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Houdini's Paper Magic
by Harry Houdini


(4 customer ratings) ★★★★

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Houdini's Paper Magic by Harry Houdini

Paper is a fascinating product. Being the son of a paper maker (my father worked many years for a paper manufacturer) I developed early on a fondness to paper. And Houdini's Paper Magic is all about paper. Tricks with paper, paper folding, paper tearing, and paper puzzles. It seems today paper folding was replaced by balloon modeling. I have only seen once an act entirely based on paper tearing. Maybe this ebook version of Houdini's Paper Magic inspires one to build an act around paper. This book is definitely a good start. The Modern Conjurer has also an excellent chapter on paper folding.

Paul Fleming wrote:

The title of this volume does not give the prospective reader a very good idea of its contents. It is "paper magic," no doubt, but only if the word "paper" is taken to mean such widely different articles as newspapers, printed programs, calendars, cardboard dolls, confetti, and banknotes, and if the term "magic" is broadened to include not only feats of conjuring but also such things as paper-folding, paper-tearing, and paper puzzles. Furthermore, the book is "Houdini's" only in the sense that Mr. Houdini sponsored, possibly compiled, and perhaps even wrote up some of the material, but did not originate it. Most of this material can be found in other books, and much of it has been equally well explained elsewhere. However, it is presented here in attractive form, and its concentration in one volume will appeal strongly to magicians who are fond of tricks in which paper, in one form or another, plays either a major or a minor part.

The book has some 200 pages of actual text, of which 110 are devoted to "magic" of the type that actually mystifies and 90 to what might be called "fun with paper." We may dispose of the latter briefly by saying that there are 24 pages on paper folding, which are unlikely to be of any practical use to the public entertainer; 37 pages on paper-tearing, with explanations of Jacob's Ladder, The Trellis, The Fir Tree (or Corn Stalk), and instructions for tearing fancy designs from sheets of paper; and 24 pages of paper puzzles, which are just that and nothing more.

Far more important for the student of magic are the 110 pages of "paper tricks." There are 23 feats in all, most of which are better for close work than for stage performance. The Traveling Paper Balls, The Cigarette Paper Tear (several methods, including one by the great Harry Kellar), The Ballot or Pellet Test, The Restored Calendar, and The Floating Tissue Paper Ball are fair samples of these close-up tricks. More pretentious and better adapted to presentation before audiences of moderate (and, in some instances, large) size are The Ring and Program (a favorite of the old-time magician, Verbeck), The Pig and The Ring (an effective handkerchief and confetti combination), Kellar's tried-and-true Coffee, Milk, and Sugar Trick, and Francis Werner's Bill-Tearing Feat; and there are several others. These are first-rate "experiments," which if well done will delight any audience. The bill-tearing trick, which is explained in 11 pages of text, is exceptionally fine; and we suggest that The Ring and Program, and the Coffee, Milk, and Sugar Trick are due for a revival. They would be distinct novelties today, and would, we feel, prove far more entertaining than "the latest thing" that is being shown currently by nine out of ten magicians and is therefore already stale.

The present edition of this neat little book (the first edition of which appeared in 1922) is well printed, well bound in cloth, and is illustrated with 106 line drawings.

1st edition, April 1922, E. P. Dutton & Company, New York; 2nd printing, August 1922; 3rd printing, May 1929; 4th printing, January 1934; 5th printing, December 1941; later reprinted by Magico Magazine, New York; 206 pages. PDF 113 pages.

  • Part One: PAPER TRICKS
    1. The Travelling Paper Balls
    2. Ring and Program
    3. The Cigarette-Paper Tear
    4. The Torn Paper Ribbon
    5. The Restored Calendar
    6. The Selective Touch
    7. The Dancing Sailor
    8. The Spirit Communication
    9. The Knife and Paper Sleight
    10. The Chameleon Confetti
    11. Production of Confetti
    12. Another Confetti Change
    13. Watered Confetti
    14. The Floating Ball
    15. The Japanese Butterflies
    16. The Shaving Stick
    17. The Paper Flags
    18. The Pig and the Ring
    19. Coffee, Milk and Sugar
    20. The Ballot or Pellet Test
    21. Paper Clippings and Water
    22. Werner's Bill Tearing Trick
    23. An Effective Finish
    1. The Japanese Bird
    2. The Bullfrog
    3. Puzzle Box for Sweets
    4. Trouble Wit
    5. The Chapeau
    6. Japanese Paper Purse
    7. Japanese Hexagon Puzzle Box
  • Part Three: PAPER TEARING
    1. Trewey's Paper Rings
    2. Jacob's Ladder
    3. The Trellis
    4. The Fir Tree
    5. The Dancing Skeletons
    6. Grandma's String of Dolls
    7. The Dancing Girls
    8. Paper Pictures
    9. Circular Designs
    10. The Five Pointed Star
    11. Tearing the Pack
  • Part Four: PAPER PUZZLES
    1. Paper Puzzles
    2. The Symmetrical Square Puzzle
    3. The Stairs
    4. Hexagon Puzzle
    5. The Octagon Puzzle
    6. The House and Ell Puzzle
    7. The Cross and Crescent
    8. The Latin Cross
    9. The Short Dozen
    10. The Right Angle Triangle
    11. The Greek Cross Puzzle
    12. The Square Deal Puzzle
    13. To Pass through a Card
    14. The Liberty Bell
    15. The Cross Cut Puzzle
    16. The Three Crosses

word count: 25961 which is equivalent to 103 standard pages of text