a topological effect

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Postby MitsuMatsu » 03/05/12 08:46 AM

Does anyone know when the following effect was first reported as performed, and where and who first described the effect?

A magician seizes hold of a spectators waistcoat and turns it inside out without taking off his coat.

I think that Martin Gardner once explained this wonderful topological effect in one of his books or articles.
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Postby Philippe Billot » 03/05/12 12:03 PM

First described in Hugard's Magic Monthly, Vol. 15, no. 9, February 1958? then in Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic, 1978, page 564.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 03/05/12 05:54 PM

I found this reported in Sphinx March 1918:

'The Mystic Circle of Boston held its second monthly meeting at Healey's Hotel, Boston, on Wednesday evening, February 13, 1918 ... Mystic DeVere Simmonds invited a member of the audience "to step up." Dr. Willis W. Harvey volunteered, and after the doctor had emptied the contents of his coat pockets, Brother Simmonds still managed to relieve him of a few things the doctor never knew he had. He then turned Dr. Harvey's waistcoat inside out without removing his coat, finally removing it entirely, without disturbing the coat.'
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Postby Joe Pecore » 03/05/12 06:09 PM

Also found this in Magician's Own Book by W. H. Cremer (1871) page 239 "TO TAKE A MAN'S VEST OFF WITHOUT REMOVING HIS COAT". I assume it's a simple matter to put the vest back on reversed.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 03/05/12 06:20 PM

I also see there is "To Pull Off Any Person's Shirt without Undressing Him" in the first issue of Locke's The Conjuror's Magazine (August 1791) http://geniimagazine.com/magicpedia/Conjuror _Magazine_(Locke)
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Postby Edwin Corrie » 03/05/12 07:27 PM

Joe Pecore wrote:I also see there is "To Pull Off Any Person's Shirt without Undressing Him" in the first issue of Locke's The Conjuror's Magazine (August 1791) http://geniimagazine.com/magicpedia/Conjuror _Magazine_(Locke)


It's also in Pinetti's Amusemens physiques (1784) ("Manire d'enlever la chemise quelqu'un sans le dshabiller et sans avoir besoin de compre", page 86) and the English translation "Physical Amusements" (also 1784).

Another early source is "The New Conjuror's Museum and Magical Magazine" (1806), the contents of which are similar to those of Locke's magazine. This used to be viewable on Google Books but the "full view" version doesn't seem to be available any more.
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Postby MitsuMatsu » 03/05/12 09:55 PM

Thank you for the various replies on the matter!
The feat seems quite rude for a spectator due to its nature of treating him and his vest, so I have never witnessed it performed on stage, but once in a circus performed by a clown as a comic act.

Recently I found it performed in Wellington, New Zealand, on 5 May 1868 by a Japanese performer of the Royal Tycoon Troupe of Japanese, as shown below. (Wellington Independent, page 5)

One of the prettiest was the extinguishing of lighted tapers by an arrow shot from a bow, in one instance the arrow being fired from between the marksmans legs. In order to prove that there was no deception, any person among the audience was invited to walk up on the stage and hold a taper while it was being fired at. Some courageous gentleman did so, when the light was duly extinguished, and in reward for his intrepidity, a performer seized hold of him, and turned his waistcoat inside out without taking off his coat, and the unfortunate man returned to his seat apparelled somewhat differently to what he was when he left it.


The troupe left Japan just after Japan opened her country. So, I believe this feat had long performed before it as a well-known stunt in this isolated nation from Western countries.

Could I understand that his coat means his waistcoat, both of which appeared in the newspaper clip telling he turned his waistcoat inside out without taking off his coat?
I assume so because any audience in the theatre never wears an overcoat on his vest especially when he volunteered on stage.
This is why I dont think that the stunt making the vest inside out was different from the one described in Cremers Magicians Own Book and other earlier book, in which "TO TAKE A MAN'S VEST (or shirt) OFF WITHOUT REMOVING HIS COAT (overcoat)" was explained.

If my theory is correct, the first recorded performance of the feat up until now might be of Mystic DeVere Simmonds in 1918.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 03/05/12 10:29 PM

Does Wikipedia help any with how the term was used over the centuries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waistcoat ?
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Postby Joe Pecore » 03/05/12 10:43 PM

It appears that "Vest Turning" was a popular thing with spiritualists. There is a whole chapter on it in David P. Abbott's "Behind the Scenes with the Mediums" (1907).

From intro of chapter: "Sometimes when a medium is left in a cabinet with his hands tied together and the knots sealed, his vest will be found to be turned wrong side out under his coat when the manifestations are over"
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Postby MitsuMatsu » 03/06/12 12:46 AM

Yes, I know what a waistcoat is like.
But his coat in this newspaper report must mean his waistcoat in this context.

Did David P. Abbott talk about Vest Turning as a medieval wizardry?
(Was it published in 1916, not 1907?)

Very interesting. Thanks a lot.
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Postby Edwin Corrie » 03/06/12 04:45 AM

Both terms can mean several things, but it seems that in this context a "vest" is a waistcoat and a "coat" is a jacket (part of a suit).

A few more references:

Abbott's Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks for Magicians
page 65

Houdini on Magic
page 134

Mathematics, Magic and Mystery
page 86

The Heart of Mathematics
page 330
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Postby MitsuMatsu » 03/06/12 05:19 AM

Believe it or not, various kinds of vest (no sleeve) were common in Japan, but no jacket was used at all at that time. So I believe any Japanese entertainer had never performed the stunt with a jacket (coat) until around 1868.

This is why I think that his coat in this newspaper report means his waistcoat in this context, and he simply turned the volunteer's vest inside out with no jacket over it.

Did David P. Abbott talk about Vest Turning as a medieval wizardry?
(Was it published in 1916, not 1907?)
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Postby Joe Pecore » 03/06/12 06:27 AM

Abbot's book was first published in 1907. You can read the fifth edition published in 1916 online at Google books: http://books.google.com/books?id=roIAAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA260

And here is the 1907 first edition: http://www.archive.org/stream/behindsce ... 7/mode/2up
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Postby Edwin Corrie » 03/06/12 07:20 AM

If the performance was in New Zealand, the audience would presumably have been mainly Westerners in Western-style clothing, so the spectator would probably have had a jacket/coat and waistcoat/vest. But this raises the question of where the Japanese performer learned the trick from, if he had been practising and performing it before 1868.
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Postby MitsuMatsu » 03/06/12 08:31 AM

Or, the spectator took off his jacket before climbed upto the stage to help the performance by holding a lighted taper above his head. (another newspaper reported that he held it in that way.)

So, I wonder if we might have our own course of development of the trick without jacket.

Anyway thank you very much for providing me various sources.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 03/06/12 10:01 AM

Is this the kind of thing one could do with the second volunteer up during a thumbtie routine? You put a "volunteer" vest on them - then later tie their thumbs and then invert the vest to show some other word?
What I envision is a road safety bright colored thing with the word "Volunteer" on the back and a small patch on the front with the same word. On the other side (inside) - would be darker and perhaps the word "Partipant" as the text.
Last edited by Jonathan Townsend on 03/06/12 10:07 AM, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: okay go ahead and market it.
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