Editor’s note: With the pandemic causing dramatic changes in our Art, we thought we would republish some of our reviews from a while back. Here is one from September 19th, 1907. Inside Magic was just a pamphlet then and published in limited quantities (and qualities).
The hottest trick on the market is the new Imp Bottle effect. It is the rave of all the magicians in the know that we know. It has received oodles of praise in the magic press and greats such as Houdini, Kellar and Thurston have testified to its endearing qualities and profound affect on audiences. Just how good is it? Inside Magic’s review follows but the skinny is that it is the genuine article, the cat’s meow and how.
Effect: You show a cute little vase made from a high quality wood and finished with a brilliant sheen. It stands erect on the table or in the magi’s hand. You explain that this bottle contains an “imp” that can be mischievous at times if not assuaged with praise. If the imp is pleased, he will allow the vase to lie down with its top touching the table. If, however, the imp feels frightened or insulted, he will refuse to allow the bottle to be set in such a configuration.
You demonstrate what you have explained by praising the imp and comforting it with soothing talk. You then set the vase on its side and it remains in that position until you take it back up.
You now ask one of your many spectators to hold the vase and try to set it on its side. Despite the volunteer’s kind words and good intentions, the imp in the bottle refuses to recline. The vase remains standing straight up. It is quite a mystery.
Review: We received the effect from a magic supply house for the purposes of this review but that shouldn’t bias our assessment. We have to give it back when we are done with it.
This one is a real fooler. The effect as described above is exactly what your audience sees. You can play up the story of the “imp” with gusto and ad libs aplenty because the effect is almost a self-working one. When we performed this for an audience recently, we gave a story about how the imp was entrapped in the bottle by a mean sorcerer who was jealous of the imp and his charming ways. Perhaps the story went on too long because the audience dwindled to a single member and we presume he remained only because we set the imp bottle in his hand as we provided our patter. Nonetheless, he was suitably impressed when he found that despite his kind words and magic flourishes provided by his free hand, he could not make the imp comply with his instructions. No matter what he tried, the bottle would not remain on its side.
We felt badly for those in the audience that left before this pay-off because it was a real hum-dinger!
In the future, we will limit the time allotted for our story about the imp to no more than five minutes. We started losing audience members around the ten minute mark and so five minutes ought to provide just the right amount of backstory to build up the astounding final effect.
If you are a close-up magician, this is a trick you should have in your waist coat or vest pocket no matter the situation. It is the perfect combination of “easy to do” and “great to see.”
For those of us who do stage shows, it may be possible to build this into a very large bottle with a real imp but we haven’t worked out the plans for such an illusion.
Inside Magic Rating: Five Out of Five!