Vernon Cups: Myth?

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
User avatar
erdnasephile
Posts: 4173
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby erdnasephile » December 16th, 2016, 8:57 am

All:

I recall reading somewhere (? Busby's writings) that Dai Vernon had his cups engraved because he noticed that when a hand with a palmed ball passed in front of a mirror-finished cup, the reflection of the ball sometimes flashed to the audience.

Does anyone know if that story is true or just pure malarkey?

Thanks!

Ian Kendall
Posts: 2444
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Edinburgh
Contact:

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Ian Kendall » December 16th, 2016, 9:22 am

Dubious. I think in the Canadian Vernon documentary it was mentioned that the cups were given to him engraved to begin with.

Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 8156
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY
Contact:

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 16th, 2016, 10:13 am

? Heard there were two (or three) sets brought over at the time. Vernon got one - used em ... Persi Diaconis replaced with theirs after a while. The Vernon(2) set passed from Vernon to Jennings - then to a collector. Set 1 staying safe with professor Diaconis. :)
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Tom Moore
Posts: 474
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 6:45 pm
Location: Europe
Contact:

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Tom Moore » December 16th, 2016, 12:03 pm

Engraving wouldn't stop it flashing either (compared to regular mirror polish) which is probably the main reason why this story isn't likely to be true
"Ingenious" - Ben Brantley: New York Times

thomasmoorecreative

Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 8156
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY
Contact:

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 16th, 2016, 12:50 pm

Vernon seemed more the type to notice that there's little reason to get your hands in front of the cups during the routine. Someone like Ramsay however... maybe he worried about it.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » December 16th, 2016, 8:43 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:? Heard there were two (or three) sets brought over at the time. Vernon got one - used em ... Persi Diaconis replaced with theirs after a while. The Vernon(2) set passed from Vernon to Jennings - then to a collector. Set 1 staying safe with professor Diaconis. :)


I thought there were three sets but David Ben believes that there were only two, the sets that passed between Diaconis and Vernon. The collector in question is Bill Taylor. He purchased it from Jennings' widow a number of years ago.

Tom Gilbert
Posts: 797
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: NH
Contact:

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Tom Gilbert » December 16th, 2016, 9:21 pm

Maybe my memory is blending some things, but I thought there was an interview where Vernon talking about getting the cups in Iran.

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » December 17th, 2016, 12:38 am

Tom Gilbert wrote:Maybe my memory is blending some things, but I thought there was an interview where Vernon talking about getting the cups in Iran.


Paul Fox had given Vernon a set of his legendary cups between 1936 and 1937. Vernon loaned them out to Life Magazine photographer George Karger in the mid 1950s. On a trip to Iran, Karger had the cups replicated in sterling silver and ornately engraved. Apparently two sets were made with Vernon keeping one set and Karger the other. Diaconis managed to obtain the set that Karger owned and later on he and Vernon traded cups.

User avatar
erdnasephile
Posts: 4173
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby erdnasephile » December 17th, 2016, 10:07 am

Thanks for the interesting information!

I did another search of my library and discovered that my original recollection about an alleged Vernon story was wrong.

The real origin of idea is from a book by Jay Lloyd Evans: "The Other Side of the Coin: Advice on Performing Close-up Magic" ( http://magicref.tripod.com/books/evansj ... ofcoin.htm ) where he writes (pg 19):

"The cups I use are silver. I had the beautiful polished finish on the outside dulled to a satin luster. Why? Palm a red ball in your hand and pass it in front of a mirror like cup. See the flash? This is one of the things experience teaches you. Make your props cooperate with you, don't you conform to suit them."

Sorry for the confusion--got my wires crossed on this one (However, Busby did sell the book to me, so I knew he factored in there somewhere! ;) )

PS: The book is a really interesting one--strong, unapologetic, practical opinions from an experienced performer. He readily admits that readers are not going to agree with everything he writes (as in this case), but he definitely tries to make you think. He also doesn't hesitate to name specific examples of what he believes to be good and not so good magic. He seems quite the character and the book reminds me of other works by Beck, Weber, and White. Does anyone know what became of Mr. Evans?

webbmaster
Posts: 128
Joined: November 30th, 2016, 11:38 am
Favorite Magician: richard Kaufmann

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby webbmaster » April 12th, 2017, 3:50 pm

I had heard that Francis Carlysle had one set, pawned them numerous times, and I think it was this set that ended up with, was it Percy ? Am I wrong ?

performer
Posts: 3190
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby performer » April 12th, 2017, 3:55 pm

I have never heard of that book. It sounds, at least on the face of it, to be a remarkably good book.

User avatar
Q. Kumber
Posts: 1648
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Manchester, England

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Q. Kumber » April 12th, 2017, 4:17 pm

The first thing Paul Daniels did when he started using the Chop Cup was to dull the finish. It reflects light. I think using brightly polished cups is a daft idea, even in close-up as, it attracts the eye too much and reflects the light. The cups are props and should not be the main focus of attention . . . and as been pointed out may help reveal part of the secret.

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » April 12th, 2017, 7:31 pm

webbmaster wrote:I had heard that Francis Carlysle had one set, pawned them numerous times, and I think it was this set that ended up with, was it Percy ? Am I wrong ?


Paul Fox had given Vernon a set of his legendary cups between 1936 and 1937. Vernon loaned them out to George Starke in the mid 1950s who on a trip to Iran had the cups replicated in sterling silver and ornately engraved. Apparently two sets were made with Vernon keeping one set and Starke the other. Diaconis managed to obtain the set that Starke owned and later on he and Vernon traded cups.

Never heard the story of Carlyle getting his hands on Starke's set.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25119
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 12th, 2017, 8:33 pm

The story about the cups in a pawn shop is missing from this history. That's where Persi got his set, I believe.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » April 12th, 2017, 9:24 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:The story about the cups in a pawn shop is missing from this history. That's where Persi got his set, I believe.


It would be interesting to find out how Starke's set wound up in a pawn shop. Or was it an antique shop?

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25119
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 12th, 2017, 10:33 pm

Can't recall the details. From what I remember, Persi got the cups from this shop, then asked Vernon if he would swap sets, which he did.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Richard Hatch
Posts: 1935
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Providence, Utah
Contact:

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Richard Hatch » April 13th, 2017, 12:16 am

I heard that the shop owner where Persi found the set (not sure if it was a pawn shop or not) had them on display as flower pots in the shop window in NYC when Persi spotted them. Don't recall the source for this...

Bill Mullins
Posts: 5206
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Bill Mullins » April 13th, 2017, 2:04 am

From the Genii report of Bill Taylor's talk on the cups at the LA Magic History Conference in 2011:
George Karger had two sets made, and arranged for them to be smuggled to America. Vernon got a set and Karger got a set. After Karger retired as a photographer, he ran an antique store in New York. Diaconis bought them there.

Re: the Flower Pots, from Pete Biro's book "Indian Cups and Balls":
Vernon's cups were beautifully engraved, and brought into the U.S. for him by a diplomat friend of Life Magazine photographer, and amateur magician, George Karger. For arranging this, Karger was given a set, while Vernon received his set. Years later, Persi Diaconis, a student of Vernon's, wanted a set of Vernon's cups, and found out that Karger still had the only other set in existence, and had retired and opened an antique shop in New York. Diaconis went to Karger's shop and asked, "How much do you want for these old metal flower pots?" The answer was, "They are not for sale."

Diaconis was not one to give up, and next time when he went to Karger he made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » April 13th, 2017, 8:03 pm

Now was it George Karger or George Starke who traveled to Iran and had those cups made?

David Ben has it as Starke in his bio of Paul Fox.

Richard Hatch
Posts: 1935
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Providence, Utah
Contact:

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Richard Hatch » April 14th, 2017, 12:11 am

Leonard Hevia wrote:Now was it George Karger or George Starke who traveled to Iran and had those cups made?

David Ben has it as Starke in his bio of Paul Fox.


Karger's obit in the NY Times mentions his ownership of an antique shop, so it would seem it was Karger, not Starke (who was a judge on the NY State Supreme Court).

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » April 14th, 2017, 9:52 am

Oh wow, thanks for the clarification Mr. Hatch! The Karger/Starke confusion was a little mystery I could not solve for years.

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 14th, 2019, 11:59 pm

We know that Bill Taylor purchased Vernon's silver engraved cups from BJ, Jennings' widow. Did he also obtain Vernon's silver wand? Does anyone know the fate of that wand?

Robert77
Posts: 67
Joined: February 26th, 2017, 4:17 pm

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Robert77 » November 15th, 2019, 12:08 am

I grew up with these cups on my mind. Had my set of Morissey "Vernon style mini cups". Missed out on Danny Dew cups initially and only later got a set from Pete Biro, along with some other interesting sets (from other places). I have a slight cup fetish. So I have to ask: what order of magnitude would the set of Vernon cups have sold for in their most recent change of owners. I'd guess...five figures?

Joe Lyons
Posts: 248
Joined: November 13th, 2017, 8:27 am
Favorite Magician: Wonder
Location: Texas

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Joe Lyons » November 15th, 2019, 8:20 am

Leonard Hevia wrote:We know that Bill Taylor purchased Vernon's silver engraved cups from BJ, Jennings' widow. Did he also obtain Vernon's silver wand? Does anyone know the fate of that wand?


Here’s one:

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/10 ... rom-vernon

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 16th, 2019, 11:10 am

Omg Joe! You found it! Thank you! Vernon gave it to Jennings and BJ must have sold it off at auction. This is the wand we see in the Dai Vernon Book of Magic. I hope it was David Ben who won it.

To answer Robert's question, Taylor paid BJ something like $75,000 for Vernon's cups. It was detailed in a past Genii article a number of years ago.

Robert77
Posts: 67
Joined: February 26th, 2017, 4:17 pm

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Robert77 » November 16th, 2019, 2:16 pm

Leonard Hevia wrote:To answer Robert's question, Taylor paid BJ something like $75,000 for Vernon's cups. It was detailed in a past Genii article a number of years ago.


Leonard, thanks! That's fascinating.

Joe Lyons
Posts: 248
Joined: November 13th, 2017, 8:27 am
Favorite Magician: Wonder
Location: Texas

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Joe Lyons » November 16th, 2019, 9:55 pm

Leonard Hevia wrote:Omg Joe! You found it! Thank you! Vernon gave it to Jennings and BJ must have sold it off at auction. This is the wand we see in the Dai Vernon Book of Magic. I hope it was David Ben who won it.


Your welcome.
It would also be interesting to know where the Daley and Bertram wands mentioned in the auction are today.

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 16th, 2019, 11:01 pm

Joe Lyons wrote: It would also be interesting to know where the Daley and Bertram wands mentioned in the auction are today.


Yeah it would interesting to find out. Bertram passed some of his props to Ben so he might have it. Daley's wand is another matter. I don't think he left behind a wife and children. Somebody most likely scooped up his props after his untimely death.

User avatar
Brad Jeffers
Posts: 974
Joined: April 11th, 2008, 5:52 pm
Location: Savannah, GA

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Brad Jeffers » November 17th, 2019, 1:38 am

It's interesting that in the letter of provenance accompanying the wand, Vernon states that the wand came from Gamages ...

"Dear Larry, This wand is one that was sold by Gamages in London many years ago. I would love to have you use it. I used it for several years when performing the classic Cups and Balls. You as one of the really superlative performers might use it on occasion. Most sincerely, Dai Vernon."

However the auction catalog claims that to be wrong ...

"The letter of provenance accompanying this wand is incorrect, to a degree. Jimmy Drilling, a student of Vernon's, manufactured this wand and two others like it. The first – this one – was presented to Vernon. The other two were given to Ross Bertram and Dr. Jacob Daley."

Makes me wonder where the auctioneers got their information.

One thing that seems odd to me ....

If I were to make a limited edition of three wands; to be presented to those three gentlemen; I think I would fashion them out of silver, rather than aluminum.

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 17th, 2019, 11:04 am

Some interesting thoughts Brad. Gamages was the swanky department store in central London that had a magic shop at the location. Is it possible Vernon acquired this wand there? Perhaps it was bought at Gamages and presented to him as a gift during his 1955 British lecture tour. It would explain the silver wand he wields in the Dai Vernon Book photos since they were taken there. It would also explain Vernon's reference to Gamages in that letter to Jennings.

It would mean that Vernon had two silver wands, the one from Gamages and the Drilling wand. Drilling most likely made those wands out of aluminium cuz silver would have been much more expensive. When you study history the underlying motivation for human behavior is usually economic.

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 30th, 2019, 2:48 pm

Fantasma is selling an aluminum two part wand inspired by Vernon's wand. Jimmy Drilling is credited in their ad with designing Vernon's original wand along with Warren Simms. According Magicpedia, Simms was an engineer who later transitioned to professional magic and manufactured props.

http://www.fantasmatoy.com/proddetail.php?prod=mtawan

User avatar
Brad Jeffers
Posts: 974
Joined: April 11th, 2008, 5:52 pm
Location: Savannah, GA

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Brad Jeffers » November 30th, 2019, 3:58 pm

$69 is a bargin, when compared to THIS.

Tom Gilbert
Posts: 797
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: NH
Contact:

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Tom Gilbert » November 30th, 2019, 9:31 pm

Wow, Brad, $450. I'd have to think that was really special aluminum.

performer
Posts: 3190
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby performer » November 30th, 2019, 9:56 pm

Leonard Hevia wrote:Some interesting thoughts Brad. Gamages was the swanky department store in central London that had a magic shop at the location.


I actually worked there! It was run by the late Harry Baron who had quite a scheme going. Not only did he receive his regular salary from Gamages in his capacity as buyer for the magic department he used to order lots of merchandise from Kaymar Magic (who incidentally are still around today). Kaymar made a lot of profitable business from Gamages in those days. But guess who owned Kaymar? Harry Baron of course! Gamages never knew that little detail of course!

Chung Ling Soo's son always worked there at the time. Not in the magic department of course. He was far too grand for that. He was one of the store executives. His name was Mr Robinson and he used to have to walk past the magic department every day on the way to his office. He always gave the magic department a filthy look when he passed it. He never spoke to us once.

OK. You can go back to talking about the cups and balls now...............

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 30th, 2019, 10:58 pm

Interesting recollections Mark. I wonder if Gamages printed a catalog of their magic inventory back in the 50s. A catalog with that aluminum wand listed would provide the evidence to support Vernon's claim it was purchased at Gamages.

The Vernon wand on the auction site sold for $2,800.

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1899
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 30th, 2019, 11:51 pm

Tom Gilbert wrote:Wow, Brad, $450. I'd have to think that was really special aluminum.


The seller had the wand made to his specs by a machinist around 1976. The wand is also a two piece so I would imagine he paid about $100 to have it made. In 2019 that would amount to $452.67.

performer
Posts: 3190
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby performer » December 1st, 2019, 12:11 am

I think Gamages did indeed have a catalogue at one time. I am not sure when though. Let me check.

OK. Gamages certainly did have a catalogue. However, it would have been a general catalogue for the entire store and perhaps there was a section therein for the magic department. I really don't know. There are actually PDF copies on the internet of the catalogue. I do vaguely remember that there might have been a magic catalogue specifically for the magic department but I may well be wrong. It was a long, long time ago.
Last edited by performer on December 1st, 2019, 12:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

performer
Posts: 3190
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby performer » December 1st, 2019, 12:22 am

Aha! There was indeed a magic catalogue from 1950!
https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/4878665721 ... 8/?lp=true

Furthermore if you google magic catalogue gamages you will see all sorts of images of the catalogues if you go to the image section. And I also see that lybrary has something about a gamages magic catalogue show up in the search.

You can also look up the one word "gamagic" and you will see lots of information about the magic catalogue

Dave Le Fevre
Posts: 79
Joined: December 24th, 2015, 10:29 am
Favorite Magician: Paul Megram

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby Dave Le Fevre » December 1st, 2019, 4:20 am

performer wrote:I actually worked there!

My earlier magic purchases were mostly in Gamages. When did you work there?

performer
Posts: 3190
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: Vernon Cups: Myth?

Postby performer » December 1st, 2019, 9:29 am

Several centuries ago! Or at least it feels like it!
OK. Let me try to work it out approximately. Early sixties I would imagine. Cardini also worked there! Way before my time of course!


Return to “Close-Up Magic”