I recently got an email asking questions about the Vanishing Birdcage and I figured it might be helpful to more than just the person who emailed me, so here it is:
I see that you have a lot of knowledge about the vanishing bird cage. My dad used to do a little stage magic and this was my favorite! My son is now an aspiring young magician and I’d like to get him this trick. He’s been working on his technique for several years but is still only 11. I know this trick takes a lot of practice. I do not want to spend the thousands to get him a professional cage, but I also don’t want him to be discouraged (or cut!) by an inexpensive and poorly made cage while he learns. I’ve read through several threads on Magic Cafe and it seems most of the Indian cages can be dangerous, although there might be one or two that are ok. It also looks like I need to avoid any with loops?
I am writing to ask if you can recommend any websites, manufacturers, things to look for, things to avoid- any advice at all?
Let’s start with the safety of cages. Yes, they can cut you, but I honestly don’t think that’s really a huge concern. Anything that can cut you can also snag in your sleeve, so you should be inspecting your cage and finding those spots and eliminating them. I check my cages how Billy McComb did, by running a silk over them to find any thing that would snag in my sleeve. Tommy wonder did something similar with a piece of string. I have a couple of the Indian vanishing cages from various eras in my collection and I never really noticed any of them having any wires sticking out (that doesn’t mean that they don’t have any). The bigger concern with the newer Indian cages is that they are super heavy, and this makes the vanish more difficult. If getting cut is a concern go for an Abbott’s style cage with the red ribbon on it. I don’t think Abbotts is making them right now, but they frequently pop up used and should run about $100ish. There’s one on ebay right now for $275, and I DO NOT recommend paying that much for it. https://www.ebay.com/itm/394381494169
There are some totally usable vanishing cages with the loops on the bars. The Milson Worth Vanishing Birdcages with the brass bars work fine and that’s the cage that the Indian Vanishing Birdcages are modelled after. A Milson Worth cage will run about $100-$150. There’s one on ebay right now for $95 and looks decent: https://www.ebay.com/itm/314214210186
The bigger issue is size. I’m 5’8, so average height, but to pull full size cage like the Owen Vanishing Cage or even a full size Abbott cage up your sleeve may be the biggest challenge for an 11 year old. I’d recommend trying to find a small Abbotts cage or the Milson Worth cage as they’re smaller than the “standard” cages. Personally I used a National Magic and Owen Cage and were a bit too big for me, and about a year ago I switched to a Riser/Summers Baby Lindy Cage which is smaller and it works a lot better for me! However the price tag on the baby lindy cage is a lot, and it’s not really what I would recommend for a first cage.
With all of that information, I would lean towards the $95 one that’s on ebay if it was a purchase that you wanted to make now. If you are willing to wait an hunt around a bit, then a small Abbotts vanishing cage.
I just added a new cage to my vanishing birdcage collection.
This is a Thayer Vanishing Birdcage and is the non-rigid style cage. For some reason, I thought that Abbotts was the only one that made a non-rigid vanishing birdcage. I don’t know who made them first, however based on the timelines of the two companies, I think Thayer made them before Abbotts, however someone could have made them before both.
This cage is a bridge between the older metal rigid cages and the semi rigid cages, like the Lindhurst cage. This is rectangular and has the fixed perch, where the abbots which I think came after was square and eliminated the fixed perch. I think then the Lindurst style cage grew from the Abbott’s cage.
Another neat thing about the Thayer vanishing birdcage is how the pull is connected to the cage:
It’s permanently attached to the cage, and not clipped on. The red ribbon extends down the cage onto the pull. This in theory smooths out the cage going up the sleeve and eliminates some possible snag points. Having a clip like a modern cage adds places for the cage to snag.
I’m glad to add this to my collection, as I think it’s a missing link from the older style cage to the more modern cages.
Yesterday was the first official day of the Abbott’s Magic Get Together. I spent a good chunk of the morning in the dealers room showing people the products that I brought with me. Then I walked (15 mins) into downtown to see the street performer:
People liked him, however he was a little bit too standard for my tastes. All standard tricks, done in the standard way, with standard patter.
Later in the day was Nick Diffate’s lecture.
It was good, he shared some good stuff.
The stage show that night was fun, and it was good to see Stuart Mcdonald’s act.
There are a few choices that performers make that make me scratch my head. The first is when you’re dong a magic convention and in the evening show, why would you do a standard trick in the standard way? I honestly believe that professor’s nightmare has no place in a show at a magic convention.
The other was they had a speed painter who added a mentalism bit to his speed painting. The effect was he was going to paint the person that someone was thinking of. He used an Amazebox to force it, and from the audience I could tell something didn’t look right. The speed painter got to the end and when he asked the person to reveal the person they were thinking of, it wasn’t who he painted. It took all of the air out of the trick. If you have a skill that’s very interesting, don’t try to add a magic trick to it…especially if you’re not a good magician.