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Topic: The Perfect Three Shell Game
Message: Posted by: Burrich (Sep 9, 2004 12:12PM)
Hey this is a new product at penguinmagic.com. The link is:

http://www.penguinmagic.com/product.php?ID=908 .

These babies were supposed to be called "The Street Shells", but all of the magicians we showed them to kept saying "These are THE PERFECT SHELLS!". Finally we got tired of correcting the name and just changed it.

Why are they perfect? GREAT QUESTION!

#1: They're the first shells ever made in elastomeric resin. What's the difference? Elastomeric resin is what calculator keys are made of. It's like regular plastic, but it's just a bit more rubbery. That makes our shells easier to grip and gives them SUPERIOR feel.

#2: Our shells are molded from real New England Large Walnuts. The molds are then taken to the top shell game magicians in the world. Secret design features are added to make the shells glide, rock, and grip perfectly. In short, we take the best shells found in nature and add the special features expert magicians look for to create "The Perfect Shells".

#3: Better peas! Our peas are TACKY. That means if you drop one during performance it won't roll on the floor. Try it. Roll it, drop it, push it, spin it. Our pea just stops and waits for you to pick it up! That's a HUGE benefit for real workers who are going to be using these shells every day. You don't want to be crawling around on the floor chasing peas when you're getting paid to perform (although that's entertaining too) (especially if you have a hairy lower back).

Mentioning "The Street Shells" as another name for them... hmmm.. seems like they're trying to do the same thing they did with the golden shells. Anyway do you think these would be any good? They don't say if they're the same model as the "Golden Three Shell Game" and they were too low IMHO. And the peas were quite bad. What does everyone else think?

Message: Posted by: KingStardog (Sep 9, 2004 01:56PM)
I think you should get shells at SFS or Black Fox as a second choice. That's just me though.
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (Sep 9, 2004 03:33PM)
Having done the shell game for quite a few years now. I think that the routine is more important than the props. Use thimbles, bottle caps, sea shells, wallnut shells it doesn't matter.

Use a rubber pea, sponge pea, or a spit ball it doesn't matter.

It is the routine and the entertainment value that you get from doing this effect before an audience.

What the magician uses to do the effect is a personal choice of props.

For me the personal choice are the copper shells from the school of scoundrels. Also a set of brass thimbles for the thimble rig.

This with a pea cut from a sponge ball is what I choose to use to entertain an audience. I have used this choice in props at the Magic Castle and other places.

As far as routines go the magician should get all the information they can about the effect and wotk it out. I have my routine at my web site in my Scrapbook and video theater.

Other routines are available at the school of scoundrels web site...

But the props don't really matter - the routine is the important part. And making it an entertainment feature of your act...

I hope this helps...
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 9, 2004 04:04PM)
They were supposed to be called "The Street Shells"--a School for Scoundrels product that has been around for six years?

They originally called their cheap set of plated metal shells "The Golden Shells," and only changed after we complained, and after lots of complaints from customers who were confused about the two products surfaced.

I don't understand why Penguin can not come up with at least an original name for a product. The "Perfect Shell" sounds an awful lot like our "Perfect Pea"--also a well-established product since 1996.

It sounds as if they are offering a shell with a feature like the Chanin Dip which we were the first to offer, and so far the only ones to offer. It will be interesting to see how the product looks. I have just ordered a set, and will post my opinions when I see it.

The idea of providing a decent low-cost set of shells is good, and needed in the market.

Hopefully the quality will be decent as well. Pricewise, they are going up head to head with the Vernet shells, which are a good value, so they have their work cut out for them. The photo is not very clear, but they look suspiciously like the Vernet set in the photo.

But really, why can't they come up with names that are not so long associated with the School for Scoundrels products? It can't be that hard to come up with an original product designation that helps avoid confusion in this increasingly crowded market.
Message: Posted by: Burrich (Sep 9, 2004 04:51PM)
Nice one Whit. I'll be very interested to hear what you have to say about them. You always give a fair, if a very little bit biased (which is unavoidable)opinion. Just wondering... will the Shell DVD + notes be out before Christmas? They'd make a very nice Christmas present.

Message: Posted by: KingStardog (Sep 9, 2004 05:43PM)
Oops, I meant at SFS (School for Scoundrels) There is also a reason why its called the "perfect pea" as well.

Second choice would be the turtle shells, only for something different.

I understand folks wanting to make their own product and if they have a middle road product and middle road price they may have their own niche.

I have trouble with blatant copies of an industry accepted original and a sound alike name.

Anyone interested in brown fox tortise shells? That's coming next.
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Sep 10, 2004 02:46AM)
If it was anyone else selling them, I'd be curious enough to gamble $10. I'll have to wait until Denny and Lee's carrys them in their "brick and mortar" store so I can see (and feel) what I'm getting.

Here's why:
If they are indeed made of some elastomer similar to calculator and cell phone keys, the grip should be fantastic, but at the same time I wonder if they drag on the pad. Or is it just a thin coating over something like the Vernet shells? They really can't be solid elastomer, they'd be too flexible to pass off as real walnut shells.

Plus, they would definitely transition into the "prop" class as there's no way a spectator could even touch them without noticing the difference. They wouldn't pass as anything but a gimmicked prop (even if it isn't, the doubt remains)

I like the idea of someone making economy shells as a "starter set" (although I'm not trading mine anytime soon) and eagerly await Whit's review.
Message: Posted by: T. Joseph O'Malley (Sep 10, 2004 05:01PM)
Penguin is the McDonald's of the magic world.

Buy your shells from School for Scoundrels, or at the very least, buy Vernet shells from your local shop, and after you've progressed then move up to some shells from Mr Haydn. That's what I plan to do.
Message: Posted by: hou_dini (Sep 10, 2004 06:35PM)
Dave V., please let us know your opinion when you get them. Meanwhile, I eagerly await Mr. Haydn's review. 'Til I here from these gentleman, I will gladly wait.
Message: Posted by: Burrich (Sep 11, 2004 08:34AM)
Scafidi... I live in Ireland, there are no local shops where I live or anywhere in Ireland for that matter. The best I can get is penguin as it has a outlet warehouse in Galway, Ireland and is the only one with free shipping to Monaghan. Also my magic comes in one working day as it is sent the same day it is bought. So, for me penguin is the best.

Also I already have the SFS Street Shells and they are brilliant but I want to try different kinds... La Maggiore is one set I want to get but I have to save my money up for them. Also with the SFS Shells I feel uncomfortable as I find that they are too small. This is just my opinion.

Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Sep 11, 2004 10:18AM)
Try making your own out of real walnuts.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 11, 2004 01:23PM)

The La Maggiore shells are great if you find the S4S shells too small for your hands or taste.

In the larger size, I also recommend the Black Fox shells, which are beautiful, well-made, and have a nice feel, and come in turtle, scarab, and natural walnut designs.

Both of these products have a larger width and height that make them easier for some people to handle. The Perfect Pea works great with any of these sets.

I prefer the smaller shells because they are easier to carry in the side coat pocket, and they work better for certain moves like the roll-flash, where the pea rolls from the front of the shell where it is spotted by the spectator, all the way to the back and out. This move and others like it are facilitated by the shorter length and width of the shells. Putting all three shells between the fingers of one hand for the "Escobar Move" is also easier, I think.

I also feel that the smaller shell shows off the pea better, since the pea is the hero of the piece, not the shells. The smaller shells tend to make the pea look bigger.

Most people find that they get used to the smaller shells after playing with them for a while, but some people, for one reason or another, will be happier with a larger set. It is largely a decision of personal preference and need.

And you can always make your own, as Pete suggested.

What are you, Pete, some kind of communist? ;)
Message: Posted by: Burrich (Sep 12, 2004 03:25PM)
Hey they put the video up for the perfect shells. They call them "the street shells" in the video. The shells in the vid look like the vernet set. I have only pictures so I'm not sure. What does everyone else think? Also thanks for the input Whit. I'll use the Street Shells loads before I make any decisions.

Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 12, 2004 09:34PM)
They look identical to the Vernet set. I wonder if they just cast from the Vernet? It is hard to say, because the photos and the video never show a detailed close-up. But from what I was able to see, they do not look as though they are cast from a real walnut at all. They look sculpted.

But the nerve of Penguin to put out a product with our name on it! The Street Shells have been around for six years. They copied the Golden Shells, and now the Street Shells.

This will cause confusion in the market, just like the Golden Shells did before. We used to get calls on a moneyback guarantee on a set of Golden Shells that someone had purchased for half-price at Penguin, and then had to point out that they were not our shells, and had no moneyback policy. Now there is bound to be similar confusion about these shells.

It really bothers me that people put up with this kind of stupidity. There is probably little that we can do about it, though Chef and I will be talking to our lawyer this week about it. But Penguin just can't seem to stop themselves from crossing the line on copying other people's products.
Message: Posted by: Jim Wilder (Sep 12, 2004 10:28PM)
But Penguin just can't seem to stop themselves from crossing the line on copying other people's products.

No... they can't. Have you contacted them about this? I am curious to hear their artful dodge about yet another product replication.
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Sep 13, 2004 03:09PM)
I took my chances and went ahead and purchased a set of these, just to see what it was all about.

What I got was a couple sheets of instructions and a packet with a "Made in China" sticker on it, containing what looks like to me to be a near match for the Vernet shells. Plastic is different, and they are absolutely flat except for an obvious notch at the back which is necessary to extract the rather hard pea they provided. The pea (you get two) is some sort of glossy rubber, not nearly as compressible as the Perfect Pea they tried (and failed) to copy.

The grip is rather nice though. Too bad they don't look anything like walnuts.

Oh well, for a starter set, I think my stepson would be happy... as long as he never sees a real walnut or my other shells for comparison.

Oh BTW, these were produced by none other than Rob Stiff of "Magic Makers." Maybe that will influence other people's decision to buy this (or not).
Message: Posted by: KingStardog (Sep 13, 2004 03:13PM)
I suggest they call them the "street hustlers shells"
since there is a lack of imagination coming up with a name.

Hey maby the creators could start a topic on what their new name should be before they ship them to market?
Message: Posted by: hou_dini (Sep 13, 2004 11:39PM)
Thanks Dave for the review. Good luck Whit, hopefully you can sucessfully go after them. Ah! Once again the unholy duo strike another bargain made in ----
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Sep 14, 2004 09:39AM)
I have a silly question and I hope I'm not offending anyone by asking this but here goes. Is blatant, in your face promoting of a company's product allowed on this forum? I've been here for a little while now, and I haven't seen a lot of that going on. I know there are dealers, inventors and manufacturers who are members of this site, but it seems as though they are usually very restrained in self-promotion.

I was just wondering because, if anyone tried to start a thread like this at Penguin, it would get deleted in a hurry.
Message: Posted by: Burrich (Sep 14, 2004 10:36AM)
That is because penguin is a shop stopping people from advertising stuff from other shops. This however is a forum and not a shop. Also I wasn't advertising I just copied and pasted what they said on penguin about the product. At the end of the copied and pasted bit I have my view on the subject. Get your facts right. Hopefully I'm not too offensive by saying this ;)

Message: Posted by: KingStardog (Sep 14, 2004 11:41AM)
Well.....OK, realy I don't think the intention is to promote anything, just clarify questions and discuss the different aspects of different items and the question of using an identity that is not your own. What I'm trying to say I guess is this. People use names as an identifier for objects. A bananna is well a bannana. We would not call it an orange and talk about its crisp citrus taste if it was a bannana.

Confusion isn't magic, just as confusing customers doesn't borrow the market for a while. Why would anyone do anything to confuse a potential customer?
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Sep 14, 2004 11:48AM)

Thank you for the clarification. I did not realize that you were simply trying to bring a new product to our attention. The repeated references to "we" made it sound like you were speaking on behalf of penguin, trying to market one of its products.

I guess I was confused because when people have generally posted new products on this site, all they usually do is provide a brief comment and then post the link.

It is certainly NOT my place to suggest how a forum should be conducted and that was NOT the intention of my question. I apologize if that is how it came across. Just that I know there are manufacturers and distributors from other major online sites as well, and I don't recall seeing this type of posting from them.
Message: Posted by: CamelotFX (Sep 14, 2004 01:07PM)
On 2004-09-11 11:18, Pete Biro wrote:
Try making your own out of real walnuts.

Exactly what I did! My shells came from Black Diamond and each pair contained a free walnut! Good deal.
Message: Posted by: Burrich (Sep 14, 2004 02:15PM)
OK magicman845. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I'm 16 so I couldn't really speak on behalf of penguin ;). Also I live in Ireland. I will probably just post a link from now on to prevent any further misunderstandings.Thanks for telling me.


Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Sep 14, 2004 03:00PM)
I hate to be an old fuddy-duddy about this, but the ease of shipping from the Penguin warehouse in Dublin is no excuse for buying knockoff products, especially those which are obviously inferior to the ones they have copied.

Penguin has a history of selling blatant knockoffs, from the Linking Lifesavers, which was originally manufactured in the UK to, now, the "street shells."

Each time they do this, they add to the confusion of who owns what, and who manufactures what. It's a pity, because with their massive distribution, they could sell the original merchandise without knocking it off, and make even more money.

If you live in the UK, get a Davenport's catalog. Look through it, and order some of the real stuff. Once you own a really well-made product from a truly great manufacturer, you will understand the difference between good merchandise and cheap knockoffs. The difference is great, and the merchandise is almost invariably worth the money.

And if you want to purchase on line, http://www.magicshop.co.uk has some of the better material. Their shipping costs are reasonable, and you will get your merchandise very quickly.

If you don't support the originators of magic, they won't sell it any more. That's a fact.
Message: Posted by: Burrich (Sep 14, 2004 03:25PM)
A question how many people think that Ireland is a part of the UK? Because it isn't. Anyway that's off topic. Mr. Palmer thanks very much for your input. I have bought almost all my magic from penguin magic so there's no helping that but http://www.magicshop.co.uk... wow what a shop. I will not stop buying from penguin but I'll check magicshop before I buy the product to see if it's a copy. Thanks for the link.


PS. Are the cups at http://www.magicshop.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=206
better than the aliminium cups at penguin? They look bigger. Also I don't really like knit balls with the cork inside. Is there anywhere I can get better balls for cheap?
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 14, 2004 04:45PM)
I received my set of "Perfect Shells" yesterday. They are identical in size and shape to the Vernet shells, though they have a slightly different pattern to their texture, and so do not seem to be molded from the Vernet shells themselves, at least the model that I have.

Except for this slight variation, they are a perfect copy of the Vernet shells. The plastic used does seem to be different, and has a little better color and look to it than the Vernet, although both sets seem to me to have a sort of cheap "toy" look, the only problem that I have with the Vernet set.

This is primarily due to the injection-molding plastic process which both use in production, as well as to the design. Neither set is molded from a real shell, and the markings are obviously sculpted, and not from casting a real "New England Walnut" shell as the Magic Maker advertisement says.

It appears to me, unless the Vernet has another model of shell I do not have that was copied outright, that an artist sculpted a new model from scratch using the Vernet shells as a guide rather than a real walnut. You have to look really closely to detect the slight variations between the two sets.

I did not notice, however, any discernible difference in grip and handling. The Vernet and Magic Maker shells both seemed to grip and move the same, and the "elastomeric resin" does not seem to have much different or more rubbery feel than the plastic used in the Vernet shells, and do not seem to have a better "feel" that I could notice, although the look of the Magic Maker shells is a little improved over the Vernet.

The cut out inverted "v" in the rear of the shells is more pronounced and obvious than in the Vernet shells, which already looked fairly arbitrary and unnatural--something added to the design, and not a natural part of the shape of the shell. Both shell sets have this fault, but the Magic Maker shells seem to have enhanced it.

The Perfect shells do not have any design elements that are not present in the Vernet shells. They do not have the "Chanin Dip" or any perceivable "rocking" quality that aids in doing the move with the spectator's finger on the shell, or in working smoothly on a hard surface. The instructions, in fact, suggest that they only be used on a mat.

Their "experts" who supposedly added to the design are not listed. If the design had been taken to the "top shell game magicians in the world" so that "secret design features" could be added, none are apparent to me. They must be very secret indeed.

The back of the shells does rise off the table in a rapid way to the "v," but not in any way that is helpful or causes a rocking motion when the front of the shell is pushed down as in the "Chanin Dip."

I can see no real improvement to the design and handling of the shells over the Vernet shells, although the look is somewhat improved with the less shiny plastic and better color.

The peas are workable, and not bad in handling. They have a strange, and to me, unnattractive very dark green color, with slight blemishes of other colors.

They are not very smooth and round, and I think that though they are more compressible, they are not nearly as nice looking as the peas which Magic Maker put out with their "Golden Shells" which were obviously based on the S4S "Perfect Pea."

Those peas had a much better color, and I would prefer them over the new ones that come with the "Perfect Shells."

The pea that came with Magic Maker's Golden Shells had only two faults--they were made with a material that was not quite compressible enough, and they had a pronounced mold ridge around the center. These have better handling, but are not as nice in appearance.

The instructions left me feeling very strange. They are a nice addition, and are more than adequate as a start in the basic moves. However, they are copied directly from Tom Osborne's "The Shell Game" and Frank Garcia's "All in a Nutshell" without credit.

The history section at the beginning includes research into the shells by Vernon, John Booth, and Frank Ducrot, all culled directly from the book by Osborne, and all uncredited. Most of this material is outdated, and simply wrong according to today's scholarship. But it is simply wrong to take the work of these men out of a book by Osborne, and not credit anyone.

To make it worse, the instructions are written as if the information was original: "Pesistent research has failed to unearth any great amoount of information regarding the shell games early history"/"The earliest mention of 'Thimble Rig' we have been able to locate," etc. These statements are directly taken from the above listed source, but made to sound as if Rob Stiff had done the work himself. He signs the instructions at the end.

The instructions themselves, and the accompanying illustrations are lifted directly from Frank Garcia's book, again without accreditation. The patter included with the trick is largely lifted from Garcia, including his signature "hey diddle diddle, its the one in the middle." This is totally uncalled for, and it seems to me, a violation of copyright.

Osborne's book is still in print, and Garcia's work is owned by Tannens, I believe.

To sum up this long review, the "Perfect Shells" are a slight improvement over the Vernet Shells, and at a similar price, a fair value.

I have recommended the Vernet shells as a low end value before on this board, and continue to recommend their fine product as a low-priced set of shells.

I can not recommend the Magic Maker shells, however. The company that produces them has obviously copied the Vernet product, has apparently made false advertising claims about their product, has seemingly purloined copyrighted material in the instructions without attribution, and has attempted to confuse the market place by associating the long-established names of the School for Scoundrels products with their own product.

The S4S "Street Shells" have been advertised for six years on the web and in national magazine advertisements. We have already had to ask that Magic Makers and their distributor Penguin Magic change the name of their metal shells away from our product's name "The Golden Shells" with which they first appeared for sale on Penguin.

Penguin can not claim ignorance of our products and product names. They are obviously intentionally trying to ride on the coattails of our good reputation, and confuse the market.

Therefore, I highly recommend that for the sake of fair play, that no one buy this product.

The Vernet shells have been around a long time, and are an excellent product at an excellent price.

The "Perfect Shells" are a copy, and though they have some good qualities, they should not be encouraged in this devious sort of manufacture and marketing.

I can not help but fear the next hot new product from Magic Makers will be a giant set of "Trade Show Shells."
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Sep 14, 2004 05:06PM)
The first ad sounds to me a lot like Andrew Pinard's La Maggiore shells.

Then I clicked on the link and even the photo LOOKS like Andrew Pinard's La Maggiore photo with similar fonts, background color, etc.

Originally their Golden Shells look an awful lot like Whit Hayden's Golden Shells with an awfully similar name.

Now they have the Perfect Shells that are advertised like La Maggiore and look just like either them or Whit's shells.

What is going on with this company and who is willing to buy things from them?????

Also... notice that the words "street shells" are used several times in the advertisment. Is this a coincidence? Of course not. Google and the other search engines don't know to bring up Whit's site and not this one. This is a sly marketing technique.

If I were selling taco shells and several times in my ad I put...
"These are not The Street Shells"
"We are not calling these The Street Shells"
"We were going to call the The Street Shells"
"You can learn these Street Shells"

What do you think the search engines are going to pick up on?????

The Penguin Shells.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 14, 2004 05:11PM)
"The Penguin Shells." What a creative and unique name. Wonder why they couldn't have thought of it.

By the way, I have posted my review above to the Penguin web site. I do not suspect that they will publish it.
Message: Posted by: Larry Davidson (Sep 14, 2004 05:18PM)
On 2004-09-14 17:45, whithaydn wrote:
Penguin can not claim ignorance of our products and product names. They are obviously intentionally trying to ride on the coattails of our good reputation, and confuse the market.

Therefore, I highly recommend that for the sake of fair play, that no one buy this product.
I agree 100%. I can understand motivation to make money, but not at the expense of decency and fair play. Am I the only person disgusted by unethical (in my opinion) behavior? Do the right thing.
Message: Posted by: Riley (Sep 14, 2004 07:01PM)
On 2004-09-14 18:18, Larry Davidson wrote:
Am I the only person disgusted by unethical (in my opinion) behavior? [/quote]

No, Larry. You are not the only person. On the high seas they call it piracy!

A very fair and astute appraisal from Whit.

Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Sep 14, 2004 07:33PM)
On 2004-09-14 16:25, magical_steve wrote:
A question how many people think that Ireland is a part of the UK? Because it isn't. Anyway that's off topic. Mr. Palmer thanks very much for your input. I have bought almost all my magic from penguin magic so there's no helping that but http://www.magicshop.co.uk... wow what a shop. I will not stop buying from penguin but I'll check magicshop before I buy the product to see if it's a copy. Thanks for the link.


PS. Are the cups at http://www.magicshop.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=206
better than the aliminium cups at penguin? They look bigger. Also I don't really like knit balls with the cork inside. Is there anywhere I can get better balls for cheap?

I should have realized that Ireland is not part of the UK. But it is in the neighborhood! Since Ireland is in the EU, there are even more places you can shop tariff-free.

The cups on the magicshop.co.uk are by Bazar de Magia. They are a bit larger than the ones on the Penguin site, which are by Uday of India. The magicshop cups are also a bit heavier, which is normally desirable. The balls that come with them are also a bit higher quality than the ones in the Uday cups.

Regarding the other balls available, there are a couple of words you need to get out of your vocabulary if you want better anything. Those two words are "for cheap."
Good products are not cheap. You will learn quickly when dealing with people who carry the Chinese knockoffs of legitimate merchandise that they are cheap in all of the meanings we have for the word in the US. They are low priced because they are of low quality.

Example: The Penguin/Magic Makers "Vanishing LifeSavors." This is a direct knockoff of Viking's Lifesaver trick. And it's a waste of money. I have a friend here in Houston who has a magic shop. He got numerous requests for the "Vanishing Lifesavors" when they were advertised in one of the big magazines. He had to send all of them back. If you shook the tube with the gaff in it after the vanish, you got a really nice production of a gaff that should have been very difficult to extract. So there was no savings. Just wasted money.

But back to the subject of better balls. Jedinat has really great ones. They are located in Germany. Theirs are like the Mike Rogers baseballs. They are €32 a set. Van Dokkum makes baseballs by hand for about € 25 each. They are worth it to a pro, but I don't think you are quite ready to drop € 100 for a set of balls yet.

You can usually get silicone balls in the toy stores. These work just fine. They come in lots of colors. Just don't drop them, because they bounce like crazy.

Also, if you know a place that sells computer surplus, the balls that you find in computer mice are really great for cups and balls.

If you want some really nice cups and balls for a relatively low price (not cheap, but reasonably low) check out Harries magic in Sweden.

And if you want to see what cups and balls sets are available, and some from the past, go to http://www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (Sep 14, 2004 07:54PM)
On 2004-09-14 20:33, Bill Palmer wrote:
Example: The Penguin/Magic Makers "Vanishing LifeSavors." This is a direct knockoff of Viking's Lifesaver trick.


Speaking of dealers my Dad was a dealer and owned two shops. Back when he was selling life insurance he had lunch with Rolland Hamblen who was one of the demonstraters for Thayer. And later Rolland owned a magic shop in Portland OR...

My father asked Rolland about ideas of magic effects he could tie in with life insurance. Later that year my Father got a package in the mail and it was one of the original Okito life saver effects.

Years go by and my father has a magic shop and we are doing business with Viking who manufacture magic in brass.

My Father sends them this Okito life saver effect and they come out with it. We sell it after it is made and people buy it.

They were suppose to return the original Okito Life saver trick that he got from Rolland Hamblen - and I would like to have it! But as has yet to be returned.

That is the true story of how Viking magic started to make this effect. I have no idea what my Father got out of it. Most likely nothing because he did good deeds like this all the time.

Percy Abbott came out with their slick tie after Percy saw my Dad wow an audience with his rope tie in Reno at the PCAM convention.

Percy I understand also pinched the Temple from Jack Gwynne without his permission - Ann Gwynne herself told me this.

Dealers and magic manufacturing business often pinch ideas. It isn't fare. I asked my Father about the life saver trick because it was prommised to me - after a conversation about dealers - He said Viking had it and had not sent it back yet.

And then he said - most dealers (Because of their shady way of doing business and pinching) are not going to make it into heaven...
Message: Posted by: thimblerig (Sep 14, 2004 07:58PM)
Sadly, once again I am forced into the embarrasing position of publicly agreeing with Larry Davidson...oh the shame...

Seriously, though, shame on Mr. Stiff and his company and anyone who buys from them. It's easy to talk about ethics, and it may be more expensive to live by ethics in the short run, but in the long run it will pay untold dividends.

Message: Posted by: ImpromptuBoy (Sep 14, 2004 08:17PM)
I'll be surprised if anyone will buy from them.
What do you think of penguin's golden shells?
All the best,
Message: Posted by: Larry Davidson (Sep 14, 2004 08:26PM)
On 2004-09-14 20:58, thimblerig wrote:
Sadly, once again I am forced into the embarrasing position of publicly agreeing with Larry Davidson...oh the shame...

Okay tr you skunk, I must now outbid you on that book on Ebay. :kermit:
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Sep 14, 2004 08:30PM)
On 2004-09-14 21:17, ImpromptuBoy wrote:
I'll be surprised if anyone will buy from them.
What do you think of penguin's golden shells?
All the best,

Man! You sure know how to hurt a guy, don't you! This was one of those cases of total misrepresentation. They are a very poor version of the shell game. They should not be confused with the product by School for Scoundrels. They don't even have the proper shape.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 14, 2004 08:41PM)
They changed the name of the "Golden Shells" to the "Golden 3 Shell Game" after complaints from customers and from my company.

The set they sell has none of the advantages that metal shells are known for--the heavier weight that makes certain moves like the "kick steal" work more smoothly, for example.

They have a low profile, so they are hard to pick up, and their bottom surface is flat making the shell bump quite a bit as the pea leaves and enters. They are too wide, making them difficult to do turnover moves. They are thin stamped metal, with a thin gold plate that is not waranteed.

The pea is copied from the School for Scoundrels "Perfect Pea," with a similar color and material. However, they are cheaply-made, so that they are not as compressible and are harder to pick up in a finger pinch, and, unlike our pea, they have a very noticeable mold ridge around the center.

I do not know where their design came from, but I have heard that it is a copy of Brad Burt's $25 shell set. I am not familiar with that set, but I believe them capable of doing such a thing.

I feel that these two companies are parasites that harm the magic community by stealing the ideas of the true creators of magic and intentionally confusing the marketplace by the use of deceptively similar names to those of the originators of tricks.

This process discourages original magic from being produced for the community by making the creation of original and quality magic much more difficult and much less worthwhile--thereby hurting the consumers as well.

Supporting either of these companies is a disservice to the entire magic community, and I suggest that anyone who believes that it is important for dealers and manufacturers to try to contribute to the buildup of the art rather than to take advantage of the magic consumer by producing cheap ripoffs of creative people's work, should avoid purchasing any products from these people.

There are many innocent beginners being fleeced by what I consider unscrupulous operators like these, and they do not know any better. But those who have read these posts do know better, and have no excuse for supporting this type of behavior.

There are Scoundrels who celebrate the cleverness of the conman or thief though not his ethics, and then there are just plain scoundrels.
Message: Posted by: Burrich (Sep 15, 2004 06:17AM)
Thanks for your comments Mr. Palmer. I have one question. What are silicone balls? Are they like ping pong balls?


Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Sep 15, 2004 08:17AM)
No, they are like what we call "superballs" or high bounce balls over here. They are made of a silicone compound under pressure, and they come in various sizes. I don't know if you have the equivalent of "dollar stores" in Ireland, but they have cheap toys as well as cheap merchandise of other types. I have found all sorts of interesting small balls at these places.

The silicone balls have a slightly tacky feel to them, so they are very easy to manipulate.
Message: Posted by: Piglet (Sep 19, 2004 01:25AM)
This may be a silly question.. is the shell game sleights similar to sponge ball?? I have the sponge ball routine down packed.. but I was just wondering if the shell game will be easy for me to pikc up if I knew the sponge ball?
Message: Posted by: Daegs (Sep 19, 2004 02:37AM)
Message: Posted by: Riley (Sep 19, 2004 07:22AM)
Piglet - give the three shell game a try - it's wonderful!
Message: Posted by: ImpromptuBoy (Sep 20, 2004 04:43PM)
Nicely said Riley!
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 23, 2004 04:03AM)
I just watched the video instructions available on the Penguin website to those who have purchased their "Perfect Shells." Though it is for the most part oversimplified instruction on the basic moves, the thing that got me was that they teach Bob Sheets' acquitment move from his video and upcoming dvd "Absolutely Nuts."

This is really not right. Bob's work is not only published, is newly published, and the dvd isn't even out yet, and Penguin is giving away his move for free in its video. They do credit it, "Bob Sheets taught me this move," but that is not enough in my opinion. They should not teach other people's work without permission.
Message: Posted by: MinnesotaChef (Sep 23, 2004 05:09AM)
Is it just me or does penguin seem to target younger, less knowledgable customers, and those new to magic? Maybe those who think of magic as a cool new "extreme" hobby? These seem like the only groups who would gravitate towards their type of advertising and not think anything of the ethics of their business. Does anyone remember when magic was classy? When ability spoke for itself. Does anyone want to help with a new effect it would be called "The Disappearing Penguin" if we all chip in and work together, I think we could make it happen.
Message: Posted by: chrisrkline (Sep 23, 2004 07:14AM)
It is not that the kids that shop at Penguin lack ethics (they might), but that it is impossible to expect anyone new to magic to know instictively that they should worry about knock-offs. They have to be educated. The ethical problems associated with some of these knock-offs are beginning to filter into the Penguin forums, but not very fast. But eventually, people who are serious begin to show up at these forums(I hope)and maybe they will learn something. I know I have. I now refuse to buy anything from Penguin.

BTW, Mr. Haydn, you have been very influential in my decisions. I have just purchaced my second routine from you. I am waiting for Penguin to produce a new instant download called the Chinese Pop Knot rope routine. I figure it is coming.
Message: Posted by: MinnesotaChef (Sep 23, 2004 07:40AM)
Is this because of the decline of the Magic Shop/ Magic Mentor system? Has the internet eliminated the weeding out of shady beginners not interested in magic as a complete art? Those best left at the SS Adams trick level. How many of us in this thread started out with a great mentor telling us the improtance of the big picture? The stories behind the tricks and the history of it's performance? Without this, is that little voice of ethics silenced? Do the Angel and Devil not appear under these conditions? How many of us don't behaive in improper manners because we've met face to face with the people whose lives are adversly affected be these decisions? Is it easier over the computer to rob some one of their creative work? It seems so.
Message: Posted by: Jim Wilder (Sep 23, 2004 09:58AM)
On 2004-09-23 08:40, MinnesotaChef wrote:
Is this because of the decline of the Magic Shop/ Magic Mentor system? Has the internet eliminated the weeding out of shady beginners not interested in magic as a complete art?

Great post!

I believe this to be valuable and appropriate insight by modern means. On one hand it is very easy to see how so many can become instantly knowledgeable of existing ideas, regardless of the potential violation of ethics involved. On the other hand, I believe that the human condition is such that "unethical" behavior would exist regardless. The internet just provides a quicker vehicle to it.

However, at least there are forums such as these. Often they contain arguments that enlighten at least a few about this issue. The greatest hope is that those people will find this place and others like it before unknowingly supporting companies who promote questionable products.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 23, 2004 02:09PM)
I have been participating in a discussion forum on the "Perfect Shells" at the Penguin site. In my postings, I have leveled all the same criticisms that I have posted here against Penguin and Magic Makers.

The responses have been mixed. One poster said that he thinks if "there were no copyright, knowlage would be free." I think that for the most part, the participants are young and very inexperienced, and as a group have no real sense of the issues involved in the dissemination of magic ideas and principles.

I don't know how long my critical posts will be allowed to stay up, but I have to say that at least it does seem fair and sporting of the company to allow me to present my opinion of their behavior.
Message: Posted by: chrisrkline (Sep 23, 2004 06:05PM)
It will be up to the moderators. Unless they decide that you have violated their rules, it should be fine. Maxwell and Acar do not spend that much time on the forums. Now if they hear that you are posting.....who knows?

And yes, the majority of the people who post at Penguin are in their mid teens.
Message: Posted by: danielrhall (Sep 23, 2004 10:43PM)
[i]"Never try to teach a pig a sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig"[/i]

I've been reading that discussion Whit, and my hat's off to you! You're making some very good points and you're staying calm while doing it. One of the "pigs" is getting annoyed, but I get the feeling you don't believe you are wasting your time.

You're a better man than I. Sometimes that forum frustrates the hell out of me.

Message: Posted by: Dave V (Sep 24, 2004 02:49AM)
I ventured into the Penguin playground after sampling the shells. I'm just glad I made it back here with my sanity intact. I saw a group of these "penguinites" at LVMI. I'm interested in hearing what their next project will be. I have a pretty good idea I already know just by seeing what they were watching outside the meeting rooms.
Message: Posted by: BobSheets (Sep 24, 2004 05:55PM)
I came back from trip and there are an inordinate amount of E mails from a bunch of my friends, some I hadn't heard from in awhile.

I seems that Penguin Magic is selling the three shell game with a free online instructional video. Wow. Interesting idea. Scary.

Included in that FREE instructional video is some of "MY Work" from MY video. This is not so interesting and definately scary!

I called Jay. I asked if he could remove "MY Work" from HIS video. He said he would. I will wait to hear if that, in fact, happens.

I suspect it will be removed when the've so sold all their stock. Please prove me wrong.

I couldn't help noticing that "The Perfect 3 Shell Game" is awfully close to Whit Haydn's title "PERFECT PEAS" followed by handles well in the streets. (HOW WOULD THEY KNOW?) They were supposed to be called the "STREET SHELLS", except that the name was already taken. I can tell you emphatically these were not molded from New England Walnuts.

Do the guys at Penguin think we are all idiots? They put all of the words used by School for Scoundrels in selling their products so they would show up on the search engines. Puleeeeeese.

I love what Marvin Roy at the recent MAGIC LIVE convention said, "we are a family". We should treat each other as such.

If the blatant rip off, copying, getting it made in China, everything for a buck, If I publish or DVD that (wich doesn't belong to me) and it will make me famous, trend doesn't stop you may see the information end of this art will. The Caste system will be re-instated and YOU my friends will NOT be a part of it.

Unfortunately there is a lot of information these, CHOKE THE ART, dealers seem ready to strip mine. They are not standing on the shoulders of their brothers they are standing on the faces and heads of those who have came before them and done the work.

Maybe the magazines will get it and stop carrying the ads for these scorched earth dealers before they start thinking about putting out a magazine. Oh wait, they don't have to, they already publish for FREE on the internet. Where's my head.

Love, your Uncle Bob.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 25, 2004 01:02PM)
Welcome to the Magic Café, Bob.
Message: Posted by: Riley (Sep 25, 2004 03:34PM)
Yes, welcome. ...and thanks for sharing your work on the 3 shell game. Great tape! :)

Message: Posted by: Michael Bilkis (Sep 25, 2004 08:06PM)
I can't agree more with Bob and Whit. I have routines by both of them and truly value the "Lineage" from which my routines have come from. They may rip off the moves but can never duplicate the philosophy and psycology behing them. That information only comes from the best of the best. And IMHO is what makes teachers like Whit Haydin, Bob Sheets and others at the top of a smal list of the teaching pros out there. BTW, Bob, I have your "It's the Rules" video and now always carry a pair of dice. Moreover, Whit, My deck is always prepped for "The Chicago Suprise." I'm even getting better at the classic force because of it.

:wavey: :dancing: :innocent:
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 25, 2004 10:33PM)
Thanks, Michael. Glad you like it.
Message: Posted by: Ronnie Ramin (Sep 25, 2004 11:24PM)
Any updates on your 3 shell material?

Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 26, 2004 02:41AM)
Working on it. May be early next year. The problem is trying to do the dvd and the book at the same time. Don't want the book to be a reference for someone else's dvd like last time with the Three-Card Monte book.

To top the Tetley's segment on TCM dvd, we are shooting a recreation of the actual Soapy Smith shell game scam in a saloon with in full nineteenth century costume, with a large cast, including Jeff Smith playing the part of his infamous great grandfather, Soapy. Should be lots of fun. Saloon piano, bar girls, gold rush characters--the works.

But it is a huge project, and the research is all done. Just a matter of getting the whole thing put together. Join our email list on http://www.schoolforscoundrels.com and you will be among the first to know when it is finished.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Sep 26, 2004 02:49AM)
Maybe if I find a big hat Whit will let me be an extra in the filming. I could start a brawl or play a ditty on the piano. Just don't throw me out the window of the saloon and I'l be happy.
Message: Posted by: Andy Charlton (Sep 27, 2004 09:44AM)
I have just sent the following Email To Penguin. I await the answer with interest:-

Hi there.

I am a Magician performing 6 nights a week. Attracted by your prices and service, I have started to purchase from you.

Recently I have started to hear worrying things about you re copying effects etc.

Most recent and most worrying is about your "Perfect Shells."

Firstly I am concerned that your advertising uses so much from Whit Haydn's Street shells. I seems that that can only be to draw in the unwary.

Secondly, and most worrying, is that I am told that your teaching video shows Bob Sheet's Aquitment Move. As Bob is just about to release this on DVD, what the hell are you doing showing it on your site free?

This is made all the more worrying as the shells, and presumably the video, are being made available free. Now many people, who have no more than a passing interest in the shell game, will have access to this devastating move. Let's face it, Most people who get these shells will never perform any routine. A basic tutorial showing the standard Steal and load would have been more than sufficient, with anyone interested enough to take it further having many excellent sources to learn from.

As someone who has spent the money willingly on Bob's Video, and spent a great amount of time perfecting the move I strongly resent this information being given away and I can see no justification in putting out, without permission, information from anyone's published work.

I have seen the advertising and stand unreservedly behind my points on this. I admit that I have not seen the video, and am prepared to be proved wrong on this.

In the absence of a satisfactory answer to the above points, I will not be dealing with your company again.

Yours faithfully

Andy Charlton
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 27, 2004 11:14AM)
Thank you, Andy. Nice letter. If lots of people wrote similar letters it might help Penguin change its course.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Sep 27, 2004 12:08PM)
There are several things that can be done that when all put together could make a difference.

Don't buy products from penguin.
Don't buy products from magicians strongly associated with Pengiun.
Don't buy books/magizines from those that will put in Penguin ads.
Tell our friends to do the same.
Message: Posted by: Mauricio Jaramillo (Sep 27, 2004 03:35PM)

I'm not defending Penguin, but just out of curiousity, did you call up Maxwell Murphy? If you feel very strongly about your argument, bring it up to him directly and perhaps a positive conclusion can come out of this.

Maybe you did call him, I don't know, but I just feel that it's better than complaining about it online.

Respectfully yours,

Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Sep 27, 2004 04:35PM)
Not so sure that call would be so constructive folks. Let's do this as an imagination exercise:

Hear the sound of a phone ringing...then we hear this

"Hello, why are you selling an item the not only could be confused with mine, but that includes items from others without their permission?"

"Well, its a free market, can I sell you something?"

"NO, just called to complain."

"Okay, have a nice day then."

And that's on a good day.

What specifically do you imagine as a positive conclusion?

Perhaps they could put 'this trick was inspired by Whit Haydn' in the instructions somewhere.
Message: Posted by: Mauricio Jaramillo (Sep 27, 2004 05:13PM)
Hey Jonathan,

Don't think I'm trying to support them or I'm attacking Whit and his company at all, I just believe it would be a good idea. If he calls and what you just said actually occurs, then we can take what you said seriously. For now, it's just an assumption.

I say this because I know Maxwell is a friendly guy and is willing to talk and work things out. I really don't believe he would do what you said. If he does, then I'll take back what I said, but for now your post will just remain as a sarcastic comment on an issue that will hopefully be worked out.

"What specifically do you imagine as a positive conclusion?"

That whatever it is that is offending people is removed, or at least an agreement is reached, if there's a true problem at all.

Hope this is all solved soon so both sides are pleased.
Message: Posted by: Andy Charlton (Sep 27, 2004 07:42PM)
Hi there.

Received the following reply.

Can anyone confirm whether Bob's move is no longer on the instructional Video?

Dear Andy,

Thanks for the nice email. Bob's move is only used in the demo video, and is no not being taught in the instructional portion of this product. I'd love to give Bob credit for his move and all, but we're not teaching it, as per his personal request.

We appreciate your concern for magic and for Mr. Sheets. Good luck with your work performing!

Penguin Magic


Message: Posted by: Dave V (Sep 27, 2004 08:04PM)
It was unchanged as of today.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Sep 27, 2004 10:44PM)
On 2004-09-27 18:13, Mauricio Jaramillo wrote:
Hey Jonathan,

Don't think I'm trying to support them or I'm attacking Whit and his company at all, I just believe it would be a good idea. If he calls and what you just said actually occurs, then we can take what you said seriously. For now, it's just an assumption.

I say this because I know Maxwell is a friendly guy and is willing to talk and work things out. I really don't believe he would do what you said. If he does, then I'll take back what I said, but for now your post will just remain as a sarcastic comment on an issue that will hopefully be worked out.

"What specifically do you imagine as a positive conclusion?"

That whatever it is that is offending people is removed, or at least an agreement is reached, if there's a true problem at all.

Hope this is all solved soon so both sides are pleased.

Mauricio ,
All shysters are friendly guys. That's why they do so well. Making promises that don't seem to happen. Pleading ignorant. Smiling. Lots of big pearly white teeth.

I really hope you're right but the bottom line is that product after product after product they keep saying "oops" "oops" "oops". And nothing seems to change. It's the same story time after time after time.

My personal opinion is that they're just trying to get away with it as long as they can.

I won't do business with them. Friendly and helpful doesn't cut it.

Message: Posted by: Dave V (Sep 28, 2004 12:29PM)
On 2004-09-27 20:42, Andy Charlton wrote:
Can anyone confirm whether Bob's move is no longer on the instructional Video?

Still there...
Message: Posted by: Andy Charlton (Sep 28, 2004 07:26PM)
My reply to their reply:-
Hi there.

Thanks for the prompt reply.

On the magic Café, they are still saying that Bob sheet's move is on the video.

I attach a copy of my shell game routine, so that you can see that I am not just trying to get a Free look at you instructional video, and that I do know Bob's move already.

If you could send me a copy of the instructional video, or a link to that part of your site, I can judge for myself.

In the meantime, re "I'd love to give Bob credit for his move and all, but we're not teaching it, as per his personal request." You still can you show the basic Steal/load, and then say, something like, "there are many great resources for taking this routine further, then list them INCLUDING Bob Sheets' "Absolutely Nuts." Problem solved. You have shown the basics, and credited Bob.

Your answer still Doesn't mention the similarities to The School for scoundrels products in your advertising copy, Which I still believe to be a ruse to get inexperienced magicians, who have heard of Whit's excellent products to your site instead of his.

As I said before, In the absence of an acceptable reply I will not be purchasing from you again.

Yours faithfully.

Andy Charlton

Again we'll wait and see.

Message: Posted by: Verno Inferno (Sep 28, 2004 08:12PM)
I am aware of at least one online dealer who has chosen to drop the Magic Makers line from his shop. Because of recent ventures like The Perfect Three Shell Game, he's even chosen to eat the loss of his current stock of Magic Makers products.

Bravo. This commitment to the ethics of the magic community is why he'll continue to get my business
I hope that other online dealers can make similar commitments.
Message: Posted by: chrisrkline (Sep 28, 2004 08:33PM)
Nice letter. But I have decided that, even with an acceptable response, I will not ever buy from Penguin again.
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Sep 28, 2004 09:25PM)
Why do I get the idea that Penguin really doesn't care about our repeat business? As long as there are those less informed people who don't know Penguin's past history, Penguin will have plenty of "new members" to keep their wallets full for years to come.

It's a shame. They do seem to have good customer service, just bad judgement in choosing suppliers. :(
Message: Posted by: Randy Sager (Sep 28, 2004 10:12PM)
In My opinion if you want a set of trly perfect shells. For get any set except for the ones put out by Andrew Pinard.

the S.F.S. shells are really not that great. ( I know I am going to get flack for that) The color is not even close to a real walnut shell. There not as smooth in operation as some are leading everyone to believe.

yes I have the Street Shells. I don't use them for performance tho I never have nor well. I will just keep them for My collection. I bought the La Maggorie shells and fell in love with them. La Maggorie shells look like real walnut shells. Whits do not. yes it is only My opinion but take a look at Pinards site which I think if http://www.threeshellgame.com and you will see the difference in the S.F.S shells and L.M.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 29, 2004 10:44AM)
Instead, why not look at some real walnut shells, and then compare color, size, and look.
Message: Posted by: chrisrkline (Sep 29, 2004 11:24AM)
Well, I think that Whit's look like real walnuts to me. They look good, in stark contrast to the ones a Penguin, in any case.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 29, 2004 12:27PM)
I think the La Magiorre shells are very nice, but they are modeled after a type of walnut shell that is very rarely seen by anyone--Italian walnuts. If you compare our shells to any fresh walnuts found in a grocery store, you will find that they are an excellent match in size, color and texture. We intended them to be that way, they are cast from my own set of real walnut shells--which I puttied and carved to exacting specifications to make them work well on any surface. In this photo you see one of my street shells next to an ordinary untreated half a walnut shell.

Posted: Sep 29, 2004 1:31pm
And here again. I challenge you, Randy, to show me a single real walnut that you can find that matches the La Magiorre shells. They exist, but they are extremely rare and hard to find. As I said, I am not criticizing the La Magiorre shells. I like them very much. Just pointing out that the color, size, and design of our shells is based on a more familiar-looking type of walnut. Andrew's comparison on his site is interesting, but a bit biased, I think ;) He doesn't show any real walnuts at all, not even the Italian walnuts he used as a model.
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Sep 29, 2004 01:26PM)
Okay, I give up. Which one is which?
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 29, 2004 03:14PM)
The one on the left is a real shell.

Andrew Wimhurst has directed me to a site that has an alternative view of this controversy by Steve Pellegrino that many might find interesting:

Message: Posted by: Daegs (Sep 29, 2004 04:10PM)
Just wanted to report in, as of 4:10pm central time, September 29th, they are still teaching Bob Sheet's move on the instructional video.
Message: Posted by: Larry Davidson (Sep 29, 2004 05:42PM)
As I've said before, do the right thing. Voice your opinion with your wallet.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Sep 30, 2004 12:16PM)
Penguin has now removed the references to the "Street Shells" from their web site. Even though they still refer to their shells as "Street Shells" on their promotional video, this is a satisfactory response to the School for Scoundrels, and resolves our main complaint.

However, they still teach Bob Sheets' acquitment move on their instructional video, and this should be changed immediately.

Thanks everyone for your support in this.
Message: Posted by: sleightly (Sep 30, 2004 09:56PM)
Sorry I'm so late to the party! I've been too busy actually running the shell game (four hours straight yesterday alone) to have time to spend time setting up a photo shoot...

Thanks to Randy for his kind words about La Maggiore. He is very passionate about his favorite shells and for that I admire his willingness to voice his opinion even when it might not be popular...

To address Whit's challenge to Randy... Most performers would be very hard pressed indeed to find the wonderful shells that I used as the basis for La Maggiore. They are not commonly available in the United States and are not produced agriculturally in great quantities and therefore won't show up in your local grocery store. Randy's main complaint about the Street Shells appears to be about the pale color (when compared to normal walnuts and is apparent when you look again at the photos Whit posted) as well as certain production quality issues that may be out of Whit's control.

To look at a true third-party review of each of the synthetic walnuts shells currently available, I would recommend you check out the blog Whit mentioned above [url]http://magic.atomicbrew.com/[/url] to see side-by-side photos of all the shells and to get commentary from someone who actually plunked down his own cash just to see the differences (which, incidentally, shouldn't the major magazines have to do?). Steve has expended a great deal of his time, effort and cash to this end and I highly admire his willingness to take and report from a consistent, specifically critical viewpoint.

We need more like him.

Posted: Sep 30, 2004 11:44pm
Just for the fun of it, here follows a few shots in the natural versus molded shell series...

Can you find the molded La Maggiore shell in the first two shots?

The first one to correctly identify the molded shells in Shots #1 & Shots #2 will receive a free Vernet set of shells...

The photos can be found at:


Good luck!

Posted: Oct 1, 2004 12:16am
In the spirit of fun, and to correct an earlier statement of Whit's, there have always been (from the inception of threeshellgame.com) three photographs of La Maggiore beside a standard Diamond walnut on the bottom of the Specifications page...


I had forgotten they were even there and taking Whit at his word, duplicated them with some additional captioning at the bottom of...


As for the "Often referred to as “Italian walnuts,” (quoted from threeshellgame.com), I think the page above makes up for such an egregious error, n'est pas?


That's it, nothing more to see, go back to your pitches...

Check 'em all out guys and gals, and find what works best for you. I know which I'd choose... time for y'all to make up your own minds...

Now, hopefully the twelve of us can get back to our lives...

Message: Posted by: ASW (Oct 1, 2004 06:47AM)
Okay, break it up you guys, or I'll have to spray you with the garden hose. Darned kids.

Steve Pellegrino has posted a swathe of reviews on his site (see Whit's post above). In Steve's opinion, Andrew's shells get the blue ribbon, best of show. However, Steve's best advice is to make up your own mind.

I did ages ago - I use the La Maggiore shells because I have big mitts, but I think that the SFS, La Maggiore and the Black Fox shells are all on a par in terms of quality.

Andrew Wimhurst
Message: Posted by: BobSheets (Oct 1, 2004 11:02AM)
Wow. It took a week but Penguin re shot their training video for the shells and REMOVED my "work" from the site.

What will they remove next the Asher Twist? Talked to Lee about something else and he mentiioned that his move, from his video, has been shown on Paul Wilsons Richochet training tape at Penguin.

How about the Magic Makers RAPE of the John Kennedy Line including the Mystery Box. It's now called the Mini Magic Card Box...OF DEATH.

Bazaare de Magia Watch and Wear has reincarnated as The Time Machine. Dubious Dominos is now Magic Monte Dominos.

Viking got ripped for the Impossible Penetration and Magic Makers calls it the Fantastic Finger Chopper.

John Cornelius and his Thought Transmitter.

All of them will be in my magic prayers.

Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Oct 1, 2004 11:36AM)
That's good news, Bob. Let's hope that it presages a new way of doing business for these two companies. Their past behavior is deplorable.

I do not understand Steve Pelligrino's defence of Magic Makers and Penguin on his website http://www.magic.atomicbrew.com .

He implies that if their behavior is not illegal, it is not unethical. That is not the sort of point of view that I would like to see become commonplace in the magic community.

It would be the end of community and the beginning of cutthroat competition, increased secretiveness, less sharing, and the withdrawal of the best magicians from teaching, lecturing, and producing dvds and products.
Message: Posted by: Lee Asher (Oct 1, 2004 12:18PM)
Great news Bob....

I think Genii, Magic Magazine, Linking Ring, and MUM (and any others) should reconsider their advertising strategies. It truly starts with them. Right now, I hold them as responsible as Penguin. They get the word out to everyone - they give Penguin creditability.

This whole "CANT REFUSE ANYONE AD SPACE" is a joke.

Unless you deny them because of Civil Liberties, it's fair game. No more hiding behind that one boys...
You are all private publications. Welcome to the NO SHIRT, NO SHOES policy. You CAN refuse service to anyone you want!!

The question now remains, WILL they REFUSE SERVICE??

The artists of magic have had enough. Without the artists, there can be no art. Magic is in a very dangerous position now.

Will this art survive??

Good luck Penguin - you are going to need it!

A fool you thought had no juice,
Lee Asher
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Oct 1, 2004 12:25PM)
I just saw the new video. My next question is: Why didn't they do that in the first place? They keep following the same pattern. First they do what they must know is the wrong thing, then wait a few weeks and make it "right" (usually about the time they sell out of the first run, hmmm) It also seems to be about the time they start giving it away for "free" when you buy something else. They'd do much better if they fixed it first, then they wouldn't have to give away their mistakes.

The new video is much nicer. One and a half minutes longer, much better explained, the Bob Sheets move has been replaced with a more generic (but similar) move that doesn't violate anyone's property rights, and a few other ideas were added that weren't there in the first video. I'm even thinking of using one of their ideas with my shells and the "Perfect Pea" that will allow the spectators to handle things at the end without fear of them discovering the "secret."

Thanks Penguin for fixing this, but you're not off the hook yet.
Just remember. We'll be watching...

I think your "secret" is safe. The "penguinites" have already started talking about "improving" your move, and taking a big step backwards at the same time. Without seeing your full video they'll never know how good it really is.

That's the problem with getting something for "free." If they don't have to pay for it, they don't assign any value to it and are quick to move on to the next magic "freebie."
Message: Posted by: Randy Sager (Oct 1, 2004 04:02PM)
Sorry have not been able to post in few days due to wrk and other things needing to be done.

Sorry if My original post was abit harsh. As Andrew said I am passionate about the shells I have chosen. I too think Steve Pellegrino gave a great review of shells on his blog.

whit I am not the only one who has commented on the color of the Street Shells. Others have said there more of an almond shell color then walnut. The real point tho is use whatever set you like the best. It doesn't realy matter what I or anyone else says. You have to decide for yourself what is best.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Oct 2, 2004 01:18PM)
Thanks for the advice, Randy. I will take it under consideration. ;)
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 2, 2004 07:17PM)
Bob Sheets wrote
Bazaare de Magia Watch and Wear has reincarnated as The Time Machine. Dubious Dominos is now Magic Monte Dominos.

This is actually a bit more complex than that. Watch and Wear actually was one of the versions of Perfect Time that Collectors Workshop put out. Bazaar knocked it off. Then they claimed that George Robinson had given them permission for it. What George told me was that he finally told them "Hell, go ahead and make it. I can't stop you."

Regarding Steve Pellegrino's apparent defection to the Forces of Evil -- well, it's embarrassing. He goes off about the Linking Lifesavers/Magic Mints controversy without knowing all the facts. That whole thing started five years ago when Colin shipped the first ones to Hocus Pocus.

His analogy of the Chinese manufacture of the computers is totally off-base. Those are done under license from Apple. The knockoffs aren't done under license from anyone.

I'm embarrassed a bit, because he seems to think that I am an unbiased authority on the cups and balls. I'm not. I have definite biases. And I'll have more. I plan to have cups made to MY specifications. And I'm not an authority. I'm a beginner. I don't think he calls me an authority, though. I really don't want to go back and find out. I feel dirty when I visit that blog.

I do feel that he is being somewhat unfair by singling Whit out on this whole thing. It's not right, and it's not kind.

One charge in particular that bothers me is the implication that Whit and the School for Scoundrels are doing something that is somehow underhanded by republishing Tom Osborne's book on the shell game. This book is in the public domain. It's one of those that fell through the cracks in the copyright law, because of the demise of the various people involved in its publication and the various problems in the copyright law. This is a "no harm - no foul" situation.

I thought Steve was better than this.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Oct 2, 2004 07:46PM)
Thanks for your comments, Bill.

I would like to point out that we do not, and have no intention to, publish Tom Osborne's book "The Three Shell Game." Edited by Ralph W. Reed, and illustrated by Bill Hana.

We sell it, but like all the other dealers, buy it from wholesalers. I believe the publisher is Lee Grey, and the copyright is listed as 1975, Lee Grey. The original copyright is 1938, Mitchell Kanter. I do not know, but have no reason to believe the copyright is not still in effect.

We do not know why, and do not like the fact that Tom Osborne's name is removed from the book as the author. I have brought this up several times to knowledgeable guys, and no one has been able to enlighten me.

The original forward was signed by Tom Osborne, as I have one of the original copies. It is now signed by Mike Kanter, and to all appearances, the book was written by him. This is not right.

However, we have no reason to assume that the copyright for the book was not owned by Mitchell Kanter or that it is not currently owned by the publisher.

That is all we know about it at this time.

We list the book in our catalog by its true author, the late Tom Osborne--a very important and seminal magic writer.

We make it available to our customers because it is perhaps the most important book on the shells available to date, and the work in it, though sometimes hard to decipher, is right from the streets and extremely valuable to any worker.

If it were true that the book is public domain, we would be glad to republish it in its original form with the credits as they should be. As it is, we make it available to our customers with the assumption that it is under the copyright of the publisher.

I do not know if the publisher Lee Grey, who has many magic writing credits, is still around, and have not been able to locate the address listed at 200 S. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA.

Hopefully, someone who knows the story of this wonderful book's heritage will chime in here.

Anyone that knows more, please help.

Posted: Oct 2, 2004 9:37pm
With regard to Steve Pellegrino's blog, I have to admit that I kind of like the snazzy-looking hat who has put on my photo. But I did not feel that this statement was fair or accurate:

"To get directly to the point--Whit isn't so concerned about "ethics", but more concerned about another company selling shells. He wants two things--to be perceived as THE expert in the field and to be the only person selling artificial shells. These two things conflict with each other."

I have never claimed to be an "expert" at the shells-- only a student of the game. I have tried to give my best advice and help about the game whenever questions were brought up on the board, and I have tried to be fair in talking about my own and others products.

I admit to being a bit biased about my own design, which I guess is only natural, but this bias is something I have always readily admitted.

It is simply untrue that I want to be the only manufacturer of shell sets. I have made as much money selling other peoples products as my own, and the more sets and varieties of design available, the happier we at the School for Scoundrels become. We think it is great that there are a variety of shell sets available that suit the various needs of our students and customers.

We think that the upsurge in interest in street cons is great, and welcome anyone who has something new and different to offer the fraternity.

I don't believe I have ever put down the La Magiorre or the Black Fox, or any other shell sets.

Even in my admittedly biased description of the Magic Maker set, I tried to give them their due, although I really do not like the fact that they settled for a copy of something already available when they could have created something new and better with little additional work.

I do not like the fact that they copied a set already in existence, or that they attempted to usurp our brand name for the second time. I did not think it was necessary for them to copy their instructions and illustrations from Tom Osborne and Frank Garcia without crediting the sources.

I did not think it fair or right to use Bob Sheets work in their free downloadable instructions.

The complaints about Bob Sheets and the use of our brand name have been corrected by Penguin, and we thank them for that. Our other concerns remain.

The School for Scoundrels was an early supporter of Andrew Pinard's La Magiorre Shells, and supplied him with our Perfect Peas at below wholesale price so that he could include them in his set.

Andrew has given us support in return, and although we sometimes debate the various merits of our respective shells, we certainly have never suggested that either set is less than worthy.

I take strong exception to the description of my longtime posting on this subject on this and other boards, and I think that Steve's blasts against me are unfair and unwarranted.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 2, 2004 09:03PM)
I may be wrong about the copyright on the Tom Osborne book. However, the original copyright ran out in 1966. If the copyright was renewed on a different edition, it may fall into the same "nether region" that the Bobo book did. OTOH, Steve is completely out of place for blasting anyone for selling copies that are being published by someone else, especially if that person assumes that the copies are legal. Since School for Scoundrels is not publishing the Lee Grey edition, he is pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

I'm just curious about what got to Steve on these posts in the first place.
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (Oct 2, 2004 09:48PM)
Bill - Whit...

The reason I feel that he is posting this way is to get us all talking about the site and perhaps get us over their to defend our views.

I was attacked on my spelling and because I happen to like Doc and he comes out and calls Doc a crook.

This guy lives here in St. Louis and for a while was selling web hosting and I was one of his customers for a while. I understand he knows some names in magic as we all do and for a while lived in Wisconsin.

I know a lot of Wisconsin magicians having lived there before Chicago.

Well he is not selling band with and it seems that he is doing this and there is a lot of other forums. In order to do this and make money you have to have members and hits.

In order to get members and hits so you can charge you have to get a lot of traffic over there. What better way than to insult and question people in other forums and have them come over to defend their statements?

It is all a con as far as I can see it.

It sort of reminds me of the rant sheet that Burling Hull put out called the gosh darn truth about magic. With him arguing with a mentalist about something that the mentalist said about Burling...

This person is not a professional magician. He has done shows but it is a part time thing and he doesn't make a living doing shows.

I feel this whole thing is about getting well known people over there at his forum and get them arguing about things and then he profits by hits and advertising.

He may be want ing Penguin to be his advertiser because many of the good advertisers are already advertising at other forums and I know as bring related to a dealer. Many magic dealers do not have the advertising money to spend on this kind of advertising.

My feeling is that his forum and posting is just not worth my time because the more you defend the more he will bait you and it will go on and on. It is just not worth it.

I feel that I should just leave it alone and I don't care what he thinks or says. Because I know what I am and what I can do.

Bill and Whit your tops in magic and have the years and rep to back it up. He only hurts himself when he insults us because if we do not play ball in his ball park it only will make him mad and sooner or later people will get tired of his ranting and raveing.

Because deep down they know what is good and what is false and what are lies.

As my Mom and Dad would say rise above it!

So I see it is that he is baiting us... And he is a master at it
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Oct 2, 2004 10:20PM)
Well put, Glenn.

And as long as we don't take the bait, he is no longer a master.

It's easy to pick on someone's spelling.

Synce I never make misteaks, I don't' have annytthing to wory about.
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (Oct 2, 2004 10:48PM)
As my son would say - Bill you are cool...

I feel sorry for Whit he has taken a lot of below the belt insults on that forum. And Whit is a great guy and his school of scoundrels is a great place to buy the shells.

Also this guy says that he has advertising but he has not taken any money from this advertiser. I used to buy web hosting and it wasn't free.

If it isn't money he is getting from magic dealers I am sure he is getting product from them.

I know this becaue he mentioned some of the perks that he got from others that he did web sites for. So I would say he is getting products instead of money!
Message: Posted by: Steve Brooks (Oct 3, 2004 04:16AM)
There seems to be several so-called Blogs related to Magic on the web - and why not? They cost the owner/user nothing, and most can say what they want under any ficticious name they choose and with little chance of anything being done about it (No consequences for their actions).

A good analogy would be the tabloids we see near the check-out counter in the grocery store. A lot of claims and slanted stories - few facts. The papers know it's usually more work then it is worth to take them to court, plus there are a lot of ignorant and uneducated folks willing to believe the tall tales contained inside. Just remember, for every story there are always two sides. ;)

Most of these Blog authors remind me of Snipers. You know, it's easy to hide on a hillside sporting a high powered rifle shooting at cars on the freeway while you're hiding in the trees.

Just for fun, I looked the word [i]SNIPER[/i] up in the dictionary:
[b]snip·er[/b] ( P ) [i]Pronunciation Key[/i] (snpr)
1) A skilled military shooter detailed to spot and pick off enemy soldiers from a concealed place.

2) One who shoots at other people from a concealed place.
I think the definition above says it all.

I think one of the Blogs mentioned to folks if they didn't like what was being written, then folks needed to stay away. I agree. Stay away. I would say the same to those who do not care for [b]The Magic Café[/b] and our membership. Yet folks who do not care for this site keep coming back, amazing.

I know if I got kicked out of a Café for misbehaving and I hated the food anyway, sneaking back in on a daily basis would be pretty ridiculous. Yet it happens here all the time. It takes all kinds to make the world turn.

Anyway, to get back on topic, so far (I've never actually seen Whits shells yet) I like [b]Andrew Pinard's La Maggiore[/b] shells. I wrote a review about them [url=http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=26437&forum=71&0]Here![/url]

Message: Posted by: Riley (Oct 3, 2004 05:55AM)
Whit and Glenn

Just a note to let you know how much your posts are valued at the Café.

I believe it was Dai Vernon who said to Michael Ammar
[i]"If you didn't have the ball, no-one would be chasing you" [/i]

And Steve: thanks for making it all possible :)

Message: Posted by: Andy Charlton (Oct 3, 2004 06:07AM)
I don't understand some of the stuff posted about whit elswhere. He is a dealer, he states that he is a dealer, and openly gives opinions from that viewpoint. These opinions always appear, to me at least, to be intereting and informative.

His and Andrew Pinard posts about their products always remind me of good entertainers having a comedy dig at each other. Both knowing the other is big enough take it, and most important, underneath it all the utmost respect for each other.

Whit's post on this thread seem to me to have covered 3 topics.

1/ the use of his companies product name to indirectly sell someone else's products rather than his. Obviously worth fighting for.

2/ The ripping off of Bob Sheet's move on a Free video

3/ The ripping off of vernet

Two of the above three topics won't benefit Whit directly much at all, but he still fights for other peoples rights.

My final thoughts on this.

1/ Can't see that I will be buying from penguin again.

2/ I use Bob Swadlings Shells in performance in my bar because of the different/Classy look of them, and I have a close up mat on the bar. If I go anywhere else where I might perform I have Whit's Street shells because they will work on anything. With both I use the perfect Pea.

My thoughts