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.
Hope that helps