Book of the Month: Stars of Magic

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/23/02 04:41 AM

In the fall of 1945, full-page ads began appearing in the pages of major magic magazines trumpeting the arrival of "A new organization...formed to bring you the finest and most effective type of magic from the brilliant minds of Today's Masters of Magic..."

Stars of Magic, Inc. invited magicians to, "Pull up a chair for John Scarne...Let him teach you his pet tricks!" Series No. 1 consisted of three separate effects (segments) by Scarne, sold individually or as a set: Scarne's "Classic Ball Routine" ($3); "Triple Coincidence" ($1); and "Silver & Copper Trick" ($3). All three were available together for the princely sum of $6. It may not sound like much now, but consider this: These three pamphlets totaled about 13 pages; during this same period Tarbell 4 was being advertised: Its 418 pages could be purchased for $7.50.

George Starke and George Karger were the men behind Stars of Magic, Inc. Starke, a conjuror of some repute, was the editor while professional photographer Karger (who regularly contributed to Life magazine, including several covers) was responsible for "photographic interpretation." Together, for the next seven or so years, they produced series after series of magical instruction of which John J. Crimmins, Jr. (book reviewer for Hugard's Magic Monthly) said, "...have no parallel in conjuring publications..."

In his review of Series No. 8 in the March 1951 issue of Hugard's Crimmins pondered, "How the Messrs. Starke and Karger consistently corral such remarkable material is one of the modern miracles in magic." Perhaps one clue was that Karger was very good friends with Dai Vernon and also Scarne. In fact, Bruce Cervon passed on a story from Vernon that confirmed that his, not Scarne's was to be the first in the series, but Vernon had to leave New York for a cruise ship engagement which delayed work on his four-part series; it was released as No. 2. Vernon would later have two more series (six segments) dedicated to his own material and would also pen the series on Leipzig and Malini (Nos. 10 and 11 respectively, edited by Bruce Elliott and released in 1952).

The Stars of Magic series were available directly from Stars of Magic, Inc. (New York) and through most magic dealers, most notably Max Holden's shops in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. During this run, series dedicated to Bert Allerton, S. Leo Horowitz (Muhammed Bey), Emil Jarrow, Francis Carlyle, Dr. Jacob Daley, Slydini and Ross Bertram were released. The prices ranged from $1 to $8 for individual pieces and up to $12 for a complete series. Series Nos. 10 and 11, the last two, sold for $10 each.

By the mid or late 1950s, Holden's was advertising the complete set (a $94 value) for $25, complete with a customized pressure binder; bright red with gold print.* At the same time, two other items appeared in the Holden catalog: New Master Lessons by Vernon and Slydini: Vernon's "Royal Monte" and Slydini's "The Art of Using the Lap as a Servante," each sold separately for $2.

****

In the June 1961 issue of Genii, Lloyd E. Jones briefly mentioned in his "Light From the Lamp" column that, "Lou Tannen...is considering a reprint of the Stars of Magic Series." Exactly when and what the circumstances were behind Lou Tannen's acquisition of Stars of Magic are still unclear (and perhaps those details, or leads to them, will be revealed here), but in the August 1961 issue of Genii, the first ad for the hardbound edition of Stars of Magic published by Louis Tannen appeared: its price was a mere $12.50. Included with all eleven of the original series (a total of 34 segments) were "two extra lessons: one by Dai Vernon and one by Slydini." These, of course, were Vernon's "Royal Monte" and Slydini's lapping treatise which originally sold under the New Master Lessons banner.

There are many who say, and I am among them, that Stars of Magic is the greatest book of close-up magic ever published. There is not a "weak sister" among any of the items, any one of which, if properly mastered and performed, can be a (forgive me Harry) "reputation maker."

Volumes could be written (and, in fact, have been written) on the Vernon material alone. "Triumph," "Cutting the Aces," "Spellbound," "Slow Motion 4 Aces," and "Royal Monte" are but a few of Vernon's classic pieces that appear in this book and they represent some of the most important works of close-up magic in the 20th century.

For many, this book was their first introduction to the material and style of Francis Carlyle, whose naturalness gained the admiration of Vernon. A reading of the rest of the names; Allerton, Daley, Horowitz, Jarrow, Slydini, Bertram, Malini, Leipzig: and just a partial listing of their magic; "Chink a Chink," "Homing Card," "Pump Room Fantasy," "The Cavorting Aces," "Flight of the Paper Balls," "Card Stab," makes one only shake their head in wonder. These effects and their contributors are of monumental importance to close-up magic. The fact that they appear between the same covers is itself an undeniable stroke of good fortune.

Each segment is wonderfully and clearly written and the early editions of the book did a good job of reproducing the photographs. (Though I've been told they do not hold a candle to the originals, and, unfortunately, apparently there are some later editions that have much less than desirable photo reproductions which is a shame, as the photographs represent such an indispensable element to these instructions.)

Besides the quality of the magic, most of which constitute the genesis of countless variations, these effects and their instructions are lessons in the art of conjuring. Simplicity of effect and directness of methodology are present in the subtext of virtually all of these pieces. Lessons in timing and attention direction abound and for one simple reason: with little exception, these pieces were the "workers" of their day; pieces honed to perfection by their contributors. And yet, though decades old, they remain timeless, an affirmation of their excellence.

Representative of the character of many of the men who contributed to Stars of Magic is the fact that these men remained students of their craft. As perfect as these pieces are, many, particularly Vernon but certainly Carlyle and Slydini as well, continually searched for ways to improve upon these works, as is evidenced in their later works. Also worth noting is how, on one of the Revelations videos, Vernon speaks of how the sequence for "losing" the aces in "Cutting the Aces" is different in Stars of Magic from how he actually performed it. Starke felt Vernon's original method too complex for the average magician. (Or perhaps too complex to describe?)

The Stars of Magic series continues today with Tannen's New Stars of Magic pamphlets (there are about 21) including items by David Roth and Paul Harris. However, Starke and Karger's astounding accomplishment of collecting from a legion of the greatest names and some of the most important work in the annals magic set the bar at a height that may prove unattainable. There are many great books in magic, and more yet to come (we hope), however I have yet to come across a single book that contains more "genesis-like" magic than is contained within the pages of Stars of Magic.

****

*For those interested, Michael Canick has available an original Stars of Magic binder with most of the original pamphlets. For more information, contact Michael through his web site: http://www.canick.com/

I would like to thank Tom Ogden and Bruce Cervon for their help and input. And, of course, my most sincere appreciation goes out to Gordon Bean whose guidance and patience is immeasurable.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/23/02 05:45 PM

A few thoughts.
1) The "Copper and Silver" routine in the first installment, while credited to John Scarne, is essentially Dai Vernon's.
2) Coincidentally enough, Judge Stark married my father and stepmother in 1969.
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Postby Matthew Field » 11/23/02 07:33 PM

Oh me oh my oh my.

"Stars of Magic" is an absolutely incredible book. One of my "10 best."

Richard knows of the special relationship between this book and his former partner, Alan "Ace" Greenberg, who was the Chairman of Bear Sterns investment counselors.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/23/02 08:02 PM

Alan Greenberg and "Stars of Magic": he can do virtually everything in the book!
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Postby Guest » 11/23/02 08:16 PM

Dustin Stinett,
quote
"however I have yet to come across a single book that contains more "genesis-like" magic than is contained within the pages of Stars of Magic."

On that note, have you heard of the Ron Bauer Private Studies? It is
Series of Performance Artist Scripts for Magicians.
I think you would enjoy reading and performing some/most of the tricks.
I found it very interesting on how much work and thinking went in to making them.
here is a web site if you want to look in to them any further.
http://www.thinklikeaconjurer.com

P.S. look in to The Cursed Ring, I believe that Ron fooled Finley Vernon with this trick. The Mechanical Deck is a goody as well, it has a very detailed on how to do The Finley Vernon Double Turnover.

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Postby Dave Egleston » 11/23/02 08:31 PM

To paraphrase another posting on another subject "you are getting sleepy"
Where the heck did you come up with this Sh..tuff???????
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Postby Guest » 11/23/02 08:52 PM

Dave Egleston,

My question to you is have you looked at and read The Ron Bauer Private Studies?
Or do you have something against Ron Bauer?
and if so Why???

Chuck
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/23/02 09:14 PM

Chuck, I don't know who's feeding you what line of baloney, but Ron Bauer didn't fool Finley Vernon with anything because there is no person named Finley Vernon.
They are two different people, Dai Vernon and Arthur Finley, and I can assure you that Ron Bauer never met Arthur Finley!
You don't even sound like a magician ... so why are you on here, posting about Ron Bauer's books?
To bring up Bauer's series of overpriced pamphlets in a discussion about the book Stars of Magic is ludicrous.
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Postby Dave Egleston » 11/23/02 09:16 PM

What a great and fun selection
First; I have a STARS OF MAGIC bound edition of this book, but recently, in a used book store up in the mountains in the "any book for a dollar" bin I found a red friction/pressure binder with every one of the series in it - with the exception of the two "lessons" - I spent the dollar
After reading Mr. Stinett's wonderful introduction - I don't know if I got the complete set or not - All the copyrights on the bottom of each pamphlet range from 1945 through 1952, which coincide with the publishing dates set forth by the intro.
The first trick I performed out of this series was Jarrow's HANKEY PANKEY - Because of the scarcity of men who carry handkerchiefs nowdays - I learned this trick specifically for my Father-in-law whom still carries a handkerchief and at the time still smoked - One of the few times the old man had anything positive to say about me - This happened about 14 years ago and he still brings it up from time to time
Mr Starke's descriptions seem to be clear and concise - I had very little trouble understanding any of the effects - I hate to show the depth of my ignorance but, has George Starke authored any other magical items?
Personally I loved reading all the Vernon routines.
This book is one of the books I routinely read as I get more knowledge, the routines become more than a group of moves designed to fool people but an underlying philosophy that becomes apparent for each of the magicians showcased in this book
I look forward to reading some of the opinions of the magicians on this forum and hope to contribute more as the month goes on

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/23/02 09:36 PM

While I'm certain Mr. Bauer doesn't remember me, I certainly remember him. We met when he was working closely with Paul Harris back in the early 1980s. I found him to be an impressive thinker when it came to performance magic. I learned a lot in the short period I was around him.

There is a parallel between the original Stars of Magic series and Mr. Bauer's Private Studies booklets. The SoM pamphlets were exceedingly priced for their day; so are the PS booklets, in my opinion. However, until the day comes (and I believe it will come, though not anytime soon) when they are reprinted into a reasonably priced single book, the parallel ends. Also, not all of Bauer's pieces are "genesis-like." They are the end result of his work on pre-existing classic plots. This makes his work derivative (though I do not mean that in a negative way) and not "genesis-like."

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/23/02 09:47 PM

Originally posted by Dave Egleston:
I don't know if I got the complete set or not
Dave,

It sounds like you do, but just compare what you have with the contents page of the SoM book. The two final lessons would not be a part of it, as these were sold separately by Holden's.

$1? This may be the bargain of the millenium! Want to sell it? I can guarantee that you will at least double the return on your investment!

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Postby Dave Egleston » 11/23/02 10:30 PM

Thanks so much for the confirmation - All of the pamphlets are there and are in nearly mint condition with the exception of Scarne's CLASSIC BALL ROUTINE - the fold out has been taped with the old fashioned style Scotch tape - turned yellow - Also in the same bin I found another book titled THE HOLISTIC APPROACH TO MAGIC by James Hope - sounds rather new age but it actually contains 7 effects and not totally garbage - and another book titled EFFECTIVE CONJURING by Will Blythe - It's full of misquotes but not maliciously so - just enough to help drive home some points in the essays he wrote. By the way - No other magic books on the shelves in the bookstore itself!!
Back to the SoM: In an earlier post on another topic - A question was posed Photos v. Drawings - The photos in the original SOM are very good and there is very little confusion when looking at them to help with a move - However in my Robbins book they are grainy at best and either too light or too gray to clearly see - That's when drawings are better
Just reread Vernon's TRIUMPH - Is this the first time Mr Vernon released this to the magical community?

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/23/02 11:34 PM

Originally posted by Dave Egleston:
Just reread Vernon's TRIUMPH - Is this the first time Mr Vernon released this to the magical community?
Though I won't stake my life on it, I'm pretty sure this was the first time "Triumph" saw print. No doubt Vernon had already shared it with "the boys" and it played out in the underground.

A tidbit regarding the Karger photos: Bruce Cervon has many of the original prints (from the Vernon segments), including a lot that were never used.

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Postby Guest » 11/24/02 03:28 PM

Richard Kaufman:

quote
"I don't know who's feeding you what line of baloney ."

No one is feeding me baloney, I just made a human error.

On Finley Vernon, you are right they are two different people. thanks for pointing it out to me.
I have much to learn about magic.

Quote:
"You don't even sound like a magician ... "

I am a beginner, a hobbies of magic and other things.
So Richard, what does a magician sound like???

The reason I am posting is to learn any thing I can about Magic and to get feed back on what other people (that have read and do them), what do you think about Ron Bauer Private Studies.

I have recently started to study them, and by the reactions I have received form performing them. Which are much different form any trick I have done before.
I was just curios if any one notice the same thing.
That is why I am posting about The Private Studies.

Dustin Stinett:

quote:
"There is a parallel between the original Stars of Magic series and Mr. Bauer's Private Studies booklets."

I agree with you on that.

Quote:
"They are the end result of his work on pre-existing classic plots. This makes his work derivative..."

so what magic trick do you currently do that didn't come from a source?

Dave Egleston, and Anyone brave enough to answer this question

My question to you is, have you looked at and read The Ron Bauer Private Studies?
Or do you have something against Ron Bauer?
and if so Why???

Chuck
P.S. Richard Kaufman, who are you? I have heard the name but don't know too much about you, what do you do?
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Postby Sean Piper » 11/24/02 03:37 PM

Oh man... here we go!!
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/24/02 04:49 PM

Originally posted by Chuck Stroud:
so what magic trick do you currently do that didn't come from a source?
This is a nonsensical question. Of course everything I do comes from a source. Even those items that I claim as "mine" are derivative handlings of existing plots. There's nothing wrong with derivative material! Most magic is derivative. The issue is comparing the several groundbreaking pieces of SoM vs. the derivative material of Ron Bauer's. It is here that any parallel between Bauer's work and SoM ends. You seem to take issue with that, and I don't know why. The Ron Bauer I met wouldn't have a problem with it. He would say that he worked his tail off turning these items into quality pieces with original presentations and refined methodology. However, and I would hope that Mr. Bauer would agree, that does not make them groundbreaking effects.

Dave Egleston, and Anyone brave enough to answer this question

My question to you is, have you looked at and read The Ron Bauer Private Studies?
Or do you have something against Ron Bauer?
and if so Why???
Yes, I have seen a couple of them. They were interesting and thoughtful and, in my opinion, overpriced. Others, including yourself, may find them priceless. That's what it's all about: personal choice (thank goodness).

I have no problem with Ron Bauer. What, exactly, does his work have to do with the SoM book (besides the parallels that I already covered)? You seem inordinately concerned with his work and whether or not everyone else thinks it is as tremendous as you clearly believe. (And if they do not, then, according to you, they must have a problem with Bauer. Why is that the case?) No one needs to explain to you why they are not enamored with Bauer's work. Bauer and his Private Studies are not the subject of this thread.

Richard Kaufman, who are you? I have heard the name but don't know too much about you, what do you do?
This is the second time that you have asked that question, and frankly, Richard Kaufman need not answer it. If this is not a joke (and I suspect that it isn't), the answers are right in front of you. You need only look around in the Genii web site.

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Postby Guest » 11/24/02 06:46 PM

I am sorry that you misunderstand me.
Hopefully this will clear things up.

Quote:
"You seem to take issue with that, and I don't know why...
You seem inordinately concerned with his work and whether or not everyone else thinks it is as tremendous as you clearly believe."

I was just looking for feed back, positive or negative.
That's all.

Quote:
"And if they do not, then, according to you, they must have a problem with Bauer. Why is that the case?"

What I was trying to convey was Someone made a comment about "you are getting sleepy"
I just wanted to know what was that suppose to mean?

I understand we all have different opinions on different subjects. I just wanted to see the different views.
that's all.

Quote:
"If this is not a joke (and I suspect that it isn't), the answers are right in front of you. You need only look around in the Genii web site."

don' t take what I said negative in any way
I just wanted to learn about different magicians.

Thanks for pointing me in to a direction.

Quote:"

Anyone brave enough to answer this question..."

This was just an attempt to get information.
To learn more.

Hopefully I straighten thinks out.

Thanks Dustin

Chuck :)
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/24/02 06:54 PM

Originally posted by Chuck Stroud:
...I was just looking for feed back, positive or negative...
The Stars of Magic was so diverse I had to take the material to laymen to see what they find interesting.

That kind of feedback was instructive. It was a few years later that I got my own ideas working well enough to get good feedback from magicians. :)
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Postby Curtis Kam » 11/24/02 08:00 PM

Wow, Dustin,

AMH, Coinmagic, and now "Stars". It's like you and I grew up sharing the same library. Hey, wait a minute--aren't you the guy who borrowed my collection of the original "Stars"? :)

Actually, I will suggest that the true test of the value of a magic book to you is whether it's still in your library. (i.e. whether it meant so much to you that you never lent it anyone)

Thank you for the background on it. I did not realize how much of a hand Dai Vernon must have had in the series. That explains the elegance of method that typifies most of the material in Stars. I think you'll agree that the routines in Stars generally have only as much "secret" as they require, and nothing more. There's no overproving, no unnecessary moves, nothing inserted just because it was novel, or topical, no filler phases, no cheap surprise kickers, and few multi-phase routines.

I returned to Stars a couple of years ago when I began to crave routines that had that elegance. So much of what's published these days (my stuff included) seems to come from a different set of goals, and elegance is not among them.

I can't say that I've been able to put together anything that sings with the purity of a "Triumph" or "Flight of the Paper balls". but I have benefited immeasurably by having such wonderful examples so easily at hand.

One mystery about "SoM" has puzzled me since the first time I read it. Perhaps one of you know: At the end of the Bey "Chink-a-chink" routine, what sort of "climax" is it to pull a few lumps of sugar from your pocket and throw them on the table claiming, "I've got lots of sugar!" What's the point of that? :confused:
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Postby Guest » 11/24/02 08:07 PM

Richard,

Please delete all of the Bauer nonsense (advertisments?) from this thread so we're atleast on track for the first few days. When you delete those posts, please delete this request too.

Harley
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Postby Brad Jeffers » 11/24/02 09:16 PM

Stars of magic ... what a great book! The first trick I ever learned to do well enough to show anyone, was Scarne's three ball routine. However, it was the Vernon material that got me to purchase the book in the first place. I became a big Vernon fan, through reading his monthly column, The Vernon Touch .
On the L&L Ross Bertram videos, there is a segment where Bertram performs and explains all of his Stars of Magic material. This segment is different from the other Bertram films, which were all produced by Bertram and his wife. This film appears to be a segment from what may be a filmed collection of many of the Stars of Magic contributors, as in the opening of the film Fawcett Ross gives lengthy biographical info for several of the Stars contributors, something that seems out of place, if the only performer being filmed was Ross Bertram. I was just wondering if somewhere there is a longer version of this film, that includes performances of the other "Stars of Magic". I sure would like to see that! Anyone have any info on this?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/25/02 01:30 AM

Originally posted by Curtis Kam:
... At the end of the Bey "Chink-a-chink" routine, what sort of "climax" is it to pull a few lumps of sugar from your pocket and throw them on the table claiming, "I've got lots of sugar!" What's the point of that? :confused:
I would like to know about this ending as well. What was he thinking?. "Hay is for horses comes" to mind along with that they like sugar too... and sugar was a real rare treat in most parts of the world until recently...

His motivation and the reaction he got is a mystery.

Could this be an early attempt at a kicker ending? :D
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Postby Dave Egleston » 11/25/02 08:52 AM

One mystery about "SoM" has puzzled me since the first time I read it. Perhaps one of you know: At the end of the Bey "Chink-a-chink" routine, what sort of "climax" is it to pull a few lumps of sugar from your pocket and throw them on the table claiming, "I've got lots of sugar!" What's the point of that?

If I may be so bold -
Though I've never done Chink a Chink - What I've read with this trick is: The performer is "placing" the cubes in a pocket - but because of the continuing production of cubes there is probably some suspicion as to whether the cubes were actually placed in the pocket - at the end of the trick it is a subtle move to "prove" an earlier deception

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Postby Matthew Field » 11/25/02 09:12 AM

Originally posted by Dustin Stinett:
. . . the quality of the magic, most of which constitute the genesis of countless variations. . .
Here is one of the most important aspects of this remarkable book. Indeed, as Dustin says, the routines in Stars of Magic are originals, not rehashes of what had gone before. It can be a real education to read "Stars" knowing what has come afterward, and equally enlightening to read the book in the context of what had preceeded it. The originality of the material is confirmed by the tweaking and personalizing of the effects which countless magicians put into print after the original publication.

The material in "Stars" is an education in how to structure a routine for clarity of effect (I bow toward the Professor here), and as a magic writer and editor I am very impressed at the clarity and detail of the descriptions, to say nothing of the wonderful photographs.

Stars of Magic is, along perhaps with The Cardician , the best value for the money in magic.

By the way, another magician featured in the New Stars of Magic series is our own Richard Kaufman.

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Postby Leonard Hevia » 11/25/02 11:50 AM

This is a fascinating thread. I purchased my copy of S. o. M. back in the late seventies by mail from Tannens and I'm glad I had the foresight to do this at the age of thirteen because the copies currently being published look downright terrible. The pages resemble cheap photocopies that do not do justice to this wonderful text. I honestly don't understand how a purchaser of this inferior edition can learn the routines from the Xerox quality photos.

A great way to view some of the effects out of S.o.M. performed by a master is to watch the L&L Johnny Thompson videos. Johnny performs Vernon's "Cutting the Aces," and "Triumph," Jarrow's "Hanky Panky," (that effect still fooled me badly) and Malini's "Card Stab." For some reason--I had a feeling this text would be next on Dustin's list. :)
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Postby Dave Egleston » 11/26/02 08:16 AM

I have a couple of questions I'd like the SoM experts to answer - Though this is one of my favorite books - I only know about the nuts and bolts of the book's history - Were the pictures of the performers current - If so, didn't Mr Vernon go through some changes?!?
Why did the testimonials from some of the top magicians in the world stop after the third series? Were they paid testimonials?
Why did the series itself come to an end?
Got to go to work -
Thanks in advance for any answers you might have

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Postby Guest » 11/26/02 11:47 AM

The comment from Hilliard on John Scarne is right out of Greater Magic.
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 11/26/02 04:37 PM

Let me pile on the bandwagon and add my long-sustained swoon regarding SoM.

When latecomers discover a book, they seldom appreciate or realize the nature of the [magic]world at the time said book debuted. If you examine the type of publications that were released in the 30s and 40s, the installments of SoM, by comparison, were like dazzling comets in the firmament--comets that transformed into a constellation of stars--stars we underlings used to navigate as we learned and progressed. Furthermore, back then we felt like the material was truly star-quality, gifts from stars of magic who rarely tipped the really, really great stuff...and there this marvelous "stuff" was, larger than life, richly and strategically photographed, clearly and lovingly explained.

Reading these seminal routines, still dewy from some secret garden, made us immediately beholden...as though a locked door had been opened and we had been given privileged access...

I was further dazzled by the fact that I could not understand or master its secrets overnight...that I would eventually have to earn the right to publicly perform any of these brilliant routines...Yet I knew that if these routines could be mastered, audiences would be entertained, enchanted and impressed...

So...
...years passed before I ever performed anything from SoM. Nevertheless, I continued to read it over and over, loving it. There is was...on my shelf...wedged between Greater Magic and Expert Card Technique...

I knew I would never be a Vernon, Scarne, Horowitz, or Daley...but this didn't matter. It was enough to share their insights, ideas, and presentations (via SoM)...to vicariously be small part of their starry and rarefied world.

So...

As rhapsodic as it sounds, SoM is one of the holiest books in my library.

Onward...
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/26/02 07:30 PM

Originally posted by Dave Egleston:
...continuing production of cubes...
Dave
Dave is suggesting the the chink-a-chink ending is related to a production of cubes followed by an offering of the cubes to the audience.

Can anyone relate to this or verify from a performance?

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Postby Jim Morton » 11/27/02 10:15 AM

I don't know what I could add that Dustin hasn't already said. I pull this one down from the shelf every month or two, and I always end up shaking my head in amazement. How can such a thin book be so ripe with useful material? Nothing else comes close. If I had a nickel for everytime I've heard a another magician say: "This is based on (insert effect here) from Stars of Magic," I'd..., well, I'd have a lot of nickels. :)

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Postby troublewit » 11/27/02 03:27 PM

One of the "hidden" gems in this book (It was mentioned once in this thread, briefly)is Bert Allerton's "Pump Room Phantasy". Like "Twisting the Aces", this is one of those effects I like to perform for myself, just to watch the changes. I can see shades of "Doc Daley's Last Trick" in it as well. I agree that "Genesis" and "Seminal" works abound in this book. Just read Scarne's "3 Ball Routine", and see how many of his moves show up in the modern versions. I cherish my copy of SOM.
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Postby Steve Mills » 11/29/02 12:10 AM

SoM has another feature of many great magic books - the effects feel "attainable". Whether that is true or not, is somewhat unimportant. There is a certain excitement when you read a magic book and say to yourself "I could do that".

So much better than "I could never do (get away with) that in a hundred years".

Later....
Steve
The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog. – Mark Twain
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Postby Guest » 12/05/02 12:21 PM

Stars of Magic is one of my favorite books as well. The effects in it are "attainable", as someone else said here, but they require confidence, subtlety, and a bit of finesse, as others have implied here.

Having said that, I was very disappointed in the book when I first got it. The photos vary widely in their quality and clarity, and some of the descriptions are rather terse. However, my love for this book blossomed over time, as these effects are now magical classics, and one needs a certain amount of solid magical experience to appreciate the details over which these men sweated. In other words, one man's terse is another man's concise; wordiness is not always a virtue. Every detail of each routine had been worked out in hundreds of performances, and these top-flight pros spelled it all out for us in SoM. Compared to the magic books that preceded it, SoM was a revelation.

SoM is a cornerstone book of my collection now, and the lessons learned from it impact my routining every time I put something "new" together.

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Postby Rick Franceschin » 12/24/02 10:50 AM

The Stars of Magic layed out a foundation of learning for me. It led me to study the works of Vernon, Leipzig, Daley, Carlyle, Slidini, and Horowitz. The best Carlyle material is actually in past Genni Magazines. I sure wish Kaufman would dedicate an issue to Carlyle, it would surely be fascinating. The man's work has never received the respectability of his peers. There's some wonderful Horowitz material in Pallbearer's Review - really educational.
The "Malini-Bey Chink-A-Chink" is an incredible study on many levels. From the steal of the initial cube to the restructuring of the hand movements, there is a lot to think about. The climax with the handful of sugar cubes is a thoughtful application of "Two in the Hand, One in the Pocket" as a production. I've used it many times, it always gets a laugh.

I've used the following SoM combo with great success:
Kangaroo Coins
Silver and Copper Trick
Triumph
Cutting the Aces
Chink-A-Chink
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Postby Harvey Rosenthal » 12/25/02 03:41 AM

I would l like to preface my remarks by saying that the original Stars of Magic series, which I first purchased individually in their original format and later in book form when it was published by Lou Tannen, is by far the favorite volume in my library.

That being said, I would like to respond to a comment made by a participant in this thread thatthe routines in Stars of Magic are originals, not rehashes of what had gone before...

That statement is not quite true. Having spent a great deal of time with both Dai Vernon and Francis Carlyle in the 1950s and 1960s when I lived in New York City, various tricks in the Stars of Magic were often a topic of discussion.

One of my favorite tricks in the series is Vernon's "Spellbound." Vernon told me that Spellbound was inspired by a routine of Edward Victors which appeared in his wonderful book, Further Magic Of The Hands. Victor called his trick "A Further Changing Coin Effect." In discussing Spellbound with Vernon, he clearly acknowledged his debt to Edward Victor. Unfortunately, Victor's name was not mentioned in the Stars of Magic write-up. Without question, Vernon's Spellbound routine is a refinement of Victor's trick. Vernon replaced the finger palm that Victor used in his routine with the Morritt or purse palm which allowed the hand palming the hidden coin to appear flat before a change was effected. Vernon's routine is also a bit longer.

I should mention that Vernon usually ended Spellbound by doing a beautiful coin change the was not included in the Stars of Magic description of the trick. Vernon taught me the change in 1958. It appeared in The Gen magazine some years later. The beauty of this Vernon change is that at the conclusion of the move, both hands appear empty except for a coin lying on the fingers of his left hand. During the mechanics of the change, the coin originally seen on the hand ends up backclipped, hidden under the visible coin. Vernon told me he did not include this spectacular change in the Stars of Magic write-up because he did not want to tip it at that time.

As an aside, I have seen the original Victor routine performed, and it looked very magical.

Another very popular Vernon trick in the Stars of Magic is his Triumph. In actual performance, Vernon did not use the now well-known Triumph Shuffle when he did the routine. He used a pull-through shuffle. The Triumph Shuffle was included in the description of the trick because of its extreme ease of execution, a significant selling point for the trick.

As was already mentioned, Vernons Cutting The Aces was simplified because George Starke felt the handling as Vernon actually did it was beyond the skill level of most magicians. The descriptions of other Vernon routines, to a greater or lesser extent, were also modified for various reasons, e.g., his Ambitious Card routine.

I learned Francis Carlyles Homing Card directly from Francis in the mid-1950s. The handling he used and taught me, while close to the method described in the Stars of Magic, differed in certain respects.

The Malini-Bey Chink-A-Chink routine while a beautiful routine, is a greatly refined and improved handling of an old trick that, so I have been told, predates Malini. Similarly, Dr. Daleys The Cavorting Aces is a greatly refined handling of a well known effect.

While virtually every trick in the original Stars of Magic series is a masterpiece of elegant construction, quite a few are not truly seminal effects. This of course does not detract from them in any way. The effects/handlings are as great today, as they were when they first appeared more than 50 years ago.
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Postby Bob Coyne » 12/25/02 07:31 AM

Harvey Rosenthal writes: The Malini-Bey Chink-A-Chink routine while a beautiful routine, is a greatly refined and improved handling of an old trick that, so I have been told, predates Malini.
The sugar cube trick is in Sachs Sleight of Hand published in 1885 (pp 40-41 in the Dover reprint). The Sachs version doesn't have the three-in-the-hand, one-in-the-pocket bit though.

Does anyone know the first written description of the three-in-the-hand, one-in-the-pocket sequence?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/25/02 08:16 AM

I've heard some discussion that "Two in the Hand, One in the Pocket," was Harry Blackstone, Sr.'s, so perhaps someone can verify or correct that notion.
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Postby Matthew Field » 12/25/02 10:06 AM

Originally posted by Harvey Rosenthal:
, quite a few are not truly seminal effects.
Harvey -- thanks for the correction!

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/25/02 01:40 PM

Regarding Harvey Rosenthal's comments, it matters not whether the routines printed in the Stars of Magic series (and in the collected book) reflect the way Vernon or anyone else did the routines most of the time or not. The simplifications of these routines are what have made this book so valuable for so many over the years: had the original methods been published, they would have been too difficult for most readers and the series would have been had a lesser rather than greater reputation because fewer people would've been able to perform the material for others and "pass the word" by doing the tricks.
This is, in an interesting way, an excellent lesson for several reasons.
Another reason is that these are in fact, "seminal" routines--they are the basic handlings from which others have developed numerous versions. The routines from which Vernon and others adapted their ideas (the Edward Victor routine, which is in itself a version of an older changing coin routine which appears in The Sphinx) did not inspire hundreds of variations. In fact, they were mostly ignored. It was only Vernon's not-too-difficult intrepretations of these routines as published in Stars of Magic that provided the starting point for so many hundreds of other thoughts and handlings. In that sense, the Stars of Magic is one of the few truly seminal bodies of work in our field.
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Postby Guest » 12/25/02 06:44 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
...Another reason is that these are in fact, "seminal" routines--they are the basic handlings from which others have developed numerous versions...It was only Vernon's not-too-difficult intrepretations of these routines as published in Stars of Magic that provided the starting point for so many hundreds of other thoughts and handlings.
But was it the routine that was important or how it was marketed? The fact that these were marketed as the "Stars of Magic" seems to be more important than some of the details of the routine.

It's interesting to note that many of the people who critisize the way Michael Ammar markets magic love Stars of Magic.

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