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Topic: Selbits Sawing in Half
Message: Posted by: The Donster (Oct 20, 2004 02:36PM)
Does anyone kow how this is performed/presented. I might be getting one and want to see if it fits my style.
Message: Posted by: Bill Blagg III (Oct 20, 2004 03:32PM)
Here is the effect in a nutshell. Performer invites 2 members from the audience on stage. Once there, the performer has them inspect two small tables that are placed together to form one large table. There are no boxes of any kind on this table and it's not deceptive in any way. Next there are two "lids" for each half that are inspected by the audience volunteers. The final pieces of inspection (aside from the assistant :) are two leather straps one for around the assistants neck and the other for around her ankles, and the two blades. Assistant lays down on the table. Straps are secured into place. The remaining (handle) portion of the straps are placed through holes in the table at each respective end. One volunteer holds the end of the strap that holds the assistants head to the table, the other holds her feet down. Next the lids are placed over the assistant.

Magician now opens the viewing door so the audience can see the assistant fully secured to the table. Next the doors are shut and immediately the blades are thrust though the middle of the box now slicing the assistant in half. Keep in mind the volunteers are still holding the ends of the straps that secure the assistant across the table.

As soon as the blades are in, they are removed and the doors are opened immediately to display the assistant still in the original postion and strapped to the table. Doors are closed, blades are placed in, and this time 2 sword are also put through the middle of each side and the boxes are pulled apart. Keep in mind the audience members are still firmly holding the strap ends that hold the assistant to the table.

After the reality of the situation sets in magician places the two boxes back together. Removes the swords, blades and boxes to reveal the assistant still strapped to the table. Audience members help unstrap her and illusion is complete.

The original version was staged with a large mirror hanging up stage at an angle to allow the audience to see behind the effect the whole time. Mark Kalin and Jinger do an excellent version of this effect as does Rick and Susan Wilcox.

It takes a strong performer to really sell the effect, but if done properly it's truly a masterpiece.
Message: Posted by: The Donster (Oct 20, 2004 03:49PM)
Is it possible to have the assistants head/feet visible as well. Don,
Message: Posted by: Bill Blagg III (Oct 20, 2004 04:02PM)
If you want to do that you mine as well perform a Thin-Model sawing illusion.

Not to mention if you perform the Selbit properly there is absolutely NO need to display them.
Message: Posted by: Scott Penrose (Oct 20, 2004 06:17PM)
Hi Don

The Selbit Sawing is described in various places inlcuding the Selbit book published by Mike Caveney. I would highly recommend the book if that is the path that you wish to follow.

You asked if the head and the feet are visible, however, this is the advantage with the Selbit...the fact that head and the feet are not visible has quite a profound effect on the audience. The audience do not know if the assistant is OK...with the Thin Model Sawings the audience can see the head and feet and know that the assistant is alive and well. With the Selbit much of the illusion takes place in the audience's mind.

I have performed the Selbit but it is awkward and time consuming. The boxes are bulky to. In Selbit's time it was a 14 minute routine.

Maybe you should consider the Wakeling Sawing. It is like the Selbit in so far as there are no head and feet visible but the boxes are much smaller (thanks to John Daniel's Slim Line Sawing).

Hope this helps.


PS - By the Wakeling book too!
Message: Posted by: The Donster (Oct 20, 2004 06:33PM)
I asked if it Was Possible to have the Head and Feet Appear. as in kind of a change. and will people remain interested in it for 14 minutes. Don,
Message: Posted by: HarbinJr. (Oct 20, 2004 07:30PM)

Your question is the same as if you were asking the difference between apples ( washington or granny) The effect is the same but the methods are different. There are reasons why Selbit performed it the way that he did. In fact Alan Wakling has done some improvements to the selbit illusion which is in the Jim Steinmeyer book " The Magic of Alan Wakling" I would highly recommend you get that book. It's great reading not only to see the effects but to read history and tap into someones head on to why certain effects were created.

Robert Long
Message: Posted by: MarkTripp (Oct 20, 2004 08:20PM)
Somewhere around here I posted a routine from my book on how I would use the Selbit today.

Might want to hunt for it.....

If I were going to add a big illusion, THAT would be it, and I would do it the way I wrote up.
Message: Posted by: Bill Blagg III (Oct 20, 2004 09:24PM)
I have one that is 90% done is anyone is interested in buying it. PM me.
Message: Posted by: jwebyra (Oct 21, 2004 09:23AM)
With all due respects to Mr. Blagg the illusion he described was not the Selbit sawing but the Wakeling Sawing invented by Alan Wakeling which is described in detail in the book on Mr. Wakeling by Jim Steinmeyer. The Selbit sawing is totally different in that 5 specators are invited on stage and ropes are tied around the assistants neck, arms, and ankles. 3 plates of glass are inserted on top and 2 blades are inserted fom side to side. (Guy Jarrett found it best to use all glass, Jarrett by Jim Steinmeyer) The middle plate of glass was removed and the magician saws through the middle, opens the box and looks discausted but when the center of the box is pulled apart the assistant is there in one piece still with the ropes tied. The ropes are cut and given to the volenteers as sourviners. Milbourne Christopher gives a description of Selbit's performece in his book "The Illustrated History Of Magic" and a more detail desription and explanation is in the Selbit book by Peter Warlock. Teller of Penn & Teller fame performed the selbit version years ago before Penn. He talked about the illusion in a 1995 Genii article.

Thank you for your time.
Message: Posted by: The Donster (Oct 21, 2004 11:06AM)
I guess the wakeling sawing Bill has is a updated version of the wakelings. didn't wakeling invent his in 1914 and selbit in the 1920's


Here are the 2 sides to the story

PT Selbit introduced his "Sawing Thru A Woman" on January 17, 1921. (that wording is important...Sawing Thru)
After he first showed his version, another magician, Horace Goldin, claimed he had invented the trick in 1909 first showing it to John Ringling, from the famous Circus.
But Horace Goldin wasn't using it in his regular show. So, Selbit remarked, If you invented it back than, why have you never used it? So to justify his claim Goldin performed the illusion for the SAM in New York on June 3, 1921.
It became clear that he indeed had invented this some time before, because the illusion was clearly different. Both in method and looks. In Selbits version, a lady was strapped to a table and completly covered with a box. Only the staps extended from beneath it. Selbit then sawed thru the box and table. Then lifted the box to show the lady still straped to it. He "Sawed Thru" the lady. In Goldin's version, the ladies head and feet extended out of the box, and no straps were involved. And after he sawed thru the box, the box was SEPERATED INTO 2 PIECES! The process was reversed and the lady restored. So, in essence, Selbit invented the "Sawing Thru", and Goldin invented the "Sawing In Two". But the question still remains, as to why Goldin never used the illusion in his show, if it is such a strong piece? Because he made the fatal mistake of using a Male asst. for the sawing. And it just didn't play well. So he never used it. I hope that clears things up for you. As for Richiardi Jr., his version used a woman who was cut up (not in 2 but just gashed open!) by a whirring buzz saw, and NO BOX! As the saw cut through her, blood and guts spewed forth onto the table and floor. The audience was then allowed to come onstage and see the mess up close. The audience took their seats and the lady was pushed offstage, and never restored! Leaving some to wonder, Was that a trick? or did he just really kill her?!

Blurr confusing hey.
Message: Posted by: David Charvet (Oct 23, 2004 04:27AM)
Alan Wakeling developed his version of the Selbit after talking with Virgil in the 1960's. Virgil performed his own version of Selbit beginning in 1942. Virgil later built a "thin Selbit" in the late 1950's (this was Wakeling's inspiration.) Virgil's working method (which I use) is superior, in my opinion to the Wakeling because EVERYTHING can be examined by the committee - including all parts of the restraints. There is nothing to hide. And sorry, out of respect for Virgil I won't tip the method.
Message: Posted by: rmoraleta (Oct 23, 2004 06:12AM)
The Wakeling Sawing in Half is in his book The Magic of Alan Wakeling.

It seems to be examinable too to some degree.
Message: Posted by: The Donster (Oct 23, 2004 09:04AM)
I Like David Charvets Idea on what he uses. the only problem is what is it called. is it a Virgil/Selbits Sawing in half and where can one get Plans for it or who builds it. Don,
Message: Posted by: googoodolls (Nov 19, 2004 07:31PM)
Has anybody seen the secrets of magic DVD. It shows the saw a lady in half they say just like selbit but it looks like something was modified or something.
Message: Posted by: Jeremy Greystoke (Nov 28, 2004 05:27PM)
The Secrets of Magic DVD has the performance by Mark Kalin and Jinger of the Wakeling Sawing. It's referred to as the Selbit, but it differs in a number of respects from the Selbit original. I believe that Paul Daniels some years ago did a full recreation of the Selbit Sawing on one of his television shows.

There's a detailed description of the Selbit presentation and methodology in Jim Steinmeyer's book on Guy Jarrett. And the Jarrett version of the sawing is quite intriguing as well...fascinating book about a most fascinating character.

Message: Posted by: John Cass (Nov 28, 2004 07:47PM)
P.T. Selbit got the idea for his sawing from Val Walker's Radium Girl.

He even got permission from Walker to use the idea.
Message: Posted by: Steve Knight (Nov 29, 2004 12:30PM)
John, this is news to me. Walker isn't mentioned in any of the sources I've read. Can you give us a few more details?
Message: Posted by: Jeremy Greystoke (Nov 29, 2004 04:33PM)
This was news to me as well. I had thought that the Walker illusion came after the Selbit creation. But such is not the case, it seems. There's an article by Tad Ware in the current issue of [i]Magicol[/i] that makes a strong case for Selbit basing his sawing illusion on concepts pioneered by Val Walker. In fact, he obtained permission from Walker to incorporate those ideas into his illusion. I haven't seen the article in question yet, but it sounds absolutely fascinating...and another piece in the puzzle of the history of one of the classic illusions in magic.

Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Nov 30, 2004 11:45PM)
Yes, it's the cover article in this month's [i]Magicol[/i]. Evidently, Walker invented the Radium Girl in 1919, two years before Selbit built the sawing.

It is not a well-known illusion. Jeremy Atkins got Walker to revive it for a TV special.
Message: Posted by: Steve Knight (Dec 1, 2004 03:08AM)
Amazing. I'd have thought there would have been a passing reference to Walker in either Steinmeyer or Warlock & Lewis. Does anybody know what the similarities were between the two? Did it have anything to do with the passing of glass sheets or metal blades through the box?

Bill, I presume this TV special was made sometime ago or is Walker still alive?
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Sep 13, 2006 04:50PM)
I'm not sure of the date. It may be mentioned in the article. I'll have to find it now.
Message: Posted by: markparker (Sep 13, 2006 11:01PM)
I personally prefer the sawing in the Jarrett book its very deceptive and I don't see many people performing it. Jim Steinmeyer recreated it at one of the magic and history conventions in LA...check it out in the book its typical Jarrett direct and clever.
The person to be 'sawn' is stood upright it a very tight fitting box clearly showing that no possible 'moving out of the way of the blade' is possible...the box is closed and layed down and the sawing takes place.
Message: Posted by: Irish_matt (Sep 14, 2006 09:19AM)
Wasn't there a brief clip of Chris Angel doing the Jarret sawing on one of his Mindfreak shows earlier this year? It was a black and white clip in the same show that he pulled someone apart.

Message: Posted by: joegow (Sep 15, 2006 10:57PM)
I have seen the selbit sawing done several times, and it really depends on the magician, you have got to be a entertainer to sell it.
Message: Posted by: Michael Berends (Sep 16, 2006 12:38AM)
Hey All,

Since this thread is going again, Just thought I'd let you know that I have some pics of my updated Wakeling sawing here

For those that might be interested in seeing it...

I also agree with joegow, you really have to sell this illusion.

Message: Posted by: Perseus Arkomanis (Jan 17, 2011 02:37PM)
Hey all,
I'm interested for the Wakeling Sawing that Mark Kalin and Jinger performed on the secrets of magic DVD.
Where can I find it?
Message: Posted by: Oliver Ross (Jan 17, 2011 02:44PM)
Hey all,

Back on topic : Here's a video of Paul Daniels presenting his version of the Selbit Sawing.


Message: Posted by: Bob Meigs (Jan 17, 2011 11:14PM)
As you have a website, you probably are a pro and know everything I'm about to mention. But for those not familiar with the Wakeling Sawing, I'll offer some observations. Wellington makes an excellent version - but it is, of course, expensive. I think both George Richbark and Rich Hill make them, and used Wakelings often appear on Magic Auction. If you Google the effect, you'll find lots references to Snap Illusions, and theirs is inexpensive. But before jumping at Snaps' price, do a little research on that company. I'd advise you to stay away.

A Wakeling Sawing has to fit your assistant. Unless she is very short, she may not be able to perform the routine. Most of the assistants I work with cannot use my Wakeling. The apparatus could, or course, be built to fit a particular assistant.

As a final caution, this is a fairly large illusion, which means it is difficult to transport and takes up a lot of stage space. But if you can overcome these obstacles, it is a FABULOUS, classic effect. I wish I could use mine in every show!

Message: Posted by: w_s_anderson (Jan 17, 2011 11:44PM)
There is a magician from Boise Idaho who is selling one. I just bought some stuff off of him and he has one in pretty good condition. His name is Jason and he is a member here. PM me if you are interested and I will get you in contact with him.
Message: Posted by: John T. Sheets (Jan 18, 2011 12:26AM)
Here is a link to a similar thread: http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=356382&forum=7&57

I hope this helps.