Five easy to build and practical levitations by the creative master of thrift, U.F. Grant. One could even be called an impromptu levitation because most supplies are available in a typical household. Every levitation is illustrated.
The "levitation" illusion has long been a favorite among magicians. Robert-Houdin featured it approximately a century ago, in the form of "The Aerial Suspension," which we saw presented effectively by William Neff only a year or two ago. Early in the Twentieth Century, Harry Kellar was performing "The Levitation of Princess Karnac," the greatest piece of magic we have ever witnessed - so good, indeed, that Howard Thurston's later and less perfect presentation merely weakened but did not ruin it. "Aga," a simpler version of levitation in which either the floating lady was too near the back drop or the performer had to stand too long in one position, was much exhibited by vaudeville magicians between 1900 and 1915, and was quite recently revived with success by Will Rock. Servais LeRoy's "Asrah," in which the lady was covered with a cloth and "vanished" while floating in mid-air, was performed magnificently by its inventor long years ago, and with fine effect in the past decade by Kuma. And now, in the past few years, we have had an epidemic of so-called "levitations" which, to those familiar with the older versions, must seem like pretty pallid imitations of a great illusion.
Described broadly, these "modern" levitations usually begin by placing a young lady, apparently hypnotized, on a board which rests on the backs or seats of two chairs (or across two "horses"), or on the extended arms of the performer. In many cases, the board is first covered with a cloth, and in others the cloth is thrown over the girl. However that may be, the supports are now removed and the board and girl remain suspended. Levitations of this kind fall short of the more orthodox presentations of this illusion, in several important respects. First of all, they lose much of the original effect because the "subject" does not rise and then slowly descend (as in the older versions) but merely remains suspended in a stationary position. Second, the fact that the board is not removed reduces the effect still further. Third, there is no adequate justification for covering the board - or for covering the subject herself unless, as in the "Asrah" illusion, it is intended to whisk the cover away while the lady is apparently floating high in the air, and thus cause her disappearance. We could easily include further points of weakness in these latter-day levitations, the chief merit of which seems to be their cheapness combined with slight bulk and weight.
If one must be able to do a levitation (to quote from Modern Levitations) "under all conditions - in the center of a ballroom floor, [or] in one's own parlor," we should be inclined to recommend the century-old "Aerial Suspension" as vastly more impressive than these "stationary" or "board" levitations. However, would-be illusionists who insist upon minimizing both expense and baggage, even at the sacrifice of effect, will find in Modern Levitations the explanations of six levitations which, we are assured, "can be put into effect with a minimum of apparatus, and, in some cases, on almost a moment's notice with material that can be found in any home". In Grant's Miracle Suspension, a girl stands in front of a screen, is covered with a cloth, and, under the influence of hypnotic passes made by the performer, apparently rises to the horizontal and then resumes her original standing position. In the Surrounded Type of levitation, which Mr. Grant has presented "at least fifty or sixty times," a member of the audience sits on a kitchen table about which are gathered six other members. Under these conditions, the table floats about despite its human burden. The Improved Super Levitation permits the performer "to walk away from the girl while she is suspended." The Parlor Asrah Levitation enables one "to walk all over the stage and even out into the audience, and the girl seems to be floating at your very fingertips" - but she does not, as in the genuine "Asrah" illusion, vanish into thin air. In the Best Yet Levitation, of which there are two versions, a "hypnotized" girl is placed on a board and caused to rise and fall. We must confess that, having had considerable experience with stubborn back-drops, we are less optimistic than the author about the workability of this "best yet" version.
Modern Levitations is made up of thirteen separate sheets, size 8 by 11 inches, which (as Mr. Grant says in his advertisements) are "all packed in a printed sealed 6 x 9 envelope." It may be noted that the printing is restricted to the envelope. The instructions themselves are mimeographed. There are eight pages of typescript text, and five of illustrations.
Another interesting ebook if you are trying to build a levitation apparatus is Bodies in Orbit by U.F. Grant.