Close-up magic

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

Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 07/29/02 07:17 PM

My 6 year old son wants to know who came up with close-up magic and is anyone making chair to suitcase. Like Horace Goldin performed.
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Postby Pete Biro » 07/29/02 09:54 PM

OWWWWW... Chair to suitcase ala Horace Goldin.

I HAD HORACE'S ORIGINAL ONE AND ONLY CHAIR TO SUITCASE.

When I moved the movers LOST IT... I didn't find out 'til much later and couldn't even remember who the moving guys were.

I was going to have Johnny Gaughan restore it, but alas... it "vanished."

If you really want one, have John make one for you.

I still have a Davenport Table to Suitcase... perhaps some day I may sell it. :(
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Postby Pete Biro » 07/29/02 09:56 PM

I guess you could tell your six year old that you invented close up magic... but then again, he may stumble onto a copy of the Discouverie of Withcraft and see how long ago the cups and balls was being peformed.

Whe really knows?

Erdnase? :confused:
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Postby Pete McCabe » 07/29/02 10:22 PM

At the castle a ways back Max Maven asked a group of us who was the first performer of real close-up magic.

My first guess was Bert Allerton, but Max said he was second.

My second guess was Matt Shulien, and that was correct.

The point here, maybe, is that the distinction between close-up and other types of magic is not how close you stand to the performer, but how you interact with them.
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Postby Guest » 07/29/02 10:27 PM

Marlo would be my answer to the youngun. He may not have invented it but had you asked him he would have probably said he had it in print first!
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Postby Pete Biro » 07/29/02 11:01 PM

I don't have a calendar and historic record book handy, but I would think Malini pre-dated Allerton and Schulien.

But, what was the real question? Current, modern day close up?

I would think they were doing close up magic in the pubs in Roman times...

Ogg was probably doing rocks under jars in his cave for a few friends.
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Postby Cugel » 07/30/02 03:10 AM

"At the castle a ways back Max Maven asked a group of us who was the first performer of real close-up magic.

My first guess was Bert Allerton, but Max said he was second.

My second guess was Matt Shulien, and that was correct."

Hmmmmm. I'm surprised Maven has never heard of the cups and balls. Jokes aside, Pete Biro is probably right - Maven must have meant modern close-up magic.

Even if he did, the notion that it started with Schulien and Allerton seems a bit of a US-centric stretch. What about Hofsinzer? And what about the stuff in Reginald Scot's book? It can't be proven, but no doubt the card effects in those books were perfomed up close on occasion... what about the street performers who did the cups and balls, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...
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Postby Dale Shrimpton » 07/30/02 04:17 AM

look at old prints of Performers like Pinetii,Isac Fawkes, ect, or ilustrations by Bosch showing cups and balls. All well pre-date any name mentioned above, yet all using recognisable close up effects.
in those days, it was more likely to be called " parlour, or saloon magic, but it was prety much as we know close up today.
a more interesting question worth thinking of, is who invented stage or platform magic.
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Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 07/30/02 04:57 AM

Thanks guys.
Stage magic didn't Robert-Houdin came up with it?
And
Yes,Pete,if I told my son I came up with close up he would find a copy of witchcraft book and prove me wrong.He's an amazing kid.Who loves magic as much as his Dad. :D
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Postby Dale Shrimpton » 07/30/02 05:04 AM

nope, not Houdin. remember he took the standard look of robes, wizard hats, and tables with long cloths to the floor, and transformed it by wearing modern ( for then) dress, and stylish slim furniture.
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Postby Larry Horowitz » 07/30/02 10:49 AM

I believe that close-up magic was at one time called "pocket magic". Maybe Cups and Balls doesn't apply, since you don't generally fit the cups in your pocket. WEhereas you do with coins, cards, thumbtips, etc.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 07/30/02 01:34 PM

I believe the distinction Max was making was based on whether there is a separate area for the performer (call this Parlor magic) and one where the performance takes place in the audience's space (call this Close Up Magic).

By this definition Hofzinser's style of performance (based on what little I know, correct me if I'm wrong) would be Parlor magic, whereas Allerton and/or Shulien were performing close up.
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Postby Cugel » 07/30/02 02:49 PM

Even if that's what Maven meant (and you're probably right) it doesn't mean that any of the performers with Salons never performed any of their tricks under the nose of a spectator upon request. I can imagine, just as it happens today, that these performers would have been ready to do something if asked - and it would have been close-up magic.

Le Comte's "The Ladies Looking Glass: is a classic of close-up magic, but let's not presume that people only thought to do the trick under close-up conditions in the 20th Century, when it had already circulated for possibly a hundred years...

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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 07/30/02 03:43 PM

****Even if that's what Maven meant (and you're probably right) it doesn't mean that any of the performers with Salons never performed any of their tricks under the nose of a spectator upon request. I can imagine, just as it happens today, that these performers would have been ready to do something if asked - and it would have been close-up magic.****

I believe that Max was referring to the performer who was performing close-up as his main goal, not close-up as a lead in (or follow up to) a parlor/stage show. There was a little discussion on this over at the KJmagic Board, and I had said how I thought Bert Allerton was the first. Max said that he was close, but that there was someone else that he felt was before him. Though he didn't name Schulien at the time, I assume now that that is who he was referring to.

-Jim
PS - Am I the only one who doesn't get a quote button on this page? It works fine on others, but for some reason, I'm not seeing it here.
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Postby Max Maven » 07/30/02 06:14 PM

The question of "Who was the first close-up magician" can only be approached if one comes up with an answer to "What is close-up magic" -- which turns out to be a more complicated task of definition than it might seem at first.

During the past two years I have been devoting a fair amount of analytical effort toward both of these questions. My conclusions are preliminary, which is why I haven't made them public at this point. What I talked about with Pete McCabe was not intended for general discussion.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 07/31/02 02:18 PM

Sorry Max. My mistake.
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Postby Cugel » 07/31/02 03:13 PM

Whatever. I'd still say that the first close-up magicians were street performers. Definitions aside, I don't think anyone would quibble over the fact that an effect like the cups and balls can be done under ultra close-up conditions, but is still great for parlour/street conditions.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/31/02 07:12 PM

I believe that the sixteenth-century Hieronymus Bosch painting (commonly called "The Conjurer") is proof enough that the cups and balls were, at least on occasion, performed close-up by medieval street performers. I doubt if that image is a result of 100% pure imagination. However, I also believe that Max is correct in his assertion that the first key is definition. Just because an effect can be performed close-up doesn't mean that the performer's presentation was specifically designed for an intimate venue. Street performers then, as today, probably started small and built as the crowd grew. In my mind, the first close-up performer was the person who had a performance repertoire and presentational style that was specifically designed for small groups in restricted surroundings.

If I had the wherewithal to research the subject, my search would not begin in the United States. Just because we know that Hofzinser was a "parlour magician" does *not* mean that he could not have had an extensive close-up repertoire that he performed specifically in intimate situations. Another possible candidate, in my opinion, is Isaac Fawkes. Many of the images we have of him at least suggest the possibility of an intimate repertoire. There are many performers today who can perform in virtually any venue with programs that are venue specific (Max being one). I have difficulty believing that this is a modern phenomenon among magical performers.

All that said, I hope that whatever Max is working on will make it into the public discussion soon!

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Postby Todd Karr » 07/31/02 08:26 PM

Hi.

As for walkaround magic, I would be very surprised if there weren't strolling magicians at parties from antiquity through the Renaissance to the Industrial Age, but this is pure speculation without any documentary proof.

As Edwin Dawes has pointed out, one of the earliest popularizers of professional strolling close-up as we now know it was Charles Bertram, who performed brief sets of close-up magic while wandering among small groups of guests at society parties back in the late 1800s.
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 08/01/02 10:51 AM

Max's response should have redirected our focus to the primary question--namely, what is the DEFINITION of close-up magic? Needless to say, PROXIMITY is one of the no-brainer aspects. However, the central motif as CASUALLY defined by magicians when they talk about close-up magic is the one which evolved in barrooms, restaurants, and close-up conventions (circa 1960-1980).

This topic of course requires a major treatise. (Perhaps Max is writing one?) Meanwhile these "threads" will happily tangle and interweave...

SIDEBAR RE MARLO: Because of the gossip that continually morphs and rolls and distorts (sometimes creating Urban Legends), Marlo is now often known for being a Monster Who Wanted Credit for Everything, and in the process of his runaway prolificacy, he is now sadly perceived as a LEGENDARY IDEA-THIEF who pilfered from all of the truly brilliant and modest inventors who "hid their lights under bushels" during their lifetimes.

This of course is not the TRUE story; however, it is proving to be the price one pays for their excesses.

Onward...
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Postby NCMarsh » 08/01/02 11:28 AM

*"it is proving to be the price one pays for their excesses."*

This may sound like a silly question, but are you seriously refering to Marlo here? What excesses do you mean?

regards,
nate.
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 08/01/02 05:19 PM

Re Marlo: In one sense I was referring to obsessively and EXCESSIVELY recording ALL of one's thoughts, ideas, and notions in the same fastidiously detailed way that, say, Proust remembered things past (in his life). Stewart James excessively recorded most of his R & R. So did Marlo.
I'm, however, grateful for these two creatures of excess. We are their laid back and perhaps lazy benefactors?

Onward...
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/05/02 12:57 AM

Originally posted by Todd Karr:
"I would be very surprised if there weren't strolling magicians at parties from antiquity through the Renaissance to the Industrial Age, but this is pure speculation without any documentary proof."

Todd,
I suppose we also have to decide what we will accept as documentation. Newspaper and magazine accounts, diaries and other printed sources are obvious, but what about works of art? On page 17 of your edition of Clarke's "The Annals of Conjuring" appears a painting from 1882 that, in my humble opinion, clearly shows a close-up magician performing at a table in a restaurant.

On page 19 is an engraving from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century of a magician performing at a small table in what appears to be a private home (note the cat underfoot) during a party. In my mind, what makes this significant is the fact that the performance area is not at all arranged in what we perceive was the standard "parlour" set up of the time (a small to medium-sized audience in chairs loosely arranged in rows with a defined performance space at one end of the room). Instead he is indeed surrounded by a small seated and standing audience.

If cave paintings can be used to document "early man's" progress, pieces of art such as these must surely be allowed to document the early existence of close-up magic not unlike what we have today.

Of course, an important question remains: Who were those guys?

Best,
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Postby Reinhard Mueller » 08/06/02 01:29 PM

Freunde,

I would like to begin with giving a contribution to the definition of the term “close-up magic”, and pointing on a different line of thought.

Between 1920 and 1930 the German amateur magician Georg Mylius of Berlin (1883 – 1960) coined the term “Mikromagie”, micromagic, which is common knowledge here in Germany. Mylius introduced Jaks to micromagic! The effects which Stanley Jaks performed out of his “book case” denotes “micromagic”.

Herbert Paufler of Dresden (1908- 1997), engineer, amateur magician, inventor of hundreds of mechanical & electronic props, which he built for himself & other magicians, adherent of micromagic, put “Mikromagie” into following words:
“ Mikromagie is an art form which demands the art of captivation, much more then her big sister the stage magic.
Mikromagie will be celebrated.
Mikromagie is performer's hand-to-hand fighting with his audience.”

Micromagic is classified as close-up magic, but close-up magic is the generic term.
Card magic can be close-up magic, but, for example, Marlo's card magic is not micromagic.

Re: Schulien and Allerton:
Another access to our problem may be the following question: “At what time was it proper to perform magic for customers of restaurants without bother them?”

In the 19th century there were travelling performers performing close-up magic (or stand-up magic?) in the pubs, bars, as pictures of that time shows, but they were “Gaukler” (=travelling entertainers), not esteemed persons.

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Postby Bob Coyne » 08/06/02 01:54 PM

Interesting about micro-magic. I think of micro-magic (just from the terms) as being one-on-one or one-to-a-very-small-number magic...super close up. Things like spellbound. Close-up magic seems to be a little more distant. For example, at the magic castle, the close up room holds 20 or more people. And that changes the magic. You can't direct/misdirect a larger audience in the same way. Plus the presentations are more scripted. True micro-magic would seem to be more converstational...presenting to the individual, not the audience. So are micro-magic and close-up the same? Is the Magic Castle close-up room really close-up? THese terms are arbitrary of course, but I wonder if there's a common understanding of them or we're all somewhat inconsistent and vague about what we mean.
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Postby Reinhard Mueller » 08/09/02 02:37 AM

Bob, and Freunde,

Bob, you try to give a new definition of the term “micromagic” to which I do not agree. The term “micromagic” is a word in current use in Germany, and possesses quite a definitive meaning.
I hope I succeeded a little bit in making clear, in my poor writing in your language, how I look at those terms.

Please note: Close-up magic, as stage magic, or parlor magic, or street magic states the kind of room (surroundings) WHERE you perform, and the distance between performer and spectator. Naturally the surroundings influence the used apparatus, too.
In comparison with that, micromagic, as cardmagic, or coinmagic tell us something about the utensils, apparatus WITH WHICH we perform. Just as the kind of apparatus influences the surroundings where you perform with these apparatus. For example cardmagic can be performed on the stage, or in parlor, or at a table. You can not perform micromagic on the stage without using a TV-transfer.
In the branch micromagic, often stage illusions were reduced to small apparatus, which could be performed as micromagic, for example, the Fingercutter, The Girl Without a Middle with a candle, or The Zig Zag Illusion with Coca can, stage assistants become dolls and small wooden figures which exchange, and transform in little cabinets, an elephant figure vanishes behind little walls, etc.

Mylius coined also the term “Eckenzauber” which is difficult to translate. “Eckenzauber” literally translated is “corner magic” which is a informal performance. For example: You are at a magic club meeting, and experience a formal program with business matters, then with announced performances, then with a lecture, and finally the informal part of the meeting begins. The magicians group, and perform “their newest tricks, giving tips, show their version of..., do already know this...?, ect.” Magic is performed at every turn. This “corner magic” can also develop from after-dinner situation, after a lecture, on conventions, happens standing, or sitting, also with non-magician guests, and with several informally performing magicians at the same time.

In being the secretary of the Berlin magic circle, Mylius coined the terms “Mikromagie” and “Eckenzauber” to give a better, and more precise report of the meetings in the club magazine.

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Postby Dale Shrimpton » 08/09/02 04:11 AM

QUOTE:Please note: Close-up magic, as stage magic, or parlor magic, or street magic states the kind of room (surroundings) WHERE you perform, and the distance between performer and spectator. Naturally the surroundings influence the used apparatus, too.
In comparison with that, micromagic, as cardmagic, or coinmagic tell us something about the utensils, apparatus WITH WHICH we perform. Just as the kind of apparatus influences the surroundings where you perform with these apparatus. For example cardmagic can be performed on the stage, or in parlor, or at a table.....:

end quote.......

One has to wonder where effects like the linking finger rings comes within this train of thought. To appreciate the effect fully, the audience should be at a distance, even though the people that witness the linking can only be sitting right in front of you, under your nose.
similarly, paper balls over the head. Is that a close up effect, since it fools only the volunteer, or a stage effect, since the audience watching are amused by the reactions.
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Postby Guest » 08/11/02 11:55 AM

Gentlemen,

Here is some additional information for thought.

In Jean Hugard's CLOSE- UP MAGIC FOR THE NIGHTCLUB MAGICIAN printed in 1934, we find that Mr. Hugard associates 'Close-Up" magic with small intimate performances in a nightclub setting and or in a Cafe'. I think the appropriate term now would be "Table Hopping". He also states that this "branch of the art of magic has been for a very long time" recognized in Europe. He goes on later to expound upon the performances of a certain M. Moreau of Paris from "the later part of the last century". So we can safely assume that this type of magic was documented and performed before 1900.

He also notes that "until quite recently this branch of the art has been almost wholly neglected in the United States".

Regards,

Mark
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Postby Guest » 09/13/02 08:58 PM

I think that close-up magic goes back much further than this century. Robert-Houdin describes an impromptu performance of the cups and balls using soup plates and balls of bread in a cheap Parisian restaurant in the 1840s in Card Sharpers.

BTW Eddie Fechtor was doing close-up magic at the bar prior to 1930 and is often credited with the invention of the close-up mat.
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Postby Guest » 09/17/02 05:21 AM

Originally posted by Andrew Wimhurst:
Whatever. I'd still say that the first close-up magicians were street performers. Definitions aside, I don't think anyone would quibble over the fact that an effect like the cups and balls can be done under ultra close-up conditions, but is still great for parlour/street conditions.

Andrew
As a busker I disagree. Surprisingly, I find street magic in the classic sense a lot closer to caberet.

It is done standing up, usually on the same level as the audience (no stage), and for crowds of five or better. I won't even think of starting a show untill I have at least five people and I have a doorway act. Guys who do a circle show ( Gazzo) do not begin the main event untill they have at least 20 or 30.

A guy like Schuelian would work one on one or better, Sitting or standing behind the bar, really in your face. Same with Allerton.

As a former bartender I have worked in this manner as well and it is a very different style of magic.

Interesting topic.

Best,

Dan-
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Postby Sean Macfarlane » 09/17/02 01:53 PM

I was always curious about Paul Rosini. When he was in his prime and working a lot he was working in nightclubs. Was his performances more of a parlour show or a table hopping act or a combination of both?
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