Vernon Cups: Myth?

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
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erdnasephile
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Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby erdnasephile » December 16th, 2016, 8:57 am

All:

I recall reading somewhere (? Busby's writings) that Dai Vernon had his cups engraved because he noticed that when a hand with a palmed ball passed in front of a mirror-finished cup, the reflection of the ball sometimes flashed to the audience.

Does anyone know if that story is true or just pure malarkey?

Thanks!

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Ian Kendall » December 16th, 2016, 9:22 am

Dubious. I think in the Canadian Vernon documentary it was mentioned that the cups were given to him engraved to begin with.

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 16th, 2016, 10:13 am

? Heard there were two (or three) sets brought over at the time. Vernon got one - used em ... Persi Diaconis replaced with theirs after a while. The Vernon(2) set passed from Vernon to Jennings - then to a collector. Set 1 staying safe with professor Diaconis. :)
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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Tom Moore » December 16th, 2016, 12:03 pm

Engraving wouldn't stop it flashing either (compared to regular mirror polish) which is probably the main reason why this story isn't likely to be true
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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 16th, 2016, 12:50 pm

Vernon seemed more the type to notice that there's little reason to get your hands in front of the cups during the routine. Someone like Ramsay however... maybe he worried about it.
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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » December 16th, 2016, 8:43 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:? Heard there were two (or three) sets brought over at the time. Vernon got one - used em ... Persi Diaconis replaced with theirs after a while. The Vernon(2) set passed from Vernon to Jennings - then to a collector. Set 1 staying safe with professor Diaconis. :)


I thought there were three sets but David Ben believes that there were only two, the sets that passed between Diaconis and Vernon. The collector in question is Bill Taylor. He purchased it from Jennings' widow a number of years ago.

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Tom Gilbert » December 16th, 2016, 9:21 pm

Maybe my memory is blending some things, but I thought there was an interview where Vernon talking about getting the cups in Iran.

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » December 17th, 2016, 12:38 am

Tom Gilbert wrote:Maybe my memory is blending some things, but I thought there was an interview where Vernon talking about getting the cups in Iran.


Paul Fox had given Vernon a set of his legendary cups between 1936 and 1937. Vernon loaned them out to Life Magazine photographer George Karger in the mid 1950s. On a trip to Iran, Karger had the cups replicated in sterling silver and ornately engraved. Apparently two sets were made with Vernon keeping one set and Karger the other. Diaconis managed to obtain the set that Karger owned and later on he and Vernon traded cups.

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby erdnasephile » December 17th, 2016, 10:07 am

Thanks for the interesting information!

I did another search of my library and discovered that my original recollection about an alleged Vernon story was wrong.

The real origin of idea is from a book by Jay Lloyd Evans: "The Other Side of the Coin: Advice on Performing Close-up Magic" ( http://magicref.tripod.com/books/evansj ... ofcoin.htm ) where he writes (pg 19):

"The cups I use are silver. I had the beautiful polished finish on the outside dulled to a satin luster. Why? Palm a red ball in your hand and pass it in front of a mirror like cup. See the flash? This is one of the things experience teaches you. Make your props cooperate with you, don't you conform to suit them."

Sorry for the confusion--got my wires crossed on this one (However, Busby did sell the book to me, so I knew he factored in there somewhere! ;) )

PS: The book is a really interesting one--strong, unapologetic, practical opinions from an experienced performer. He readily admits that readers are not going to agree with everything he writes (as in this case), but he definitely tries to make you think. He also doesn't hesitate to name specific examples of what he believes to be good and not so good magic. He seems quite the character and the book reminds me of other works by Beck, Weber, and White. Does anyone know what became of Mr. Evans?

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby webbmaster » April 12th, 2017, 3:50 pm

I had heard that Francis Carlysle had one set, pawned them numerous times, and I think it was this set that ended up with, was it Percy ? Am I wrong ?

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby performer » April 12th, 2017, 3:55 pm

I have never heard of that book. It sounds, at least on the face of it, to be a remarkably good book.

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Q. Kumber » April 12th, 2017, 4:17 pm

The first thing Paul Daniels did when he started using the Chop Cup was to dull the finish. It reflects light. I think using brightly polished cups is a daft idea, even in close-up as, it attracts the eye too much and reflects the light. The cups are props and should not be the main focus of attention . . . and as been pointed out may help reveal part of the secret.

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » April 12th, 2017, 7:31 pm

webbmaster wrote:I had heard that Francis Carlysle had one set, pawned them numerous times, and I think it was this set that ended up with, was it Percy ? Am I wrong ?


Paul Fox had given Vernon a set of his legendary cups between 1936 and 1937. Vernon loaned them out to George Starke in the mid 1950s who on a trip to Iran had the cups replicated in sterling silver and ornately engraved. Apparently two sets were made with Vernon keeping one set and Starke the other. Diaconis managed to obtain the set that Starke owned and later on he and Vernon traded cups.

Never heard the story of Carlyle getting his hands on Starke's set.

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 12th, 2017, 8:33 pm

The story about the cups in a pawn shop is missing from this history. That's where Persi got his set, I believe.
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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » April 12th, 2017, 9:24 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:The story about the cups in a pawn shop is missing from this history. That's where Persi got his set, I believe.


It would be interesting to find out how Starke's set wound up in a pawn shop. Or was it an antique shop?

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 12th, 2017, 10:33 pm

Can't recall the details. From what I remember, Persi got the cups from this shop, then asked Vernon if he would swap sets, which he did.
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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Richard Hatch » April 13th, 2017, 12:16 am

I heard that the shop owner where Persi found the set (not sure if it was a pawn shop or not) had them on display as flower pots in the shop window in NYC when Persi spotted them. Don't recall the source for this...

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Bill Mullins » April 13th, 2017, 2:04 am

From the Genii report of Bill Taylor's talk on the cups at the LA Magic History Conference in 2011:
George Karger had two sets made, and arranged for them to be smuggled to America. Vernon got a set and Karger got a set. After Karger retired as a photographer, he ran an antique store in New York. Diaconis bought them there.

Re: the Flower Pots, from Pete Biro's book "Indian Cups and Balls":
Vernon's cups were beautifully engraved, and brought into the U.S. for him by a diplomat friend of Life Magazine photographer, and amateur magician, George Karger. For arranging this, Karger was given a set, while Vernon received his set. Years later, Persi Diaconis, a student of Vernon's, wanted a set of Vernon's cups, and found out that Karger still had the only other set in existence, and had retired and opened an antique shop in New York. Diaconis went to Karger's shop and asked, "How much do you want for these old metal flower pots?" The answer was, "They are not for sale."

Diaconis was not one to give up, and next time when he went to Karger he made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » April 13th, 2017, 8:03 pm

Now was it George Karger or George Starke who traveled to Iran and had those cups made?

David Ben has it as Starke in his bio of Paul Fox.

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Richard Hatch » April 14th, 2017, 12:11 am

Leonard Hevia wrote:Now was it George Karger or George Starke who traveled to Iran and had those cups made?

David Ben has it as Starke in his bio of Paul Fox.


Karger's obit in the NY Times mentions his ownership of an antique shop, so it would seem it was Karger, not Starke (who was a judge on the NY State Supreme Court).

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Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » April 14th, 2017, 9:52 am

Oh wow, thanks for the clarification Mr. Hatch! The Karger/Starke confusion was a little mystery I could not solve for years.


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