Twelve Have Died - why the high value?

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Postby Jeff Haas » 01/18/04 02:40 AM

Just a question...why is "Twelve Have Died," the book on the bullet catch, going for such high prices? Sparks' posting shows it sold for $200.00.

I've had a copy since 1989, it's a small and enjoyable book of 191 pages. But what makes it so special?

Jeff

P.S. I also don't quite get the prices on "Cards As Weapons" but at least that's by Ricky Jay.
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Postby Guest » 01/18/04 10:48 AM

Jeff,
I tend to agree with you, either one of them books are only worth the cover price I feel. I personally have "Cards as Weapons" and keep it only because it is valuable.The other book "Twelve Have Died" is a book I do not own or would want to read.I feel some of the book values get blown out of proportion when they are sold an an auction gallery such as Swann. I obtained a list of magic items that were auctioned there a few years back and all the prices were higher than there actual value.Go figure.
All I know is I have a nice magic library that is holding it's value.
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Postby Tabman » 01/18/04 05:11 PM

wow!! thats incredible. "12 have died" for $200. it is an interesting read though. i bought a copy new a few years back from a magic dealer for cover price and i bet it never even sold out and somebody has a carton of books somewhere. why wouldnt you want to read it though?? just curious.
and thanks for bringing it up.
-=tabman tabman tables
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Postby Guest » 01/18/04 06:11 PM

Hi Tabman,
I do not think I would read the Book because the bullet catch never interested me. Currently I am reading the book "Small but Deadly" which is basically an encyclopedia of packet tricks, very interesting reading.This is not to say "Twelve Have Died" is not a fascinating book, it is just one I am not interested in, especially at the outrageous price they are getting.I feel the same way about "Cards As Weapons" not really interested in the subject matter.Oh well everyone to their own liking I guess, I was just commenting on the exorbitant prices they are getting.
Hope I answered your question.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 01/18/04 10:31 PM

The prices on such items are determined uniquely by rule of supply and demand. The books are worth at any given moment what someone is willing to pay for them, provided someone else is willing to sell for that same price. Ben Robinson's TWELVE HAVE DIED has been out of print for more than a decade and as the only book on the subject, it has fetched more than $500 online. Frankly, I thought Sparky's price of $200 was below current market value. I certainly would not sell my personal copy for that price. It shows up on eBay every few months and never seems to go for less than $300. Unlike CARDS AS WEAPONS, TWELVE HAVE DIED was not a mass market publication, but was published by Boston magic dealer, Ray Goulet, likely in an edition of less than 1,000 copies (probably more like half that). I believe it sold for $30 when still in print. By contrast, there must be tens of thousands of copies of CARDS AS WEAPONS out there, which never had cover price more than $10. The demand for Ricky Jay's book is clearly thanks to his well deserved celebrity status. The demand for TWELVE HAVE DIED is likely fueled by those wanting access to the technical information. Penn & Teller regularly perform a bullet catch, as do a few others. Derren Brown recently did a related, though distinct, Russian roulette, routine to tremendous publicity on British televison. Is either book worth the prices being realized? Apparently so, to the buyers who keep paying for them...
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Postby Michael Edwards » 01/19/04 05:19 AM

Twelve Have Died remains the most thorough history of what Harry Anderson terms "magic's darkest wonder." The first hundred pages or so document the history behind the illusion and the personal stories of those who have performed it. The remainder of the book details the workings behind many of the approaches. All told, there are eight separate methods discussed. An intriguing read about an important chapter in magic history, it was well worth the $30 or so I paid for it when Ray Goulet first published it in 1986. Today, it is -- as Richard suggests -- worth whatever someone is willing to pay...no more, no less. Why any particular person would be willing to pay more than $200 for this particular book would just be conjecture on my part. But let me suggest that if you were considering adding this -- one of the most powerful effects in magic -- to your repertoire, $200 would be a very wise and very modest investment.
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Postby Tabman » 01/19/04 09:19 AM

thanks rennie
i understand now. besides you wouldnt want to put too many creases in a $500 book. i was interested in the effect and bought the book for research and developed a set of prop percussion cap pistols using the ramrod version to secret the marked pistol ball. pretty fool proof if you keep the fools out of it and if you stand far enough back the projectile wouldnt hurt too much anyway. i have been hit in the shoulder with a .22 bullet coming from a distance and it hurt but didnt break the skin. when i was on the road with kozak i tried to get him to do my version of the buillet catch but the clubs didnt want to liability. when jeff busby was my exclusive dealer he refused to market my cap and ball set for the same liability reasons. when we did the human cannonball some years ago at the race track it was the same thing, liability. i had to show the track owner that it was actually a trick and no one could possible get hurt. speaking of your interest in packet tricks, what do you think is a good packet trick??? ive messed about with a few tricks that used two or three cards only over the years and think i like card warp and my version of parallax using poker sized cards but i dont think these would qualify as packet tricks but im not sure.
thanks again for,
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Postby Lisa Cousins » 01/19/04 10:24 AM

Since I don't have this book, and since I gave all of my money to Brett Sherwood, I have a question for those of you who have it.

At World Magic Seminar, I was talking to Arian Black, and she told me that one of the magicians who died this way was a woman. True?
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Postby Bob L » 01/19/04 10:43 AM

Lisa:

At World Magic Seminar, I was talking to Arian Black, and she told me that one of the magicians who died this way was a woman.
Apparently so, although I couldn't find out anything else about Nellie:

http://www.magictricks.com/library/injury.htm
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 01/19/04 10:49 AM

Originally posted by Lisa Cousins:
Since I don't have this book, and since I gave all of my money to Brett Sherwood, I have a question for those of you who have it.

At World Magic Seminar, I was talking to Arian Black, and she told me that one of the magicians who died this way was a woman. True?
Quickly scanning the book, it mentions a Madame De Linsky being shot and dying two days later. This happened circa 1820.

Hope this helps you,
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Postby Michael Edwards » 01/19/04 11:24 AM

Indeed, Madame de Linsky appears to be the first person of which there is a demonstrable record of having died during a performance of this trick. However, a wide array of female performers and assistants have caught bullets...from Madame Comus in 1805, to Annie Verone, to Adelaide Herrmann, to Dorothy Dietrich. I trust, Lisa, that you're not planning to add your name to this list!
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Postby Guest » 01/19/04 01:48 PM

Hi folks, since I've received 3 emails and two phone calls about the chat going on here I thought to lend my two cents. Firstly, no one is more surprised the book (THD) is getting such prices as I! I wrote the book as a literally starving artist living on park benches in Europe to afford tickets to shows and food while being fingerprinted to enter the rare book library at the British Museum to see the Theatre of God's Judgements volume from 1597, holding Coluen's performance of catching a bullet in his hand, prior to 1597, which was discovered too late to make it into THD as printed. Ray Goulet never really told me how many were printed. I estimate that there are probably about 700 copies out there, not including the knock off xeroxes people ask me to sign...

I am gratified by the attention the book has received and given that I just taped an hour segment for a special on the BBC about the bullet catch I can only conclude that any trick that has killed people is worth attention and has gained real interest. (Many more have been injured than killed.) Hence, the prices paid. The most I know of the book going for was in Monte Carlo last summer one performer sold a signed copy by me and my collaborator Larry White for 850 French francs.

My files are bulging with over 10 pounds of paper from all the information I have discovered after the book has come out. Three magic publishers have shown interest in bringing the book out again, but no one ever came up with the money for me to sit and write a new edition with everything that can be added. Henry Miller once wrote that most writers have only one really good book in them, and I appreciate Miller's thougths. I hope that is not the case for me, though I do find writing a painful experience.

Thanks to all who have shown interest in, what to me, was a lark from the beginning and continues to be...and to all those wishing to add the dark wonder to theri repertoire, consider this: I have done the stunt (it really is more of a stunt than trick) six times and I have been injured four times. If you don't belive me, ask John Booth. He was there on stage with me at a casino in Californaia I headlined at in 1993 where glass flew across the stage and went through my hand and left a healthy scar for the rest of my life. It IS dangerous, so I say, stay away.

There are other ways to satify the crowds.

And a personal note to Mr. Kaufman, let me state here that it was wrong and unnecessary for me to have written what I did in the book about you. As another more venerable source has stated that the writer's biggest enemy is himself as a young man. This, I can confirm as true.
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Postby Carl Skenes » 01/19/04 06:29 PM

Originally posted by -=tabman:
...when i was on the road with kozak i tried to get him to do my version of the buillet catch but the clubs didnt want...liability. when jeff busby was my exclusive dealer he refused to market my cap and ball set for the same liability reasons. when we did the human cannonball some years ago....it was the same thing, liability. i had to show the track owner that it was actually a trick and no one could possible get hurt.
-=tabman
I first performed my version of the Bullet Catch, wherein I actually catch a live bullet in my mouth, in April, 1980. Since then, I've performed this act in the US, South America, and Japan and have never had the issue of liability become a deal-breaker. I always provided my clients, cast and crew with a signed, legally binding, liability release which absolved any involved from all liability for any mishap during the performance of the act. Of course, during contract negotiations for the act I always stressed the precautions we took to make the performance as safe as possible for both the audience and myself.

Lest anyone misconstrue the above statement, I will be the first to admit that the Bullet Catch is pretty damn dangerous. I should know since, among a few hundred performances, I've been wounded three times while performing this act.

But oh, the rush one gets when everything goes as planned.
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Postby Guest » 01/19/04 09:50 PM

Tabman,
I did not want to get off the subject of the bullet catch because it is going strong.
However you asked me about my favorite packet tricks so in no particular order,
1 - Color Monte
2 - Cascade
3 - NFW
4 - Wild Card
5 - Dirty Deal
6 - 8 Card Brainwave
7 - MacDonalds Aces
8 - Back Flips
The more I set here and think I keep coming up with more, so will stop here.
Lets have some others contribute to the list.
Rennie
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Postby Lisa Cousins » 01/19/04 10:40 PM

Many thanks to the history buffs for the speedy replies! Michael, do you mean that Madame De Linsky was the first generic person to die attempting the trick, or the first female person? ("Nellie" from New Zealand appears to be a more recent addition.)

And - fear not - my recent brush with cold, cruel death due to pineapple-related violence has convinced me to steer clear of all effects of this sort.
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Postby Michael Edwards » 01/20/04 07:47 AM

Lisa: A generic person? Yes, by most accounts, she was the first individual -- male or female -- of which we have documentary evidence of having died performing this trick.
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Postby Tabman » 01/20/04 10:11 AM

rennie, you're right. do you think the 12 have died theme would make for a good packet trick??? something the world war two song about the deck of cards being the bible, the almanac etc with each card in the deck representing something. maybe have each card represent one those killed with some of the story about how each lived... and died. i dont know what the trick would be in the end though. if you want to start a new thread about packet tricks ill join in. i talked to an old friend last night. he has the book, 12 have died in his library. i told him about the prices everyone is talking about. he said he'd take $500 for his copy which is mint if anybody is interested ill put you in touch.
thanks.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 11/30/05 11:32 AM

Could someone who has the book post a list of the names of the Twelve Who Died?
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Postby magicam » 11/30/05 11:56 AM

Bill, here they are:

Coulew
Madame DeLinsky
Arnold Buck
Professor Adam S. Epstein
Raoul Curran
DeLine's son
Michael Hatal
Professor Blumenfeld
Chung Ling Soo
H. T. Sartell
"The Black Wizard of the West"
Doc Conrad
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Postby Guest » 12/01/05 08:12 PM

Not knowing the book, and not being a performer of packet tricks, I have the freedom to make suggestions unbound by troublesome facts: Would 12 Have Died combine with Merv Taylor's 10 Little Indians premise? Cards to pocket = daredevil magicians moving to the great beyond?
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Postby magicam » 12/03/05 08:25 PM

Bill:

I negected to add that the currect name for "Coulew" is apparently Coulen, and that, according to Eddie Dawes in his The Great Illusionists (pp. 169), Coulen did not die while performing the gun trick, but there is a relation: he was pistol-whipped to death! :whack:

Yours in trivia,
Clay
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Postby Greg Edmonds » 10/02/08 06:29 AM

I can vividly recall a conversation with the late, brilliant, Orville Meyer, who developed the simple but insanely dangerous version of the bullet catch performed by Theo Annemann.

We were talking about Orville's Magic Memory Square routine booklet (a version of which I performed in both mentalism and memory programs for years), when I broached the bullet catch, hoping to garner some thoughts regarding its creation. Before I could get any words beyond "catch" into the conversation, Orville blurted: "Three words - Don't do it!"

I assured him I didn't intend to, but wonder what made him to take this instant defensive posture so many years later. Orville was a very bright man, creative and articulate into his nineties.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/02/08 12:30 PM

Orville Meyer's method for the Bullet Catch, as used by Annemann, was published in Genii many years ago.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
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