History of Needles Trick

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

Postby Guest » 01/10/07 05:44 PM

Has anyone done any research on the history and origin of the needles trick (string and needles go into the mouth and the needles come out threaded on the string)? I found a reference indicating that the trick is at least 160 years old, and probably much older. My library is now boxed up, so I don't have access to much of anything for research and am hoping that maybe one of my fellow GF'ers has already looked into this.


Postby Guest » 01/13/07 10:35 AM


I just sent you an e-mail with some attachments which should be of help.

Regards, Mark

Postby Guest » 01/13/07 01:22 PM

Henry Hay, Cyclopedia of Magic, wrote that Ramo Samee, an East Indian performer, brought the "threading beads on a horse hair with the tongue" to America in the early 19th Century. Someone suggested it would be more dramatic if Samee used needles instead.

It was made very famous later by Houdini.

Postby Tom Klem » 01/13/07 06:56 PM

I went to a screening of a film on Long Tack Sam in which the filmaker, I believe his niece, told this story. She related that Houdini asked Long Tack Sam to stop doing the needle trick as Houdini claimed he had bought the rights to it in England. Long Tack Sam stoped doing the effect even though he claimed to have learned the effect as a boy in China because he did not want Houdini as an enemy.
Tom Klem
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Postby Guest » 03/14/07 09:32 PM

While it doesn't involve needles directly, among the oldest thread in mouth tricks (basically a torn and restored) is mentioned in a manuscript (# 2252, to be specific) in the British Library, Harl.

Written in 1515, the fairly lengthy related text includes the following: "... <I> He </I>[the juggler, common name for conjurer or magician of the period] <I>can 'knyt togyther many a broken threde. / It is with great almesse the hunger to fede."</I>

"The allusion here," explaines Phillip Butterworth, in Magic On The Early English Stage (Cambridge University Press, 2005) <I>"is to the juggler's capacity seemingly to put several threads into his mouth and retrieve the separate threads as one joined up thread."</I>

Greg Edmonds

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