Found Magic?

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

Postby Bill Duncan » 12/22/01 12:04 PM

I've heard that a couple of classic magic effects were actually designed for other purposes and "discovered" rather than invented.
The Color Changing Knife was originally a sample knife from the Stag knife company until someone applied the paddle move.
The "Himber" ring was used by funeral directors when it wasn't possible to get a normal ring onto a customer's hand.

Does anyone know of others? Can anyone verify these stories or disprove them?

cheers
bill
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Postby Don Spurrier » 12/22/01 04:13 PM

I can't confirm either of those accounts. The original style of the Himber ring, I was told many, many years ago, was used for arthritis patients whose knuckles were swollen from that disease. I like that better than the funeral director story.
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Postby Stefan Fisher » 01/17/02 06:27 PM

Arthritis seems more likely. Why would a funeral director want to put a ring on the body? I would think that if he/she wore a ring, it would already be on.
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Postby Guest » 01/17/02 07:00 PM

Houdini observed at a circus that when an elephant laid down, it went very flat, even though upright it was a big fat beast.

He built a cabinet with a small baffle at the bottom, which was enough to conceal the laid down and flattened elephant. Thus, Houdini vanished an elephant at the Hippodrome in NYC.

His assistant said, "you'll only fool the kids." Houdini said, "but i'll get the headlines in the newspapers."
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Postby Terry » 01/18/02 08:21 AM

"He built a cabinet with a small baffle at the bottom, which was enough to conceal the laid down and flattened elephant. Thus, Houdini vanished an elephant at the Hippodrome in NYC"

Where do you get your information/disinformation from? From all accounts/descriptions I've read, there was a simpler/faster way of Houdini's elephant vanishing.
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Postby Guest » 01/18/02 08:32 PM

The lore surrounding the Zombie is that Joe Karson was having toilet trouble and was messing around with his float and attached arm. Voila! The mysterious floating silver ball was born...
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Postby Mike Rose » 01/18/02 08:41 PM

I talked with many people while researching my biography on Joe Karson. Although I did hear one other theory on where Karson got the idea for his Zombie, the toilet tank float was told to me several times, so I believe it to be the true source. Karson was also known to recreate the "discovery" at parties. He would go into his bathroom, remove the toilet float, and come out of the bathroom floating the tank ball, using a bath towel as a foulard! Quite a character.
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Postby Guest » 01/21/02 08:05 AM

One of the classic examples of magic hardware originally designed for other purposes is the Okito coin box. Lore has it that early in the 20th century, Theo Bamberg (aka Okito) was fiddling with someone's cylindrical pillbox, discovered the Basic Principle, and fooled the pants off the individual by making his pills vanish. I think this account was written up in Bobo's Coin Magic. Aficionados of close-up history can probably put more flesh on the story.

--Ralph
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