The Thumb Tip

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.
Allen Tipton
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Joined: July 20th, 2008, 8:42 am

The Thumb Tip

Postby Allen Tipton » September 21st, 2005, 4:33 am

I am researching the history of the Thumb Tip for a magician friend's lecture on T & R.
Who actually invented or came up with the idea for one of the most used (sometimes wrongly) gimmick in Magic?
So far there's Joseph Hartz, 1836 to 1903(The Devil Of A Hat routine) of Liverpool, UK. who spent just about all his career in the USA. George Johnson (The Magic Wand mag) saw a Prof. Herwinn of Bristol, UK. use one in the 1880's.
Do any of you have any other contenders? Please.
Allen Tipton UK

Kenardo
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Location: New York

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Kenardo » September 21st, 2005, 6:56 am

You might want to contact the curator of the Magic Circle museum in London: it houses the very first thumb tip made.

Allen Tipton
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Joined: July 20th, 2008, 8:42 am

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Allen Tipton » September 21st, 2005, 10:45 am

Thank you Kenardo. Peter Lane is an old friend and somehow i just didn't think of him.
Allen T

Philippe Billot
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Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Philippe Billot » September 21st, 2005, 12:01 pm

It's not a french who says that, it's
Peter Warlock in his book "Buatier de Kolta Genius of Illusion".

Buatier de Kolta seems to be the first using a false phalanx (at his fist finger) which will become a false thumb

TomEwing0973
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Joined: May 19th, 2009, 9:59 pm

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby TomEwing0973 » September 22nd, 2005, 12:55 pm

Bob Little the magic dealer in Philadelphia is probably the only person I ever knew who uses a nose tip. It's part of his comedy routine and he stuffs the requisite silk in his hand, moves his hands up to his face and then he lowers them nad he's wearing those goofy nose and mustache glasses and it's obvious (at least to all the magician's in the audience) that it's in the nose tip. Goofy but definitely original.

Bill Duncan
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Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Bill Duncan » September 22nd, 2005, 11:29 pm


Allen Tipton
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Joined: July 20th, 2008, 8:42 am

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Allen Tipton » September 23rd, 2005, 3:28 am

Thanks guys. I especially like the Bob Little idea. How does he blow his nose?
Please keep any other contenders names coming in
Allen Tipton UK

John Lovick
Posts: 188
Joined: July 14th, 2008, 12:11 am

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby John Lovick » September 23rd, 2005, 5:57 pm

Professor Hoffmann in Later Magic (1904) credited Joseph Michael Hartz, a British magician, with its invention. However, Bart Whaleys Encyclopedic Dictionary of Magic (1989) mentions that Charles de Vere publicly disclaimed Hartz as the inventor of the thumbtip.

George Johnson, longtime editor of The Magic Wand, credited Professor Herwinn of Bristol, England with inventing the thumbtip in the 1880s.

Guest

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Guest » October 27th, 2005, 5:34 am

If you are still looking for the answer and if its still unsure, I will ask Gary Darwin who has wrote numerous books on the thumb tip and maybe he can help. Just e-mail me.

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 27th, 2005, 5:47 am

...However, Bart Whaleys Encyclopedic Dictionary of Magic (1989) mentions that Charles de Vere publicly disclaimed Hartz as the inventor of the thumbtip...
Folks make all sorts of public "disclaims" of that sort. Some idiots insist on making false claims on material and others continue to publish such things.

It's tough working from the Angelo Lewis books. Do check with those who have the source material of the time. You never know, it might go back to Hofzinser, Bosco or an ancient Greek.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Guest

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Guest » October 31st, 2005, 9:28 am

I especially like the Bob Little idea. How does he blow his nose?
With the hanky already IN the nose, I should imagine it's quite easy, no?

Bill Palmer
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Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Bill Palmer » November 4th, 2005, 11:23 am

Scott Penrose posted a very informative piece at this URL http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/view ... &forum=130

It fairly well settles the origins of the thumb tip. The most likely candidate is probably William "Professor Herwin" Humpage.

Hoffman probably learned about it from Hartz, but Hartz may very well have learned about it from Herwin.

The most amazing thing to me is that the blooming thing is still around -- I mean the original. I can't even imagine how many of the dern things I have lost.

I'll bet that lady at Wendy's really felt weird.
Bill Palmer, MIMC

Philippe Billot
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Location: PARIS - FRANCE

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Philippe Billot » November 5th, 2005, 12:28 am

I think there are (probably) TWO candidates

Buatier de Kolta (1847-1903)
Pr. Erwin (1861-1946)

I don't know WHEN Pr. Erwin began to perform but in France we know that Buatier began in 1870 and became a celebrity in England in 1875.
His first contract was 1st may 1875 at Egyptian Hall and immediatly, it was a success (see Bell's Weekly Messenger)

He did the silk vanish like this :
Excerpt from L'Illusionniste N 22, oct. 1903, page 181 :

Disparition de Foulard
Systme Buatier de Kolta

On possde un bout de doigt creux de deux ou trois centimtres de long, pouvant s'adapter, comme un d, l'extrmit de l'index, et peint de faon tromper l'oeil du spectateur. Un foulard ordinaire est prsent, roul entre les mains, les manches tant releves, et dpos en apparence, dans la main gauche, mais il est laiss dans la droite et abandonn sur la servante en venant chercher la baguette. La main gauche est entrouverte et on voit encore un peu de foulard. C'est un petit carr d'toffe semblable, de dix centimtres de ct, qui tait d'abord cach dans les plis du vritable foulard et qu'on a gard pour produire cette feinte. Aprs l'avoir introduit dans le faux doigt, on met celui-ci au bout d'un de ceux de la main droite et on ouvre lentement la gauche qui est cense avoir conserv le foulard.

That's to say :

A Silk Vanish
Buatier de Kolta's way

One has an end of hollow finger of two or three centimetres length, being able to adapt, like a die, at the end of the index, and painted in order to mislead the eye of the witness. An ordinary silk is presented, rolled between the hands, the handles being raised, and deposited seemingly, in the left hand, but it is left in the right hand and is load on the servant while coming to seek the magic wand. The left hand is half-opened and one still sees a piece of the silk. It is a small similar fabric square, of ten side centimetres, which were initially hidden in the folds of the true silk and which one kept to produce this pretence. After having introduced it into the false finger, one puts this one at the end of one of those fingers of the right hand and one slowly opens the left which is supposed to have preserved the silk.

In the Magic Wand, Dec 1934, we can read this about Pr. Erwin :

THE ORIGINAL THUMB TIP
A recent visit from Prof. Herwin, of Bristol, recalls the fact that he is the inventor of the useful gadget the thumb-tip. Some time prior to 1885, Prof. Herwin, attaching a scrap of silk to the inside of a false finger, devised the well-known proof that a silk in the hand is still there when the mouchoir has really disappeared. Then he thought of the thumb tip and it was one of the earliest models, if not the earliest, which was shown to us on its way to the museum of the Magic Circle, where that fake, which has helped to make many a magical reputation, now reposes."

For the idea of using a false finger, it seems that Buatier precede Erwin, therefore he can have also invent(?) (Adapt ?) the thumb tip.

Bill Palmer
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Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Bill Palmer » November 5th, 2005, 8:56 am

That's a non-sequitur.

Buatier's inventions are, as you have noted, well documented. Why don't we see a claim to the thumb tip.

False fingers are documented in Hoffmann, as well, normally for the finger through the hat. The thumb tip, however, is basically unique.
Bill Palmer, MIMC

Philippe Billot
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Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: PARIS - FRANCE

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Philippe Billot » November 5th, 2005, 9:14 am

Perhaps there is no claim because it's not a real invention. It's simply an adaptation, one finger for another. But, whoever finds it, it was and it's still a good idea.

Guest

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Guest » July 14th, 2006, 8:30 am

The thumb tip is not something anyone living could claim. It predates Marco Polo (1254-1324). The Great Khan is who you might ask for a more accurate history.

For the history of thumb tips, if you look under "magic" you're looking in the wrong place. Look under medical prosthetics. Another place to look is "sailing". Magicians did not invent rope, cards or coins either. Magicians use existing items in a unique way.

I'm quick to salute the Red, White and Blue. But when it comes to magic, Americans were several hundreds of years too late to take credit for much. Out of ignorance and arrogance we make all kinds of ridiculous claims. The truth is that we are the very new kids.

Since 1969, I have been in the import business. I am the magicians' silk importer. Some very interesting claims to originality and questions have come my way over the years. Most silk magic we know was being performed by the early 1400s in Europe (Over 200 years before America is even discovered by accident!) and certainly long before then in the Far East where they had silk, white doves, flash powder and thumb tips. None of these things existed in the Western World! They are all imports! But so is magic as we know it!

Enjoy!

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander

(A passage from my silk lecture --- Copyright 2005 Bob Sanders)

Guest

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Guest » July 14th, 2006, 9:26 am

...the early 1400s in Europe (Over 200 years before America is even discovered by accident!)
You're off by a couple centuries in your history. As any third-grader can tell you, Columbus accidentally "discovered" the Americas in 1492.
The thumb tip is not something anyone living could claim....
But when it comes to magic, Americans were several hundreds of years too late to take credit for much.
No one was crediting any Americans or anyone living, so your little rant kind of comes out of left field.

Guest

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Guest » July 14th, 2006, 9:41 am

Originally posted by John Lovick:
[QB]
...the early 1400s in Europe (Over 200 years before America is even discovered by accident!)
You're off by a couple centuries in your history. As any third-grader can tell you, Columbus accidentally "discovered" the Americas in 1492.
Cough-cough. "The vikings". Cough-cough.

Guest

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Guest » July 14th, 2006, 10:15 am

Yes, and the Chinese... and the Africans... and the Polynesians... and the Welsh, and any number of other people who explored the Americas earlier than the 1400s.

He wrote about an "accidental" discovery, which seemed to be an obvious reference to Columbus, which is what I responded to.

Guest

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Guest » July 14th, 2006, 11:48 am

Originally posted by Joe Pike:
Cough-cough. "The vikings". Cough-cough.
Cough-cough. "Land Bridge". Cough-cough.

Guest

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Guest » July 14th, 2006, 10:20 pm

John,

The actual year I had in mind was 1607 when things really got started of any commercial significance in the New World. However, in Venice 1432 we know that bottle of wine from silk was a done deal. (Management records of an assembly line! It didn't have a coffee break. It had wine breaks!)

My real point is that we routinely look only at magic history and not all history while we are trying to learn magic history. As an old graduate school professor, I can tell you that method is very flawed. We ultimately only impress and mislead ourselves.

As magicians we typically use existing props a different way. Our weakness is crediting the user of a prop with the invention of the prop. That just adds to the problems.

This thread was searching for the inventor of the thumb tip. It is very unlikely that happened on our side of the earth and perhaps even in the last thousand years. From my research, I am certain that its original use was not for magic as magicians on our side of the Earth see it. (Note Bills response. I respect Bills opinions on the history of magic. He objectively separated the prop from the users reported.)

The rediscovery of spots on the Earth is an ongoing thing. If you thought that 1492 was an American date, do not forget that they wrote it up as India and called the natives Indians. Five hundred years later that mistake still lingers.

Im sorry if you found my comments to be either rants or raves. There is certainly no intent for either since I try to avoid both. They were to the original poster.

I was hoping to refocus the research into a more productive perspective. To me, the original poster deserved a serious answer. Researching an Oriental museum might be a better starting point for objective research on this topic. Magic history did not begin in 1066.

Allen, if I can help you with this privately, please feel free to contact me. (Lucy tells me that we should be in the UK sometime in 2007. This summer we sold the Los Angeles house and bought a third horse property here in Alabama. We need to be here for the rest of 2006.)

Good luck on your research.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander

Guest

Re: The Thumb Tip

Postby Guest » July 16th, 2006, 2:33 am

I am so apologize. If so difficult find who first invent Thumb Tip, may be more easy find who invent routine with silk and cone of paper? Procedure same, except 10x10 sm paper square, what roled like cone, placed to left hand and silk move inside cone. Of course used Thumb Tip, magician open cone and visitors see nothing. This piece of paper used for hidding Thumb Tip.

I am so apologize. I ask it becouse here we have magician what suggest himself like inventor...


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