Houdini’s Big Little Book of Magic
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    It’s magic!

    I don’t know much about magic, but with a free ticket in hand, I went to a Lance Burton show in Las Vegas one summer. It was entertaining, so much so that I bought one of his magic tricks for my teenage nephew.


    While at auction recently, I came across a box lot of items that included two magic tricks. One was a Miracle Light Bulb, which was supposed to light up in your hand miraculously. The other was a box of four single silk scarves, which were supposed to miraculously tie themselves together in a glass.

    I’m a skeptic, but I am also very curious. That’s why I sometimes buy box lots or trays of items at auction just to take them home to see what’s there. You never know what treasures you might find. In this lot were two books from the 1950s about Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the first black female sorority founded in 1908; an old pack of Mexican cigarettes, three boxes of old tissue from the Henry Hudson Hotel in New York and a roll of Bin Laden toilet paper (remember those?).

    The old magic tricks were among the most interesting, partly because they were in their original boxes. 


    The light bulb’s box was just as neat as the bulb. On the outside, it boasted in red “Mysteriously lights in the hand” and “No wires or visible connections.” Drawings on the box showed a man holding a lighted bulb to his left ear, his hair, his nose and his mouth. The box itself was worth the small price I paid for the lot.

    The instructions were no longer in the box, but by Googling, I found that you need a ring or metal object in your hand to get it to work. The light source in the bulb was an AA battery hidden inside a casing. I changed the battery, but the bulb didn’t work for me. Also, it was cracked.

    This YouTube video offers a demonstration of how it works. This website shows you how to make your own, if you are so inclined.  

    After reading the instructions in the box, I decided that the silk scarf trick wasn’t worth the trouble of trying to make it work. Besides, I was missing some things: my favorite method for making things vanish, a Tommy Windsor Dye Box (price $1.00 – which could be purchased from the company (Robbins), no doubt) or the regular handkerchief “pull” (price 50 cents).

    This is how it worked, though: “A blue and white silk are tied together by their corners. The tied silks are now placed in a glass, which remains in full view of the audience. A rainbow silk is shown and vanished. When the silks from the glass are removed, the vanished silk is found fastened between them.”

    My nephew put on his Lance Burton magic show one year after our Christmas dinner and gift-giving. I wasn’t sure he’d do it. He was shy at the time (but no more) and this meant that he had to get in front of the family to perform the tricks. I coached him, he did well and we all had a good time. Magic was good family fun.

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