It was a sad moment when Sam Sharpe 'phoned the news of Wilf Huggins' death on 3rd November at the age of 84. Pabular readers more than most appreciate how close-up magic derived from performances of the street conjurer who, with the Growd around him, performed his miracles at close range. Furthermore, he had to be commercial or he starved! The literature of magic has had little to say on the artifices of the street performer and so Wilf Huggins' booklet, from which this article takes its title, was a landmark when George Johnson first published it in 1939. Therein could be found many useful tips and a variety of effects with cfirds, coins, cap and pence, billiard balls, magnetic walking stick, ropes and rings and that classic of the street performer, the guinea pig production from under the hat — progenitor of blocks of ice, bricks and rocks beloved of the close-up worker.
Wilf also authored The C-N-H System published by Harry Leat in 1937. This system combined the Nikola Card System with Charlier's needle-marking, and the small booklet carried in a rear pocket two templates for the marking of poker and whist cards respectively.
However, we venture to believe that Wilf Huggins, principal contribution to the literature of our art will be remembered by posterity for neither of these titles. Rather he will be revered for the delightful little magazine The Midget Magician which he edited, printed and published between 1951 and 1960. It originated because Bert Pratt had once said to Wilf that he would be much intrigued by a magic magazine that he could carry in his vest (i.e. waistcoat) pocket. Wilf thereupon proceeded to translate fantasy into fact. Each issue was limited to 50 copies, numbered and signed by the publisher and complete files of this charming periodical, which carried regular articles by Wilf, Bert Pratt, Stanley
Collins, Dick Ritson, Sam Sharpe, Robert Lund and several others, are now eagerly and despairingly sought by collectors.
We met Wilf Huggins but once, thirteen years ago at the home of Sam and June Sharpe, and the memory of his warm personality and twinkling eyes vividly remain. For those Pabular readers who did not have the pleasure of knowing Wilf, we suggest that if your bookshelf does not already hold Secrets of the Street Conjurer you look out for a copy and thus make posthumous contact with one of the grandest characters in magic, and one who contributed significantly to the art of close-up magic.
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