While I was in Canada last weekend I was chatting with some magicians after the Harrison Greenbaum show and someone mention there was a guy about an hour away that was making vanishing birdcages and gave me his phone number. I called him the next day, and was invited over and got to see some of his cages!
These cages are great and since he’s not mass producing them, he’s open to doing custom sizes. The cages have a great action to them and look great!
I’m very fortunate to have gotten to see these cages and I’m on the list for a cage the next time he makes them!!!
Talking to people and then following up on opportunities when they present themselves is one of the biggest secrets to success. Not just in prop hunting, but in life!
There really aren’t many vanishing bird cages that are currently being made. It’s really the vanishing bird cage from India or the Baby Lindy and Walter Blaney cage from Dan Summers. Those two makers couldn’t be further apart in pricing! The cage from India is about $50, and the Summers cages are $1,500-$2,000!
I recently has someone ask me about the two, and there’s really no comparing them. For starters they are completely different style of cages, so it’s not an apples to apples comparison.
What the magic market is lacking is a good, entry level cage, something in the $200-$400 range, however that doesn’t currently exist right now. I’m going to do a quick comparison of the India cage and the Milson Worth Silver Meteor which is the cage style that the Indian cage copied.
For me there are two main differences. The first is weight!
The Milson Worth cage is 115 grams and the Indian cage is 149. You really feel that extra 34 grams in weight when the cage lands in your sleeve!
The other difference is texture. The Milson Worth vanishing birdcage has all the soldered spots smoothed out, where the India cage is rough and that will create a lot of potential snags when the cage is going up your sleeve.
I know that the Milson Worth magic company isn’t around anymore, so you can’t buy the cage new, but there are a lot of them out there for sale on sites like eBay, etc. This cage is a decent beginners cage and one to use if you want to try out the cage before investing thousands of dollars in a cage!
Just a quick note, if you end up searching for a Milson Worth Silver Meteor cage, don’t pay more than $150-$200 for it. There’s a seller or two on ebay asking for way too much for the cage!
I’m just wrapping up run of 8 days of shows using the Riser/Summers Baby Lindy Vanishing Birdcage. This is the first long run of shows that I’ve done using the cage. First of all, this cage has really no break in time, it’s good to go right out of the box and for me it’s the perfect amount of rigidity.
I use a Nielsen rubber canary in my cage, and currently the Riser/Summers cage comes with one, which is nice. I’ve noticed that there are two types of the canaries that Nielsen has put out over the years. One of them is a lighter yellow and one is a brighter yellow. The lighter yellow one is a thinner latex than the brighter yellow one. I prefer the lighter one inside of my cage as it collapses much flatter and if any of it is sticking out of the cage, it doesn’t really provide any resistance if it catches on my sleeve.
This cage works perfectly with my Take Up Reel, so I’m able to close the show with it. The other thing that’s great about this cage’s size is that I’m able to bend my elbow with it all the way up my sleeve, making the motions of my arm much more natural feeling (at least to me) after the vanish.
I’m having a great time with this cage and if you’re in the market for a cage, I recommend the Riser/Summers Baby Lindy Vanishing Birdcage! -Louie
I redesigned the pulley for the double action birdcage pull that I made yesterday. The main difference is that it’s slightly larger and the hole on the non pulley side has been moved 90 degrees.
Here’s a side by side comparison with the one that I made yesterday. The old one is on the left and the new design is on the right with the strings on it.
I foreseeing possibly making it wider with the ends flaring out, so that it doesn’t roll inside the jacket and twist the line. We’ll see if that actually ends up being a problem, or if tension alone will straighten out or keep the lines straight. I’ll play with it a bit and see what happens.
If you’re curious about this style of pull, I think I first read about it in Jim Steinmeyer‘s book The Magic of Alan Wakeling. In that book it’s used to vanish a fan, however I think using a pulley on a wrist to wrist pull is much older than Wakeling using it.
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!
I was going through my vanishing birdcage collection the other day. It’s interesting the different styles and how the cage has evolved. Going from rigid, to floppy to semi rigid. There has definitely been an evolution in how the vanishing birdcages have been made.
I think the Thayer cage, which is more rectangular than a modern semi rigid cage is the best shape. A modern cage, it more square (still rectangular) than the Thayer vanishing birdcage. When collapsed, it has less bulk because of the shorter ends, which is good. However there might be some engineering challenge that the more rectangular shape presents when making it as a rigid cage.
I’d love to try to make a semi rigid cage with the proportions of a Thayer cage, but unfortunately the skills to make a vanishing bird cage are beyond me…
Last week I bought a vanishing birdcage on ebay (apparently I collect cages now?) from a seller that wasn’t a magician. I’ll talk a bit more about the cage in another post when I get a chance to do some research on it, but it’s a less common one. The seller included this Doug Henning autographed Playbill in the box that came with the cage:
I’m assuming the Max and Salli it’s signed to are Max and Salli Hapner. I’m not very familiar with their work, but remember seeing them on the cover of a couple of magic magazines, or mentioned in them. From my research this week, Max had a collection of Vanishing Birdcages, so it would make sense that the autograph coming with the cage would reinforce the idea that the autograph was to the Hapners.
It appears Max passed about 10 years ago, and I only found one video of him online, which is him doing The Multiplying Bottles for Stevens Magic Emporium:
One of the fun things about knowing some magic history is that I was immediately able to connect the name on the program to the magic act. One the cover of the Genii Magazine above they are doing their bubble appearance, which according some of the people I’ve talked to the last week was a really amazing trick!
The last year or so I’ve been working with the vanishing bird cage trick. I used to do it a long time ago, and at one point even did the Tommy Wonder version with the sleeves rolled up. The vanishing bird cage is one of those tricks that I keep revisiting. Currently it’s in the … Continue reading “”
The last year or so I’ve been working with the vanishing bird cage trick. I used to do it a long time ago, and at one point even did the Tommy Wonder version with the sleeves rolled up. The vanishing bird cage is one of those tricks that I keep revisiting.
Currently it’s in the show and I’ve been doing essentially Billy McComb’s Slow Motion Vanishing Bird Cage. The main difference is that I’m doing it fast, just under the cover of the sheer scarf. I think the scarf adds a little bit to the vanish. Yes, it takes away from the instant vanish, but also adds a bit of other options as to where the cage could have gone.
Last night I stumbled upon a video of Tommy Wonder doing his vanish with the scarf:
I like this better than when he does it uncovered.
One thing that the scarf does is that it gives the audience a moment to process what’s happened while you show the sheer scarf empty and let’s their brains get caught up.