As Monday 12 April sees a welcome relaxation of lockdown restrictions we’re taking another look at how this might affect our lovely customers, and the rest of them too.

So, from tomorrow we’ll be open for you to call in or to make a collection during our normal opening hours.

To maintain social distancing, no more than four customers at a time, please.

We’re also going to reinstate our Saturday Mini-Sessions of up to four people. This would allow us to maintain appropriate distancing… for example, one on each end of the large settee, one on the smaller settee and one on a chair in front of (but not too close to) the second-hand book shelves.

Again, while appropriate safeguards need to be in place we’ll operate a booking system. You can ring, email or post on our Facebook page, where availability will be updated.

To widen availability, there’ll be time slots: an early slot from 11:00 until 14:00, and a later slot from 14:15 until 17:15. This allows up to three hours to show a new trick, check out our SPECIAL SALES BARGAIN LISTS, or buy a book or three. And it gives us 15 minutes to wipe down surfaces in between.

If necessary, should customers flood in (?) sessioners may be asked to relocate to the ‘Bizarre Room’.

We look forward to seeing your eager, smiling faces and open wallets.

If you’ve ordered items to collect, they’ll be waiting for you

With best wishes to all from June, Julie and Russell.

Our second Special Sales List is now available for download. Click here.

I thought I’d add an item here from time to time to give a flavour of the magical delights on offer. So here’s…

Super Mental Die Cipher … You’ll find it on page 4 of Special Sales List 2!

Super Mental Die - b

This is great prop, precision machined in solid brass, employing a brilliantly simple secret.

Although it may appear similar to items like Dice Vision in effect, this is miles ahead in method — the performer does not bring the box to the front, or secretly look into it. Yet you are able to reveal in various ways the number that appears on top of the die hidden inside the box. There is no guess work or ambiguity about the number — you reveal it while the box is still behind your back.

In fact with Mental Die Cipher you can get a spectator to place the die in the box. He brings the box from behind his back with it resting on the palm of one hand, and you reveal the number. What gives this presentation its particular punch is that you have apparently at no time handled the box or die until after the selected number is revealed. Comes with full instructions for two routines, with the props in a handy velvet drawstring bag (of course).

Normally £35 plus post, we’re offering this at £26.25.

As many of you will know, a few months ago the premises (trophy shop and workshop) next door to us here on Broad Street was sold to a developer. He’s been pressing us to sell too as he wants to build a block of flats and use the whole site, including my bit. If I don’t he’ll build anyway and we’d lose light, etc. The pub next door is being sold as well and we’ve heard that’s likely to end up as another tall block of flats. Also we’ve been told that there are major road and tram works happening shortly next to us. So…

After considerable thought we’ve decided that this is perhaps a good time to think about downsizing. I’ve no intention of retiring (though more time to travel would be good!).

Being sensible, we’re unlikely to find premises where we can continue the shop as it is. Suppose we could buy a small house and rent a warehouse and run mailorder. But that’s a hassle and who’d want to compete with the big guys who rely on a constant turnover of new tricks with a two-month life cycle (as one of them once said to me).

We intend to keep the publishing/bizarre side going, because that’s what interests me. And the second-hand book sales too.

So we’re looking for somewhere in the Sheffield/Chesterfield area with enough space to build a reasonably-sized storage/office area in the garden. Or a bigger place with a large, dry garage. Looks possible.

Although we wouldn’t be opening as a shop as such, it would be good to find somewhere with space to continue Saturday Sessions (once we’re back to normal…). But that might not be possible. (Unless you know of anywhere?)

We did think of trying to sell Magick Enterprises with stock (with or without second-hand books), then keep Magick Words publishing going. But this is hardly the time to sell a magic business! (If you’re thinking of starting or expanding your magic business, let me know… If I can’t persuade you of the folly of your ways I’d be able to sort you out a great range of stock at a bargain price!)

In the meantime we’re doing two things: looking for a suitable property and a home for Magick Words; and preparing some special sales lists with lots of bargains for our regular customers. The first of these lists is available now.

Click here if you’d like a copy (PDF) of Special Sales List 1.

We live in interesting (exciting?) times.

As my regular reader is doubtless aware, 2020 marks the hundredth anniversary of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians. As part of the celebrations we’re running a special series of Centenary Lectures, and I’m proud and delighted to confirm that the first in this series is a rare lecture by our good friend Looch.

Mind Reader and Psychological Magician Looch has become one of the most sought-after acts in the UK. His unique skills combined, with his humour and professionalism have seen him booked for a vast array of events, including weddings, parties and corporate events. He has also made a name for himself as an originator of exciting new ideas in mentalism.

Admired too for his unrivalled creativity, Looch has lectured to thousands of performers throughout the world and has written several best-selling books on Mind Reading and Mentalism. He is considered by his peers to be one of the most talented performers of this kind in the world today.

His books and DVDs include Iris (Visual Themed Mentalism); Retina (Look deep into someone’s eyes, and KNOW what they’re thinking); Looch LIVE (DVD) (A mind-expanding 2-hour live seminar); Close Call (The Blueprint for a Successful Performance!); Looch LIVE 2 (More innovative, clever and practical mentalism); 4.8 min (A Lecture in Minimalism); Here’s To You Mr Robinson (A Theatrical Performance Based on the Psychology of the Criminal); Simple And Direct Mentalism (An important book of practical, simple and direct mentalism); A S.A.D Night in Hamburg (Walk Around Mentalism); Your Thoughts Are Mine (2 DVD Set).

His Read My Mind is a mentalism company set up with a singular goal in mind: to provide performers the world over with the very best mentalism products. There you’ll find such sought-after items as his Master Peek Envelope; L.P.I (Looch Pocket Index); Blink: the Revolutionary new Peek Case; Area 2.0 Book Test; The Score (Bank Nite reinvented) and more.

We are pleased to say that Looch will be lecturing here at the Lounge on Thursday 5 March. Admission is £10, but free to all paid-up members of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians. Doors open at 7.00 p.m., and the event starts at 7.30 at The Magick Lounge, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield S2 5TG. This really is an event not to be missed!

The ever-popular Christmas Magic Quiz featured at last week’s Sheffield Circle Christmas Social. Here are the questions for those who missed it (no Googling please!):

1. What magic word is derived from a Latin phrase spoken during the most sacred moment of the Catholic Mass.

2. Who is the Egyptian goddess of magic?

3. The 1785 translation of 1001 Nights from French into English gave us a popular phrase used to unlock closed and hidden doorways. What’s the phrase?

4. This magician was awarded longest contract ever given to a Las Vegas performer, even longer than Elvis!

5. In the Harry Potter series, this governing body is led by Cornelius Fudge through the fifth book.

6. In the tarot each card of the Major Arcana has its own number. The Wheel of Fortune, for example, is generally associated with the number ten. Which card is is traditionally linked to the number one?

7. Where would you wear a Swami Gimmick?

8. In a famous illusion the magician’s assistant is shackled, put in a bag and locked inside a box or trunk. The magician stands on top of the box and raises a curtain. Then instantly the magician and assistant change places. What was the original name of this illusion?

9. Which famous magician performed at The Egyptian Hall and was the first Honorary President of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians?

10. As I’m sure you all know, next year is the Sheffield Circle of Magicians’ centenary year. The first meeting was held in 1920. But in which month?

Tiebreaker: The inaugural meeting of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians took place in [*******] 1920. But on what date? (If no exact date is given, the nearest takes the prize.)

In a closely-run contest first prize of a £10 Magick token went to Julie Hall with nine correct answers! (And no, she hadn’t seen the questions before.) Luke Robson was runner-up with eight. How well did you do?

Answers next week.

I’ve had a couple of calls asking if we’re open on Saturday and/or is The Lounge accessible without a boat or scuba gear. Check your local conditions, of course, but we’re fine here (open as usual today, incidentally) no puddles and traffic seems to be moving OK on Parkway. But soothing tea will be available as usual.

June did suggest we offer a 1p discount on all purchases to encourage attendance, but I felt that such an extreme reaction could set a dangerous precedent.

Nevertheless, to err on the safe side, Paul Voodini’s Recollections of a Society Clairvoyant event on Saturday evening has been cancelled. We’ll reschedule when the stars align.


This Thursday 13 June Michael Kaminskas will be at The Magick Lounge. His lecture will elevate your close-up and parlour magic to the next level with applications that can be adapted to fit any performance situation. It is filled with hidden gems gained through decades of real-world experience. There are no pipe dreams.

​”Watching Michael Kaminskas work is a master class in sleight-of-hand and audience entertainment. Pay attention!” – Shoot Ogawa

​For those of you not familiar with Michael’s work, he is an author, creator, performer and consultant. He regularly works for many Fortune 500 companies weaving magic into their presentations and hospitality suites. In 2012 Michael opened his one man show Imagine which ran completely sold-out for three consecutive years. Michael earned his PhD in magic at the prestigious FFFF invitation only gathering and is a member of the Magic Circle – A.I.M.C. with Silver Star.

“Having had the pleasure to have worked with Michael at the Magic Castle, I can tell you without hesitation that if Michael were to share any of his hard-fought / blood-bought, real world experience, it’s worth your time to drop everything and give him a listen. A true professional.” – Thom Peterson, The Amazing Guy

Since the release of his first instructional book in 1994, Michael has lectured extensively for his peers throughout the world from conventions to various groups and clubs, to the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, California where he has also performed on several occasions.

​”Mike has been a wonderful creative force in magic for many years now with several books, DVD’s, and effects on the market. More than that, the material he releases comes from his extensive repertoire of strolling, formal close-up and parlor magic. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from a top worker.” – Marc DeSouza

He is an inventor and a creator of world-class magic with many instructional books, DVD’s and effects on the market. Known for his impeccable sleight-of-hand and smooth performance style, Michael was dubbed “King of the Cups” by the late Mike Rogers. He has created both new and novel approaches to classic effects as well as being the creator and manufacturer of some of the finest cups and balls sets and chop cups in the world. This is one lecture you will not want to miss!

​”Michael Kaminskas creates secrets with the forbidden knowledge passed on from the masters of the past. With audiences always evolving; so too must their experience. Tap into the mind of a 21st century magician with two centuries of experience.” – Reed McClintock

What will he teach? While Michael has a basic outline for this lecture, it is also the people’s lecture. This is what makes the live learning process so valuable. The ability to ask questions. Quite simply that can’t be done on a DVD or in a download release. Each lecture is bound to be slightly different and based upon what the group wishes to engage in seeing and discussing. With a lifetime of magical knowledge nothing is off the table. While Michael will have some products to sell, THIS IS NOT a dealer dem. Everyone will be able to leave and perform some of the effects straight away.

​”Michael has some killer ideas that I’ve enjoyed for many years! Michael is skillful, creative and a super nice guy. You’re gonna learn some great magic!” – Chad Long

The Magick Lounge is at 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG. Doors will be flung wide on the dot of 7 o’clock-ish and the lecture will start at 7:30. Don’t forget that admission is free for Sheffield Circle members, £10 for visiting magicians and £5 for juniors.

At one time I kept a regular list of second-hand books, updated constantly as books were sold and new ones came in. This was fine when had we just a few hundred books, but after buying a couple of magic libraries stock increased enormously and books were going on and off the shelves rather quickly, so the list got more and more out of date.

We’re now working at getting a complete up-to-date list. This is taking some time. So in the meantime I thought I’d list books here as they came in. Here’s a few to start.

As with our former loved, lost and lamented list, the format followed is: AUTHOR, Title (in italics), Publisher, Date (where available), Number of Pages, and Price. The price in brackets is the original or current price, followed by our selling price. Abbreviations: hb = hardback; 1st means first edition (where there have been more than one); ltd means limited edition, if followed by a number then that’s how many in that edition; and sgd mean that the book has been signed by the author.

MENDOZA, JOHN. Mendoza Series of Personal Instruction. Morrissey, 16pp. (£10.00) £7.50
GARDNER, MARTIN. Mathematics Magic & Mystery. Dover, 1956, 188pp. (£10.00) £7.50
OXFAM. Crack-a-Joke Book. Puffin, 1992, 170pp. (£4.00) £3.00
BARON, HARRY. Close-Up Magic. Sphere, 1977, 160pp. (£6.00) £4.50
LEWIS, ERIC C., & TYLER, WILFRED. Open Sesame. Goodliffe, 1947, hb, 1st, 154pp. (£20.00) £15.00
DOBSON, WAYNE. Outlines. Magick, 1991, 28pp. (£6.00) £4.50
KAYE, DAVID. Power Marketing for Magicians. 2004, 48pp. (£8.00) £6.00
SANKEY, JAY. Cartoons by Sankey. 2001, 60pp. (£9.00) £6.75
ANDERSON, ERIC. Lecture Notes. 19pp, sgd. (£6.00) £4.50
PIERCE, JEFF. The King Has Left The Building… With Amnesia. 2004, 90pp, 1st, ltd 100. (£16.00) £12.00
KING, MAC, & LEVY, MARK. Tricks With Your Head. Three Rivers. 2002, 201pp. (£11.00) £8.25
THURSTON, HOWARD. 400 Fascinating Magic Tricks You Can Do. Wilshire, 1975, 253pp. (£8.00) £6.00
PENN & TELLER. How to Play in Traffic. Boulevard, 1997, 227pp w/ gizmo. (£18.00) £13.50
ARMSTRONG, JON. You Don’t Know Union Jack. 2007, 23pp. (£6.00) £4.50
McCLINTOCK, REED. Knuckle Busters Vol. 4. 2003, 18pp. (£5.00) £3.75
MIESEL, BILL (ed). Fork Full of Appetizers. O’Brien, 1982, 72pp. (£15.00) £11.25
GLADWIN, ANDI. Magic from the Session 1. 2006, 30pp. (£15.00) £11.25
GLADWIN, ANDI. Magic from the Session 2. 2007, 34pp. (£15.00) £11.25
GLADWIN, ANDI. Magic from the Session 1. 2006, 30pp, sgd by all (£20.00) £15.00
GLADWIN, ANDI. Magic from the Session 1 & 2. 2006-7, 64pp. (£26.67) £20.00
JONES, TOM, & WILD, RACHEL. Kiddies to Korporate. Wild, 2000, 25pp. (£8.00) £6.00
TARBELL, HARLAN. The Tarbell Companion. Burton, 1994, 150pp. (£20.00) £15.00
CARDURA, GARY. Deep Impact. 15pp. (£6.00) £4.50
KIMLAT, KOSTYA. A Lecture Collection. 2004, 49pp, 1st. (£15.00) £11.25
PENN, DAVID. The Lecture. 1995, 22pp. (£6.00) £4.50
POWERS, MICHAEL. Top Secret Close-Up Deceptions. 1992, 22pp. (£10.00) £7.50

Email or ring if anything’s of interest. There are a few rare, out-of-print books here. All prices plus postage at cost.

We’ve another cracking lecture at The Magick Lounge this week. From Las Vegas: Kyle Marlett. Here he is in action:

Today, we’re told it’s hip to be square and Kyle has embraced the “nerd” label and made it a unique, personal hook that appeals to today’s modern audience. Hip to social media, digital content and authenticity, his persona is appealing, entertaining and aspirational. He has redefining what it means to be a “nerd” and creating a unique following of his own.

“Talented, off-beat and charismatic, Kyle Marlett performs mind-blowing illusions with singular flair. From close-up sleights-of-hand to elaborate new twists on classic illusions, Kyle delivers an endearing charm and infectious comedic deadpan whether on the stage, on the street or on camera.”

Kyle’s already appeared on The Tonight Show, Syfy’s Wizard Wars, and as a recurring performer on POP’s upcoming Don’t Blink. Whether performing one-on-one with celebrities, filming an impromptu viral video with the latest Vine star, performing for the camera or for a spontaneously-gathered crowd, Kyle commands audiences with poise and an up-for-anything confidence. He spent years honing his craft behind the scenes in collaboration with the world’s greatest illusionists and magic acts.

He has conceived, designed and implemented some of the most memorable illusions in Las Vegas, on Broadway’s highest-grossing magic show, on London’s West End, in films and on television. Recently, Kyle offered that peak creativity and trademark style in his one-man Las Vegas show where he performed dazzling new tricks and delivered never-seen-before illusions.

The relentless pursuit of astounding magic is his calling card, which means that we’re in for an exciting, entertaining and informative evening!

The lecture is £5 to SCM members and junior magicians and £10 to non members (visiting magicians welcome). It will begin at 7:30 pm on Thursday 22 September at the Magic Lounge, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG. Doors open around 7:00 precisely.


I’m sure my esteemed reader will have answered all the questions correctly. But just in case…

1. Who was the first Honorary President of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians?

Answer: David Devant.

2. What would you use a French Drop for?

Answer: To vanish a coin or other small object.

3. What was Houdini’s real name?

Answer: Erik Weisz.

4. How many cards are there in a standard tarot deck?

Answer: 78. (22 in the Major Arcana, 56 in the Minor.)

5. The motto of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians is “Ars est celare artem”. What does it mean?

Answer: Literally, it is art to conceal art. In other words, true art conceals the means by which it is achieved. (It’s a maxim from Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, which means that in the best works of art the audience is not distracted by the artist’s technique, but responds instead to the power of the work.) T. Nelson Downs also used a similar phrase in The Art of Magic: “Let art conceal art.”

6. Who is generally credited as the inventor of the Olram Subtlety?

Answer: Ed Marlo (Olram is Marlo backwards).

7. Who said, “A conjurer is not a juggler, he is an actor playing the part of a magician.”

Answer: Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin.

8. Who was the Sheffield magician who gave Houdini the idea for the upside-down suspended straitjacket escape?

Answer: Randolph Douglas (Randini). In June 1914 Houdini was appearing at the Nottingham Empire. The teenage Douglas was at the show. Houdini was his hero and they had been corresponding for some time. They met after the show and it seems that Houdini was intrigued with the ideas of this enthusiastic young man. He travelled to Sheffield after his second show, to Carrington Street where Douglas lived with his mother. After supper Randolph took Houdini up to the attic, had himself strapped into a straitjacket, his feet tied, and then winched upside down on a block and tackle which hung from the roof. He struggled out of the jacket, which thudded to the floor leaving the teenage escapologist gently swinging upside down with his arms outstretched… Houdini recognised the image as a surefire publicity icon and continued to use Randolph’s idea throughout his career, as has just about every other escape artist ever since. (Source: Beedham, Ann. Randini: The man who helped Houdini, Youbooks, 2009. Kalush, William, and Sloman, Larry. The Secret Life of Houdini, Atria, 2006.)

9. Who wrote The 13 Steps to Mentalism?

Answer: Tony Corinda.

10. Balducci and Asrah are both types of which commonly seen magic effect?

Answer: Levitation.

11. Under what name did the stage magician, debunker, and scientific skeptic Randall James Hamilton Zwinge perform?

Answer: The Amazing Randi.

12. In magic a ‘restoration’ is an effect in which something is seemingly destroyed or multilated, and then magically reconstituted. What well-known restoration trick was patented by Horace Goldin in 1923?

Answer: The ‘Sawing in Half’ illusion. The first time this was seen, historically, is a matter of discussion. Robert-Houdin wrote in his Memoirs of a magician named Torrini who performed the trick in front of Pope Pius VII in 1809, but there is no other record to support that claim.

Horace Goldin, in an effort to keep exclusive his rendition of the illusion, patented the format that many people would recognize, using a box with the woman’s head and feet showing, and using metal plates to insert into the box at the cut sections. In the end, his patenting efforts only served to document how the trick was performed, rather than maintain its secrecy.

13. Who invented The Curzon Envelope?

Answer: Roger Curzon. (Anyone naming D**** R**** will have two points deducted.)

Tie-Breaker: In what year was the inaugural meeting of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians held?

Answer: 1920 (18 May).

That’s it. How many did you get right?

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