Classics of Matchstick Men

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby troublewit » 08/19/04 02:32 PM

Hello, I am researching and trying to compile some of the best routines with matches. (Paper matches in matchbooks.) I am using matchbooks for a routine suggested by David Ben..."Matchless Psychometry", and I have the Encyclopedia of Impromptu at hand as well. I know there are a plethora of excellent routines in my library, but I could sure use some help in digging them out again. Can anyone lend a few synapses of memory? Much obliged.
Christopher Klocek
337 N Wood St
Griffith, In 46319
Posts: 180
Joined: 04/07/08 10:49 AM

Postby Pepka » 08/19/04 06:11 PM

Check out Mike Close's "El cheapo magic club." Technically it's not a matchbook, but a matchbox. My favorite part of this routine is the vanish of a just extinguished. If played properly it can be histerical and leaves them clueless.
Posts: 391
Joined: 05/04/08 09:40 AM

Postby Guest » 08/19/04 07:43 PM

Abbott's gave a booklet as a gift when you bought

catalog on tricks with matches, I got mine in 1953

but yoy used to see a lot around but don;t forget

Don Wayne's Matchbook Follies. David Copperfield

did it on one oh his specials and John Kennedy's

Animated Self Lighting Cigarette but that's a

box of matches.Joseph Gaberial did it on TV. When

you do this act turn to the bandleader and say

" Strike up the band " :D Mike

Postby Guest » 08/20/04 07:44 AM

Names that come to mind are: Jack Chanin, Sam Berland, Lloyd Jones - these guys all either wrote or published work specifically on match magic. Gardner did as well, but you've mentioned the encyclopedia. I seem to remember something called Match-ic, also there was a gaffed set of matchbooks for the multiplying matchbooks, another gaffed book for a coin trick (the matches were hollowed out to hold a magnet), there was a matches to money effect (again the matchbook was gaffed to turn into dollar bills), and if I keep thinking I'll come up with more...

Best, PSC

Postby Danny Archer » 08/20/04 09:41 AM

In the 80's there was an effect where a marked coin vanished and reappeared between the cardboard in the cover of a book of matches ..
Effect by Doug Bennett I believe ... name might be Fire Trap???

I think Henning may have performed it on one of his specials ...
Producer of MINDvention
mentalism convention
Danny Archer
Posts: 595
Joined: 02/29/08 01:00 PM
Location: Denver

Postby Jacky Kahan » 08/20/04 02:05 PM

Hi ,

there is a complete chapter from pages 287 till 315 in :
The Complete illustrated Book of Close-up Magic
(Professional Techniques Fully Revealed by a Master Magician)
by Walter B. Gibson
Copyright 1980
Published by DoubleDay & Company
426 pages

If you make a research of Matchbox on you'll find references in more than 40 other books ...

Hope this helps,

Jacky Kahan
Posts: 393
Joined: 03/16/08 04:55 PM
Location: Belgium

Postby Edwin Corrie » 08/20/04 03:09 PM

"Between Cocktails: Intimate Tricks with a Packet of Matches" by Sid Fleischman (34-page booklet, Abbotts, 1962)

"Match-ic" by Martin Gardner has a section on tricks with paper matches. There are also a few things in "Over the Coffee Cups" and "After the Dessert", including Doc Zola's Penetrating Matches, which used to be sold as a separate trick. All these Gardner books (plus also "12 Tricks with a Borrowed Deck" and a couple of new items) are reprinted in "Martin Gardner's Table Magic" (Dover).

"Life Savers" by Michael Weber has a trick called Underground Transposition in which a borrowed bill transposes with the matches in a matchbook.

"Five Times Five Japan" has two nice matchbook effects.

"Magic Digest" by George B. Anderson describes a matchbook gimmicked with a piece of carbon paper for taking impressions in a mind reading effect. (Not sure if this is what you are after.)

"Expert Card Technique" suggests using a matchbook as an impromptu card easel.

The chapter in Gibson's "Complete Illustrated Book of Close-up Magic" is all to do with wooden matches and matchboxes. Another interesting book is "Matchbox Delights" by David Ginn, but that's all wooden matches and matchboxes too. Same goes for the old Will Blyth book on match magic.

More than a few of the above effects could be feature items. There must be some stuff in things like Apocalypse and Pallbearers Review too.
Edwin Corrie
Posts: 469
Joined: 01/18/08 01:00 PM
Location: Geneva, Switzerland

Postby troublewit » 08/20/04 03:21 PM

Thank you all for your kind responses. I appreciate it.
Best regards, Christopher
Christopher Klocek
337 N Wood St
Griffith, In 46319
Posts: 180
Joined: 04/07/08 10:49 AM

Postby Van » 08/22/04 03:23 PM

Steve Minch's Creations of a Magical Madmam contains a great routine called "The Match Monster"

Posts: 64
Joined: 03/01/08 01:00 PM
Location: Roswell, NM

Postby troublewit » 08/23/04 03:51 PM

Van, you mention a book by Stephen Minch which I searched for at H&R's website, but came up empty. Is this yet to be published, or is it OOP?

Regards, Christopher
Christopher Klocek
337 N Wood St
Griffith, In 46319
Posts: 180
Joined: 04/07/08 10:49 AM

Postby Erik Hemming » 08/23/04 05:48 PM

The Minch book is long out of print. Doubtless, someone here will know how long out of print.
Erik Hemming
Posts: 128
Joined: 01/19/08 01:00 PM
Location: Madison & Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Postby troublewit » 08/24/04 01:56 PM

Thanks, Gordon.

Anybody know where a copy of "Creations of a Magical Madman" by Stephen Minch might be available?
Christopher Klocek
337 N Wood St
Griffith, In 46319
Posts: 180
Joined: 04/07/08 10:49 AM

Postby Bill Duncan » 08/24/04 08:26 PM

I would suggest contacting Steve directly as he would be the best source for information about the routine.

Jamy Swiss used to include The Match Monster in a set of his with Steve's permission. It was in one of his lecture notes (Thoughts, Theories, Theatrics? I don't recall which one) and my still be available from him.
Bill Duncan
Posts: 1385
Joined: 03/13/08 11:33 PM

Postby gfajuri » 08/25/04 06:20 AM

Shameless Plug:

Check out "Sankey Unleashed" for a few gems with paper and wooden matches.
Posts: 104
Joined: 03/17/08 11:24 AM

Postby Guest » 08/27/04 10:40 AM

The Swiss routine is in Thoughts. I read it in Denny's Las Vegas shop yesterday afternoon.

Also, Johnny Ace Palmer has a routine published in his very first lecture notes, which has a blue cover and is something like, "Magic for Fun and Entertainment," or some such. It's available only from Johnny, methinks. The trick is really good as I recall, although the rest of the booklet contains only intermediate tricks. For his best work, see IF SLEEVES COULD TALK, which I cowrote. :D

Postby Danny Archer » 08/28/04 05:26 PM

Garrett Thomas has a very nice matchbook routine called "Match-Back" on his video "Any Questions" ...
Producer of MINDvention
mentalism convention
Danny Archer
Posts: 595
Joined: 02/29/08 01:00 PM
Location: Denver

Postby MitchSchneiter » 08/28/04 11:33 PM

Here are some from the books I own. This list hasn't been updated in years so I'm sure I'm missing some more.


Ammar, Michael, "Yeast Card", Encore 3 by Michael Ammar (Michael Ammar 1983), pp.24-30. A signed card rises to the top of the deck. The effect is repeated but the card is discovered in a matchbook that rests on top of the deck.
Bloom, Gaetan, "The Bloom vs. Kulagina Match", The New York Magic Symposium Collection Five by Stephen Minch (Symposium Productions 1986), pp.46-49. Matches in a matchbox drawer twitch slightly then explode from the box by no apparent means. Matches and box can be examined immediately and the matchbox can be borrowed.
Bornstein, Mike, "Double Matchit", Close-Up File by Jerry Mentzer (Magic Methods 1994), pp.67-71. A selected card is lost in the deck. A dollar bill is bet that the performer can "match" it. The dollar bill is folded and transformed into a packet of matches. The matchbook is opened and inside is seen a miniture card matching the selected card.
Burger, Eugene, "The Animated Matchbox", The Performance of Close-Up Magic by Eugene Burger (Kaufman and Greenberg 1987), pp.70-74. A matchbox on the back of the magician's hand stands up and lays down on command. The matchbox drawer then opens on command.
Carlyle, Francis, "Decapitation", Stars of Magic edited by George Starke (Louis Tannen 1975), Series 4, No.1, pp.57-60. The performer borrows a book of matches. The head of the match is scratched off, then reappears and is lit. The performer repeats the effect with a second match.
Dingle, Derek, "The Sorcerer Strikes", The Complete Works of Derek Dingle by Richard Kaufman (Kaufman and Greenberg 1982), pp.25-27. Performer mimes rolling a cigarette and a real cigarette materializes. A matchbook is then opened and shown to be empty. It is closed and opened again to show it now full of matches.
Dingle, Derek, "Combustible Cash", The Complete Works of Derek Dingle by Richard Kaufman (Kaufman and Greenberg 1982), pp.184-187. Four half dollars are displayed and placed in a small envelope. Matches are then lit and visibly changed into half dollars. After four half dollars have been produced the envelope is opened to show that it now contains four burnt matches.
Harkey, David, "Firebrand", Simply Harkey by David Harkey (Clandestine Productions 1991), pp.56-59. Transformation of a lighter into a single matchstick.
Harkey, David, "Under Fire", Simply Harkey by David Harkey (Clandestine Productions 1991), pp.91-95. After losing a signed card in a deck, a matchbook is rubbed along the edge of the deck causing the selected card to visibly collapse inside the matchbook and become pemanently stapled in place with the matches.
Harkey, David, "Two to Tangle", Simply Harkey by David Harkey (Clandestine Productions 1991), pp.222-227. A rubber band penetrates the shell of a matchbox and collapses around the drawer inside. Then the band loops doubly around the shell. Finally, the band is rubbed against the striking surface of the matchbox causing the band to visibly link with the shell.
Harris, Paul, "Flash Fold", The Magic of Paul Harris by Jerry Mentzer (Jerry Mentzer 1976), pp.62-67. A business card initialed by a spectator appears in a matchbox.
Harris, Paul, "Heart Burn", Close-Up Fantasies Finale by Paul Harris (Chuck Martinez Productions 1981), pp.99-102. After explaining that the red ink on playing cards contains phosphorus, the magician strikes a card with a matchbook causing the red pips to ignite and the card to burst into flames.
Inglee, Jay, "Strange Wish", Strange Ceremonies by Eugene Burger (Kaufman and Greenberg 1991), pp.65-68. Two matches are torn from a matchbook. The spectator lights one, makes a wish, and blows it out. The magician does the same but wishes for any spirits in the room to make a sign. After he blows out the match the matchbook bursts into flames. A message from the spirit is found in the matchbook after the flames are blown out.
Johnsson, Rick, Strike One, Strike One An impromptu miracle with matches written by Jerry Mentzer (Jerry Mentzer 1973), pp.1-11. Two matchboxs cling to one another in an uncanny manner.
Magic Hedonists, The, "Freeze Dried Flame", The Magic Hedonists Brainstorm in the Bahamas written and edited by Adam J. Fleischer (The Magic Hedonists 1983), pp.104-106. Match is lit and performer grabs the flame which becomes "frozen". "Frozen" flame is returned to match which starts burning again.
Miller, Welsh, "Cards and Matches", The Dai Vernon Book of Magic by Lewis Ganson (L&L Publishing 1994), pp.189-193. Three pieces of broken match sticks appear, vanish, and multiply under the cover of three playing cards in a "cups and balls" type routine.
Mullica, Tom, "Schizophrenia", The New York Magic Symposium Close-Up Collection One by Richard Kaufman (Invisible Man Productions 1982), pp.75-77. Magical Mullica madness with cigarettes and matches. Matches and cigarettes vanish and change places.
Rubinstein, Michael, "Firefly", Spectacle by Stephen Minch (L&L Publishing 1990), pp.119-125. A matchbox is passed through the fist and the cover vanishes. It is found in the performer's pocket. The cover is replaced on the drawer of matches and it then penetrates through the back of his hand leaving behind the drawer.
Sankey, Jay, "Maaatchbox", 100% Sankey by Richard Kaufman (Kaufman and Greenberg 1990), pp.32-34. Matches and drawer of an ordinary matchbox stretch to twice as long as the box.
Sankey, Jay, "Fiery Reunion", 100% Sankey by Richard Kaufman (Kaufman and Greenberg 1990), pp.42-43. A match is broken and magically restored while it is burning.
Shore, Les, "The Melting Coin", CoinMagic by Richard Kaufman (Kaufman and Greenberg 1981), pp.226-228. A borrowed coin is held over a burning match causing it to melt (and drip!) away into nothingness.
Tarr, Bill, "Bits and Tricks with Matches", Now You See It, Now You Don't! by Bill Tarr (Vintage Books 1976), p.204-205. Two matches held between the fingers penetrate each other and other stunts.
Tarr, Bill, "A Matchbook Move", The Second Now You See It, Now You Don't! by Bill Tarr (Vintage Books 1978), p.215. A matchbook vanish.
Posts: 46
Joined: 02/29/08 01:00 PM
Location: West Linn, Oregon

Return to Close-Up Magic