Vintage Chair To Suitcase History

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 10/14/06 07:28 AM

I'm intrested in buying one and also knowing the history of it.

Would anyone know the history of Chair To Suitcase ?

Who was the first to put it out and where did the idea originaly came from ?

I'm more intrested in the pre 1930's/40's models.

I've seen one where the sitting section does not fold in half and I've also seen one where it folds, but don't know who made which model.

Few year back I came across a table that changed into chair and then became a suitcase. I saw this in a antique fair and the dealer wanted a sky high price for it ! !

I think that was just a metamorphic furniture and nothing to do with magic, even though it could be used in a magic effect.

I would guess the chair to suitcase idea must've come in similar circumstances.

Any help and advice is always apritiated.


[Edited the Subject line. The missing 'h' in Chair was making me nuts! DS]

Postby Guest » 10/17/06 12:55 PM

Anyone ?????????

Postby Guest » 10/19/06 06:27 PM

Doesn't the short film of Horace Goldin end with him picking up a chair and turning it into a suitcase as he walks off stage?

Postby Guest » 10/20/06 01:33 AM

It does.

I think the original idea goes beyond that era.

I'd love to know where it originated.

My guess is that the idea might have come from The Maskelynes.

There are two diffrent models so one might have been inspired from the other.


Postby Guest » 10/20/06 02:12 PM

I had, and sold, a "Chair to Suitcase" when I worked for Buma. I remember it in great detail, because I had to replace some parts to make it work again.

It was made in England, and I believe it was from the twenties. As I recall, Buma represented it as coming from Davenport's, but I don't recall him specifying a maker. It was wood, painted brown. The seat was wider at the front than the back, but only by an inch or so. It was hinged in the center, as was the back. The legs were hinged in the middle as well, so they folded up, in half, then up again, into the seat itself. You picked the chair up by the seat, at the sides, and from behind. Then, the legs snapped up and you tilted the thing toward the audience. This caused the back to fall down and into the seat as you turned the whole thing upside down, (everything goes into the bottom or underside of the seat), and then brought the sides of the seat together. Voila! It is now a "suitcase"!

In fact, suitcase may be a generous description of the thing. It was actually about 18"x10"x5" when closed (So, the seat was 18"x20"x5" open).

You wouldn't want to sit on the thing, or let anyone other than a very small child do so. It would have supported fifty or sixty pounds at the most. The legs were 1"x2" finished, I think. They wouldn't support much weight, but they looked substantial from the front.

The back was two frames, basically, hinged in the center to fold with the seat, and also hinged at the base, where they connected to the seat. I hope all of this is clear. With an illustration I am sure you'd "see" it instantly.

It worked by combining gravity and rubber bands. The bands snapped the legs in half, then up into the base, and gravity "pulled" the back down. As for the rest of it, you turned it over and closed it! I always thought we should have kept that original as a model for an updated edition, but Buma wanted to sell, and we had an anxious buyer. Pete, do you remember this? You might, I sold it to Matt Corin. It is one of the ten or twelve things I have always wished I bought myself...

Best, PSC

Postby Guest » 10/20/06 02:20 PM

Didn't Louis Nikola do something like this? Or did I see it in his book? My library is packed for a move so I can't look it up. If it was in his book, it's likely he invented it...or the version he performed if my memory is correct.

The description by Paul sounds like the prop Goldin used.

Postby Guest » 10/20/06 03:11 PM


As and when you get time, would you please look in that book and see if its there ??

Postby Guest » 10/20/06 09:22 PM

I'd be happy to, but my magic library is packed away in a couple of hundred boxes, not indexed box for box, ready for the move to Tennessee when the house sells. Sorry, but I won't be looking at the library for probably six months.

Anyone else have a copy of Nikola's book?

Postby Guest » 10/21/06 03:03 PM

Is there online clip of Horace Goldin perfoming this ?


Do you remember the title of that book by Louis Nikola ??

Postby Guest » 10/21/06 06:28 PM

David. I just went and looked in Nicola's Magic

Masterpices published by Goldston. There are very

detailed plans for a cardtable to suitcase in the

book .My guess would be in Goldston Yearbooks or

Locked Books or Sharp's Conjurers Mechanical

Secrets . I've seen it somwhere in print also.


Postby Guest » 10/21/06 11:26 PM

No, I don't believe that clip in on-line. At least I've never seen it there. Maybe part of the SAM Film Library...maybe.

Mike, thanks for looking. I knew something like that was in that book. It can make you crazy when you want to remember one thing, in a book you looked at years ago, but can't quite remember all the details.

Postby Guest » 10/31/06 08:24 AM

the clip is part of a 1936 film called stars on parade.
This may be available as a whole somewhere.
It does get an outing once in a while onn television in the uk Methas, so keep your eyes peeled.

Postby Guest » 10/31/06 01:39 PM

Thanks for the gen Dale.


Postby Guest » 10/31/06 05:14 PM

I've posted a few images here: ... dCase.html


Postby Guest » 10/31/06 05:38 PM

Many Thanks Jim.

That goes in my scrapbook of Chair To Suitcase Gen.

This one does not fold from the middle while Horace Goldin one does fold from the middle.

Anyone knows who made which model ?


Postby Pete Biro » 11/07/06 06:03 PM

I had a chair to case that belonged to Horace Goldin. I got it from a member of the Davenport Family (not connected with the store). I also had, until a few weeks ago, a Davenport Table to suitcase that I got out of the Davenport Crypt many years ago.

I sold it to a good friend and a great performer.

As far as the Chair to Case... it was LOST... YES LOST... when I moved about 20-some years ago.

I didn't realize it was missing until a couple of years after the move and was more than upset. There was nothing I could do about it.
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Postby Guest » 11/07/06 06:26 PM


Cecil Lyle claimed to have bought the entire Goldin Act.

One would think he might have ended up with the Goldin chair. and the sort of man he was, no other magi in that era would have gotten his hands around that thing.

Could you shed some light on this please ?

I am very intrested.

It's a shame the real thing has gone into oblivion.

where it is or did it end up in a fireplace. nobody will ever know.


Postby Pete Biro » 11/07/06 07:52 PM

I was on a trip to England with Al Flosso and Jay Marshall and we visited Gus Davenport who I got the chair from.
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