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Topic: Dancing Hankerchief History
Message: Posted by: Fungineer (Nov 18, 2017 10:30AM)
Hi all, I kindly ask your advice for sources (books, DVDs, lectures) on the Dancing Hankerchief. Specifically: creators, history, theory, handling, etc.

I am interested in the stage version, not the Zombie version if you get my drift.

I have a large library of illusion books but his specific effect does not seem to be written about in detail.

Thanks in advance.
Message: Posted by: jimgerrish (Nov 18, 2017 01:15PM)
From "Cauldron Capers" in The Wizards' Journal #14, little Wiz Kid Eleazar (aka Ee-Gee-Fiki) learned and wrote as part of his research: "Anna Eva Faye is credited with having invented the dancing handkerchief as a spirit apparition for one of her séances, circa 1910. Harry Blackstone, Sr, saw one of her performances and turned the effect into one of the most popular effects of his full evening illusion show."
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Nov 18, 2017 09:31PM)
The premise of the handkerchief 'dancing' as a spirit manifestation is true. the prop that Blackstone used was called the Casadega Propaganda and was named after Casadega, Florida which was the home for many spiritualists... even to this day. Harry's routine originally referenced that popular phenomenon and while it (spiritualism) means less to a contemporary audience... it is a very theatrical and delightful performance.
Message: Posted by: Gerry Walkowski (Nov 19, 2017 05:03AM)

It's my understanding that Cassadaga, New York, was the original home of all the spiritualists and the original inspiration for Blackstone's dancing handkerchief cabinet. The Cassadaga Florida spiritualists colony you mentioned came later.

Just saying.

Message: Posted by: Fungineer (Nov 19, 2017 06:09AM)
Thanks guys. This is fascinating. Didn’t realize this went all the way back to the spiritualists.

Does anyone have apparatus and routine sources as well?
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 19, 2017 09:39AM)
Fungineer, you are jumping to conclusions. The story Blackstone used was just that a story, it did not mean anything else.

If you are want to obtain instructions, it has been available from Abbott's Magic since Harry Blackstone Sr. made it available.

There you can obtain the Blackstone method as well a Ralph Adams' method, using a large water bottle.

Currently, the programmable electronic version by Sean Bogunia has enhanced this effect greatly.

Sorry, I believe secrets are just that secrets, if you want any further information, you pay for it, just like schools are paid to educate you.

You have enough information to go as far as you wish. Don't be afraid to use Google
Message: Posted by: Fungineer (Nov 19, 2017 10:43AM)
Bill, I am fully willing to purchase books, lecture notes, etc. I’m studying the history of these effects and wish to learn more. I am not in the market to purchase the actual illusions—but thank you for that info. Again, just looking for titles and references—not overt methods here.

I’m aware of Blackstone (Sr and Jr) and have found info on those as well.

Lastly, please don’t confuse my curiosity with ignorance. You may be surprised what knowledge or backgrounds are of those you respond to. Perhaps there’s something I may have knowledge on tha could help you out someday. Helping each other—that’s the spirit of this forum, no?

Warm regards,
Tim aka Fungineer.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 20, 2017 04:31AM)
Fungineer, you now have the full history of the Dancing Hank as it pertains to the big stage.
Message: Posted by: Dougini (Nov 20, 2017 06:54AM)
New Animations - The Dancing Handkerchief Book by Mike Ching is highly recommended!

This incredibly thorough publication provides you with everything you need to know about the "Dancing Handkerchief" effect. This work includes chapters on the history of the effect, the materials required for the construction of the effect, stage craft, versions of the effect from some of the best in magic, and several "New Animations" of this magic staple.

Artists Featured Include:

- Harry Blackstone & Harry Blackstone Jr.
- Leon Mandrake
- John Calvert
- Ralph Adams
- Jeff McBride
- Charles Reynolds
- Karrel Fox
- Gary Darwin
- Harry Lovecraft
- Russel Brown
- The Great Leon

Finding a copy is a challenge...

Message: Posted by: Fungineer (Nov 20, 2017 07:25AM)
Thank you, Doug—this is exactly what I was looking for—I knew there had to be a book.

Thanks again!
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 20, 2017 12:01PM)
Yes, there was a book, it is sold out, and has been for several years. The last time Mike Chang visited the Café, he was not positive that he would reprint it, as he mentioned it is an ever expanding project. It was not clear if he was willing to sell non-bound version, as his post sort of indicated he might.

Contact Mike Chang directly was his last suggestion on the Café.
Message: Posted by: thomasR (Nov 20, 2017 03:13PM)
I'm so glad you brought this up. I have hopes of one day putting together a sprit cabinet type routine and had thought about dancing hank type effects and had researched the currently available effects but didn't realize the dancing hank came from that type of routine originally. I'll have to research more!
Message: Posted by: Fungineer (Nov 20, 2017 04:57PM)
[quote]On Nov 20, 2017, Dougini wrote:
New Animations - The Dancing Handkerchief Book by Mike Ching is highly recommended!


Finding a copy is a challenge...

Doug [/quote]


If anyone reading this has a copy, and it’s gathering dust on your shelf, I’ve posted a “WTB” in the other book section in the Café below.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 20, 2017 06:47PM)
I only found one copy that may be available on Viking Magic's other store website.

Message: Posted by: Fungineer (Nov 21, 2017 01:50AM)
I contacted the author, Mike Ching, and he quickly responded.

He recently sent out his last copy but still gets requests often.

He asked me to post the following on his behalf:

“ I cannot get onto MAGIC Café to post for some reason. the explanation given was that the email I had signed up with was an aol. account which they no longer accept, this happened several years ago. w0ndering if you could post somewhere that interested people can contact me directly
MikeChingMagic@Hotmail.com ”
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Nov 21, 2017 05:19AM)
Fungineer, you might contact Mike Ching and advixe him that several years ago, they have changed their policy of only using ISP email address to all email accounts like aol, Google, and outlook, as well as others.
Message: Posted by: Lawrens Godon (Nov 21, 2017 07:40AM)
I saw an intriguing version recently ; the performer had the handkerchief inside a transparent jug and at some point, walked amongst the public to better show (very close up) the little ghost :)
It was Shawn Farquhar if I remember well.
Any info about this version ?
Message: Posted by: thomasR (Nov 21, 2017 09:15AM)
Yes, it's Sean's "Extreme Hanky" available through his site - https://www.ultimatemagicproductions.net/store/p8/The_Extreme_Hanky.html

Really fantastic trick.
Message: Posted by: Lawrens Godon (Nov 21, 2017 08:11PM)
Awesome !
Thank you Thomas :)
Message: Posted by: dbaltes1520 (Jan 3, 2021 11:10AM)
I have just started looking into adding the Zombie/Dancing Hanky effect and the resources provided here really help to understand the history and different possible effects. Appreciate the research! Thank you.
Message: Posted by: FrankFindley (Jan 3, 2021 10:41PM)
The history ties go far, far further back. All the way back to the 1600s touring acting companies had a problem with plays with spirits, people had trouble differentiating between "live" and "dead" characters. At some point they started having all dead characters wear their burial shrouds to avoid this confusion. This idea of spiritss wearing white sheeted vestments inserted itself into popular mindset and became the typical way spirits were depicted. This includes puppeteers who used handkerchief sized pieces of suspended cloth as spirit puppets in their shows. And, of course, that carried over to spiritualists.

It was Kellar who popularized it as the Casadega Propaganda act. He most likely got the idea from Maskelyne who in turn probably took it from Anna Eva Fay. Carnegie did a very nice write-up where he "pulled the threads" to put the story together. It is well worth a read: [url]http://www.themagicdetective.com/2015/11/the-spirit-handkerchief-and-its-history.html[/url]
Message: Posted by: dbaltes1520 (Jan 4, 2021 10:05AM)
Wow - thank you Frank for the valuable insights! I am so looking forward to adding this to my act and love having the historical basis. I try to research acts and effects when I want to add something to my act and you have been very beneficial. Thank you again.
Message: Posted by: gregg webb (Jan 22, 2021 04:59PM)
Am I wrong that Blackstone senior (The Great Blackstone) carried on with it and even Blackstone Jr. until switching to the floating lightbulb, I'm going from old photos. GW
Message: Posted by: FrankFindley (Jan 22, 2021 05:14PM)
[quote]On Jan 22, 2021, gregg webb wrote:
Am I wrong that Blackstone senior (The Great Blackstone) carried on with it and even Blackstone Jr. until switching to the floating lightbulb, I'm going from old photos. GW [/quote]

Blackstone Junior did both the dancing hank and the floating lightbulb. I saw him do both multiple times live. The dancing hank is much easier to stage so it may have been a venue decision as to which was used in a given show. But I am only speculating on this.

A few years ago I saw Darren Romeo do the Blackstone floating lightbulb. He did it PERFECTLY. I haven't seen anyone perform the Blackstone dancing hank routine in a couple decades. It seems to have been supplanted by other methods and staging.