I’m sure that by now all my astute readers, and even the less astute one, will have answered most if not all of the questions in this year’s SCM Christmas Quiz. In case you haven’t, here they are:

1. The badge of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians is known as the Scaratika. What two magical symbols does it incorporate?

Answer: A Scarab and a Swastika. To the Ancient Egyptians, the scarab was a symbol of Khepri, a manifestation of the sun god Ra, from an analogy between the beetle’s behaviour of rolling a ball of dung across the ground and Khepri’s task of rolling the sun across the sky. They accordingly held the species to be sacred. The swastika is an ancient Indian religious symbol of peace and continuity. It is considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism and dates back at least 11,000 years.

2. Bess Houdini held annual séances on Halloween for ten years after her husband’s death in 1926. Which secret phrase did her husband Harry promise to use to prove that his ghost was actually trying to contact her?

a) Flowers do not fade.
b) I am Erik.
c) Rosabelle believe.
d) It’s the kiss that holds the key.

Answer: c). “Rosabelle” was a song that Bess used in her original act at Coney Island. Harry Houdini spent much of his later life trying to disprove spiritualism and expose phony mediums. The agreement with his wife was his ultimate means of proving that a return from the dead was impossible. The séances were supposed to continue each year for the rest of her life.

In 1929 a medium reported that the special phrase had been uttered during a séance, but Bess claimed that the news was false – she had been ill during the séance and the secrecy of the phrase could have been compromised. Bess held annual séances for 10 years, and then gave up on waiting and passed responsibility on to magician William B. Gibson.

3. David Wighton was born in London, England in 1868. He is best known for the Mascot Moth illusion in which a woman vanishes into thin air. What is his stage name?

Answer: David Devant. Incidentally,  Devant was the first Honorary President of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians.

4. Who is generally credited as the inventor of the Sawing in Half illusion?

Answer: P. T. Selbit (Percy Thomas Tibbles). A description of the illusion was published by the great French magician Jean Robert-Houdin in 1858, but Robert-Houdin’s idea remained just that, a written description of an effect. Selbit is generally recognised as the first magician to perform such a trick on a public stage, which he did at the Finsbury Park Empire theatre in London on 17 January 1921. In fact, Selbit had previously performed the illusion in December 1920 before a select audience of promoters and theatrical agents at the St. George’s Hall

5. Considered by many to be the father of modern magic, this French magician was originally a watchmaker but later performed throughout Europe during the 1840s and 1850s. The “Light and Heavy Chest” was one of his most famous tricks.

Answer: Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin.

6.  What was the stage name of famous British magician Newton Edward Daniels?

Answer: Paul Daniels.

7. These two German magicians were famous for their work with big cats.

Answer: Siegfried & Roy.

8. A magician makes a coin vanish from his or her hands. Which European country is connected with this sleight?

Answer: France (French Drop).

9. Invented by Theo Bamberg some time in the early 1900s, this little container is a classic prop for coin magic.

Answer: Okito Coin Box (Okito was Bamberg’s stage name).

10. The inaugural meeting of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians took place on 18 May. But what year?

Answer: 1920.

There was also a tie-breaker question, which we didn’t have to use. It was:

Tie Breaker: Claude Conlin was a mind-reading magician with a disreputable past. He had been married seven, eleven or even fourteen times, depending on who you believe. He was a con man, possibly a murderer and was imprisoned for fraud. Nevertheless, he was probably the highest paid mentalist of his time. What was Conlin’s stage name?

Answer next week.

Advertisements

Last week saw the traditional Christmas party of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians, a social evening for members and their partners. During the ensuing jollity the assembled ‘throng’ enjoyed nibbles, a little magic, and a magic-related quiz. In case you missed it, here’s your chance to compare your score with Luke’s, who won the fairly valuable prize with a confidently grand total of 9-and-a-bit points.

1. The badge of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians is known as the Scaratika. What two magical symbols does it incorporate?

2. Bess Houdini held annual séances on Halloween for ten years after her husband’s death in 1926. Which secret phrase did her husband Harry promise to use to prove that his ghost was actually trying to contact her?

a) Flowers do not fade.
b) I am Erik.
c) Rosabelle believe.
d) It’s the kiss that holds the key.

3. David Wighton was born in London, England in 1868. He is best known for the Mascot Moth illusion in which a woman vanishes into thin air. What is his stage name?

4. Who is generally credited as the inventor of the Sawing in Half illusion?

5. Considered by many to be the father of modern magic, this French magician was originally a watchmaker but later performed throughout Europe during the 1840s and 1850s. The “Light and Heavy Chest” was one of his most famous tricks.

6.  What was the stage name of famous British magician Newton Edward Daniels?

7. These two German magicians were famous for their work with big cats.

8. A magician makes a coin vanish from his or her hands. Which European country is connected with this sleight?

9. Invented by Theo Bamberg some time in the early 1900s, this little container is a classic prop for coin magic.

10. The inaugural meeting of the Sheffield Circle of Magicians took place on 18 May. But what year?

Answers follow next week.

Arron_pe

Following a last-minute cancellation from the lecturer originally booked for our March meeting, I’m pleased to announce that Arron Jones has stepped into the breach to present his practical, entertaining lecture.

Arron bills himself as ‘not just a magician’, but ‘an ENTERTAINER’. During his professional career he has had the pleasure of entertaining thousands of people throughout the country. His clients have included some of the UK’s biggest brands, celebrities, high class London venues and many private parties and weddings.

Arron specialises in close-up, walk-around, mystery room and table magic. With his lightning fast wit, well-honed magical skills and wide-ranging practical, real-world experience, we’re sure that everyone will go home with something they can use, as well as having had an amazing night!

The lecture is free to Sheffield Circle members and £10 to non members. It will begin at 7:30 pm on Thursday 3 March at The Magic Lounge, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG. Doors open at 7:00 pm fairly promptly.

It’s February. And that means the Sheffield Circle Annual Magic Auction Night. Oh joy.

Time to parcel up your unwanted props, books and DVDs and bring them down to the Lounge on Thursday 4 February. Be prompt; lots will be sold in arrival order.

All items must be in working order with instructions where appropriate.

Doors open at 7:00 and the frenzy of bidding will start straight after the announcements at 7:30.

Note: If you’re bringing items for auction I strongly suggest that you make a list, preferably two copies; it makes the Treasurer’s job much easier. Ten percent of the proceeds go to Circle funds.

As usual, silly bids will be ignored or converted into something more sensible at the auctioneer’s discretion.

Admission is free to SCM members. Visiting magicians £3. Hoping to see the rows of eager, smiling faces as usual. And your wallets.

See you on the 4th at The Magick Lounge, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG.

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?

psychics-SCM

As is traditional, the December meeting of The Sheffield Circle of Magicians was a social evening for members and their partners. There were nibbles, a little magic, and a magic-related quiz (replacing the Christmas Puzzle Sheet of previous years following complaints from certain quarters that this required a level of thought and concentration unfamiliar to some of those attending…).

So the quiz included some general magic questions and some SCM history questions; most were fairly easy, especially for anyone with a little basic knowledge of their craft and their Circle. If you missed it, here’s a chance to try it for yourself:

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

2. What would you use a French Drop for?

3. What was Houdini’s real name?

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

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

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

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

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

9. Who wrote The 13 Steps to Mentalism?

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

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

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?

13. Who invented The Curzon Envelope?

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

The winner of the cheap bottle of wine was Ashton Carter with 11 correct answers. Can you beat that? (Without the aid of Google!) Answers will follow with an appropriate minimum of alacrity.

It’s auction bargain time again!

It’s February and the cold, damp weather has brought with it a dose of cold, damp reality. Let’s face it, you’re not going to use half of that stuff you’ve bought over the past year.

But help is nigh! Parcel up your unwanted props, books and DVDs and bring them down to the Sheffield Circle Annual Magic Auction Night here at the Lounge on Thursday 5 February. You know it makes sense.

Doors open at 7:00. And I’ll be waving my gavel promptly from 7:30 onwards. If you’re bringing items for auction I strongly suggest that you make a list, preferably two copies; it makes the Treasurer’s job much easier. Ten percent of the proceeds go to Circle funds.

Silly bids will be ignored or converted into something more sensible at the auctioneers discretion.

Admission is free to SCM members. Visiting magicians £3. Don’t forget to bring your wallet.