Wels, Byron G.: The Great Illusions of Magic (2 vols.)
©1977, published by D. Robbins & Co., Inc.
Hardcovers, 308 pages (Vol. 1) 222 pages (Vol. 2)
Abebooks price range 40.00 - 220.00
Volume 1: Text. Volume II: Plans
Comments (Stewart Tame): Classic illusions of magic, with some newer effects sprinkled in. Volume 1 is the text with descriptions of each effect and verbal descriptions of the mechanisms. Volume 2 contains rough workshop plans for everything including detail drawings of the mechanisms. The pages in Volume 2 are blank on one side, apparently so that the plans for a single illusion could be removed without affecting any of the others. The pages are also numbered oddly--Page 1 is blank on the back and the next page after is numbered 2 and so on. Four illusions rate two pages each, and the numbering of these is handled by labeling one page "47A" and the second "47B" or whatever. So the page numbering in Volume 2 actually runs 1-107B even though there are really 222 pages, half of them blank. Volume 2 is also larger than volume 1 (about 11" x 14.5". Volume 1 is about 8.5" x 11".) Some effects are obvious from the titles and/or familiar to anyone who's been into magic for even a little while, so I've tried to keep descriptions to a minimum.
Volume 1: Text
[no pp#] Introduction
[no pp#] Author's Foreword
1 The Lester Lake Guillotine
4 Substitution Trunk
6 Larsen's Vanish of a Caged Parrot
9 The Asrah Levitation
11 The Mummy Case--Mummy in case turns into assistant when lid is closed.
14 The Devil's Torture Chamber--Assistant stands in upright cabinet, block of spikes lowered through cabinet while door closed, assistant unharmed.
18 Larsen's Girl Without A Middle
23 The Famous Barrel Escape
26 Walking Through A Ribbon--Enclosure large enough to cover waist held at waist-height above stage on legs, assistant stands in cabinet, ribbon threaded through, audience members hold, can tug back and forth, assistant opens doors and steps out leaving ribbon intact behind her.
29 The Triangle Illusion--Triangular cabinet, girl appears and then disappears again.
31 The Spider Girl Illusion
34 Eclipse Vanishing Lamp--Lamp on table vanishes when cloth held in front, table obviously thinner than lamp.
37 The Sword Box
40 Improved Sawing A Lady In Two
44 Confusion In the Ark--Small enough to rest on table, three wooden figures transpose.
47 Two Trays, Twelve Glasses of Beer--Circular table covered with cloth, whisked up and draped over arm to reveal tray with six glasses of beer, cloth removed from arm to reveal second tray with six more glasses.
50 Improved Shang-Hi Dove Production
52 Jack Gwyne's Box, Tray, and Screen--Livestock produced from seemingly empty box.
55 Spook Room--A "Black Art" cabinet.
59 The Zenith Water Fountain Act--Fountains burst forth from almost literally anywhere.
63 The Birds Fly Home--Doves visibly appear in an empty cage.
65 Reincarnation--Assistant gradually and visibly fades from sight in a box in full view of the audience.
68 Dynamic Dove Vanish--Doves placed in box which is then dismantled completely.
70 Triple Escape Mystery--Upright box with locking stocks at neck, waist and ankles.
73 The Spirit Screen--Cabinet shown empty, instruments placed inside sound, hands poke out from curtained openings, etc., can be shown empty at any time.
76 Fire and Water Illusion--Assistant vanishes from one cabinet in a flash of fire to instantly appear immersed in another tank filled with water.
80 Stroubeika Escape--Magician shackled at neck, wrists and ankles to a board, can escape at will.
82 Resurrection--Skeleton rises out of casket, answers questions and exhibits other signs of life.
86 Jack-O-Lantern Girl--Assistant's head visible in mouth of carved pumpkin atop slender pole, there is seemingly nowhere for her body to be concealed.
89 The Mystery of Three--Open-sided triangular cabinet wheeled out, assistant brings out giant playing cards one at a time, which are used to form the sides of the cabinet, when cards removed, second assistant has appeared inside.
92 The Artist's Dream--Magician wheels easel onstage, draws pictures of dove, flag, etc., punches through paper and produces objects drawn, climax draws beautiful girl.
95 The Buzz Saw--Harry Blackstone sawing in half illusion.
97 The Elastic Lady--Assistant in cabinet with head, hands, feet poking through holes, visible body parts stretch to the far corners of the cabinet and head sinks to bottom.
100 The Decapitated Princess--Two swords across arms of throne, princess' head balanced on two swords, head answers questions etc., generally appears to be alive.
103 The Phantom Cage--Cage on table, assistant either appears in or vanishes from it, cage can be completely disassembled and parts stacked on table.
106 The Birth of Chloris--Small vase with plant on pedestal, bud on plant opens wide, assistants head and shoulder slowly "grow" out of it, assistant speaks, etc., and then slowly sinks back into bud which closes, no obvious hiding place for assistant's body.
109 The Brooks Trunk--Escape.
112 Rip Van Winkle--Magician vanishes from curtained cabinet.
116 Houdini Pillory Escape
119 The Pillars of Fear--Assistant stands upright between two wooden pillars, large spike hammered through both pillars visibly penetrating assistant.
122 Altar of Fate--Assistant lies down on altar, covered with cloth, set on fire.
125 Temple of Buddha--Sideshow illusion, wooden cabinet with wooden post running up center, human arm extends from post holding vial of liquid in hand, spectator writes question on paper, paper dropped into vial, hand shakes it gently, paper removed and answer to question has appeared on other side.
128 Hades' Card Frame--Wooden frame with two doors shown, large playing card placed in each side, magician shows first one then the other card vanishing, audience thinks frame tilting slides card over to other side, both doors opened to show cards vanished.
131 Alexander's Materialization--Spirit cabinet effect, cabinet shown empty, closed, manifestations ensue.
134 Micky Hade's "Run Rabbit Run"--Magician places wooden rabbit in one side of frame, audience sees it slide across to other side, eventually vanishes.
137 Improved "Aga" Levitation
140 Boxes of Buddha--Large box shown empty by unfolding sides, reassembled and platform rotated to show all sides, small box unfolded and shown empty, placed inside of larger box, assistant appears within.
143 Murder in the Telephone Booth--Assistant vanishes from cabinet, "policeman" who opens cabinet reveals himself to be assistant who vanished.
150 Sack Escapes
152 Micky Hades' "Inimi-Table"--Folding magician's table.
155 In Again-Out Again--Assistant in sack, placed in trunk, neck of sack pokes through opening in trunk lid, sack pulled through hole and shown empty, trunk opened, shown empty, lid closed, assistant immediately pokes head out, trunk shown empty again, etc., assistant finally emerges from trunk wearing outfit of color chosen by audience.
157 New Burning Alive Illusion--Assistant in box, set on fire, sides opened to show flames but no assistant (alternately, a burning skeleton.)
160 Waller's Screen of Life--Three-fold screen on stage, magician folds it up and turns it around to show other side which is contrasting color with front, folded up, assistant appears within and interior walls change color.
163 Packing Box Escape
165 Flash Appearance--"Every magician wants to suddenly appear onstage in a sudden flash of fire ..."
167 The Doll's House--Doll's house shown to be empty, closed up, assistant appears within.
170 Strange Disappearance--Open wooden framework supporting platform on stage, magician walks behind platform and audience can see through framework, assistant on platform, cloth held in front for a moment, assistant vanishes.
173 Where Is the Lady?--Three large cards with numbers "1" "2" and "3" on them, assistant stands behind cards, cards set into holders on three stools onstage, audience asked to guess which card assistant behind, magician makes her appear behind any card at will.
176 Improved Noah's Ark--Ridiculously large number of livestock produced from cabinet shown empty, assistant steps from cabinet for climax.
178 The Phantom Aviary--Table hidden with cloth for a moment, cloth whisked away to reveal cage with live doves inside.
180 The Famous Spike Mystery--Assistant in cabinet, spikes penetrate back to front, small window in front opened up and assistant's face shown, window remains open and face in view as spikes are withdrawn, assistant unharmed.
183 The Cross Escape--Tied to cross-shaped pillory.
186 Seeing Through a Man--Side-show attraction, man in evening clothes with tube that seems to pass completely through his body, spectators can look through tube.
188 Flight of the Rodent--Animal placed in box, box taken apart to show vanish, reassembled, animal produced unhurt.
190 Girl in the Drum--Open frame table with open-ended cylinder on top, hoops used to secure pieces of paper on each end of cylinder, hoisted into air above stage, assistant tears through paper from inside.
193 The Chest of Chu-Chin-Chow--Empty chest with vertical windows in front, magician pours rice into chest, seen through windows, rice vanishes and chest shown empty.
196 The Broom Suspension
199 The Enchanted Tent--Magician sets up teepee-style tent on stage, balances hat on top, assistant's head pokes up through top to wear hat, tent worn like cloak.
202 Fireplace Illusion--Santa Claus produced from "fireplace".
204 A Tent In the Desert--Assistant (or magician) strapped to board, board placed on frame in tent, frame tilted 45 degrees so person on board completely visible, cloth held in front, as cloth dropped, board drops out of framework, person totally vanished.
206 The Boxes of Choy Fong--Two boxes shown empty, load produced.
208 The Improved Vampire Illusion--Wooden poles set on platform in tripod fashion, manequin's head balanced on top, fabric drape wrapped around poles, platform rotated, magician applies makeup to face of mannequin, poles removed, head remains aloft and cloth drape settles around person underneath, figure comes to life.
212 Living Half Lady--Sideshow illusion, upper torso resting on table with no place to conceal rest of body.
215 The Scimitars of Baghdad--Assistant stands amidst four upright posts, stocks locked into place at neck, waist and ankles, blades inserted into stocks, removed, assistant released unharmed.
217 The Ghost Chest--Locked chest contains prediction, given to audience member, later (days or weeks later even) when event to be predicted occurs, key given to audience member, who opens chest to find correct prediction.
221 Spirit Pictures--Audience members submit slips of paper with names of famous people from the past on them, blank canvases initialed by spectators, two slips drawn from hat, pictures of both people produced on canvases.
227 Drop Model Production Cabinet--Can be shown empty at any time.
229 The Mysterio Cabinet--Upright cage shown empty, covered by curtains, assistant appears within.
232 The Monster Guillotine
236 The Costume Trunk--Trunk opened and trays with costumes on them removed, one costume selected and placed in trunk, assistant wearing costume appears.
238 The Glass-Lined Trunk--Trunk shown empty, sheets of glass inserted on four sides, trunk closed, assistant appears inside.
240 From Bombay to London--Assistant lies on table, covered with cloth, lifted, carried over to box and placed inside, sides of box drop to show completely vanished.
243 The Vanishing Lady and Trunk--Trunk in metal frame on table, assistant in trunk, covered with cloth, metal frame hoisted into air, cloth ripped away to show frame empty.
246 Morritt Cage Illusion--Large number of people produced from upright cage.
249 Startling Vanish of a Girl in Mid-Air--Assistant climbs ladder held upright on platform, perches at top, covered with cloth, vanishes.
251 Where Does the Head Go?--Small box held above stage on metal poles, assistant enters, stands with head in box, swords, spikes etc., inserted into box, front opened to show head vanished.
254 Boy to Rabbit--Audience member changed into rabbit, rabbit vanished and boy shown to be back in seat.
256 The New Flyto Illusion--Assistant vanishes from one box to instantly appear in another.
259 Lady From the Light--Your basic Shadow Box illusion.
262 Byron's Balloon Production--Large number of inflated balloons produced from box barely large enough to contain one.
264 The Mignon--Two boxes shown empty, nested, assistant appears within.
266 Mysterious Duck Production--Framework stand shown, metal tray placed on stand, empty bucket on tray, second tray covers mouth of bucket, magician fires pistol at bucket, upper tray removed and as many ducks as will fit in bucket burst forth.
268 Multum in Parvo--Two nested boxes shown empty, stacked one on top of other, vast amount of stuff produced.
271 Germain Flower Growth--Plant in flowerpot slowly and visibly blooms.
273 The Egyptian Talking Vase--Vase on table, voice emanates from it, not as spectacular in this modern age of cell phones and wireless speakers as it once was.
276 The Substitution Trunk
279 The Cannon (and Crystal Box)--Assistant in cannon, fired through hoop of paper to appear inside crystal box.
282 The Princess of Thebes--Assistant in box on table, hoisted into air, assistant talks from box, blows out lit matches held near it, etc., box opened to show assistant vanished.
285 The Haunted Cabinet and Blocks of Quong-Hi--Stack of checkers vanishes and appears behind various doors in cabinet.
287 The Hong Kong Mystery Pigeon Production--Easel shown on both sides, magician draws doves and punches through paper to make them appear.
289 The Boudoir of a Dancing Girl--Large cabinet with dressing room set in it, female assistant getting ready for bed, pulls down curtain in front of cabinet, magician presses switch to activate light, silhouette of woman can be seen undressing, magician douses light and raises curtain to show she has vanished.
292 Ghost Show Illusion--Assistant in coffin slowly and visibly changes to skeleton.
295 The Goddess and Reptile--Cabinet shown empty, basked placed on top, basket opens and snake slowly rises out of it, snake can hold chalk in mouth and write on blackboard, etc.
298 The Dream of a Coolie--Assistant and stack of boxes change places in a mysterious fashion.
302 The Crystal Box--Completely transparent box, assistant appears inside when box is covered.
304 Okito's Floating Silver Sphere
306 Thin Model Sawing a Woman In Half
Volume 2: Plans
[Note: numbering jumps from 89 to 91 because no plans needed for #90]
1 The Lester Lake Guillotine
2 Substitution Trunk
3 Larsen's Vanish of a Caged Parrot
4 The Asrah Levitation
5 The Mummy Case
6 The Devil's Torture Chamber
7 Larsen's Girl Without a Middle
8 The Famous Barrel Escape
9 Walking Through a Ribbon
10 The Triangle Illusion
11 The Spider Girl Illusion
12 Eclipse Vanishing Lamp
13 The Sword Box
14A,B Improved Sawing a Lady in Two
15 Confusion in the Ark
16 Two Trays, Twelve Glasses of Beer
17 Improved Shang-Hi Dove Production
18 Jack Gwynne's Box, Tray, and Screen
19 Spook Room
20 The Zenith Water Fountain Act
21 The Birds Fly Home
23 Dynamic Dove Vanish
24 Triple Escape Mystery
25 The Spirit Screen
26 Fire and Water Illusion
27A,B Stroubeika Escape
29 Jack-O-Lantern Girl
30 The Mystery of Three
31 The Artist's Dream
32 The Buzz Saw
33 The Elastic Lady
34 The Decapitated Princess
35 The Phantom Cage
36 The Birth of Chloris
37 The Brooks Trunk
38 Rip Van Winkle
39 Houdini Pillory Escape
40 The Pillars of Fear
41 Altar of Fate
42 Temple of Buddha
43A,B Hades' Card Frame
44 Alexander's Materialization
45 Micky Hades' "Run Rabbit Run"
46 Improved "Aga" Levitation
47 Boxes of Buddha
48 Murder in the Telephone Booth
50 Micky Hades' "Inimi-Table"
51 In Again-Out Again
52 New Burning Alive Illusion
53 Waller's Screen of Life
54 Packing Box Escape
55 Flash Appearance
56 The Doll's House
57 Strange Disappearance
58 Where Is the Lady?
59 Improved Noah's Ark
60 The Phantom Aviary
61 The Famous Spike Mystery
62 The Cross Escape
63 Seeing Through a Man
64 Flight of the Rodent
65 Girl In the Drum
66 The Chest of Chu-Chin-Chow
67 The Broom Suspension
68 The Enchanted Tent
69 Fireplace Illusion
70 A Tent in the Desert
71 The Boxes of Choy Fong
72 The Improved Vampire Illusion
73 Living Half Lady
74 The Scimitars of Baghdad
75 The Ghost Chest
76 Spirit Pictures
77 Drop Model Production Cabinet
78 The Mysterio Cabinet
79 The Monster Guillotine
80 The Costume Trunk
81 The Glass-Lined Trunk
82 From Bombay to London
83 The Vanishing Lady and Trunk
84 Morritt Cage Illusion
85 Startling Vanish of a Girl in Mid-Air
86 Where Does the Head Go?
87 Boy to Rabbit
88 The New Flyto Illusion
89 Lady From the Light
91 The Mignon
92 Mysterious Duck Production
93 Multum in Parvo
94 Germain Flower Growth
95 The Egyptian Talking Vase
96 The Substitution Trunk
97 The Cannon (and Crystal Box)
98 The Princess of Thebes
99,[second unnumbered page] The Haunted Cabinet and Blocks of Quong-Hi
100 The Hong Kong Mystery Pigeon Production
101 The Boudoir of a Dancing Girl
102 Ghost Show Illusion
103 The Goddess and Reptile
104 The Dream of a Coolie
105 The Crystal Box
106 Okito's Floating Silver Sphere
107A,B Thin Model Sawing a Woman in Half
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