It's funny how big trees from little acorns grow. On December 6th, 1940, we wrote a letter that was published in the ' Magic Circular." In it we advocated (because of prevailing conditions) regional meetings of conjurers. The letter bore fruit and soon starting at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Bridger Lewis, the ' Magical Wanderers'" began their existence. From these meetings there came into being the London Society of Magicians. We were reminded of this when reading the programme matter of the L.S.M. Festival and wondered, had our letter not been written, whether or not there would have been a London Society.
Paul Curry's " Linked " which first appeared in the " Pheonix " and later took its place in Bruce Elliott's " Magic as a Hobby " was a lovely effect. With the idea of making it into a more stagey idea Elizabeth Warlock made use of a board and stand and called it " Linklater." (You will find this in a back number of the " Pentagram " and also in the " Pheonix "). In the August number of the " Genii " a Mr. Nyle Rothenbach describes a trick which would never have come into being without the two effects mentioned, and yet there is not a word of acknowledgment. Because it is so near to the " Link-later " effect in construction we notice that there is a charming footnote reserving all marketing rights for Mr. Rothenbach.
Recently there has been quite a deal of talk about the trouble conjurers take regarding the set up for a desired effect. We feel certain that the prize must go to the late Horace Spencer. His brother incidentally is the Royal Academician whose pictures arouse so much controversy. Horace would go to any length for the sake of an effect. On one occasion he was giving daily shows on Thames craft. As the boat neared the mooring stage or possibly a lock, Horace would force a card on a spectator. It was a very clean force for the cards were fanned in front of the spectator and he was asked to think of a card. He was then handed the pack and the card was found to have vanished. At this point Horace would call the attention of a boy sitting on the bank with a fishing rod. At this moment the lad would start winding in his reel and there on the end of the line and hook was a fish. Horace would throw the boy a shilling in exchange for the fish. The latter was taken sliced open and there was the missing card. Needless to say the boy was planted there each day with a special prepared fish containing the card that Horace intended to force.
Maury Fogel, Billy O'Connor and ourselves sat together the other evening talking about the " Greats " of the past. Though retrospective thinking can be dangerous as ihe memory is likely to play false, the fact that emerged from this conversation was that Percy Selbit had undoubtedly invented, adapted or produced more worthwhile stage illusions than anyone else we could name. Just think back and realise how much he did. . . . " The Elastic Lady," " Sawing through a Woman," " The Man without a Middle," " The Human Pincushion." " Walking through a Wall," " The Masked Medium," " The Stick Rack," " The Spirit Paintings," and so on. We know that many of the bases of these effects were not the origination of Selbit, but he saw their possibilities and made them intriguing to the public. As a splendid example look how he took the principle that Jeans adapted and used in the '' Silver Hat '' and later a mediumistic effect. Selbit made from his the " Million Dollar Mystery." All these were almost challenge effects, effects which were not only well outside the scope of explanation by a lay man, but in many cases by those who read explanations of conjuring tricks. It is nearly thirteen years since Selbit died and so far nobody in this country or any other that we know has taken stage illusionment one step further or produced even one mystery as intriguing and commercial as those that we have named.
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