The Best Vanishing Bird Cage?

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.

Postby Ray Eden » 09/08/03 12:50 AM

Hello,

I've been searching the Internet for a quality VANISHING BIRD CAGE (between the hands), but seem to only be coming up with cheap pieces. What should one expect to pay for a quality cage? Can someone recommend a quality, durable (with a quality pull) cage? I would also need the contact information for ordering the piece.

Thanks,

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Postby Pete Biro » 09/08/03 08:57 AM

www.owenmagic.com

For the ultimate pull system, check Tommy Wonder's new DVDs.

I just use a long catgut loop from around one thumbe up sleeve and over to other sleeve and down to cage. This way you can let loose of the pull after vanishing and dump the cage out.

Billy McComb handling (Lance Burton uses it) with the cage under a chiffon silk scarf is very magical...

But, if you see what Tommy has done you won't believe it.

You can go on ebay and look for a "Lindhorst" cage.

You might contact Davenport in London and see if they still have any of the old German ones from their crypt.
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Postby Pete Biro » 09/08/03 08:58 AM

www.jamesriser.com (or it might be) www.risermagic.com to see his birdcage pull. He may still have some for sale.
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Postby Jim Riser » 09/08/03 09:48 AM

Ray;
I'll respond to your question about a quality pull first. For years I merely used a nylon cord pull with no problems - just loop it areond the left forearm and you are ready to go. I always set the length so that the final position of the cage was between my elbow and shoulder. In this position it was out of the way for the remainder of the act. The pull that Pete uses could be useful - if you wanted to ditch the cage after the vanish. The pulls that were referred to are actually "take up pulls" which only take up about 7"-8" of slack in the pull right before the vanish. These allow much freer handling of the cage before the vanish. It can actually be held out away from the chest and shown rather casually. That's probably the most expensive slack you will ever see, though. After the slack is taken up, the cage pull is as usual.

As for cages...the cage shown in Tommy Wonder's book (I have not yet seen his DVDs) was of rather poor design to start with and he made major modifications to it to eliminate possible snags during the vanish. I have used many cages over the years. Your two main choices for currently available cages are flexible (Abbotts) or a rigid cage like a Lindhorst. There are several forms of the rigid made and most are junk. A well made cage will look like a cage and will not require any modifications to eliminate snags. You will probably not see any good cages in a magic shop - most are junk from India (copies of the Milson-Worth Cage which was not a good design either). If you are interested, I'll post a few images of good cages. I have a couple standard Lindhorst style (one is Owen) and a "Baby Lindhorst" that I made for my own use. I do prefer the rigid cages over the flexible cages if only for appearance's sake.
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Postby Pete Biro » 09/08/03 11:40 AM

Frakson had maybe the greatest cage vanishing setup of all time.

He had Jon Martin construct his cages. They were NOT square or rectangular, but cylindrical with a domed top... looked like a real cage.

I sure wish I still had mine!

He had a pull system that took it up the sleeve, then a second pull that took it out of his sleeve, inside the coat and "I believe" down into his pants leg.

Al Koran gave me a pull (but I can't figure out the hookup) that didn't go in the sleeve at all but it went down into the front of your pants and down into your pant leg.

Nothing was hooked to the cage. There was a hook sticking up out of the front of your pants.

If you get the Owen cage (probably the best available) you will need to really do a lot of breaking in as they are fairly stiff when new.

check out the Tommy Wonder DVDs though, to see just what can be done with this effect.
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Postby Pete Biro » 09/08/03 11:45 AM

Jon Martin also made some rectangular cages. I had one and sold it at the last Conf. of Magical History (someone made an offer I couldn't refuse).

There are some very good old, old, German cages, but the last ones I saw were at, as I mentioned, Davenport's in London. I think they have a website, you can search Google.

If there is an email address, send request to the attention of "Fergus" and say hi for me.

There are also some locking ones, that stay rigid until you twise a small rod. The German ones also have sleeve guides, to help keep them from getting caught.

I currently use a very old, worn loose Owen cage with the gut loop so I can get rid of it tossing into a bag as I get the next prop.
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Postby Mr. Stickley » 09/09/03 12:19 AM

Hey Pete,

Maybe you can shed some light here or via e-mail abotu the lengths and set up of you simple loop hookup. I have been working on this effect quite a bit as of late and man the length always seems finicky. Can you shed some light on the subject?

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Postby Pete Biro » 09/09/03 09:27 AM

Get some very heavy clear cat gut (or is it nylon) fishing line.

Run a length of it through the metal hole or loop on your birdcage (where you would attach a pull).

Put the cage in your sleeve with the line running up sleeve, across back and down the other sleeve.

Hold cage set up as you normally would display it before the vanish, now grip the cage so it won't move with the hand where the pull goes into sleeve.

Now, this takes a bit of fiddling... run the end out the other sleeve so it would encircle your thumb if tied off.

Tie it off (loose if you have to re-adjust) so it goes around thumb.

Now, test this length to see if it is tight enough to vanish cage and still give you enough slack to display cage.

It might be easier if you have someone to help adjust and tie off the end.

After you have it tied, move it so the "knot" is up your sleeve a bit, so it doesn't show. Also use some strong glue on it so it does not come united.

After you vanish the cage, you can slip the end off your thumb, then (depending on your table, case, etc.) you can drop the cage into the case and easily pull out the loop/pull and you are now clean.
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Postby Mr. Stickley » 09/09/03 09:58 PM

Thanks, Pete.

In my working with the cage, I have found that if I put the collapsed cage in the breast pocket of my suit coat, I have complete freedom and mobility up until the point I do the birdcage trick. At the point of the trick before I do the cage, I take it out of the pocket, and drop it (the cage) down the sleeve. Now under cover you make the cage rigid and viola you are set to go. Not sure if this has ever been published or discovered. LOL. If not its mine (with my luck that'll be what all you guys have done for decades)! The pull for me has always been the weak link. I have just never been able to get that damn length/set-up right or comfortable.

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Postby Ray Eden » 09/10/03 01:47 AM

First, I apologize for not responding earlier. I used to get messages in my e-mail notifying me that someone had responded to my posting. For some reason its not happening now.

I actually have the Tommy Wonder DVDs which has sparked my interest in doing the cage for an upcoming television show. Of course, TW is so exacting and designs his own systems. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to do all this (for example, the pull which is custom designed to lay perfectly against the arm).

I will take a look at the Owens and Lindhorst cages.

I found this cage online (http://www.magicgoodies.net/web%20pages ... epage.html), but I can't seem to get a response from my e-mails. Does anyone know anything about this cage?

Mr. Riser, do you sell the quality cages? Please respond at: americanmagic@hotmail.com

Thanks for the responses.

Ray Eden (American in Finland)
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Postby Pete Biro » 09/10/03 10:46 AM

The Milson Worth cage looks pretty good, but until you handle and use one it is difficult to say for sure.

Owen Magic has the pulls listed in their online catalog... best way is to email or PHONE and ask for Alan Zagorsky.

Also, ask James Riser (I don't know if he has any in stock). His and Owens are not cheap, but they are as good as you can get.

In some of the old HOffman books there are ways to rig a pull that uses a pulley system that give you 3 inches of pull for each 1 inch of pulling.
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Postby Pete Biro » 09/10/03 10:49 AM

Stickley: Walter Zaney Blaney does the birdcage over and over repeating it... being almost seven feet tall, his arms are looooooooooong, and he just says something like, "Let me get another cage." and opens his coat and reaches in back and pulls cage out of sleeve.

Seems like it tips? But no, it really goes well.

Bert Allerton, close up, did it by reaching under the table and pretending to take the cage out of a case.

The best fake birds I have seen are Norm Nielsen's, at www.nnmagic.com
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Postby Mr. Stickley » 09/10/03 11:17 AM

If someone gets the pricing scoop on the Owens Martin pull, please let me know. Also, yup, the nielson birds are the best. I have one. The Abbotts birds are WAY too big.

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Postby Pete Biro » 09/10/03 04:45 PM

Stickman... go to www.owensmagic.com and look, then phone Alan Zagorsky.
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Postby Jim Riser » 09/10/03 06:28 PM

Pete and Keith;
Try www.owenmagic.com

Cage is under livestock
Martin pull is under new items

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Postby Guest » 09/10/03 07:10 PM

I just watched the Tommy Wonder DVDs...

The man is a genius.

His rig up for the vanishing cage is literally "Wonderful".

I was really impressed, and then I watched the explanation to his Nest of Boxes version 3, and THAT is an example of the epitome of magical ingenuity.
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Postby Jim Riser » 09/10/03 09:48 PM

For your information and enjoyment I have posted a few images comparing currently available cages.

If interested, you may see things at:
http://jamesriser.com/Magic/Vanishing/Birdcage.html

:)

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Postby Pete Biro » 09/10/03 10:08 PM

Jim, thanks for the cage page.... Now I will have to go see what kinds I have... I know one is an Owen (as I got it from them) and the other may be an early original Lindhorst.

I sold, as I mentioned, the round and square Martin cages I had. Got over $1,000 apiece for them.

Tommy Wonder bought my original Martin take up pull, then made his own copy with his improvements. I still have the original George Hammerton one (Ken Brooke sold them, they were improved versions of the Martin one and appear to be what Owen has copied).

I love the trick and have a comedy way of doing it, which I prefer not to tip here as I still use it when I work.
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Postby Jim Riser » 09/10/03 10:28 PM

Pete, it's very difficult to document exactly who made what cages. Some are marked/stamped and most are not. Often the maker sold them on his own and through dealers who claimed the cages as their own. One of my cages is a rather large flexible ribbon covered cage that most likely predates Abbotts Magic. The cage frame is steel with brass bars. I'll never know who made it.

I thought, as a fun project for myself, I'd make myself a Frakson cage set. I'll stamp it so years from now anyone interested will know the maker. They are too complicated to be a viable commercial item; but would be cool to have.
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Postby Guest » 09/11/03 03:42 AM

There seems to be a lot of confusion (and rightfully so) as there were so many Vanishing Bird Cages made by different manufacturers in the past century. The market was literally flooded. Some makers of the "red ribbon" cages were Jay Palmer, Al Baker had his own design made when he worked for Martin Sunshine, Ed Miller, National Magic, Laro, and of course Abbotts. Note...Abbott's only started to advertise the Blackstone Vanishing Bird Cage in 1963 and made like the ones Blackstone actually used. They stated that they were made by Pete Bouton, Blackstone's brother. However, Pete hardly could be tied down enough to make them so Walter Shroeder was actually turning them out. Abbotts continued to have them made like the Blackstone type well into the eighties. They currently sell them but the price of like $175- is a little high. The ribboning method is somewhat different. also.
The Lindhorst models are nice but it's inferior to the Holmdale model that Will Lindhorst copied. The Holmdale models (first made by Charlie in late 1920's) were light weight, and made entirely of aluminum. Gene Devoe also copied the cage in all aluminum. This Devoe cage unfortunately broke easy as the bars came out of the frame too easily. Later Warren Simms copied the Holmdale cage exactly in monel metal. The only way to tell the difference is to see them close up as they each hallmarked their cages. Simms had the "S" in the corner whereas Holmdale was stamped on the inside center frame bar. Later Milson Worth copied the Holmdale and Simms models but weren't practical as the end bars were too long.
The all brass cages and the Eureopean models were just too heavy to facilitate an easy and deceptive vanish.
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Postby Pete Biro » 09/11/03 09:31 AM

Riser... you can make a Frakson set? Geez... you know he had two, one that vanished and the other that appeared.

Fred Kaps used the same system to vanish a Candelabra... Dick Koornwinder has it. I think Fred did it on the Ed Sullivan show. I remember watching him practice it in his home, but never saw him use it in a show.

Maybe I can get Dick to post a photo of it on www.fredkaps.com

And/or show it in a future issue of Genii???
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Postby Pete Biro » 09/11/03 09:33 AM

Oh yeah, David Alexander (was Frakson protege) who lurks here can probably give us the REAL WORK on Frakson's cages. He may have the real ones.

He, outside of magic, is a terrific writer and did the Gene Roddenberry biography.

Also, IMHO, really found out who Erdnase was. His work on that is incredible. :genii:
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Postby Jim Riser » 09/11/03 09:43 AM

Originally posted by Doug Edwards:
There seems to be a lot of confusion (and rightfully so) as there were so many Vanishing Bird Cages made by different manufacturers in the past century. The market was literally flooded. <snip>
The Lindhorst models are nice but it's inferior to the Holmdale model that Will Lindhorst copied. The Holmdale models (first made by Charlie in late 1920's) were light weight, and made entirely of aluminum. Gene Devoe also copied the cage in all aluminum. This Devoe cage unfortunately broke easy as the bars came out of the frame too easily. Later Warren Simms copied the Holmdale cage exactly in monel metal. <snip>
Doug;
It's great that a "real cage collector" has contributed to this thread. I have never handled a Holmdale nor Simms cage; but would like to examine their construction. Did Holmdale peen over the bar ends to retain them within the framework? The usual technique with brass bars is to either solder a ball on the end or use a combination of solder and peening. How did the aluminum hold up over time? Some peoples perspiration actually eats away at aluminum rather quickly. I've seen cages where the aluminum has been very weakened over the years. Some companies claim to be using "Dural"; but good luck ordering that alloy today. My guess is that the alloy is actually 6061 - probably T6 or possibly 1075? Monel might be a good choice. How did it hold up to use?

Again, the problem here is that these cages are not readily available - and Ray wants a good cage. I'm interested in construction techniques more than anything on the older cages.

Doug, any info or images you can add would be very much appreciated.
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Postby Jim Riser » 09/11/03 09:55 AM

Pete;
I was sent (by Jonathan Neal) a poor copy of a French magic magazine article on the Frakson cages. It includes the plans for the cages. I see no problems making the Frakson set other than that the magazine copy is very fuzzy. I'll try to get an actual copy of the original magazine and see if a customer will translate it for me as part of a swap deal. (Anyone interested?)

Yes, there were two cages and two Martin type pulls. These can definitely be made in my shop and are nothing new. The cage design is interesting.

David Alexander tells me that this is a very "hot" hook up. This means that by the time the performer gets all set up with the cloth bag etc. there are too many layers of clothing and it is rather hot and uncomfortable to wear. Yes, David is probably the only person in the world who really knows the Frakson routine etc.

That's alright, I just want to build them for fun and the challenge.

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Postby Pete Biro » 09/11/03 10:41 AM

If you want a challenge... how about the Koran pull where the cage is NOT attached to any pull, but you have a hook sticking up and over your trouser top and the cage vanishes down your pants.

Also, McComb has a nice box he has on a table, that the cage sits in prior to doing the trick. It holds cage square and he hooks up as he takes the cage from the open-topped box.

Funny, Koran was doing the cage, and got a call to do a Royal Command performance. McComb sent him a telegram congratulating him and added, "I hope your cage pull doesn't break."

It made Koran so nervous about it he left the trick out of his act that night.

Hans Trixer had a fast release clip on his cage and a really deeeeep back pocket to his pants. When he vanished the cage he would reach into has back pocket for a handkerchief (later) and dump the cage in the pocket.

The first time I saw anyone do the cage was pre 1940 - Steve Shepherd. He vanished the cage, then had audience member start to search him, taking off items of clothing as he went along, winding up standing there in just his sox and polka dot shorts.

I never forgot that and from that day on worked on ways to "get rid" of the cage... with many variants until I hit the best (for me) using a long loop off the thumb.
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Postby Pete Biro » 09/11/03 10:48 AM

Somewhere in my "famous" boxes out in the garage... I have a really tiny cage made ala Blackstone, with the ribbon.

I don't know if it was made for use by a kid, or was for close up?

A gag I read in, I think the Gen, was you walk on stage holding the cage and walk back and forth, back and forth... then say, "I'm just taking my bird for a walk."

A famous magician (who hates to have his name mentioned, so I wont) had a great premise about a bird that could play a tune hopping back and forth on piano keys.

One idea I have used (for magicians) is to walk onstage holding the cage, trip and fall, and when you get up you can't find the cage.

A gag I never made up, but if somone wants to do it (for magcians) is to walk on with a cage and count "1 - 2 - 3" and your sleeve vanishes INTO THE CAGE.

We did this one. I entered from center thru the curtain holding a real birdcage with a couple of birds in it.

At the count of three... my pants disappeard (pulled a breakaway pair back thru the curtain).

Geez... how did I get started on cage gags?

enjoy :p :p :p :p :p
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Postby brownbeauty » 09/11/03 11:11 AM

To Jim Riser:

Hello Jim,
I have a "Holmdale" bird cage in excellent condition that you are welcome to borrow. Just let me know.

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Postby Jim Riser » 09/11/03 06:13 PM

Hey Rudy;
I'll take you up on your kind offer. I'd really like to examine a Holmdale to see why Doug likes it better than the Lindhorst and to see exactly how it was put together (always learning ;) ). I'll email you my shipping address. Thanks.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 09/11/03 08:07 PM

I once saw William Brewe perform the vanish but he held the cage with only one hand. Further, I believe it was one of the flexible models sold by Abbott's. He walked out with the prop on his upturned palm, then he brought the other hand over and on top of it as if he we going to slap the lid. The cage vanished.

Does this handling have a history?
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Postby Guest » 09/12/03 02:46 AM

Brad-
Bill Williston was the first one I knew who would come out with the cage in one hand and then slap the cage with the other and (when the cage suddenly vanished) said "Another trick shot to hell!"
When Bert Allerton vanished the Cage,(he used the Ed Miller cage and later Simms cages Warren specially made for him) he also hit the top corner of it which snaps it into closed position.
The idea of striking the cage with the free hand is an old idea/method but not really used today as people have only seen Blackstone, Zaney Blaney, and Lance Burton of recent years do it with both hands holding the cage in the traditional way.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 09/12/03 09:14 AM

Thanks Doug,

I appreciate the information and hope to spend time with you again next time I'm in the city.

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Postby Russell Davis » 09/12/03 10:52 AM

Maybe it was Lloyd Jones who would come out on stage holding a birdcage in usual cramped-arms fashion, giving "this next trick" a big buildup, and then setting (solid) cage down to get it out of the way for the actual "next trick". Ha!

Anybody know what presentations Fred Keating or Bob Haskell used in order to put it over to lay audiences?

Jim, thanks for cage pix. Feel free to put up more, currently available or not! Any pictures, Mr. Edwards? Please?

I have what is almost surely a Simms cage. Has angle-steel frame (is that monel?) painted black (can't see an 'S'), sides made of thin brass bars with ends looped around peened rivets, no sleeve guards. Just got unknown similar one with slightly narrower angle-brass frame, notched in places to accomodate, while collapsed, the peened bent ends of thin steel bars. Rivets only in frame corners, not on frame sides, which just have holes for the bars. One small sleeve guard at pull corner, one bigger sleeve guard on one adjacent corner. (One picture would be worth a thousand keystrokes.) Any idea whose make it might be?

Also, did Cardini make a cage? Thought I saw a beautiful one years ago at Ray Goulet's Magic Art Studio.
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Postby Pete Biro » 09/12/03 10:58 AM

I don't recall Jones doing the gag... I have done it and got it from my dear friend Topper Martyn... I believe he was the first.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 09/12/03 12:52 PM

I saw a variation at Abbott's one year. I think they even got Harry Jr to do it.

Magi comes out. Hands cramped on the cage. Magi drops hands and cage is stuck to front of the chest.

It was funny.
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Postby Guest » 09/13/03 09:36 PM

I've never owned one, but have always liked this effect it's DeKolta's, correct?
Alan Hyden has a hilarious presentation with a "Killer Girkin" pickle inside the cage. Is the McComb bit published where the cage is boxed before connecting/taking it out?
Other than Allerton, was there anyone doing this effect close up before him? I am aware this is the 'stage' forum, but thought I'd ask anyway.
Mr. Riser, Jeans Jaques Sanvert has done some translation work from French to English and vice versa; bet Obie has his contact info.
So, is there a definitive set up and cage?
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Postby Anthony Brahams » 09/17/03 01:13 AM

Martinka auction has a simple but good Yimka Cage from Unique (Harry Stanley) I am selling.
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Postby Pete Biro » 09/17/03 01:09 PM

Yimka... boy there's a name from the past. I have a great gag candle he made... you claim you will toss the candle out of the holder into the air, it will do a sumersault and come down into the holder flame down and extinguish itself.

And it does.

A great laugh at how it works and it is easy to do as drinking water.
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Postby Pete Biro » 09/19/03 08:47 PM

Talked to "Sir William" AKA Billy McComb today and suggested he log in here and see what we have been nattering about. :genii:
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Postby David Alexander » 09/30/03 08:46 PM

Thanks to Pete for the kind words. Yes, Frakson taught me the Martin Birdcage(s). Jim Riser reported my words accurately: the outfit is warm to wear....and it requires the performer to remove his jacket, drop his trousers and go through quite an ordeal to reset. Practice is a long, involved process and in an hour or two, you can be exhausted, and only have gone through the routine a few times. It took me a long time to perfect the presentation.

I believe I am the only person left who knows the details. My cages were sold to Bob Albo years ago and the write up on the cages in Albo's book was written by me...uncredited, I believe, and I don't believe it can be performed with what I wrote.

To be truthful, the trick is not that practical. More practical is the vanish of the Martin square cage as done by Howard de Courcy, actually done a tiny bit better by his friend and pupil, Granville Taylor. As I understand it, Howard opened with it already in his hands, but Granville does it a bit differently. The cage is produced, set on a table and a bit later picked up and vanished, the coat being removed to show that it is truly gone.

The Frakson domed cage hung or sat on Papa's table. Handed out to someone to "examine" (actually just put on their open hand) and then held out at an angle to the floor, covered with a large silk foulard, and vanished, the silk falling to the stage.

Papa would pretend to hear someone in the audience say that it "went up his sleeve." To that he would remove his coat and turn around. The applause would start up again and he would stop it, pretending to hear a comment that it was "in the silk." He would bend over and gently pick up the silk and then vigorously show that it was truly empty....the applause would start and suddenly, the cage would rematerialize under the silk. A perfect presentation, but one of the more difficult tricks to present.

Owen Magic does make a marvelous Lindhorst-style Vanishing Cage....for the ridiculous price of $400. Given the amount of work involved, the price should be more like $650. Les just made me another one....I've been using them for years. The best pull in my experience is just a loop of nylon cord, properly adjusts.....and then lots and lots of practice.

When I was a kid, I independently came up with the same move that Zaney Blaney used. I did it for Bergeron and he asked me when I'd seen Blaney. I didn't know what he was talking about. I was crazy for Allerton-type material, so I always wore a coat and the cage, reaching around my back and producing the Lindhorst-style cage in one hand.

To the fellow who asked the question that started this thread, understand that there is no substitute for doing the trick a few thousand times....and if you have a favorite jacket, have your tailor sew smooth leather patches over the arm pits so the pull doesn't wear out the cloth. That happened on at least one jacket of mine.
David Alexander
 
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Postby Ray Eden » 10/01/03 09:28 AM

Thanks for the 'leather' tip, David.

Ray Eden
Ray Eden
 
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