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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Magic history: A 1949-50 Genii poll of the best tricks (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Jim Sparx
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A Orben-Genii poll conducted in 1949 and reported in the Feb., 1950 issue of Genii magazine, complained about how boring magic had become. "The largest single complaint about magic was its unoriginality." Amateur, semi-professional and professional magicians listed their most used tricks in their repertoire. Magicians were performing some tricks that dated back to the nineteenth century and some to antiquity. Orben called them musty.
Mr. Orben compared a Blackstone Saturday matinee show he saw in Newark, N.J., he "found the theater less than half-filled, but the burlesque theater just six blocks away was packed." It was during the early 50s the big time illusion shows of Virgil, Dante and Blackstone were on there way out. I remember seeing ads recently while perusing some of the old Genii back issues, that both Virgil and Dante were selling equipment via advertisements in the magazine. Perhaps partly responsible for this was the rise of the television age and the dying out of burlesque, vaudeville, night clubs and the big illusion shows. But more so, magic had become complacent with the same old stuff being performed over and over, according to the poll.
The list presented in the Orben-Genii poll consist of 85 tricks, the most popular first, with the total votes following the name of the trick, for example, The Linking Rings with 287 votes. Interesting that all the tricks listed, with one or two exceptions, are available today. This either attests to the popularity of the trick or, "unoriginality plagues," Orben's words, not mine.
I will leave it up to you whether these tricks are the "tried and true" or, if magic needs a facelift, and something new becomes the norm. Do we suggest to the beginner that the listed tricks are the "standards?" And are they worthy of their investment in magic, or do we say, "invent and be original?"
This list is presented with the permission of Richard Kaufman, editor of Genii magazine. Now, I want to put in a little plug for Genii magazine. I cannot think of a better way to learn the history of magic, have access to thousands of tricks, and to relive the grand old days of magic. A yearly subscription of Genii will grant you access to 70 plus years of back issues. It is one of my better investments in magic. Thank you, Mr. Kaufman
The list:
1. Linking Rings (287)
2. Cut and Restored Rope (246)
3. Die Box (141)
4. Billiard Balls (137)
5. Paper Tear (123)
6. Twentieth Century Silks (111)
7. Vanishing Cane (107)
8. Egg Bag (100)
9. Card Manipulations (99)
10. Rice Bowls (98)
11. Chinese Wands (80)
12. Sympathetic Silks (73)
13. Rising Cards (72)
14. Cards to Pocket (70)
15. Soft Soap (68)
16. Cups and Balls (65)
17. Four Ace Trick (63)
18. Sucker Silk to Egg (62)
19. Rabbit Production and Vanish (60)
20. Thimble Routine (60)
21. Milk Pitcher (59)
22. Squared Circle (57)
23. Six Card Repeat (50)
24. Vanishing Wand (50)
25. Spirit Slates (50)
26. Sponge Ball Manipulations (50)
27. Silk Productions (45)
28. Card Frame (45)
29. Tarbell Rope Trick (45)
30. Coin Productions and Manipulations (45)
31. Blendo (44)
32. Razor Blades (43)
33. Cigarette Productions (43)
34. Dove Pan (43)
35. Fifteen Card Trick (42)
36. Torn and Restored Napkin (41)
37. Guillotine (39)
38. Zombie (38)
39. Cut and Restored Tie (38)
40. Bill in Lemon (38)
41. Wrist Chopper (37 )
42. Hats and Pants (36)
43. Dyeing Silks (34)
44. Production Tube (32)
45. Silk Sleights (32)
46. Funnel - Foo Can - Ice Pick (32)
47. Demon Wonder Box (31)
48. Aerial Fishing (31)
49. Here, There or Where (30)
50. Nest of Boxes (29)
51. Snake Basket (29)
52. Card in Orange (28)
53. Gloves To Bouquet (27)
54. Livestock Production (25)
55. Card Fans (25)
56. Bird Cage (25)
57. Passe Passe Bottles (22)
58. Tipsy Turvy Bottles (22)
59. Levitation (21)
60. Panama Rope (20)
61. Thumb Tie (20)
62. Wine Glass Production (20)
63. Blindfold Act (20)
64. Egg on Fan (19)
65. Serpentine Silk (18)
66. Change Bag (18)
67. Card Stab (18)
68. Dye Box (17)
69. Burned and Restored Bill (17)
70. Needle Trick (17)
71. Blue Phantom (17)
72. Disecto (17)
73. Cake in Hat (16)
74. Walking Through Ribbon (16)
75. Out of My Hat (15)
76. Artist's Dream (14)
77. Card in Balloon (13)
78. Flower Bush Growth (13)
79. Production Box (13)
80. Production of Flowers (12)
81. Fire Bowl (12)
82. Miser 's Dream (11)
83. Afghan Bands (9)
84. Card in Cigarette (8)
85. Sands and Water (7)
Wizard of Oz
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Great post Spartacus. It may belong in one of the historical sections, but it's a fun read no matter where it ends up.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Bob1Dog
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Second that. Interesting perspective on the classics and the present. I'd think it's not the magic that's boring, but the presentation.
What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about? Smile

My neighbor rang my doorbell at 2:30 a.m. this morning, can you believe that, 2:30 a.m.!? Lucky for him I was still up playing my drums.
duanebarry
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What's this one?

42. Hats and Pants (36)
FrenchDrop
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That one caught my eye, too!

Ahh, nothing like watching a masterful performance of that old classic, Hats & Pants! Smile
"A great magician has said of his profession that its practitioners '… must pound and rack their brains to make the least learning go in, but quarrelling always comes very naturally to them.'” -- Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
Jim Sparx
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Quote:
On 2012-04-12 16:54, duanebarry wrote:
What's this one?

42. Hats and Pants (36)


A torn restored tissue that come out as either a hat or pants. In old catalogs as Paper Hat Pants Combo from Abbott's, or here for latest version:
http://www.abbottmagic.com/Paper-Magic_c33.htm
http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/S8264
Mr. Mystoffelees
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Really enjoyed reading this post! It is amazing to me how many on this list are being done today. Have we reached the point where everything is now an old effect with a new look? Of course, that can work well if the updated version is creative. I am currently doing Jim Critchlow's "White Star" which is based upon Out of This World but plays very differently thanks to Jim's creativity. At any rate, thanks for sharing that info!

Jim
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
Believing
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I don't think magic gets boring because tricks are being repeatedly used. Different presentations make the tricks interesting, and the personality of the performer makes the whole performance interesting.
JJKnight
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Definitly have to agree with Believing, it is all in the presentation. If you got a good patter and presentation even finding a quarter in some kids ear becomes real magic. Remember just being able to do the "move" doesn't mean you should. There are few silent magician acts and they are well thought out presentations with character all their own. Remember your Tarbell it really should be the first thing any magician reads even today. He covers so much more than just effects.
Jim Sparx
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Quote:
On 2012-04-15 09:08, Mr. Mystoffelees wrote:
Really enjoyed reading this post! It is amazing to me how many on this list are being done today. Have we reached the point where everything is now an old effect with a new look? Of course, that can work well if the updated version is creative. I am currently doing Jim Critchlow's "White Star" which is based upon Out of This World but plays very differently thanks to Jim's creativity. At any rate, thanks for sharing that info!

Jim


Thanks. Nothing gets old. Every effect listed you can dress in new underwear. You don't have to follow the directions that came with the trick. And, we have millions of new kids and people who have never seen any of the above listed. Like music standards, consider the effects, magic standards. ; )
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