Kellar and Goldin - My Best Trick by FranckDernoncourt


									My Best Trick

Two famous magicians of the past
write about the best trick they ever

                                                                         This short article by
                                                                         Horace Goldin, which
                                                                         appeared in
 Kellar wrote this letter to a friend telling                            Goldston's The
 of the time he was completely broke and                                 Magician's Annual for
 how he managed to give a magic show                                     1907-08, tells how
 and fill his pockets with money,                                        Golding changed the
 performing, by the way, what he                                         face of Magic.
 considers his best trick. [4/23/2002 4:03:56 PM]
My Best Trick--Goldin

              My Best Trick
              Harry Kellar
              As told in a letter to Arthur Gans in 1918.

                                                                    Dear Arthur:
                                                                    Many years ago in South Bend,
                                                                    Indiana, the sheriff came on
                                                                    stage and attached everything I
                                                                    had in the world to pay my
                                                                    creditors and left me nothing but
                                                                    the clothes I wore.
                                                   I knew for the first time what it
                                                   was to be stranded in a strange
                                                   town. But, being young and
                                                   hopeful, I did not give up. I
                                                   walked out of South Bend in a
                                                   snow storm and followed the
                                                   railroad track to a station called
              Salem Crossing. There I boarded a freight train and the conductor
              kindly allowed me to ride into Chicago.
              Once in the city I proceeded directly to the Chicago and Northwestern
              Railroad Station and got on a passenger train bound for Milwaukee.
              My intention was to work the conductor for a free ride but that
              individual was obdurate and put me off at Rose Dale, one of Chicago's
              burying grounds. But I had no intention of laying my magical
              aspirations in the ground just then.
              I just settled down for a walk to Waukeegan, and after many weary
              hours' tramp through the snow, arrived safely, but weary and foot sore
              at my destination. I immediately called on the proprietor of Phoenix
              Hall and after a pleasant chat with him, flattered by praising his
              brilliant fancy that had led him to pitch on the name Phoenix for a
              place that had been built over the ashes of another hall.
              The proprietor became very gracious and purred softly like a cat when
              I proposed to hire the hall for the next two nights. The old fellow did
              not forget to mention that his rule was to have the rent strictly in
              advance. I was once more complimentary and it was finally agreed
              that the question of rent should stand over until eight o'clock on the
              evening of the first performance.
              Being young and sanguine in those days, I felt sure that by that time
              there would be enough money in the box office to pay the rent. Then I (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 4:03:57 PM]
My Best Trick--Goldin

              ordered a lot of flaming handbills announcing the show, but upon
              returning to the printing office for the handbills a bill for $10 was
              handed to me with the reminder that I must pay in advance. I frankly
              told the printer I hadn't a cent in the world but had good prospects.
              The Waukeeganer was a bit incredulous but as I was able to talk the
              hind leg off a mule, I soon convinced him that the printing was useless
              to him and that he stood a fair chance to get his money if he allowed
              me to use it to advertise the show. So I gained my point and the
              handbills, and started to stick them up all over the town. No one
              seemed to suspect that I was agent, proprietor and artist all rolled in
              There was at the hotel a very persevering lightningrod salesman who
              was selling shares in a new company that had been started for the
              purpose of manufacturing a copper-pointed lightningrod. Shares were
              nominally $50 each and he found quite a number of subscribers. The
              most enthusiastic of them all being the landlord of the hotel. The
              salesman offered me four shares in his concern for my first night
              receipts, saying the shares would soon be above par and that there
              would be a goodly profit in the investment. I said I didn't care to sell
              out for stock in his company, although I had no doubt it would be a
              good investment, but if he would give me two shares and $60 in cash,
              he could have the first night receipts. To these terms the lightningrod
              man consented.
              I sold the two shares to the landlord for $50 in cash which sum,
              together with the $60 before received, made me feel that I v+as the
              richest man in the world. I certainly was one of the happiest. I
              immediately called on the printer and paid his bill with all the dignity
              of a millionaire. The hall rent was also paid for two nights in advance.
              Up to this time it had not occurred to me how I was going to give the
              entertainment, my time having been taken up in arranging the business
              matters. Now that everything looked bright, I prepared for the
              performance. Procured some tin disks from a tinsmith for the Aerial
              Treasury, a pack of cards for card tricks, two fin cups for the Coffee
              Trick, fixed up an empty champagne bottle for the guinea pig and
              bottle trick, procured a sma]] kitten as no guinea pig was to be had. In
              this way I managed to provide quite an interesting entertainment.
              In one of the tricks a borrowed ring was apparently destroyed. Then
              an envelope would be produced addressed to some prominent person
              in file audience, and inside this envelope would be found another
              envelope ad* dressed to someone else, and so on for 10 or 12 changes,
              each envelope, of course, being smaller than the one enclosing it. The
              very last envelope contained the borrowed ring, perfectly restored. On
              this occasion I had ohrained the names of several prominent persons I (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 4:03:57 PM]
My Best Trick--Goldin

              wrote on the envelopes prepared for the trick. When I asked for
              someone to lend me a ring, a very pretty little lady with snappy black
              eyes, handed a small band with a solitaire diamond setting. I made a
              few remarks about some conjurors using cumbersome apparatus,
              whereas I depended entirely on the dexterity of my hand to
              accomplish such wonders. Scorning to use apparatus (for the best
              reason in the world, having none to use) and calling a small boy on the
              stage, gave him what appeared to be the borrowed ring. There was no
              scenery, and at the back of the stage there were three windows. Under
              the window flowed a stream of water. I told the lad to throw the ring
              out of the window into the stream. Then proceeding to the prepared
              envelopes the first name was called. A gentleman stood up, opened
              the flap and read the name of the man on the next envelope, and so the
              envelopes passed to 10 different persons. Of course, when it came to
              the last one I intended to say, "There you will find the borrowed ring."
              Imagine my surprise and delight when on the last name being called,
              the little lady who had so kindly loaned the ring arose. I told her to
              open the envelope and she would find her ring within.
              There was dead silence for a moment and then I was greeted with
              rounds of loud and prolonged applause. The lady belonged to one of
              the first families of the town, and it was without prearrangement that
              she loaned her ring, and that her name appeared on the last envelope. I
              didn't even know who the persons were on my list for the trick. I only
              knew they were in the audience as I had requested the doorkeeper to
              give me the names of some prominent people in the hall and the lady's
              name was among the rest. It was the best trick I ever performed, and it
              brought me a crowded house the following night.
              I left town with a full purse, a light heart, and was in high spirits at the
              favorable turn my fortunes appeared to have taken. Of course, all this
              good luck was to be set down to the credit of the young lady with the
              black eyes. She was my Genii of the Ring. (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 4:03:57 PM]
My Best Trick--Goldin

                  My Best Trick
                  Horace Goldin
                  Originally published in Goldston's
                  The Magician's Annual, 1907-1908.

                                               My best trick without doubt is my invention of
                                               a new method of doing old tricks, thereby
                                               bringing magic into the demand it is to-day.
                                               Eight years ago magic was very much on the
                                               wane, so far as public opinion was concerned,
                                               as I found to my great disappointment when I
                                               tried to obtain my first engagement. Nobody
                                               wanted an unknown magician, although
                                               unknown dancers, acrobats, etc., could find
                  I was told by one manager that even if I were excellent he could not
                  have me, as the public did not care to be annoyed by being asked to
                  draw cards and otherwise assist in the conjurer's performance.
                  I set my brains to work, lying awake night after night, trying to
                  think of something new and great in the magic line. At last I hit
                  upon the idea of doing all my tricks, both new and old, in a new
                  and original manner. My idea was to cause all my tricks to follow
                  one another in rapid succession, and omit the patter which, so far
                  back as magicians had been heard of, had been considered most
                  essential, giving sufficient time to perform the trick, and also as a
                  method of getting the attention of the audience away from the
                  movement, which the audience was not supposed to see.
                  I produced my new act in fear and trembling. It was something so
                  entirely different from the usual methods, and I had myself hitherto
                  depended so much on my patter to assist me.
                  I have been amply repaid for all my worry and anxiety, as it has
                  given me the opportunity of appearing before nearly all the
                  crowned heads of Europe, and as often as four times in eight days,
                  which makes the record for Royal commands in England.
                  I have felt convinced that my efforts have done some good in the
                  world, as my new methods revived public interest and generally
                  brought magical acts in demand as if by magic (and it was truly
                  Goldin's magic), thereby bringing the salaries up 70 per cent and
                  although I have invented many new and original tricks since then, I
                  think my best trick was in tricking the public to like me and my (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 4:03:58 PM]
My Best Trick--Goldin

                  tricks, and thereby tricking the managers into paying at least three
                  times the amount of salary to conjurers ever paid before. (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 4:03:58 PM]

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