(Close Window)
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Feb 19, 2019 10:16AM)
The Demon Wonder Box had been around since the Vaudeville days. Not being manufactured any longer, so the only way to obtain one is through second hand sources. L. Davenport Magic Company purchased the idea from a person and started to have it manufactured and distributed to the United States. This little flip flop box was an instant "had to have" silk production box. Many Vaudeville entertainers purchased it as well, and used in their acts. It was so popular, that is copied by a number of metal workers here in the U.S.

The box is made entirely brass, and is not easy to make. There is not recorded routines or handling of this box, that I can find, except for the instructions that come with box. Being is only about two by three and quarter inches in size. It perfectly fits the "Pack Small and Play Big" for professional entertainers of the era.

Now we come to problem, the instructions only gave instructions of how to produce several silks from the little box. They even made an extra load chamber that could was sold separately, as the box could be shown empty a number of times during the handling, and still produce more silks, usually small 12 inch silks, or small streamers, or ribbon, etc.

So it fast became a collectors item, just setting on shelves tarnishing away.

Jonathon Neal Brown, a professional magician all his life, had long wanted to create a full routine and large production from this little box with flap-able doors, open bottom and a flap lid on top.

I had heard of this little box, but did not know much about it, until Empire Magic brought to market a chrome copy of the original, in thick steel. The call it simply the Silk Box. Sells for only $12.50 or so, and can be found even less expensive.

The Collectors original's bring prices from $40 to $80 and even higher if it is in excellent condition and has the extra load with it.

Jonathon Neal Brown was requested to lecture at a magic gathering, and thought this was a good time to bring his idea to life. What a creative he has for designing props and great routines to present wonderful magic effects.

He got down to work and created not just a production, but 10 minute full presentation with the Demon Wonder Box. Then he wrote, what he calls Notes, but they are much more then that, they are a 49 page booklet, vast and overwhelming that this little box is not the best silk production I have ever read about. The 1st 15 pages read like a Who Done it, I could not put down the booklet I had to know what was coming. Boy did I find out, yards and yards of silks. Not little silks but 12", 18", 34", silks, and even 25 foot streamers. Well, now you just have to know how this can be accomplished.

Not only does he tell you explicit detail, but also give you handling and full presentation with patter ideas. No this it not just a production, but a PRODUCTION of which the likes you have never heard of witnessed.

Now for the news, there is arts and crafts involved, and he tells you exactly how he made his. No, he does not have a work shop, he does all his work by hand, or with the help of a Dremel tool. That it! He also give detailed instructions and photographs all the way along the journey.

Now the best part, this is not only a full stage production, but is can be shown as stand alone effect. At one point the Demon Wonder Box is handed out to an audience member and can fully handle the box, and flip the doors open and shut. This makes it perfect for smaller shows, like in home parties and birthday events. It was created as a stand alone effect as well. Meaning, you can just show this effect without any prior with the Demon Wonder Box, and have a very small light weight table to see the box you made and the Demon Wonder Box on the table, and begin. Now any will like that this can be presented NAKED, I know how many Café members like to show their magic effect NAKED. It is a problem with them, always wanting to know if they need to wear a jacket, long pants, or even a button down shirt. Well, the good new is, you don't need to wear any cloths at all if you don't want to.

For me this is the most exciting production routine that has come along in over 50 years.

So you ask, how do I get this Wonderful publication, you have to contact Jonathon Neal Brown at jonathanneal@earthlink.net and then when he responds pay through PayPal, $25 postage paid in the United States only.
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Feb 19, 2019 05:24PM)
Thanks Bill for the plug!
It was kind of you to mention all of that and the only correction I would make is that the book(let ) is $25.00, but if I am mailing a copy, please know that will be an extra $3.00. (The 2109 postage prices just went up!)

It was a fun thing to develop and it has created quite a stir at the Magic Castle! Dale Salwak, John Carney, Alfonso, The late Pete Biro, Marc DeSouza and many others were very generous in their reaction to this handling.

Again, thanks, Bill!
Message: Posted by: Dan Ford (Feb 19, 2019 07:19PM)
Well Bill said it all! I got my booklet a few weeks back and it was well worth it. Great read and very informative to say the least. I got quite a few new ideas for my Demon Wonder Box. Nice job JNEAL.
Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Feb 19, 2019 08:04PM)
I bought a copy of J. Neal's booklet. I'm one of those guys Bill mentions that had a Davenport's "Demon Wonder Box' aka Silk Wonder Box for decades. I bought it as a teen ager, played with it with a basic color changing routine for one or two shows and then put it in a box and promptly forgot about it.

Bill told me about J.Neal's work on the little prop some time ago. He gave the booklet rave reviews (Bill doesn't hold back when he likes something or if he thinks something is poo!). Based on his recommendation I emailed Jonathan and bought his booklet.

I've got to say I love Johnathan's thinking and love his approach to the problems inherent in the little prop. I can only ditto what Bill has already written. This is brilliant for the stand-up performer.

For me any production prop (eg. Kuna Tubes, Square Circle, Haunted Chimney, Genii tube, or Phantom tube) should be able to produce a load that is far larger than the volume of the prop. The load should be huge compared to the prop. Well this tiny little prob does just that. The prop is tiny and the load is impossibly large. Great magic this.

I think it's worth the investment just to see how Johnathan approaches and solves a problem. Thanks Bill for tipping me off to this. And thanks J. Neal for taking the time and trouble in putting it in print.
Message: Posted by: EvilClown (Feb 22, 2019 06:51PM)
I saw J. Neal's routine at the Magic Castle and it was really great. I bought the book. Now I just have to find a Demon Wonder Box...
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Feb 22, 2019 07:54PM)
Well, I have one. It's probably from the '20s or '30s. I think it's made by Sherms. It's definitely not a mass produced prop.

PM me.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Feb 22, 2019 09:25PM)
[quote]On Feb 22, 2019, EvilClown wrote:
I saw J. Neal's routine at the Magic Castle and it was really great. I bought the book. Now I just have to find a Demon Wonder Box... [/quote]

If you don't know how to search using Google on the Internet, ask a friend or any youngster to help you.

All you need to do in type in Demon Wonder Box, and a number of listings will appear, for original DWB's being auctioned off all over the Internet.

You don't need an original, the one by Empire Magic for $7 will work just fine. They call it the Magic Silk Box, made of heavy steel and chrome plated.

I believe the difference from the Davenport and Sherms is, the Sherms has 2 divided holes on the gimmick, and Davenport's has only one large hole. But there are at least 2 other old manufacturers.

If you have a lot of money for an original, then you will have no problem.
Message: Posted by: EvilClown (Feb 22, 2019 11:00PM)
Well, perhaps my Google skills are lacking but I didn’t find one on eBay, Magic Auction or a few other places, so perhaps I’m just an internet failure.
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Feb 22, 2019 11:26PM)
I was once told that the Sherms is fractionally larger than the Davenport model, but that is only hearsay. I have seen Davenports with two chambers and occasionally a sinle one. In fact, there are some Davenport models which are of lighter weight metal. I like this trick heavy. Same with the screws used: some have rounded heads and some look more cylindrical. Again, personally I like the smooth rounded heads... but it is all whatever you get used to working with.

Tonight, I checked the Ebay site under silk wonder box or morriss wonderbox, and saw several. I’ve not used either... but it is a place to start.
Message: Posted by: jimgerrish (Feb 23, 2019 12:08AM)
Spellbinder's e-Book from Mini-Mysteries Book 3- 05, "Jamison's Production Box Revisited", compares and contrasts several small one-handed silk production boxes: https://www.magicnook.com/MiniMysteries/MM3-05JamisonProductionBox.htm In it he revisits Thayer's One Hand Production Cabinet (1930), with the Wonder Box (1938), the Jamison Production Box (1951) , The Gizmo Box (1958), and his own the Wizard Wonder Box (2010). The only one you might have difficulty making yourself is the all metal Wonder Box; the rest are made of thin wood or even chipboard and easily hand-crafted.
Message: Posted by: EvilClown (Feb 23, 2019 12:21AM)
[quote]On Feb 22, 2019, JNeal wrote:

Tonight, I checked the Ebay site under silk wonder box or morriss wonderbox, and saw several. I’ve not used either... but it is a place to start. [/quote]

I searched under “demon wonder box” so I may have been too specific. Thanks for the help with this! Appreciated.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Feb 23, 2019 02:25AM)
EvilClown, I suggested you use a Google search. In my post, I did not mention eBay at all, so you go to eBay. There are a lot of websites on the Internet.

I entered Demon Wonder Box Magic, and come up with:



Here is the Empire Silk Box I purchased for $7.50:


I also noticed that this forum topic is referenced everywhere on the Internet now, so I am sure they will be all sold within a few hours now that I listed where the remaining ones are listed.
Message: Posted by: FrankFindley (Feb 28, 2019 07:37PM)
Interesting. I performed a wonder box routine at the last IBM Ring 56 monthly meeting. Produced a set of diamond cut silks to maximize load followed by a printed heart silk from the Laflins (Valentine's tie in). As a kicker a long shiny mylar streamer (from Richard Hughes' stash) poured out the bottom. It puts quite an exclamation point on it to see the old 'hat coil' effect flow from the silver box. I know two other Ring members who are now interested in this device so I will definitely need to pass on the above info, especially regarding the reproduction box.

Quick question, does the reproduction have a removable gimmick?
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Feb 28, 2019 09:23PM)
[quote]On Feb 28, 2019, FrankFindley wrote:

Quick question, does the reproduction have a removable gimmick? [/quote]

Frank, don't know who or what you addressing your question. If it is about JNeal's routine, then yes, it addressed a removable gimmick and a couple other unique gimmicks. I guess I should have counted the silks, but I did not, but it more then just one of each that I listed above. I must add, that all gimmicks have to made buy the purchaser and he gives advice where to obtain them and then turn them into the proper gimmick.

As I see the complete routine, you can add or subtract some the quantity, I know, not many, will invest the 25 foot streamer. They don't have to, because earlier a smaller streamer has already been produced. And you could still finish with your Mylar streamer, which is a very good idea on your part. I have several of those and will think about using them.

Nice to know someone is using this collector's item.

You will not believe the creativity that JNeal has shared. It is mind boggling, to say the least. I don't any one else could create such presentation. He thinks way outside the box, literally, on this one.
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Feb 28, 2019 11:40PM)
Thank you again Bill! You are my best advertisement ,... by far!

I think what Frank was referring to as the 'reproduction ' box, is all the various copies of the original DWB. In other words, do the knockoffs also have a removable load chamber?
Everyone I have seen does have that feature.

As far as mylar coil is concerned, it is a fine idea! At one point I thought to take up the 33" square, wrap it around the box, and then have a mylar coil to pour out... as if the box was dissolving.
Then show the box gone from the large silk... but decided that for my routine, I really preferred to end with the empty box, doors open, posed in my left open hand.
But the coil DOES present some possibilities....
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Feb 28, 2019 11:54PM)
JNeal, thanks for clarifying, yes, even the Empire model includes that feature. You may also find the Empire to be a lot thicker and heavier steel and chrome plated.
Message: Posted by: FrankFindley (Mar 1, 2019 12:00AM)
Bill, thanks for the great info. I was playing with the wonder box because of the recent Ade Duval discussion in another Café thread. My thought was to do a smaller scale production for parlour along the same lines as Rhapsody but using a wonder box. It sounds like Jonathon Neal Brown already perfected a version of it which is exciting.

My question was addressed to anyone who has information on the empire magic current manufacture wonder box cited multiple times above. I have two brethren who are interested in wonder box routines but they will need a box. Ideally they would want one with a removable l**d c*****r. So I wanted to know if the empire one has one.

As a point of clarification, the routine for the ring used six 18 inch diamond cuts,one 18 inch printed heart silk and one 150 foot by 1 inch mylar coil. Just that is pretty impressive. So Jonathan's with the streamer sounds wonderful. Sounds sort of like the build in Symphanette in Silk.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Mar 1, 2019 12:11AM)
Frank, you sure you do not have the booklet, as you just quoted a sentence from the book. Maybe someone was looking over someones shoulder. :rotf:
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Mar 1, 2019 12:31AM)
Frank and I both have offered comments in the Duval Symphony in Silk thread, and as Harry Murphy explains above, the idea of a vessel: box or tube... producing more than it could conceivably hold EVEN IF IT WERE NEVER SHOWN AS EMPTY is the key to making a silk production seem impossible.

What made Duval so great with his, was the lightning speed and the incredible volume of material, RELATIVE TO THE VESSEL’S SIZE.
Message: Posted by: FrankFindley (Mar 1, 2019 07:25PM)
[quote]On Mar 1, 2019, JNeal wrote:
What made Duval so great with his, was the lightning speed and the incredible volume of material, RELATIVE TO THE VESSEL’S SIZE. [/quote]

Exactly! It was your comment on production cadence in that thread that got me thinking of ways to apply that insight. That's why I started calculating how much silk was produced in a given time for famous acts (I am working on some more of Fantasio's now).

It is funy that you seem to have subliminally seeded the wonder box idea into my brain. I am very curious to see how much of Duval's method of "where the silks come from" you've incorporated.

Bill, definitely give the coils a try. A pinkie along bottom of one side of box is all that is needed to keep coil in place after l*****g. A rubber band around circumference of coil serves double duty to keep coil wound and provide some grip to inner walls of box. What is great is you can show all sides of the box as it pours out. So it visibly reinforces that the items are materializing inside. The psychological result is similar to that from Jay Scott Berry's Vortex; the box is essentially a gateway by which the items manifest.
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Mar 1, 2019 09:09PM)
Your point is a good one Frank. It would be very easy to steal a large load from nearly anywhere... under the cover of the first four silks.

But it is far more magical... and impossible looking, for EVERYTHING to come from within the box.

A portal indeed!
Message: Posted by: Ray Pierce (Mar 15, 2019 01:57AM)
I'll just say that ANYTHING by JNeal is genius. I've been privileged to see his effects created over the years and his thinking and creative output is such a joy to experience. Do yourself a favor and get this just to see how a brilliant mind works. I'll be getting it for that very reason.
Message: Posted by: FrankFindley (Mar 15, 2019 08:27AM)
I received the manuscript earlier this week and am as enthused as Bill and Ray are about it. Not only does it describe a very fine routine at a high level of detail, the first part goes into the creative thinking process behind how the routine evolved. It is instructive to see the different avenues which were tried and rejected/refined and the logic as to why. This provides a fantastic launchpad for further experiment and customization as the reasoning behind each decision is known. This is A-Level material which you can draw upon not only for the wonder box but for any "production from a container" type routine.
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Mar 15, 2019 08:30AM)
Thanks Ray for the kindness!
I do mention in the booklet that Ray and I had a great 'testing ground' when we worked together at Hollywood Magic.
We got to experiment and play with all the props available... putting our theories to the test.

In one day we sold at least a dozen of the Demon Wonder Boxes... many years back!

Ray could outsell me on most things, by a margin of 2 to 1 !
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Mar 23, 2019 02:48PM)
In case you may be wondering, "how did the current Demon Wonder Boxes" get made, and. get to America"?

n the early '90s, Duuane Laflin and I were sitting in his motel room, awaiting the opening of a little regional convention. We had just met, and were getting acquainted. For some reason, we were discussing silk productions. I went to my room and returned with my wonder box. I believe it is a Sherms made prop. Duane had never seen one. I had bought at the KARLAND FRISCHKORN estate sale in Norfolk Va in 1954. I had found the extra load gaff in an auction, in Milwaukee, about 30 years later. I use it as a pad in my 20th C Silks.

Duane liked it and had some made in India. We've both laughed about, how the boxes got here...

That extra load gaff, holds almost a 20 ft. string of 12" half silks!
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Mar 23, 2019 04:18PM)
The India DWB is still available at the Magic Goods website. It does not look as well made as the Empire Magic Silk Box model.
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Mar 23, 2019 07:09PM)
Dick Oslund was kind enough to provide me with his second Sherm’s Wonder Box and it arrived the other day...magnificent!

His sister was kind as well, as she did all the mailing! I owe them both a debt of gratitude for their kindnesses.

The Sherms is a heavy unit ( just the way I like them!) and the same size as my Davenport models.

Thank you Dick Oslund!
Message: Posted by: FrankFindley (Mar 23, 2019 07:39PM)
Dick, it is great to see you on the forum.

That is a great piece of history.

Is the extra load gaff in the Sherms' model a duplicate gimmick or is it something else?
Message: Posted by: Dougini (Mar 24, 2019 01:57PM)
[quote]On Feb 23, 2019, Bill Hegbli wrote:

Here is the Empire Silk Box I purchased for $7.50:



Another winner! Thank you Bill! I went to Ziggo's and got me a Wonder Box! $15 including shipping. I could write an entire new thread on this thing! Best magic trick I have bought in a LONG time!

Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Mar 26, 2019 01:06PM)
I wonder if the India model is made after the Davenport or the Sherms model, anyone know.

Message: Posted by: JNeal (Mar 26, 2019 10:01PM)
Both the Sherms and the Davenport only drop down on two (opposing) sides... the front and the back.
It looks like the India model 'improves' on that, by allowing all four sides to drop.
Not sure if the is an improvement...
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Mar 27, 2019 06:45AM)
During my search previously, I seen a line drawing of the DWB from long ago, with just a frame, I believe it was from a Pennsylvania magic company.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Apr 12, 2019 02:10PM)
[quote]On Mar 23, 2019, FrankFindley wrote:

Is the extra load gaff in the Sherms' model a duplicate gimmick or is it something else? [/quote]

Sent you a PM.
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Apr 12, 2019 02:24PM)
The extra gimmick was a 'torpedo' gimmick, although square sided.
In other words, one end was slightly tapered so that it could be inserted into the DWB after the wedge gimmick was removed.
here is an illustration that explains best:
Message: Posted by: FrankFindley (Apr 29, 2019 09:31PM)
Thanks! I never knew that type of load was marketed.

I just reread Dick's use of the Wonder Box in [i]The Road Scholar[/i]. In many ways it is the perfect item to keep in reserve for when extra material is needed.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Mar 20, 2020 12:09AM)
For those having a problem putting in the quantity of silks in their DWB, take a look at Diagonal silks sold at magicgoods.com . 18 inch silks cut diagonal, and only cost $2.99 each.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Mar 20, 2020 08:28PM)
Just ordered the DWB from Magic Goods, within a couple hours the sent me an email it has been mailed. I will review when I receive the DWB.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Apr 12, 2020 06:50PM)
There were a lot of different manufacturers of the wonder box. Abbott's, Sherms, Boss Mfgs., Davenport, Conradi and Bartl. Bart originated the idea and through an agreement with Davenports he allowed them to make them in England. It was cheaper to make them there rather than import them.
I think Sherms is one of the best as it just seems a little heavier and less likely to get bent up. Their bullet load is a good idea also.
Jonathon's routine is very well constructed and routined. Don't think you are just going to pick up and do it and make it a hit. You have to spend a little time working with it so the motions become second nature so you can concentrate on other things. The silver mylar coils right now are hard to get. I have some on backorder. But you can get other colors like red, blue, gold, etc.
What about make a tin foil duplicate box and switching it in and then crushing it at the end? A bit of work but might be worth it.
As Marvyn Roy told me years ago, "Magicians are too lazy to do a silk act as you have fold and reset it". That is what keep it unique to Duval. Jonathon also does a silk act that plays big but it takes work. But that is why the pros keep working...they are not afraid of a little work that keeps the copyists from stealing.
Message: Posted by: Dan Ford (Apr 12, 2020 08:37PM)
You are so right hugmagic about some of the new generation of magicians, not wanting to put in the time for a good act, like preparing props and practicing plus cleaning props after the act. Not all, but many I have met. That is OK, as it keeps the good seldom seen magic out of their hands. Just an old magician's opinion................
Message: Posted by: David Todd (May 4, 2020 04:15PM)
Another enthusiastic thumbs up for Jonathan Neal's 'Demon Wonder Box' lecture notes. I am very glad I ordered this excellent publication.

See Bill Hegbli's first post in this topic for an extensive review. I don't have to add to Bill's review. That should tell you all you need to know.

However there is updated information you should know about if you plan to order it: since Bill Hegbli first posted about this on Feb. 19, 2019, Jonathan Neal's email contact has changed , so don't use the email listed in Bill's original post.

Use the contact email you'll find on Jonathan's website at the bottom of the page, where it says "Click HERE to contact us Now!" - [url]http://jnealshow.com/[/url]

The cost is still $25.00 for the booklet. Check with Jonathan for the exact amount you should include in addition to cover the postage. (for me it was only $3.00 for postage. I received it in 4 days, from west coast to east coast.)

Jonathan announced last month in the pages of Genii magazine that he will be taking a break from the excellent series that he has been writing for Genii over the past year or so , however I was happy to find out the reason his column is going on hiatus is so he can devote more time to writing his book. The high quality of his Genii series and the 'Demon Wonder Box' lecture notes are an indication of what to expect from the book and I'm sure it will be a [i]must have[/i] item for anyone who enjoys classical stage/parlor magic.
Message: Posted by: JNeal (May 6, 2020 12:45AM)
Thanks David for those very gracious comments.
Yes, I generally. Ask $5.00 for domestic postage.. if it is less , I credit you back the difference.
Foreign postage is usually more. All payments via PayPal
My email for booklets, props such as egg bags is JNWonderbiz@gmail.com

( I have a ‘newish’ booklet of 50 pages on my 6 ring routine
and soon I’ll have one teaching my version of the multiplying bottles...)

Thank you all
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Sep 18, 2020 02:02PM)
Just an update for those who were looking for a streamer to use in my version of this effect. As you may recall, I end the trick with a 24' streamer that was created by Richard Hughes.
His fabric and the colors of his dyes.. make this a phenomenal finale!

Well, I am selling one of my streamers in 6 momme for about HALF of the going retail price! And tha streamer is in EXCELLENT condition!

If you have been looking to add this to your DWB routine, don't hesitate... I only have ONNE in the correct weight (6 momme) of fabric
Here's the link:

Message: Posted by: inhumaninferno (Sep 19, 2020 10:25AM)
JNeal, I just emailed you regarding the streamer, DWB booklet and anything else you might be offering. Just wanted to let you know. Thank You!

Message: Posted by: JNeal (Sep 19, 2020 01:51PM)
Yes, got your email and the package is on the way!
Message: Posted by: inhumaninferno (Sep 20, 2020 06:59AM)
Thank you, JNeal. Such quick and courteous service is GREATLY appreciated!