Mr. Gaff, bibliophile, magicphile, and womanizer will answer your magical questions by hook or crook. Whatever obscure query pops into your head should be addressed to him. He asks merely that you restrict yourself to the irrelevant.
As you know, these columns are written some time before you receive the magazine. For example, yesterday was election day. By the time you read this, the fact that FDR made it for a second term will hardly be earth-shaking; however, everyone is talking about it now. In any event, to the questions:
Compadre Jock Hayes Whitney of Cheraw, Colorado writes, "I recently bought a stack of used magic from a widow of a newly deceased Compadre. Much of it is without instructions. I'm
31 Lester Overton was a fictional character created by Clarke "Senator" Crandall.
particularly intrigued by an item that's an ellipsoid--a little over one foot long at its widest point, enameled white, rounded on one side, flat on the other, bearing the legend, 'Kohler. I Perhaps it's a card frame?"
The MILLWRIGHT replies by observing that one trouble with being an expert with an enormous collection of magic catalogues and books(one of the world's largest)is that it leaves me open to inane questions such as Compadre Whitney's. A thorough perusal of my entire library (during which page 322 of H. L. Williams' Magic Annual for 1873 crumpled to dust) unearthed no mention nor picture of the item you described. All I can say is "Thank Heavens" I have two more copies of Williams Annual for that year. Page 322 contains the first and best description of the New Deck Order, a discovery Williams made and kept to himself for fifty years. Finally, he offered it to the fraternity, hoping that someone could employ such knowledge to an effect. As many of you know, someone did and I've never forgiven Williams!
Reasoning inductively, the absence of a glass plate (or even the grooves into which one might fit) seems to rule out your card frame notion. Your description, however, does stir old memories: I recall seeing something similar to what you have, but open at the narrow end. I believe you have one of those primitive linking rings. Such an item would be worthless to a performer without the key. Because of its rarity, it's unlikely that you'll ever obtain the rest of the set. As a collector, I will gladly buy it from you(for no more than $100). As for you, I hope you've learned a lesson. Caveat emptor!
Compadre Earl Reum of Many Lakes, Nevada, writes, "I recently acquired a complete set of The Backstage Birdcage for the year 1923 and now discover that number 10 (October) is missing. Why?"
I confess that I don't know the answer to this, but a hasty conference with Albert "Shortcard" MacHinty, 93-year-old, former assistant to the Great Blackstone and for the last 15 years on display in my gallery (exhibit case 114), was all that was needed. Issue 10 was the brainstorm of the legendary Argentinean magician and bolo wielder, Ricardo Himberto. Pages 37-38 were double-layered, with a colony of Pampas moth larvae inserted into the void space. All issues mysteriously vanished within two days of their arrival (January 12, 1924). It is unfortunate that Ricardo chose to conceal his living gimmicks in this issue, containing as it did the only known description of the modus operandi of the Hooker Rising Cards. Ironically, Himberto wound himself to death the day after colonizing the Cage and was buried with his bolo on.
Victoria Claflin Woodhull of Pancreas, Michigan says, "I am writing this under a state of siege. My husband, a prominent local magician departed two hours ago for what he referred to with his last breath as The Happy Get-Together in the Sky. His thumb tip is not yet cold and already a group of his fellow club members have arrived with station wagons, pick-ups, and wheelbarrows. Even now they are pounding on the door and waving bills. The lawn is a shambles, with broken wands everywhere. What shall I do?" (This letter was found in a small metal container chained to the leg of a dove which flew through my open window. )
First, Mrs. Woodhull, root through your late husband's effects and find some hat coils. Hold these out the upstairs window, letting them unfurl upon the crowd below. The more coils, the better. This diversion, while they search under the resultant heaps for production articles, should give you ample time to move yourself and your husband's trunks to a safer location. Upon reaching there, quickly send me your address and a flight schedule. You will find it worth your while!
Well, that's it for now. It's time to return to my Snap-It routine(Supreme), an application of startling new principles to a comfortable, old trick. The routine will eventually be sold in manuscript form for $50. 00, to protect serious close-up performers from the merely curious. (Enclose $25 extra if you need the apparatus.) In closing, Bruce Bottom asks MILLWRIGHT, "Is the Glide still an acceptable artifice in card manipulation?" The MILLWRIGHT'S answer: "It's about as acceptable as a bruised edge to a Faro Shuffler, Joe... er... I mean, Bruce!"
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