Illusion Practice Blocks (China Computer) by Thomas Pohle, Eckhard Boettcher

Review by Andy Martin for Illusion Practice Blocks (China Computer) by Thomas Pohle, Eckhard Boettcher
Review by Andy Martin for Illusion Practice Blocks (China Computer) by Thomas Pohle, Eckhard Boettcher
5 out of 5

The inventor of this effect was the German Paul Corduan (17. Februar 1894 – 4. Januar 1961). His stage name was “Doc Corten”. First sold by the German dealer Heinz Jacobi under the name “Corduan-Verwandlungswürfel” (translation: Corduan Change Dice).

Thomas Pohle created his first version of this effect when working with Eckhard Boettcher who provided the routines c . 1984. Over the years Thomas has created a number of versions and this is the prettiest version I have seen. These are probably from his earlier time with Eckhard but I am not sure precisely what year these were made.

The professionally translated instructions (so you can understand them!) feature three routines, and I based my routine on parts of a lesser known routine where you use these blocks as practice blocks for illusions such as the Mis-Made Lady and any Divided Lady effect.

The method is very clever and easy to do but if you don’t read the instructions on how to do it you might do it the wrong way (as I did for years). By referring to the parts of the assistant (head, body and legs) the effect becomes more interesting to the spectator. Now that I’ve spent the time to work on the routine I like it even more – who knew reading the instructions could bring so much enlightenment 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for Slates of Solomon by Collectors' Workshop

Review by Andy Martin for Slates of Solomon by Collectors' Workshop
Review by Andy Martin for Slates of Solomon by Collectors' Workshop
5 out of 5

The Slates of Solomon is based upon Milson’s (yes before Milson-Worth) Satyr’s Slate c. 1971. However, they are a lot larger (as can be seen in the final photo for comparison) and unlike Satyr’s Slate allows you to reveal two predictions instead of just one.

The Slates of Solomon are certainly better engineered than Satyr’s Slate too, but that was clearly the inspiration. I also prefer the size of this Collectors’ Workshop slates – they are just about right.  Dave Powell introduce a similar set of Spirit Slates in 2016 but they were bigger again (at 4.5″ x 5.5″).  As is often the case, Collectors’ Workshop produced the perfect version.  Even though Dave Powell’s version are better quality again, the size makes them less useful for walk around.

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Review by Andy Martin for Victorian Psychic Spirit Slates by Dave Powell

Review by Andy Martin for Victorian Psychic Spirit Slates by Dave Powell
Review by Andy Martin for Victorian Psychic Spirit Slates by Dave Powell
5 out of 5

This is Dave Powell’s latest Spirit Slates which is essentially a larger and slightly better quality version of the old CW effect the Slates of Solomon which in turn were based upon Milson’s (yes before Milson-Worth)  Satyr’s Slate c. 1971

This set of spirit slates are really beautiful and work without any flap or outside gimmick. They are ingeniously designed with the mechanism actually inside the slate.  However, for most situations I prefer the slightly smaller CW Slates of Solomon.

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Review by Andy Martin for The Satyr's Slate by Milson

Review by Andy Martin for The Satyr's Slate by Milson
Review by Andy Martin for The Satyr's Slate by Milson
3 out of 5

These were invented by Milson’s (yes before Milson-Worth) c. 1971. This set don’t work properly as the revealed suit is partially covered.  But I believe this was the first of its kind. 

Collectors’ Workshop created a superior version that looked and worked better and allowed for two cards to be revealed called Slates of Solomon which would be my favored version.  I remember Eddie Burke’s company Magi-Trix in the UK also released a version in the 1970’s, but I do not recall the name.

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Review by Andy Martin for Sefalaljia II by Abbott's, Stewart James

Review by Andy Martin for Sefalaljia II by Abbott's, Stewart James
Review by Andy Martin for Sefalaljia II by Abbott's, Stewart James
5 out of 5

The wonderful Sefalaljia invented by the incredible and prolific Stewart James first appeared in The Jinx #69 December 2, 1939 At the time Ted Annemann said:

I honestly believe that this one man miniature cabinet routine is far beyond, in merit and effectiveness, anything yet conceived. Certainly the manifestations are out of the ordinary and Mr. James has managed to use several magical principles in a way not originally intended, the absence of complicated preparation in the cabinet will be found quite refreshing. The routine herein should be put into immediate use by many magi. – Ted Annemann

Over the decades James revised the routine many times, incorporating a number of effects into his routine. Eventually he landed on the eight effects described in the manuscript which he named Sefalaljia #2.

This beautiful set is built by the talented builder Rocky Clements exclusively for Abbott’s and what an amazing job he has done. The first thing you need when performing spirit cabinet effects is the items have to look authentic.  This box is made from solid oak and has lots of fine details – look at the aged croquet ball, if that doesn’t look like something straight out of Jolly Old England in the late 1800’s what does? 

This wonderful effect comes with all of the items required to do some or all of the eight routines described below and also a 33 page manuscript describing each with plenty of photos.  The choice of routines are:

  1. The Ring Thing
  2. Ring-A-Lore
  3. The 5.5 Yard Mystery
  4. Knotabilia
  5. Paul Curry’s Linked
  6. The Big Bender
  7. Ballistrick
  8. Present Under Glass

My only complaint about this beautiful outfit is the video featured on Abbott’s site just features one of the routines instead of eight or six or four.  One is just lazy 🙁 Apart from that this is a great value collectible and certainly worth investing in.  I hope to get time in the next few months to do a few more than one out of eight routines for sure. 

When they say they don’t make magic like they used, at Abbott’s with the help of Rocky Clements that is no longer true – they are making some great magic and Stewart James would have been very happy with this.  Great job guys 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for Mystic Numero by Magic Wagon, The Great Norman

Review by Andy Martin for Mystic Numero by Magic Wagon, The Great Norman
Review by Andy Martin for Mystic Numero by Magic Wagon, The Great Norman
5 out of 5

This effect was invented by The Great Norman (Norman Hazeldene) from England and sold by Supreme Magic c. 1972 as the effect Discus. What was particularly interesting about this method is that although the effect was similar to Jack Hughes’ Attaboy, the method used by Attaboy can be ruled out because of the motion of cards from top to bottom which is completely opposite from Attaboy.  So this effect even fooled magician’s in the know 🙂

Magic Wagon have created a perfect higher end version of Norman’s great idea in Teak. Except for materials they have not veered very far from the original prop and this beauty is a joy to behold. It is easy to do and works every time.

If you like clever effects that clearly look like magic props you will be very happy with this release.

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Review by Andy Martin for Fantastic Frame (New Style) and Silk Cabby (1 of 4) by Michael Baker

Review by Andy Martin for Fantastic Frame (New Style) and Silk Cabby (1 of 4) by Michael Baker
Review by Andy Martin for Fantastic Frame (New Style) and Silk Cabby (1 of 4) by Michael Baker
5 out of 5

The Fantastic Frame was invented by the prolific English inventor and creator Eric C. Lewis c. 1937, though Eric didn’t produce it commercially until 1947.  It is described in great detail starting on page 42 in Eric’s wonderful book A Continuation of Miracles. It has been created by a number of builders over the years including: Okito, Carl Williams, and Milson-Worth.  Milson-Worth certainly created the most popular version and it was one of their top-selling products.

This is Michael Baker’s stunning version which is right up there with the Okitio-Williams version created by Carl Williams (see final photo thanks to Dr. Albo). Eric invented two versions, one with a fixed rod in the middle and one that allowed the rod to be removed.  In Michael’s version he also allows the rod to be removed but he does it differently.  If you saw how much extra work Michael had to put in to make this possible it makes you realize magic collectors and magic builders are all a little crazy 🙂  But a very clever approach and something you will really appreciate particularly if you have seen the other versions.

This also comes with a matching Silk Cabby which also is one of the most convincing cabby’s thanks to the black art decoration at the base.  Together these two remarkable items will allow you to perform a very clean miracle right before their eyes.

The only issue  I had with the cabinet was that it came with a solid green 18″ silk to vanish and reappear – well for a wooden frame that is 20″ x 17″ by 6″ that is really too small for this cabinet.  I’m sure Michael would agree with me and so I added this beautiful 45″ butterfly silk which is the largest silk I’ve used and it fits perfectly – now you have a silk that does justice to this beautiful item.

This is a large item, but would look great on stage or as the center piece to your Michael Baker Collection or any other collection for that matter 🙂

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