The History of Magic Sixth Grade Seminar
Magic • Magic is a performing art that entertains an audience by creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats, using purely natural means.
These feats are called magic tricks, effects or illusions. • One who performs such illusions is called a magician or an illusionist.
The same level of ingenuity that was used to produce famous ancient deceptions such as the Trojan Horse would also have been used for entertainment.
History • In the early 17th century magic was used to frighten uneducated populations.
History • The profession of the illusionist gained strength in the eighteenth century.
Hieronymus Bosch: The Conjurer, 1475-1480 • Note that the man in the back row is stealing another man's purse. • He is also applying misdirection by looking up at the sky to misdirect the audience from his actions. • The artist has even misdirected us from the thief, because we are drawn to the magician.
In 1584, Reginald Scot published, The Discoverie of Witchcraft. It was written to show that witches did not exist. • Scott exposed how (apparently miraculous) feats of magic were done. This book is often deemed the first textbook about magic.
From 1756 to 1781, Jacob Philadelphia performed feats of magic, sometimes under the guise of scientific exhibitions, throughout Europe.
Jacob Philadelphia • *Jacob Philadelphia* is believed to have been born on August 14, 1735 and given the name Jacob Meyer. • He was a Jewish magician, physicist, mechanic, juggler, astrologer, and alchemist. Meyer's patron in England was Prince Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, for whom he performed astrology, magic, and alchemy.
Jacob Philadelphia • When he converted to Christianity, Jacob Meyer took the name of Jacob Philadelphia in homage to the home city of the American scientist and statesman Benjamin Franklin. • He was also known by the names Meyer Philadelphia and Philadelphus Philadelphia.
Modern entertainment magic owes much to Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin. (1805-1871) • Jean was originally a clockmaker, who opened a magic theatre in Paris in the 1840s. • His specialty was the construction of mechanical automata. They appeared to move and act as if they were alive.
John Nevil Maskelyne (1839 - 1917) was an English stage magician and inventor of the pay toilet and many other important Victorian inventions.
Maskelyne and his partner Cooke established their own theatre, called the Egyptian Hall in London's Piccadilly section, in 1873. • They presented stage magic. Stage magic uses the stage for hidden mechanisms and assistants. Stages also control the audience's point of view.
Alexander Herrmann (1844 – 1896) was known as Herrmann the Great. Herrmann was a French magician. • Alexander Herrmann is the model for the look of a "typical magician"
The escapologist and magician Harry Houdini took his stage name from Robert-Houdin and developed a range of stage magic tricks. Many of his tricks were based on escapology ( that word was not used until after Houdini's death). • Houdini was the son of a Hungarian rabbi. • He was skilled in techniques such as lock picking and escaping straitjackets. He also used conjuring techniques, including fake equipment and collusion with individuals in the audience. • Houdini's show business savvy was great as well as his performance skills. • There is a Houdini Museum dedicated to him in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
As a form of entertainment, magic moved from theatrical venues to television specials. This opened up new opportunities for deceptions, and brought stage magic to huge audiences. • Famous magicians of the 20th century included Okita, Alexander, Harry Blackstone Sr., Harry Blackstone Jr., Howard Thurston, Theodore Annemann, Cardini, Joseph Dunninger, Tommy Wonder, Siegfried & Roy, and Doug Henning.
Popular 20th and 21st century magicians include David Copperfield, Lance Burton, Penn and Teller, David Blaine, and Criss Angel. • Most TV magicians perform before a live audience, who provide the remote viewer with a reassurance that the illusions are not obtained with post production visual effects.
Many of the principles of stage magic are old. There is an expression, "it's all done with smoke and mirrors", used to explain something baffling. • Effects seldom use mirrors today, due to the amount of installation work and transport difficulties.
Modern performers have vanished objects as large as the TajMahal, Statue of Liberty, and the Space Shuttle, using other kinds of optical deceptions.
#1 • 1. The most famous member of the Magic Circle is Prince Charles. • He joined the club in 1975 after performing the famous Cups & Balls trick for members.
#2. The fastest magician alive is Eldon Wigton who performed 225 tricks in 2 minutes for a World Record attempt in 1991.
#3. At least fifteen magicians have died from performing the famous bullet catch illusion (including Chung Ling Soo, pictured below).
#4. The largest magic club in the world (International Brotherhood of Magicians) has close to 25,000 members.
#5. Reginald Scot wrote the book The Discovery of Witchcraft in 1584 to prove that magic was not real. The book was his protest against witches that were hung because they were suspected of being the “real deal”.
#6. Matthew Buchinger was a popular 18th century magician. He was born without arms or legs and was just 29 inches tall. • He was a magician, calligrapher, and musician who played the flute, trumpet, and more. • He even managed to father eleven children.
#7. Harry Houdini chose his stage name as a mark of respect to the father of modern magic, Robert-Houdin. “No performer should attempt to bite off red-hot iron unless he has a good set of teeth. “Harry Houdini
#8 The phrase “died on stage” was taken to the extreme by Coulew of Lorraine in 1613 when he was clubbed to death by an angry audience member using one of his own props!
#9. The only magicians to have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame are Harry Houdini and David Copperfield.
#10. Magicians are good inventors. For example, English stage magician John NevilMaskelyne invented the pay toilet and his grandfather, Jasper Maskelyne invented the typewriter keyboard.