Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.
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Zig Zagger
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Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby Zig Zagger » April 13th, 2017, 5:06 pm

I have always found it amazing how new tricks, ideas, or routines come into this world. Sheer luck and mere chance seem to play a far greater role in their conception and delivery than any logical thinker could ever imagine.

Take the following example about Joe Karson’s creation of the famous “Zombie”, a wonderful story (if true) which I have come across only recently in Frank Garcia‘s “New York News” in an old issue of "Magic Manuscript" (Vol. 4, Issue 4, p. 45):

"Incredible as it may seem, the trick called 'Zombie' was invented by the late Joe Karson quite by accident. He bought a house and everything was fine but the toilet commode didn’t function, so Joe started taking the commode apart. He removed the balance ball attached to the rod and dried it with a towel. He then came upon the idea of making it a floating ball. The rest is magical history!"

Any similar stories that you are aware of and would care to share here?
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Joe Mckay
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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby Joe Mckay » April 13th, 2017, 7:28 pm

That is a great topic. I love seeing things like this in the world of science (where it is pretty common) as well as the world of magic. I am sure magic has lots of examples. I remember seeing your post on this on your blog recently and being tickled by that story behind Zombie.

One quick example that comes to mind is the brilliant optical illusion display used in Dr Strangetrick by Michael Close. On the L+L video - Close mentions that a reader of the Workers book where this was first published misread the instructions and accidentally invented the killer display that is now used instead. I remember him saying he was an amateur magician who was also a pilot.

You can see the display here:

https://youtu.be/jMCpzuWWFls?t=2m57s

The tricks Squeeze Play and Impossible Pen by Tenyo were both discovered by accident as well.

With Squeeze Play - the creator was playing around with some props and suddenly the ball disappeared. I think he pressed down on them as he stood up from his chair or something like that.

With Impossible Pen - Lubor Fiedler was playing around with a magnet and suddenly the pen disappeared. And when he found it - he realised it would make a clever method for a trick.

"Chance favors the prepared mind." - Louis Pasteur

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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby Bob Farmer » April 13th, 2017, 8:20 pm

I came up with this by accident:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PGcSsObEqk

However, my name is never connected with the effect. Here's what happened:

Mel Stover was an eccentric Canadian magician. Back in the mists of time, Howard Lyons and Bob Weill used to have a small magic convention at a hotel called the Oban Inn in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada. Mel and I always attended.

The Oban Inn (now sadly gone) was an old hotel and in every room it seemed that everything that had a horizontal surface had a mirror on it. Mel always had something interesting and that day he had a Lubor Fiedler die. It was weighted so that you could show it as a blank die, then drop it in a glass and shake the glass and suddenly the spots would appear.

I was examining the die after Mel showed it to me and I happened to put it on the dresser and on the mirror and that's when I noticed the effect. I pointed it out to Mel and I called it vampire die--it casts no reflection. Mel jumps up, grabs the die and heads out the door.

A few hours later, Mel has found a small mirror and is showing everyone the vampire die. I "invented" it but Mel showed it around after that, so he gets credit for publicizing it. Later someone else added the end bit where a real die appears from under the mirror.

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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby Zig Zagger » April 15th, 2017, 5:13 am

Magic lore has it that Okito discovered what later became the Okito Box by chance when toying around with a regular (but specific) pill box.

Max Auzinger developed the "Black Art" principle when he realized during rehearsal for a play (he was a director) that all he could see from the black face of an actor before a black background were his white eyes and teeth.

These examples illustrate, as well as Karson's Zombie mentioned above, a frequent principle in creation (in fact, much more frequent than actually inventing something from scratch): observing a phenomenon in its natural context, realizing its potential, and finally transferring it successfully to a completely different context--magic, in our case.
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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby Bob Farmer » April 15th, 2017, 9:14 am

I think this is the essence of having a "magic eye," similar to an ear for music: you see things that appear ordinary to others, but to you they offer a chance to create a magical effect.

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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby erdnasephile » April 15th, 2017, 9:32 am

Another example of what Mr. Farmer's talking about is the story of Tom Burgoon's Timmy Toilet Paper (as related in Genii)

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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby Zig Zagger » April 16th, 2017, 7:06 am

Interesting examples, gentlemen. Please keep them coming!

Okito, by the way, wrote a very colorful account about his discovery in his book "Okito on Magic" (1952, p.93f).

It opens with a great line:

If the late Joe Klein had not suffered from indigestion, I should never have invented the Okito Coin Box.
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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby performer » April 16th, 2017, 8:00 am

I can't remember the full story but I know Nate Leipzig invented the coin roll because of some accident with a button.

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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby Bill Mullins » April 16th, 2017, 10:38 am

I thought Allen Shaw invented the coin roll.

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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby performer » April 16th, 2017, 5:52 pm

I shall have to check it out but I have a vague recollection that Leipzig invented it but Allan Shaw heard about it and stole it. I vaguely remember something about Horace Goldin telling Shaw about it and then he claimed it as his own.. Of course I may well have my facts all wrong but I will check it out and report back.


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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby performer » April 16th, 2017, 7:32 pm

I have posted this in the past. This was DEFINITELY from Leipzig anyway.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2OAiIXcDyw

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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby Zig Zagger » April 17th, 2017, 3:19 pm

Another interesting aspect is creation out of necessity or abundant supply. Think about corporate gigs which demand a special integration of a product into a routine or two (and hopefully lead to better ideas than just pulling them out of a Square Circle).

In "Magic Page by Page", Patrick Page describes how he created "Double Mirage", a variation of "One in the Middle":

The reason I devised it was that I had a lot of blank backed Jokers, so it was just a case of getting some blank faced cards and ordinary Jokers of which I had hundreds and I was in business again with a new trick to sell. (p.234)

Page also mentions that he created "Chameleon Clown" for Tony Corinda, who lacked any tricks in his studio for the entertainment of children at that time and who thought that "a trick with a picture of a clown would show up well on his studio wall." (p.242)

Another example: After he had acquired some plastic moulding machinery, German magician, inventor and dealer Werner Geissler-Werry sort of flooded the market with plastic products like chips, boxes, tubes, and rings. Many of those were used for more than one trick for reasons of scale (and not always for the benefit of the effect). His reputation was such that when he introduced his new girlfriend to his magic buddies at a convention, a surprised Joro (of Joro Switch fame) exclaimed: "But she's not made of plastic!"
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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby Max Maven » April 17th, 2017, 6:30 pm

Zig Zagger wrote:Max Auzinger developed the "Black Art" principle when he realized during rehearsal for a play (he was a director) that all he could see from the black face of an actor before a black background were his white eyes and teeth.


But the principle had been used by Pinetti almost a century earlier.

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Re: Incidents and accidents that created great magic

Postby Zig Zagger » April 19th, 2017, 4:36 pm

Thank you for pointing that out, Mr. Maven. I wasn't aware of this.

However, I think the point is still valid that Auzinger's (re-)discovery was an interesting case of accidental discovery of a magic principle.

It would be great if you cared to share an opinion or example on this from your own vast experience of creating magic!
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