Hidden Gems of Magic

Female Magician Laura London with Playing Card

I’ll never forget the day I discovered one of my favourite tricks, Quadruple Coincidence.

I was sat with David Britland or as others sometimes refer to him as the Oracle… at The Session convention in 2017. We were watching Paul Vigil and Micheal Close interview the legend that is the late Johnny Thompson.

Micheal Close asked if he could share a story with the audience that involved his dear friend Johnny, I for one was hoping he wouldn’t as I wanted to hear as many stories in the short time we had from Mr Thompson who had lived the most extraordinary life.

As I had no say in the matter sat with the 400 or so guests at the Park Inn in Heathrow, I listened to a story about a time when Michael Close was taught a trick by Vernon, a trick so good that he never wanted to share it with another magician, until this one day at Johnny’s house, he did. He then shared a funny anecdote and a description of the trick.

I was glad I sat through this story as I absolutely loved the sound of this “do as I do routine”. David then proceeded to tell me its origins and that he had written it up in Genii several years before.

The trick itself though was invented by George Engel and was published in Hugard’s Magic Monthly in 1947.

I spent most of that evening in the lobby learning Quadruple Coincidence and it’s now in my show CHEAT.

After that, I became obsessed with the idea of finding hidden gems in old magazines, pamphlets and books. I wanted to bring back to life forgotten card routines and remember magicians from the past that perhaps had been forgotten or introduce them to a younger generation who may not have known they existed at all.

So you can imagine when became the librarian at the Magic Circle, I was in my element.

I started to wonder though, do other magicians do this?

I spoke with some creative friends before writing this article as I wanted to have a well-rounded idea of how people perceived the idea of researching old magazines, pamphlets and books for hidden gems and I found everyone had a very different standpoint.

You see, it was not my intention to enforce opinion on you but to share my love and passion for discovering old tricks in magazines but then it became more when I started talking to people.

For example, I spoke with Ben Hart, an incredible magician who’s shows are always so magical and beautiful to watch. I thought since he has this wonderful old style of magic he must have sought out inspiration from old books and magazines, perhaps he was interested in vaudevillian magicians and their techniques?

But I was wrong, in fact, Ben and I had an interesting conversation about something completely different.

He is an avid reader and collector of old magazines and books. He recently made his way through the extensive collection of the Pentagram magazines and found no interesting methods or ideas for himself, but said that it was still a great read.

Ben said that he believed it was very important that we read all magic magazines old and new, not to seek out hidden gems or old methods but to understand our industry a little better.

He said “If you are a Doctor you would read medical journals and keep up to date with what is current and old. If you were in Fashion you would refer to old magazines such as Vogue to understand the Fashions of a certain time and keep up to date. It should be no different with magic”.

Another well-known performer and creator I spoke with said that its invaluable to seek out material from the old-timers, the real workers of the day such as Billy Mccomb and Alan Shaxon. These guys were geniuses in magic and would inspire many people with there methods even today. He said that he likes to find inspiration from these guys and reinvent their ideas for the modern market.

One person I spoke with is currently using his isolation time to do something extraordinary.

Simon Lipkin has been creating routines every day throughout lockdown and posting them on his Instagram page @SimonLipkin.

He spent many Mondays at the Magic Circle in the library sifting through old pamphlets and books, buying them at £1/ £2 each and finding the most incredible stuff in them.

In many of the routines he is posting, he is using old methods from not only magic but also from science that he discovered in these purchases and has repurposed the methods for the modern world.

On FaceTime the other day he excitedly pulled out a book that he bought from the Magic Circle for £2. It had 140 pages and on page two he said there were 3 things that would fool anybody and that was just the start of of the book!

So I guess what I would like to achieve through this article is that it doesn’t matter the reason for reading old magazines, pamphlets or books, so much good can come from it whether you found a trick people have forgotten about, whether you just want to have a good understanding of magic of a certain time or you are seeking old methods to revamp and make current. I encourage you to do so. The enjoyment I have found in reading through old magazines alone has made this current time fly by just for the fun of it.

Hope you’re staying safe and love to you all x


  • Brett Barry

    Great thoughts. Thanks Lara & stay safe & creative in this crazy time

  • Steve Cross

    Great post Laura. I enjoyed reading that :)

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