Lost Arts: Old Timey Crime from around the Web

Lost Arts: Old Timey Crime from around the Web

It’s hard not to feel a twinge of respect for old school scam artists. There is something downright artisanal about the pickpocket, the confidence man, the card cheat, and the forger. Each is in possession of knowledge that cannot be learned in books, and skills that must be honed without a safety net. If you must be a criminal, you may as well have a little bit of old-world panache. Without romanticizing the subject too much, here are a few recent discoveries. THE MOBILE PALM READER Palm reading has been around for centuries. In order to save money on my weekly readings, I recently downloaded a free app called Palm Reader. Here are the findings:      It is both upsetting and comforting to realize that while people have a great variety of interests and personality types, they all want to hear the same stories about themselves.   The app starts with a free reading, immediately hints that there is a “full reading” available, and then requires you to upgrade to the premium version. This conforms perfectly with what real life palm readers have been doing forever. The clairvoyant begins with a $5 reading just for fun. Then he or she offers to reveal more information about your future, or your past lives, during a longer and more expensive session. New technology, same basic idea: start small, hope to strike a chord, then manipulate the mark’s natural curiosity. What’s old is new. Also, my kitchen table:        CHANGE RAISING Picture the following scenario. Try to follow the money. It’s your first day as a cashier at a busy coffee shop. A well-dressed gentleman walks in, slaps a $10...
EPCC Instagram Contest Winners!

EPCC Instagram Contest Winners!

The Expert Playing Card Co. (@expertpcc) contest for the David Blaine Microsoft deck has concluded successfully! They had an amazing response and had to give out many extra prizes. Hope you don’t mind! Congratulations to: FIRST PLACE: @magic_orthodoxy Prize: 1 David Blaine Microsoft Deck, 1 52 Plus Joker Proof Deck, and a never before available EPCC hat! SECOND PLACE: @notaninstagram Prize: 1 David Blaine Microsoft Deck, 1 Black/Gold Sky Island deck, and a never before available EPCC hat! HONORABLE MENTIONS: @kingdeception, @finger_fix, @king_orhan, @magicencarta Prize: 1 deck of Zen Pure Gold! Thank you to everyone who participated. Please stay...
The Conjuring Arts Lending Library

The Conjuring Arts Lending Library

  In 2011, I got a call from the librarian at Conjuring Arts, asking if I could spend “a day or so” looking through some books that had recently been donated. When I arrived, the place was filled from floor to ceiling with newly arrived boxes. And you literally had to walk sideways to go from room to room. It’s been much longer than “a day or so,” but I’m very excited to announce the creation of the Conjuring Arts Lending Library. New York residents now have thousands of books and props available to borrow for free. The apparatus collection is being housed at Fantasma Magic 421 7th Avenue (entrance on 33rd st.) and the books are on display for browsing and borrowing at Tannen’s Magic showroom located at 45 West 34th St. Suite 608 (Between 5th and 6th). The apparatus library includes props that are appropriate to every skill level and genre of magic. Professionally crafted classics like: the Cups and Balls, Linking Rings, Zombie Balls, Appearing Bird Cage, Topsy Turvey Bottles, and more. You’ll also find hundreds of simpler, commercially available effects, in their original packaging. There’s even a wooden duck that can figure out which card you picked! Many of the books in this collection are rare or out of print. A small sampling includes: John Northern Hilliard’s Greater Magic, Frank Garcia’s Million Dollar Card Secrets, Super Subtle Card Mysteries, Maskelyne and Devant’s Our Magic, Billy McComb’s Mccomb’s Magic, Martin Gardner’s Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic, and Juan Tamariz’s Sonata. Click HERE to view the full catalog of books. Now here’s the full story: In the summer of 2011, Conjuring Arts received an incredible donation: the entire material remnants...
Magic in a POW Camp – the Story of Gus Anckorn

Magic in a POW Camp – the Story of Gus Anckorn

We recently made friends with a ninety-five year old Magic Circle member named Fergus (Gus) Anckorn. Gus caught our attention not just because he is a skilled and experienced practitioner, but because his abilities as a magician are woven into an unbelievable tale of survival as a POW. He used magic to gain favor with his captors and boost his friends’ morale, and there are other aspects of his story so serendipitous that they too resemble magic. We first encountered Gus while researching The Piddington’s. After publishing Barry Wiley’s brilliant piece on the Piddington’s in Gibecière Vol. 8 No. 2, we decided to investigate a bit further. Upon asking Eddie Dawes about Sydney Piddington, Braddon and the others, Eddie kindly informed us that “Gus Anckorn was there at Changi too and you can still speak to him!” It turns out that the Piddington’s world famous telepathy act, unlike anything else in magic at the time, was developed in large part by Gus and Sydney Piddington while the two were in Changi Prison during the war. (You can listen to a full recording of the act by clicking HERE). With the lead provided by Mr. Dawes, we found our way to London and managed (with the help of a number of people including Matthew Field and Peter Lane) to meet Gus and arrange a visit to his home. At ninty-three, Gus has more energy than many a third of  his age. He performed excellent magic for hours on end and told us many stories about his life as a prisoner of the Japanese. Many details of Gus’s terrifying yet charmed life is...
Listen to the Piddington’s

Listen to the Piddington’s

Here’s a full recording of The Piddington’s – a husband and wife team who gained worldwide fame performing a telepathy routine that bordered on the supernatural. You can find out more about them by reading the  fascinating biographical piece that Barry Wiley contributed to our historical journal Gibecière, Vol. 8, No. 2. While listening to this vintage recording, consider that Sydney Piddington began to develop this act while he was interred at Changi Prison camp during World War II. During this time he became friends with other performers like Russell Braddon, and Fergus Anckorn (whose own story is described HERE). Under the harshest of conditions, they created act that follows....

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