Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 05:49:37 EDT From: DLister891@AOL.COM Reply-To: Origami List
To: ORIGAMI@MITVMA.MIT.EDU Subject: Houdini Christian Frey has just received a copy of Houdini's Magic, bought for him by his father. He asks if anyone has read this book and found it interesting and worth a thorough read. Whether you will find it interesting depends on what you personally consider to be interesting and we all have different things that attract us. But, yes, I have found it very interesting even if I have been selective about the parts I have read in detail. I don't particularly find instructions for folding a stimulting read unless I am acutually folding or studying the models. But "Paper Magic" contains many other things. I wrote to Origami-L about this book on 14th February of this year. Not everyone finds it easy to find things in the Origami-L archives, so I will repeat the posting, very slightly amended here. Since I sent the posting I have received more information about Walter Gibson that confirms that he acted as a ghost writer for Houdini and some other members of the magical profession. If he did ghost "Paper Magic", this does not, of course, mean that the substance of the book was not Houdini's. I should be grateful if Christian Fey would let me know the size of the book he has been given and also details of the pubisher, date of publication and ISBN number. I crave the indulgence of other O-Listers. David Lister ****************************************************************************** ************** HOUDINI'S "PAPER MAGIC" Posting to Origami-L (Origami@mitvma.mit.edu) 14th February, 2002 I have been challenged to say something about "Paper Magic" by Houdini. Houdini was generally known as Harry Houdini, although his real name was Erich Weiss. Houdini's "Paper Magic" was published by Dutton of New York in 1922 and it went to four further reprints until 1941. It is a substantial hard-bound book of 206 pages. My challenger mentions a reprint by Fredonia Books in June 2001. It has 206 pages, so it must be presumed to be a complete reprint. If it is full-sized, it will be better than the Magico reprint. There is a copy in the Ev. Gloe collection in British Origami Society library. In 1979 a paperbacked reprint was issued by Magico Magazine of Sunnyside, NY, with a new Introduction by Stanley palm, but it was in much smaller format (4 1/2 X 6 inches) I have a copy of the reprint, Since Robert Harbin's "Paper Magic" (1956) we tend to expect that every book of that name must be a book of paperfolding. However, the expression "paper magic" originally meant just that: magic performed using paper. The title was used for several books written by magicians, including "Paper Magic" by Will Blyth of England in 1920. These books contained all sorts of paper tricks, including paper tearing and paper folding. (Will Blyth's contained some 30 pages of paper folding). Houdini's "Paper Magic" contains just four paperfolded models: the Japanese bird (that is the flapping bird), the Bullfrog (a traditional frog from the frog base), the Chapeau (samurai helmet) and the Japanese Paper Purse. (this is the puzzle purse or thread container). Very interestingly the combination of six thread containers to make a kind of kusudama is also included. This model has recently emerged in discussions about the origin of modular folding as a very early Japanese modular fold, although it does need glue to hold it together. The rest of the book contains various tricks, elementary, kirigami, troublewit, dissections and even tangrams (on the basis that a tangram set is a dissected square). According to a note in Gershon Legman's "Bibliography of Paperfolding", Houdini's "Paper Magic" is said to have been ghosted by Walter Gibson, another conjuror. I would not recommend Houdini's book to anyone who was merely looking for models to fold, but it is worth acquiring for its historical interest. David Lister.