Talking Skull

One thing I’m not is a huge magic collector. Sure, I have more stuff than what’s in my current show, but I don’t have a ton of stuff in bins that’s not used (there are a couple of bins, just not many).

One of the things I’ve wanted for a while as a display piece is a talking skull. Not the more modern ones that look like they are made out of a plastic halloween skull, but an older paper mache one.

I got this one at a Potter and Potter auction for a price that I was willing to pay for it. It didn’t come with instructions, and luckily Abbott’s Magic Company sells them for $4. It’s super clever how the gimmick works, and I would have figured it out…eventually. I’m thinking I might change it to a remote control, so I can make it talk on the shelf in my office.

I like this on my shelf, and I’m glad I picked it up!


Some Documentation…

Back at the end of October I had won some of Al Koran‘s ashes from the Ken Klosterman auction that Potter and Potter did. About a month ago they arrived,. I got a display, a sealed deck of Al Koran cards and a vial with some of his ashes.

al Koran's ashes

Recently I got a shipping notice from Potter and Potter and I had to wait a few days for the mysterious package to arrive. It was documentation from Ted Lesley about him giving Ken some of the ashes and a little bit about the story behind it!

This letter wasn’t part of auction’s listing, but it was very cool of Potter and Potter to send it to me when the letter turned up!


Brass Vanishing Bird Cage…

The vanishing bird cage that I won at the recent Potter and Potter auction showed up! The description said they thought it was from the 1930’s, I think it’s a little bit later than than, but it’s really hard to say.

The cage is 5 inches by 4 inches and 4 inches tall and made of brass. That makes this thing HEAVY! When you’re doing the vanishing bird cage, one of the things that you are fighting during the vanish is gravity. The weight of the cage doesn’t help you win that fight!

To put it in perspective, I have another cage of similar construction and dimensions.

The brass cage on the right is 337 grams or almost 3/4 of a pound! The cage on the left is 165 grams, that’s essentially half the weight of the brass cage. The cage on the left also collapses into a thinner profile. I suspect the brass cage was made as a DIY vanishing birdcage, and not something that was mass produced for sale to other magicians.

I’m glad to have added this to my collection, and gotten to compare it to something similar, but half the weight to really confirm my suspicion that weight does matter in a vanishing cage!

Another Cage…

Awhile ago I realized I collected vanishing birdcages. At the last Potter and Potter auction they had an old brass vanishing birdcage.

The description said they think it’s from the 1930’s. I personally think it’s more modern than that. I decided to bid on it, and I’m the only one that bid, so I got it for next to nothing, which is great for me!

I’m very curious how heavy it is and how well it collapses.

The blobs of solder look like they’ll rip your forearm open if you vanish it with any force. I wish I knew a little bit more about the cage’s history. That’s the thing, so many makers worked for different companies and people. It’s hard to know what came from who. When I was at Abbott’s Magic Get Together, I chatted with a lot of people who are very knowledgeable about the vanishing birdcage to try to figure out who made the one I use. Everyone gave me a different answer and told me that the other people were wrong.

Do I need to know who made it?

Not really, since they aren’t made anymore, I can’t just go out and buy one. Knowing the history of your props does make you a better performer. I’m not sure why, but I think when you know your props on a deeper level, the audience can sense that. The prop becomes something more to you, and that comes through when you use them.