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Topic: The Wonder Mouse
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Aug 1, 2003 10:05PM)
I'm hoping this is the right place to discuss this one, since it has been a mainstay on the midway for years...

I was wondering if anyone knows the (or a) history of the Wonder Mouse? I remember buying my first one at a sideshow at the Del Mar Fair in California around 1976 - I was selected to come onstage and vanquish a rubber snake with a sword and got to see the show inside the tent for free - and I also bought a Mouse. I've just become interested in this critter again, and just found out that they were even sold as a souvenir item at the 1939 New York World's Fair, complete with the Trylon & Perisphere on the box.
I guess I'm wondering what any other Café members might know about the Mouse, or if anything has been written about 'em?

I've been using mine at my birthday parties and the toddlers and their parents love 'em.
Thanks,
Charley
Message: Posted by: landmark (Aug 1, 2003 11:37PM)
True story: I used to work in theatre with an old guy named Bill--can't remember his last name. He used to sell these on the street of New York City, and other places. But he'd get busted, so he thought up a brilliant plan: he made up a little booklet called "Mouse-ism" which described a complete religion based on these little items, and he would sell the booklet for a dollar and throw in the mouse for "free."

Now when the cops tried to bust him, he claimed that they could not stop him from exercising his First Amendment rights of Freedom of Religion. He claimed they never touched him after that. He died a while back, and at his funeral, which I went to, there was talk that he was once a CIA agent.

Anyway, he was brilliant with the mouse and you'd swear the thing was alive. Haven't seen them around much since then.
Thanks for bringing back a fun memory,

landmark
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Aug 2, 2003 12:41PM)
The wonder mouse...my good friend Jimmy Dixon was the KING of the mouse pitch..he is retired now.

Jimmy did a tape with David Walker(Svengali pitch)called "Expert at the Pitch Table" David teaches the Svengali pitch and Jimmy teaches the Mouse pitch on this tape.You can still get this tape from Stevens or Hank Lee on line.

Jimmy knows all the history on the mouse. PM me and I'll be glad to give you his home phone number. I'm sure Jimmy would love to tell you all about the history on the "Wonder Mouse"
Hope this helped..
Don
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Aug 2, 2003 02:34PM)
Landmark and Don - Thanks for the stories and info - I love the idea of Mouse-ism, and I'll look up the "Expert at the Pitch Table tape".

I was at the Howard County Fair this afternoon in MD, but alas, no mice there... But the fried dough was excellent.

Best,
Charley
Message: Posted by: koan (Aug 10, 2003 05:25AM)
What is the "Wonder Mouse" effect?
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Aug 10, 2003 08:57PM)
Koan - the Wonder Mouse is a small plastic mouse that scurries across your hand, crawls out of a cup, rolls over, and does other amazing feats. This trick has been a favorite item to pitch at carnivals, sideshows, flea markets and many other venues.
Message: Posted by: irossall (Aug 11, 2003 10:37AM)
The mouse also goes by the name of "Trixie The Wonder Mouse". There is a video available that shows how to pitch Trixie and the "Svengali Deck". It sells for $50.00 but at the moment I don't have anymore information than that. I will post more information as soon as I can. I bought Trixie at the Seattle Magic Shop for the low price of $1.00 a couple of months ago. When was the last time you saw ANY magical effect sell for so little?
Iven :patty:
Message: Posted by: Slim Price (Aug 11, 2003 11:21AM)
Pitching the Wonder Mouse is great fun! I loved it
Slim Price
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Aug 11, 2003 01:44PM)
Iven,
Read my post.."Expert at The Pitch Table" is the $50.00 book/tape on the Svengali and mouse pitch.
Don
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Aug 11, 2003 02:20PM)
Hey, here's a photo of my Wonder Mouse, looking rather hungrily at a piece of Grafton Village Gold 3-year-old sharp cheddar cheese... :-)
(you might have to cut & paste the url)
http://www.folksinging.tv/wonder.JPG
Message: Posted by: camikesrd (Aug 11, 2003 11:08PM)
Don , not to contradict you, let me tell all the boys here who the king of the mice workers really was. It goes way back almost 100 years. No disrespect to Jimmy Dixion, I never saw him work or met him. I saw his son Kim work a couple of times and he told me he did the same pitch as his dad.

I am Mike Walsh and I emailed you once before, I am the guy that worked with Wayne Garrison in Asbury Park in the 1960's. Later when I had an auction truck with another guy we played bumper to bumper on Reithoffer Shows. In one of those fairs we sat next to a magic worker,Ed Turner from Philadelphia. Pitched cards. Buda Money Papers and mice.

He only played a couple of fairs then because he had a magic shop in Phily. It was called Arlane. He used to advertise in the Linking Ring. His shop was next to the bus station. He was real good but the King of the mouse workers broke him in at the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1933, a man named Emile.

I think he was Greek, real heavy hair on his hands and arms and would interlace the thread into it and the mouse would run and turn two or three times up his hand and arm. Ed was not able to do this move so I never saw it. The name of his shop Arlane was from his stage name, he had been in Vaudeville and Broadway ( Olsen and Johnsons " Hellsapoping" as Art Lane. I always told him he missed a chance, he could have called himself Art Fay, he didn't like that idea.

Emile was a old guy and he had been working the mouse for some time when Ed met him so that takes it to the turn of the century.
Message: Posted by: irossall (Aug 12, 2003 06:07AM)
Yes Don, the video/book is "The Expert At The Pitch Table". The authors are Michael Schwartz & S. David Walker. It is available at Stevens Magic Emporium. Their website is http://www.stevensmagic.com
Charley, Any information that you seek on Trixie just might be in this work.
Iven :patty:
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Aug 12, 2003 12:22PM)
Hey Camikesrd,
Thanks for the info. Emile broke Jimmy in years and years ago. Jimmy still has the molds that Emile brought over from Europe.
If you haven't heard, Wayne passed away about 2 years ago. What a nice guy he was.
Later,Don
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Aug 12, 2003 01:49PM)
Boy, I really appreciate all the great info that is being posted! Thanks!
Charley

Just received an original 1939 New York World's Fair Wonder Mouse, in a mint box - the mouse itself is made out of hard wax. I just gave it a run, and it works just a nicely as the modern ones. Cute little piece of history!
Message: Posted by: Daktari (Aug 19, 2003 06:14PM)
Stan Kramien was also a big fan and pitchman of the Wonder Mouse. He has a book and I believe a tape out on the pitch.
Message: Posted by: MagicMaker (Aug 24, 2003 04:57AM)
Would be cool if they still sold them.
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Aug 24, 2003 05:53AM)
MagicMaker - There are some people that still sell 'em - I got a handful from a joke shop, and I think there are sources online & even places to get them in bulk. I just watched the "Expert at the Pitch Table" video, and both Jimmy and Kim Dixon were amazing, and I learned a few new moves I didn't think were even possible with the Mouse.
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Aug 24, 2003 11:18AM)
Jimmy Dixon still sells them wholesale.Give him a call at 662 562-8238
Message: Posted by: stine (Sep 2, 2003 09:08AM)
I met Kim Dixon at the CA State Fair in 1981. I was doing antique photography and saw him pitching and introduced myself. He used to do card tricks to draw the tip and at one point did the one-hand shuffle. I had him teach it to me and so I spent the two weeks at my booth practicing while waiting for customers. By the time the run was over I could one-hand shuffle with both hands!

The difficulty with pitching by yourself at a fair is they make you keep your booth open so he's there maybe 10-12 hours! At one point he told me he had drawn a crowd and was in the middle of his pitch when he began to feel nauseous. He felt like throwing up so he put his clenched fist to his mouth like suppressing a burp and [b]actually began throwing up[/b]!! Apparently it shot out of [b]both sides of his mouth because of the fist[/b]!! I believe he told me sales were down at that particular pitch. Just a humorous story that shows how difficult the life of a pitchman can be, as the show must go on or you're out a lot of money for the joint space!

Kim was a very nice guy as I visited him one time after at his place in CA. Where is he now?? I would love to say hi and see if he remembers me. By the way if you saw his pitch, the bit about SHOWING the wax pellet as the gimmick that makes the mouse go is BRILLIANT!!! People think they're buying a little engine or bug or whatever...genius!!
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Sep 2, 2003 12:11PM)
Stine,

Kim is still out pitching and doing well. He and his wife moved to PA. Not sure where he is working but if you give his dad (Jimmy) a call he'll know: 662 562-8238. Just tell him Jimmy Don Driver sent you.

Have a Good One,
Don
Message: Posted by: stine (Sep 2, 2003 01:07PM)
Thanks Don, izim wizithit tizoo.stine
Message: Posted by: Reis O'Brien (Sep 2, 2003 09:10PM)
I have a small rubber mouse that I just bought at a drug store (impulse buy). Can I find the method for the Wonder Mouse act using my mouse or is the gimmick self-contained?
Message: Posted by: irossall (Sep 3, 2003 06:44AM)
[quote]
By the way if you saw his pitch, the bit about SHOWING the wax pellet as the gimmick that makes the mouse go is BRILLIANT!!! People think they're buying a little engine or bug or whatever...genius!!
[/quote]
WOW, the showing of the wax pellet is the "hook" that got me to purchase the mouse. I was 12 years old and at the time I believed the skill required was beyond my level of expertise. When the pitchman showed "how it was done" I knew I could perform it right away. I would not have bought the mouse if the "gimmick" wasn't revealed.

Well, needless to say, I was wrong. To truly make the mouse come alive, lots of practice is needed and it was beyond my level of expertise at that time. The hours of practice required to perform this effect, and to make the mouse "come to life," is worth the effect and the appeal it has on an audience. This is one of those great effects that is easy to learn but much more difficult to master, and can ONLY be shown when it is truly mastered.

In answer to Firedice27: The mouse is not gimmicked but if you use another mouse it can't be too large (as it is doing tricks in your palm) and it can't be too heavy.

Iven :patty:
Message: Posted by: stine (Sep 3, 2003 03:05PM)
Irossall, I wasn't sure by your post whether you were disappointed with your purchase or not.

What I found so interesting about "exposing" the gimmick is [b]that is exactly why it works[/b]! People THINK it's self-working, buy the mouse (which is the whole point of pitching) and then feel frustrated and NEVER DO IT! They are given instructions and STILL bring it back complaining it doesn't work. They are told about IT and STILL think the pitchman is using something else. You're right, the mouse can only work with a pro at the helm, but when you see a pro do it, IT'S MAGIC!

I think they don't really want or expect anyone to do it so they sell the secret and nobody ever uses it. It's the only routine I know where the gimmick becomes an act in and of itself. I don't think that principle has ever been exploited before and I just love it.
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Sep 3, 2003 03:19PM)
When I watched Jimmy and Kim Dixon doing the Mouse Pitch on the [i]Pitch Table[/i] video, I couldn't quite figure out WHY they were showing the secret, and these most recent posts have made me understand. On the same tape, there is a Svengali Deck pitch, and the pitch also includes showing the exact secret and explaining the construction of the deck, which I was surprised to see. I now realize why this is done, and the whole thing makes much more sense to me (thanks, Stine!).

Once again, I am learning so much from everyone, and really want to thank everyone who has posted on this thread for all the great info, stories, advice and all-around good vibes!

Charley
Message: Posted by: stine (Sep 3, 2003 03:44PM)
Glad it helped. Remember it's the context that is important! A pitchman only gets payed if people buy his product. He has to make it almost too good to NOT buy. (That's also why pitched items are cheap, the spectator reasons he can't afford not to get it.)

A magician is selling his personality as well as the feeling a spectator gets from experiencing the magic. He WANTS to know how it's done and that is what intrigues him. The pitchman is exploiting that very desire to sell a product. It's such an impulse buy that the trick is rarely ever used.

For example, they have been pitching Svengali's for what? 100 years?? They must have sold hundreds of thousands. Have you EVER seen someone show you a Svengali routine? Except maybe at a magic store. [b]Where did they all go[/b]!!!???
Message: Posted by: Reis O'Brien (Sep 3, 2003 10:32PM)
Ahhhh yes...I think I get how it's done. And I think my mouse is light enough and he's definitely small. I'll give it a shot and see how it works. Thanks Iven!

-Reis
Message: Posted by: irossall (Sep 4, 2003 05:43AM)
[quote]
On 2003-09-03 16:05, stine wrote:
Irossall, I wasn't sure by your post whether you were disappointed with your purchase or not.

What I found so interesting about "exposing" the gimmick is that is exactly why it works! People THINK it's self-working
[/quote]
Stine, I was disappointed that the mouse wasn't self-working like I was led to believe (I was 12 at the time) BUT I was turned on to IT. The rising cigarette, which was another effect the pitchman showed, became a favorite of mine. (No I was not a smoker but my understanding parents had no objection to my doing cigarette magic.)

The pitchman removed the wax and said that it was a special blend of magician's wax and nylon and then had the ball of wax crawl up his hand.

Glad that these threads were of some help to you Reis, let us know how it goes for you.

Iven :patty:
Message: Posted by: stine (Sep 4, 2003 07:03AM)
This has been a fun thread. I found out where an old acquaintance was, met a carnie, helped a guy enjoy his wonder mouse, and found out I can get the the pitch on video, so I can reminisce about an old chapter in my life.

Only one thing hasn't been cleared up for me. I ask again, after the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of old Svengali decks that have been bought by LAYMEN over the years, [b]where are they[/b]!!!

Has any working pro had a laymen come up to him (or even if they didn't know you were a magi) and perform the Svengali Deck and/or Wonder Mouse for you? If we could find all those old decks, we could buy 'em back for a dime and re-pitch 'em. Anybody in? :)
Message: Posted by: irossall (Sep 4, 2003 09:48AM)
Where are the thousands of Svengali decks sold in the past? They are in that fabled land of misfit props. As we all know, it is in the presentation and the imagination of the performer that really counts. I really only do a rising card effect with my Svengali, so the lay person who may have owned a Svengali doesn't recognize the fact that I am using a Svengali. Most people (not magicians) buy the Svengali because they want to know the secret and they may want to show it to a few friends and are led to believe that the deck does all of the work. In a sense this is true but the real work is coming up with something "new" and different.

The Svengali and the TT will always be a valuable tool for the magician and just when we think we have seen it all, someone will come along with a new and exciting effect and we will rush home and dust of our old deck or TT and once again have fun with it all over again. When I first saw a rising card effect done with a Svengali I couldn't wait to get home to play with mine.

Iven :patty:
Message: Posted by: Reis O'Brien (Sep 4, 2003 10:24AM)
Ha-HAAAAAAAAA!!!!

My mouse works great! He's really cute. I rigged it up so he finds a chosen card on the table. Jumps right off my hand onto the card. Maybe I'll make him the star of my show. Thanks everyone. This post is great!
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Sep 4, 2003 04:23PM)
Fire -

Congrats on making and using your own Mouse! I think these Wonder Mice are like Tribbles. Once you see them, you can't help but want one! The great thing is, you don't have to worry about 'em eating all of your food up, or cleaning up after 'em. My kinda pet.
Message: Posted by: Reis O'Brien (Sep 4, 2003 11:26PM)
Thanks folksingmagic!

I worked the Wonder Mouse for the neighborhood kids at my work today. They loved him (the mouse, not me). But they all named him "Clumsy" because he kept falling off my hand! Ahhh...good times...

I suspect in German he would be "Vunder Maus"...just a thought.
Message: Posted by: The Village Idiots (Sep 6, 2003 11:30PM)
Now just what did the pitchman tell you the wax did? How did he dupe you to thinking it did all of the work? I am sure I saw it the same way but that has been too many years ago. Dying to know what he said.

Will
Message: Posted by: irossall (Sep 8, 2003 06:16AM)
The Pitchman just removed the wax from the mouse and had the wax run up the back of his hand. All he said was (paraphrase), "The secret is this special mixture of magician's wax and nylon". As in most good cons, it is the imagination of the beholder that gets them "hooked" into the con.

In my case, I was buying more magic that took more skill than I had at the time and I was always looking for effects that were very easy to do or self working. It was my laziness that hooked me, my looking for the easy way instead of working for my goals. What the pitchman said was basicaly true. It is wax and nylon. Just not quite what he insinuated.

Iven :patty:
Message: Posted by: Erik Anderson (Nov 18, 2003 08:50PM)
One of my favorite hooks in the old pitches was done while showing the gimmick and running it hand over hand or with a coin attached. As near as I can recall, it went something like:

[quote]
The secret of the Wonder Mouse is this amazing little gimmick made of magician's wax. Why, with this little beauty, you can make abolutely anything come alive. That's right ma'am, you heard me. I said anything. But whatever you do, don't stick it to a quarter and put it in a pay phone. Ma Bell wouldn't like you very much.
[/quote]
At that point people would line up to buy them thinking they could make free phone calls. Nothin' motivates like greed. You gotta love it! It was definitely an art.

:spinningcoin:
Message: Posted by: highmagic (Nov 19, 2003 07:55AM)
You can buy the Stan Kramien [i]Wonder Mouse Pitch Book[/i] at [outdated link]

The [i]Go Book Yourself[/i] is slightly more expensive, but it contains the whole [i]Wonder Mouse Pitch Book[/i].
Message: Posted by: Stuart Cumberland (Nov 20, 2003 08:08PM)
Better still, email Kramien for his DVD that teaches the entire pitch. Everything you need to know. Here's the link at Stevens: [url=http://www.stevensmagic.com/shopping/shopexd.asp?id=3831]Kramien Pitch[/url]

Stan used to pay cash for his Cadillacs with the money made from the Wonder Mouse. His pitch is direct and effective.

Best,
Blair
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Nov 24, 2003 07:47PM)
I finally found a copy of the [i]Expert at the Pitch Table[/i] book that goes with the video (already had the video, but couldn't find the book for the longest time). They actually give directions for making your own Wonder Mouse molds, sounds like a neat weekend project!

I learned from reading the book that my all-wax mouse (from the 1939 New York World's Fair) was probably one of the wax ones that pitchmen made for when they ran out of the plastic ones.

I've got an old copy of the [i]Kramien Mouse Pitch Book[/i] too, it's like seven pages but gives his pitch, a little background, and mentions wholesale sources for the mouse, as well as how to make a pitch tent/display. Very neat...
Message: Posted by: Slim Price (Nov 24, 2003 08:48PM)
Now, who remembers pitching "Dancing Dolls"?
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Nov 25, 2003 03:08PM)
Slim,

Would they be the ones with the "balloon" heads that were on an IT?

Don
Message: Posted by: Slim Price (Nov 25, 2003 08:32PM)
Yeah, Don, that was them. Not so long ago, someone had a device to hook up a radio, so no "Helper" was needed.

Slim
Message: Posted by: Todd Robbins (Nov 25, 2003 11:40PM)
I remember seeing photos somewhere of someone with a briefcase that contained a tape recorder in it. There was a hole in the back of the case and one end of the thread was hooked up to one of the reels so it would go up and down and make the doll dance. There were some South American guys working a grind with the dolls on the streets here in NY a few years ago. It's stopped quite a crowd.

Speaking of pitches, I have all the work on the DeLenz magic pitch. It's a great slum packet pitch that (as far as I have been able to uncover) probably started with Al Flosso and then was refined by magician Walter DeLenz. One of these days I'm going to put together all the slum needed and do the *** thing at some convention such as the Sideshow Gathering. Maybe I'll do Al Flosso's Miser's Dream as the lead in. Who knows?

Todd Robbins
Message: Posted by: Erik Anderson (Dec 4, 2003 02:31PM)
Todd,

That would be worth seeing.

Speaking of pitches, does anyone have info on how to do a jam auction?
Message: Posted by: camikesrd (Dec 4, 2003 09:51PM)
A young man at the State Fair of Virginia had some little cardboard dancing dolls. No balloon head, just 6" tall doll and a CD boom box. He was going for $8 two for $15. I must have walked past him a dozen times and he always had a tip and was doing good.

On the jam auction there were just 22 pages posted about it on the Geni forum. You can search and get it back up.

On the mouse pitch John Bradshaw is still making them. He can be reached at: kaning@webtv.net

He'll send you a copy of his pitch and a couple of samples for under $10. It's a nice mouse and package. Vince Carman used to use his...Mike :dance:
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Dec 5, 2003 10:48AM)
I worked for John Bradshaw when he had his Sideshow back in the 70's. He does a great mouse pitch and has a really good looking package.

Mike, the next time you see John, please say hello for me.

Later, Don
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Dec 5, 2003 10:57AM)
I second John Bradshaw's mice—I ordered from him, and am very pleased with the package. He put a lot of work into 'em.
Message: Posted by: Tom Jorgenson (Dec 27, 2003 04:41PM)
As an interesting side: I have a vintage 8mm Silent B&W film of 11 Jaduwallahs in India doing street magic, and there in the middle is...well, not exactly the Wonder Mouse, but the Wonder Coin.

The film is copyright 1939 probably filmed a little earlier (things moved slow in those days). I about fell over when I saw it. So, I suppose the Wonder Mouse is actually the Venerable Wonder Mouse, and is probably as old as the combinaton of Horse hairs and Twilight.
Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Jan 4, 2004 07:25PM)
The Wonder Mouse was one of the magic tricks "exposed" in Scientific American back in the late 1800's. Scientific American magazine compiled a couple hundred of their articles and published them in a book titled "Magic, Stage Illusions, and Scientific Diversions Including Trick Photography" (what a title). The book was copyright and published in 1890.

Page 135 has an article complete with engraved plate titled "The Animated Mouse." It tips the secret to the Wonder Mouse.

The article starts, "Street vendors are seen selling, at night, a little mouse which takes the place upon the back of their hand, and which keeps running as if, having been tamed, it wished to take refuge upon them...The mouse keeps on running until the vendor has found a purchaser for it at the moderate price of two cents, including instructions for manipulating it..."

The trick was old and being pitched long before the article.

The book, by the way, has explanations of several tricks that could be considered contemporary, e.g. the folding coin, ink to goldfish, the blue room, trick boxes, the DeKolta Chair, and the like. It has a number of articles on "geek" items, such as fire eating, sword swallowing, glass dancing, the sword ladder, etc., etc., etc.

Not a lot new under this old sun!
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Jan 4, 2004 09:06PM)
Harry - Happy New Year!
Wow - Thanks for that info! I'll have to look up the article.

Just remembered - I have a copy of this book somewhere - cool... now I have to rummage through my boxes...
Message: Posted by: stine (Jan 17, 2004 09:01PM)
One can always rely on Harry to come up with info the rest of us are ignorant of! Bravo!!
Message: Posted by: Tony Ley (Jan 31, 2004 08:55PM)
To Everyone! -
This has been the one of the most fun posts to read! I love all the little tid-bits about the Wonder Mouse.

Several months ago, I remembered seeing something very similar to the Wonder Mouse when I was a kid. It's called a 'Squirgel' or something close to that. Once, when I was a kid (like THAT ever changed), a pitchman showed me this little fuzzy worm that ran all over his arm, hands, etc,.

I began doing some research as to where to find one. Once in my quest, I even approached the manager of the magic shop where I worked and asked him about the 'Wonder Mouse' and how they'd be kinda fun to sell in the shop. He just laughed and asked if I was kidding.

After scouring the internet for every little crumb that I could about the Wonder Mouse, I found out about Stan Kramien's awesome pitch for the little guy. I didn't know about the pitch video mentioned elsewhere in this thread. That's great!

Several of the 'big' magic shops I spoke to didn't carry the thing anymore. Luckily I ended up talking to a gentleman at Hank Lee's shop. They still have them for just under $3! They come with some basic instructions, but nothing along the lines of a real pitch.

After talking on the phone to other shops that ended up finding them buried in their backrooms, it appears that both the little fuzzy worm AND the Wonder Mouse are gaining popularity once more. Several people that I've spoken with are actually getting orders for these fun little things all of a sudden!

How cool would it be if someone were to package the 'Ultimate Wonder Mouse' book and DVD set! It could include a complete history of the Wonder Mouse and it's various incarnations (the coin, the fuzzy worm, etc,), plans on how to make the old-school style mouse, newer mouse designs, how to make the fuzzy worm, and several pitches for the little guy. It could also include both a fuzzy worm AND Wonder Mouse in the kit!

It could be package in an antique-looking box and everything! Anyone out there have connections with A1 Multimedia, L&L, or Kaufman? Somebody should pitch them the pitch items as a piece of our magical history just for nostalgia.

Keep posting information on this curious little item and it's ilk. There is just something charming about the little mouse that makes you wonder.
Message: Posted by: Reis O'Brien (Feb 1, 2004 03:44PM)
Just thought I'd bring this up here;
I'm currently working on a new mouse. He's fuzzy, cute and smarter than you! He can cut a deck to a choosen card and turn a penny into a dime in the spec's hand! I have four prototype mice going right now and am putting together a booklet with routines you can do. If anyone is interested in one of these little guys, just send me a PM and I'll let you know when he's ready.
Message: Posted by: truthteller (Feb 1, 2004 04:22PM)
The item you are referring to Tony was Squirrmels. They are currently available as Wonder Worm and are beginning to be pitched again.
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Feb 1, 2004 04:58PM)
Tony -
I know how you feel - I've spoken to local shops who like & remember the Mouse & Squirmel, but in general, most shops don't have either of 'em.

I remember Al Cohen used to do Squirmel at Al's Magic Shop back in the day (I worked for him for a little while on & off while I was in college - what a guy!). I've been collecting all I could find on the Mouse, too, and have also thought a Wonder Mouse package would be neat.

When I got some mice packages from John Bradshaw, he even sent me his own pitch, which I felt was above & beyond the call of duty, and a darn nice thing to do, and everyone I've been in touch with about the Mouse seems eager to share their stories & advice, and somehow the Wonder Mouse seems to bring out the best in people.

The Wonder Mouse - it's not just a magic trick, it's a way of life. :-)
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Feb 1, 2004 04:59PM)
You might try Dave Robbins, E-Z Magic site in their pitchman section. Robbins, an importer, wholesale, and jobber, they probably have Wonder Mouse. But you would have to buy a gross or more at a time.
Message: Posted by: amagician (Feb 3, 2004 07:14AM)
I remember seeing Joe Stuthard demonstrating his small range of items through a four hour session at a store here in Tasmania many years ago.
He did the mouse and the Svengali (as well as his other items) pretty good.
Joe always showed the mouse gimmick.
A real gentleman too!Otherwise I wouldn't have spent an hour pulled off the highway to tape a radio interview that he did.
He and his wife left the state the day before it was broadcast. Sad thing, they taped about half an hour and finally broadcast about one and a half minutes.
Message: Posted by: Mushu (Feb 15, 2004 12:10AM)
Scroll down a bit and click on the picture to see Al Cohen demoing the Wonder Worm:

<outdated link>
Message: Posted by: Kim (Feb 15, 2004 12:58AM)
Hey John Williams, what a surprise to see you here!! :)

Kim
Message: Posted by: constantine (Mar 10, 2004 07:41PM)
There are two mice on the market. The Jimmy Dixon mouse has a rubber band tail that wiggles around as he runs over your hand and looks very animated. The Bradshaw mouse is one piece with a wide straight tail. Kids like to pull on the rubber band, which comes off with a snap followed by the kid and his mom, if it is a daytime venue, coming saying loudly "my mouse broke," usually right in the middle of the jam. John's mouse avoids that problem entirely.But Kim's mouse looks so *** cute wiggling around, all the girls want you to buy them or two, the drunks don't open them, they just drop them in there pockets a wonder where they came from the next day.
Message: Posted by: wisdom (Apr 6, 2004 10:25PM)
I have worked both the squirmle and the mouse for years.
The worm (squirmle)takes more money than the mouse. It is more colourful and draws people over better.
It should sell for around $5. It has been worked in Holland and England more than anywhere else. It may surprise people to know that Tommy Wonder used to work them in the street.
There are moves with the worm that magicians simply don't know. I notice Al Cohen in his demo didn't use the methods that professional worm pitchmen know.

With regard to the mouse I have done away with the cigarette trick usually used in the demonstration and have substituted something known as the spooky pencil.
This pencil is a good pitch item in its own right but combined with the mouse is a very powerful money taker.
I package the pencil (just an ordinary pencil) and the mouse together and can easily get $5 this way. It would be hard to get much more than $3 (if that) for the mouse on it's own.

It might surprise some of you to know that it is possible to take in $500 to $1000 a day with the mouse or worm ALONE. No other magic product at all. Just the one item.

This is not to say that every starving magician should rush out and try to sell them. You do have to know the art of the pitchman. And that is not an easy thing to learn. It entails a completely different mentality from being a magician and in fact many, many magicians just do not make good magic pitchmen.

You either have it or you don't.
Message: Posted by: Comet (Apr 7, 2004 02:48PM)
I'm looking for the squirmle wholesale. I've seen them in quarter vending machines so I know you can get them that way for a bit cheap.. thanks for any help anyone can provide in advance.
Joe Comet
Oklahoma City
Message: Posted by: wisdom (Apr 7, 2004 03:24PM)
I would rather not say. I hope you understand.
Message: Posted by: Comet (Apr 8, 2004 12:46AM)
I do understand. I was hoping a fellow performer would be able to help me out but I understand there are a few online who really just want to know the secret. If it's that you're wondering rest assured I am really a magician. I've been performing for several years. (started in Wyoming, moved to Germany and performed while stationed there and now here in Oklahoma Cit) I give away small tricks like this in my kids shows (sometimes fourune telling fish or I'll order a bulk of something small from D robbins through a friend. I'll just keep looking but thanks for your reply just the same.
Joe Comet, Oklahoma City
Message: Posted by: wisdom (Apr 8, 2004 07:21AM)
I mean no offence. It is obvious that you are a magician. Your tiger has convinced me! I admire people who can do tricks with tigers. I shall stick to card tricks.

My reluctance to provide sources for the worm is purely a business decision. I am a professional pitchman and like magicians we have our secrets too.

You will find that most pitchmen are somewhat territorial over information. If they are not they should be. I always cringe when people sell courses on pitching magic and give out information about sources of supply and even worse information on where to work.

This is because there are limited venues to work and limited sources of supply. If I teach people how to pitch then one day I would go to some venue and find I cannot work because someone has taken my location.

If I reveal sources of supply then one day I will call up the supplier and find they have run out of the item because the person I have revealed the source to has just walked in and cleaned the supplier out.

Again. I hope you understand.
Message: Posted by: Comet (Apr 9, 2004 12:12AM)
No offense taken at all. The tiger is one I use from time to time when the venue calls. For the most part I make my living with smaller shows and close up. I studied for a while (years ago) with Eric Mead in Ft. Collins CO. Eric kind of got me into the cards. I ONLY use the Cat if they're willing to pay a bit. I have a few pics I use with the cat grabbing my bald head through the illusion bars. LOL. I'm not sure where you are but as for me I base out of Oklahoma and NY. (grew up in NY) I do hope you didn't think I was upset just wanted to let you know I wasn't just an info seeker. I'll find a source for them soon enough. As I said I'm not much of a pitch man and don't even think I could make a living with that. I give little tricks away at my childre's shows and an Illusionist I work with has a magic shop in the lobby before during and after the performances.
If you'd like to just send a note to talk magic please feel free. I'm always up for good conversation.
enjoy
Magicly
Joe Comet
Oklahoma!
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Apr 11, 2004 12:03PM)
I just have to put my two cents in this.

Wisdom: I do understand where you are coming from, However, I'm always willing to help guys get into the pitch business.

With all the guys I've helped, I have never once ran into another "magic" pitchman anywhere I set up. Second, it's hard work, as you well know and most fall by the way side when they find out. Their is plenty of "pie" to go around for anybody who wants to stick to it.(Last I heard the head count for the U.S. was 200 million).

Out of 11,293 members here at the Café, 28 ordered my Svengali pitch tape, so not many are even interested in learning the pitch business.

I've been pitching for over 20 years, and have had a GREAT life doing it. If I get only "one" person to stay at it and have as much fun as I have had, then I will have left something behind. (What more could a guy ask for?)

Now for the "pitch". Visit the website in my profile for more information.

Have a GREAT Day.

Don
Message: Posted by: wisdom (Apr 11, 2004 05:32PM)
Hello, Don.

You are certainly more generous than I am. I am very territorial about venues. There may well be 200 million people in the USA. However, there are only about six suppliers, I imagine. I can't afford to have that supplier run out of stock because of some Mushroom (you would call it a JCL-I come from a different country) starting out.

Perhaps you don't travel about as much as you used to. Or perhaps work as much as you used to. So you are less proprietorial over this stuff.

I don't travel the way I used to either. Or work as frequently as I did. However it is a grafter's instinct not to want venues taken up. When you travel you are more likely to find upstarts taking up the best spots. I personally don't think the pie is big enough. If I hear of some Svengali pitchman in Bangladesh I would still get irritated.

You are correct in saying that 90% of people who try it will give up. It is indeed hard work. Johnnie Neptune the famous Scottish pitchman once said to me, "Working down a coal mine is easier than this!"

That is the only consolation I feel when I hear that information is given away. If 100 people buy your course I suppose that only one or two will actually do anything about it.

Still, I am uncomfortable that even one or two learn about this stuff, especially when information about sources of supply are given away. I hope to God you didn't give info away about where to work. I bet you did, though. You sound a nice guy. I wish you weren't.

I have written about the deck. I have also just written a book about the mouse and the squirmle. However there is no business information whatever given away, and this is quite deliberate.

I suppose my post will be a bigger advertisement for your tape. People always want things when they see that others don't want the info revealed.

I have been pitching Svengali decks for about 40 years. I wish I could say it has all been "fun". Sometimes it has been, and sometimes it hasn't.

It is much more fun now than it was. That is because I don't have to do it anymore. The pressure is off, so I quite enjoy it.

How about a deal? I will send you my book in exchange for your tape. What do you think?
Message: Posted by: Comet (Apr 14, 2004 09:45PM)
Wisdom,
I really don't think you have much to worry about. Like I said I have people working on a supplier for this myself. We will sometimes send away and have things made, as long as there's no copy right infringment, so we can package them with our own logo and directions. I think you'll find that there's a LOT of people out there pitching decks and wonder mouse who loose thier butts on it even after watchign Expert at the ptich table or any other such tape or DVD. why? because they don't have what you have. I've bought stuff from pitchmen who KNEW THIER Stuff. When I got the things home I couldn't even come close to getting it to work like they did. It's like going to a magic lecturer. You see Daryl do it.. you love it. he explains it and it's "easy" you buy it and can't get it to look nearly as well as he did. You put it away.. go to another Daryl lecture two years later and find you end up buying the darn thing all over again.
I Can appricate your worry about the supplier running out but the truth is what I'm goign to do with them isn't even close to what you do. you make GOOD money with them. for me I just want them at a price that's cost effective to give them away for advertisement and at birthday parties. At the moment I carry Fortune teller fish with my business card either on the packaging or in the package. This quiets a child while mom shops and makes all the kids at a show I may be doing happy. I do a lot of corp events where parents end up bringing children. I give them something to play with (with my contact info on it of course) and Mom and Dad can enjoy the show. the 150 or 200 worms I may give away won't hurt your business as far as I know.
I must say that I admire what you do. I've seen people at the Fair and other carnivals pitching little tricks such as the worm and even some strange card looking thing that danced (via floating bill or worm I can't even remember what they're called) that looked so darn good. I don't knwo how you do it but your pockets will get much bigger by pitching these than mine will I can assure you. thanks for the info you contribute to the Café
Joe Comet
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Apr 23, 2004 09:47PM)
Hey Guys,
Thought you would like to see this.Whit Haydn sent it to me.Its French 1890.
Don

[outdated link]
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Apr 24, 2004 06:11PM)
Don -
Thanks! That is cool!

I wouldn't be surprised if a papyrus were discovered from like 2500 years ago showing how to make a life-like mouse... But only the Pharoahs were allowed to perform it. :-)
Message: Posted by: swatchel-omi (May 4, 2004 07:39AM)
I just stumbled onto this topic. Great stuff !

I once saw Dick Koornwinder do the squirmel pitch. It was amazing. The worm jumped out of the package, it would squirm around a pencil and jump into a glass and do all the "in the hands" moves. The ease with which Dick handled the props showed years of handling.

( His handling of his little car was pretty amazing as well. He had some pretty cool ideas.)

Joe
Message: Posted by: constantine (May 25, 2004 07:38AM)
This is not a squrmall,but the price is right.

http://www.osv.org/kids/crafts8.htm
Message: Posted by: Comet (Jun 4, 2004 10:44PM)
Ok I know this is going to end up WAY off topic but I'm looking for a couple things. First of all the Dancing dolls you saw at the fair. They didn't use the balloon head and I think (If I'm talking about the same thing) I saw them used for a bit on this past American Idol's series. I'm looking for a source for those and the big question is this.... I have a sword through the neck and had my sword stolen. (why they'd want that I'll never know) I am looking for the tape measure materal UNPAINTED so I can make a new one. If anyone has a source for any of those please feel free to email me at joe@cometmagic.com I'll check back here as well.
Hope your summer is kicking off everyone.
Thanks in advance for any help you can give.
Joe Comet
Oklahoma City
Message: Posted by: GypsyZin (Jun 26, 2004 10:18PM)
Although I have arrived at this post a little late, I would just like to thank Don Driver for mentioning Jimmy Dixon. I worked with him and Emile in the 60s and 70s, they were both great at the Wonder Mouse pitch. I will point out to those wondering about the money making possibilities of the pitch that mister Dixon made enough dough from selling mice to finance the construction of some of the best looking and most successful carnival attractions in the US and Canada. He gave us the original (and often copied) "Arabian Giantess" as well as the "House of Wax" movie star and custom car show. This all started with the "Chamber of Horrors" built in an old doniker trailer and made entirely with mouse money (I believe). I first saw Jimmy at the Expo in Del Mar in the early sixties, then being introduced by Emile as 'The Young Professor', I remember him as an expert performer. I no longer work as a pro magician but still pull the Wonder Mouse out of my pocket now and then and it always delights my audience. I wonder if he remembers a guy names Gary Moore who I saw win a bucket of money with the mouse in a bar in Detroit. Just betting the marks that they couldn't discover the secret.
Message: Posted by: mghia (Jul 11, 2004 11:22AM)
Is there a discussion on working the mouse on this forum? Tips on secret material and such? I did not see any when searching. When I bought this and the Squirmle I was always disappointed in the visibility in some lighting of the secret.

I bought a bunch of TV MAGIC wonder mouse kits org. sold in 1975 which came with nice mouse (more detail) instructions for that and the other tricks and three water tricks (three plastic glasses one gimmicked)
Do pitchmen use the secret as provided or do they modify it to make it less visible? I would assume modern materials might work better but do not know if they are strong enough.
Any thoughts? Any DVDs cover more details?
Message: Posted by: Todd Robbins (Jul 11, 2004 06:15PM)
Mouse pitchmen always have what is known as a "worker". This is one of the pitch items that is modified to be better than what they are selling. The "wire and wax" gimmick you get is not worth much. Try using invisible thread. Though pitchmen will claim it's easy to use, to get it to look as good as their handling takes a lot of practice.
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Jul 17, 2004 10:40PM)
So I just realized I pretty much use the Mouse on a daily basis in my programs. I'd be curious to hear who regularly uses it as a trick as opposed to the pitch item it is (not that it isn't a trick, but...). Firedice, as I recall, started using his to find a selected card. I have toddlers now who ask for the mouse every time they see me, and the teachers want one (well now, there's a good set of potential customers if I ever saw one!) I can say getting the mice is amongst the best investment I've made magic/marketing-wise for all the good will they've brought me.
Message: Posted by: stuthardgranddaughter (Jul 29, 2004 01:21AM)
To amagician, who wrote below on 2004-02-03,

Thank you for posting your e-mail. I did a search on google for my grand father and was so excited to find your e-mail, that not only did I sign up as a registered user, but I made an old lady happy (I'm sure she won't mind the "old" reference) when I rang my grand mother and read out what you had to say.

Regards,

Rebecca Warnecke
Grand daughter of Joe Stuthard


[quote]
On 2004-02-03 08:14, amagician wrote:
I remember seeing Joe Stuthard demonstrating his small range of items through a four hour session at a store here in Tasmania many years ago.
He did the mouse and the Svengali (as well as his other items) pretty good.
Joe always showed the mouse gimmick.
A real gentleman too!Otherwise I wouldn't have spent an hour pulled off the highway to tape a radio interview that he did.
He and his wife left the state the day before it was broadcast. Sad thing, they taped about half an hour and finally broadcast about one and a half minutes.
[/quote]
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Jun 3, 2007 12:06AM)
As long as I am reviving this old thread to pitch my new Wonder Mouse on Steroids replacement, I might as well answer the original question regarding what I have learned about the origin of the Wonder Mouse:

The Wonder Mouse, or Magic Mouse, or Animated Mouse was a popular novelty sales item with street pitchmen in the USA as early as 1874. No one knows who invented it. It first appeared for sale to pitchmen in an 1874 Union Purchasing Agency catalog.

Now that that's done, I might mention my "Pompom Critters" have been released in The Wizards' Journal #13 (on my site). These make the Wonder Mouse look quite tame, especially when they break free of the string and begin running around on your body. The Critters are not just confined to the street or to pitchmen. They can be housebroken and brought indoors to use for kids party shows, and even stage shows.
Message: Posted by: dave_matkin (Jun 3, 2007 03:27AM)
I have just watched a video of Jimmy Dixon doing the wonder mouse on you tube. Wow what a performer. I loved watching him - I would love ot see him live.

I would suggest anyopne goes and see it - great vid.
Message: Posted by: just_larry (Jun 3, 2007 10:12PM)
Here you go.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF6RK3nPPeI
I am honored to call Jimmy a good friend.
Larry
Message: Posted by: petekoloz (Jun 18, 2007 10:01AM)
A friend of mine does a cool variation on the mouse pitch.
He pitches a playing card instead of a mouse.
His pitch uses an "anti-gravity" angle that leaves the audience stunned.
The card flies around him spinning like a Frisbee.
Instead of the wax pellet he shows them an LED that sticks to the card.
This makes a nice effect as the card spins at high speed and flies around.
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Jun 18, 2007 01:41PM)
Way back at the beginning of this thread there's a reference to the 1939 World's Fair.

I was thrilled to find that out for myself, when putting togather my DVD "The Carnival's Been and Gone" using Internet Archive footage, particularly some 8mm home movies from 1939, one shot (it's only about 5 seconds, don't go rushing out to buy it for this...).

There's one VERY indistinct shot (took a lot of digital tweaking to zoom in and sharpen) of a guy in a top hat selling to a crowd, in front of a sign-board that you could JUST read: "WONDER MOUSE". I thought I was so darned cool for recognizing it. (I know, I get carried away with myself now and then...)
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Sep 12, 2007 06:36PM)
He who shan't be named has a book out call" Marmaduke the Wonder Mouse", good.

does John Bradshaw still make the one piece mouse ?
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Sep 12, 2007 09:34PM)
Yes he does
Message: Posted by: Police Magician (Sep 13, 2007 11:38AM)
Jay Marshal and Bob Brown did this for a bunch of us, at a seminar, many years ago when they were demonstrating the "Jam Auction". The smooth routine Jay showed us was really great. Almost bought one myself. Ended up thanking Bob for his assistance and buying him a drink.

Glenn