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Ring up the Curtain by J. F. Orrin

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As J. F. Orrin’s charming prose in the preface to this wide-ranging selection of stage and parlor effects puts it: “In deciding what and what not to include in our programmes … we must perforce subordinate our own ideals to the likes and dislikes of the uninitiated.” Orrin’s focus in the hundred pages that follow is therefore material from his own repertoire that has met with a strong response from paying audiences of non-magicians.

Modern performers with classic stage acts will enjoy Orrin’s opening section of routines with silk handkerchiefs, which encompass appearances, vanishes and transpositions and feature a variety of other props including flags and flowers. Next come card and coin tricks, wherein a pocket mirror reveals a selected card, another selection invisibly travels between two envelopes, and several coins are made to appear and disappear. An ingenious two-person mind-reading act is then explained in full, before Orrin concludes with miscellaneous effects and pocket novelties (magical fishing, a flower production and more) that enterprising present-day performers will enjoy putting together and presenting with whatever twenty-first-century twists suit them. While a number of the effects in this hundred-page book call for some carpentry skills, Orrin provides clear, illustrated explanations for each, and everything described is relatively straightforward and certainly inexpensive to assemble.      

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