Happy New Year, dear readers! The holidays are over, but this is being written while the TV broadcasts the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. If you were looking for the best gift for a magician friend, would you choose a trick, book, or poster? Mike Caveney can help you with any of those and he Zoomed in to our club in November. Most anyone in the magic world knows that Mike is a magician, historian, writer and publisher of books on the history and practice of magic. He’s published biographies on The Great Leon, Servais Le Roy, Harry Kellar, and Charles Carter. For Taschen Books he co-wrote a massive tome called “MAGIC 1400s–1950” which has been translated into six languages. He also has two new volumes, “Sawing” and “Classic Correspondence from Egyptian Hall Museum IV.”
You can learn about Egyptian Hall elsewhere, but the main points are that the American Egyptian Hall held the first SAM convention and in 2000 Mike and George Daily split the purchase of the collection of magic posters and treasures. Mike has retained the museum’s name and it’s housed in California where he lives with his wife (and magician) Tina Lenert.
Mike shared a story regarding a letter written by David Price to George Marquis, a magician, but unfortunately, a hopeless alcoholic. Mike’s books in his Classic Correspondence series are meticulously researched with references that are fascinating. They are tomes of history that should be read by all lovers of the magic craft.
Next we were treated to details of his book “Sawing.” Mike looked at countless newspaper databases and the archives of the Conjuring Arts Research Center. He talked to people who witnessed (I nearly wrote “saw”) PT Selbit and others’ versions. Mike was an assistant when Richiardi performed his buzzsaw illusion in New York City’s famed Felt Forum at Madison Square Garden. We learned about the various incarnations and the prominent names like Harry Blackstone Sr., Horace Goldin, and Lester Lake (who performed under the name Marvello).
Mike also shared his thoughts of the brilliance of David Copperfield’s version, the Death Saw. Thanks to Mike for a night not of tricks, but of magic history.
- DOUG THORNTON