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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Everything old is new again » » Berland Soap Swindle (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Sgroge
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Lynn MA
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I was looking for swindles in old magazines and found this ad in a 1942 Sphinx

Berland's
SOAP SWINDLE
Magician explains that modern methods used by radio programs in
offering premiums to increase the sale of soap is really an old story.
He now proceeds to demonstrate a "Soap Sale" as conducted by "Soapy
Sam" confidence man.
He requests the loan of a bill of any denomination and has it marked. Six bars of soap are introduced.
The outer and inner wrapper of one is removed and the borrowed bill is openly placed on the soap, around this is placed
the inner wrapper, and finally around this is placed the outer wrapper. Its appearance again is identical to the other bars.
The bar containing- the money is mixed in with the other bars and both hands are shown to be perfectly empty.
Performer explains as the "main" prize has been "donated" by a member of the audience, he will give the second prize . . .
introducing a sealed package of Ivory Flakes, which is handed to someone in the audience.
The audience is now requested to select the bar of soap containing- the money. AH are finally chosen and upon unwrapping
them, it is discovered that none contain the borrowed bill.
The person holding the Ivory Flake box is requested to cut it open, and upon spilling out the contents the borrowed marked
bill is found therein . . . spectator removes it himself.
No fake bars of soap . . . no switching of bars at any time. . . no switching of bill . . . no assistant required. , .

Has anyone ever seen or done this? Just curious about Berland's routine.

Best

Doc
DStachowiak
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Berland's routine is a demonstration version of a real swindle that used to be common at carnivals, county fairs, and on street corners.
The real soap swindle is thoroughly described in Walter Gibson's "Bunco Book", which is, sadly, currently out of print.
Claude Alexander Conlin, better known to forum members as "Alexander, the Man who Knows", got his start as a member of Jeff "Soapy" Smith's con gang, working the soap swindle.
Here's more about Soapy Smith:
http://mtnguy.com/owlhoots/smith.htm
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Spellbinder
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Tarbell, Volume 4 has "The Soap Pitchman" routine by Tarbell and Larsen described and explained.
Professor Spellbinder

Professor Emeritus at the Turkey Buzzard Academy of Magik, Witchcraft and Wizardry

http://www.magicnook.com

Publisher of The Wizards' Journals
Sgroge
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Lynn MA
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Thanks Spellbinder. I just found the Tarbell routine not an hour ago. Now why didn't I look there earlier.

Any reference on the Larsen write-up? Is it in a past Genii?

I am still inerested in the Berland routine only if for the routining. DOes anyone have any idea if Berland gathered his material for publication in ms. or book form?

Best Wishes

Steve

Posted: Feb 14, 2007 7:59pm
Now that I have read the Tarbell routine I see Wm Larsen was his co-author.
Interesting coincidence that the soap routine is preceded in the book by a cup transposition of Sam Berland's.

Thanks again
DStachowiak
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Sgroge,
I just read the Tarbell/Larsen version, it looks great. You could even dress the patter with some of the real history about Soapy Smith! How about "Soapy Smith's Soap" wrappers printed on an inkjet?
Don
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hugmagic
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Chris of Encore Magic does own the rights to all the Berland Stuff. He might have a copy of it around.

The Tarbell pitch routine is pretty good though. Maybe on Whit Hayden's forum, he might have more dope on this.

Richard
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
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Mark R. Williams
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I was going through my collection and found "The Berland's Soap Swindle.

It is a 8vo (about 5 1/2" X 8 1/2") paper Manuscript. 4 pages including the cover, 3 pages of instruction. The cover has a pitchman illustration and is titled "Directions for Berland's Soap Swindle". At the end of the third page is written "A Berland Magical Creation" in bold type.

A folded 8 1/2" X 10 3/4" illustrated sheet printed on one side tipped in. The sheet is dated 1942.

By all appearances it is very similar to the "Soap Pitchman" routine in Tarbell's

Hope this helps..............

M


PS This a common "One Trick" manuscript of the era. They usually sold for $1 or $2.
"One more step on the pathway of Knowledge, that is if we don't break our leg crossing the street"
hugmagic
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Sam Berland made his living as a printer. Thus he produced many printed and photographically illustrated routines at a time when they were not that easy to produce.

I saw him once at Magifest. His coin bucket was a #10 can. Cheap but it gave a great sound.

Richard
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
www.hughesmagic.com
email-hugmagic@raex.com
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
Julie
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Late in his life Sam did print and sell a large format soft cover book of many of his tried & tested routines including details and drawings for constructing the apparatus. It's fairly difficult to locate now, but a worthwhile addition to your library both for close-up and platform/stage effects.

Julie
Mark R. Williams
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Julie,

Yes, that is a good book. I have that too. I will have to go through some stuff and get the title. It was a compilation of the routines that he sold.

M
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Soapy Smith
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If you want to read about Soapy Smith and the "Prize Package Soap Sell Swindle," as it was called in 1885 then you need to go to my website at http://www.soapysmith.net Soapy was my great grandfather. I have been performing the soap sell (which was really an auction) using a switch hat.

I don't believe Soapy unwrapped the soap bars at all. I believe it would be a lot easier to just wrap up the soap packages with paper.

I also have doubts that Alexander Conlin was ever a member of the Soap Gang and he certainly had nothing to do with the killing of Soapy as one book Conlin book claims.

Jeff Smith
DStachowiak
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Jeff I never heard the story that Alexander had any part in the killing of Soapy, but the claim that he was part of the soap gang has appeared several places. I suppose it could be one of those myths that get passed along and after a while accepted as the truth, just because everyone remembers hearing of it.
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Soapy Smith
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Hi DStachowiak, The myth has not been around long enough to be accepted as truth. I had heard that he might have been in the Soap Gang in the late 1980s early 90s from John Pomeroy and the story seems to be growing with filler, and as a historian I hate filler. That being said, unfortunately there is no basis in fact on Alexander minus what he supposedly had once told someone.

The part of Alexander being involved in the killing comes from Charvet's 2004 book. As far as I can tell this is the only known source for the story. The other book on Alexander discounts the story. The Smith family has been researching the life and death of Soapy since the early 1900s. We already know who killed Soapy. It was not Frank Reid and it certainly was not Alexander.

I first learned of Charvet's theory of the killing of Soapy Smith at the 2004 Soapy Smith Night (known as The Wake since 1974 in Alaska) at the Magic Castle. Charvet used a letter of mine and my name as a source for his theory. Needless to say that still does not sit well with me. I have a page devoted to it at http://www.soapysmith.net/page28.html

Posted: Apr 16, 2007 9:56am
After reading my reply I realize it might sound crass. I do get excited talking about Soapy. I am happy that people are even talking about the Prize Package Soap Sell Swindle. By the way, I have all the books and articles listed in the above replies minus Tarbell's of which I only have xerox copies.

Posted: Apr 19, 2007 1:48am
Did you know the old Soap Sell has come back? Google "Money Soap" and you will come up with several firms selling this trick to dupes who think they really will get a $50 bill.

Click here to view attached image.
DStachowiak
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Jeff,
That's hilarious! When will people ever learn?
By the way, I recently picked up a nice coffee table book at Barnes and Noble, "The Great American Bars and Saloons" by Kathy Weiser, and it has a couple of pictures of Soapy and his saloon. Nothing new, you already have the same pictures on your site, but I thought you'd get a kick out of knowing another place Soapy can be seen.
Don
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David Charvet
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Quote:
On 2007-04-16 09:46, Soapy Smith wrote:
The Smith family has been researching the life and death of Soapy since the early 1900s. We already know who killed Soapy. It was not Frank Reid and it certainly was not Alexander.

Jeff -
If you know who killed Soapy (besides Alexander) why not let everyone know? Why so vague?
By the way, the claim that Alexander killed Soapy was not mine, it was Alexander's.

David Charvet
Soapy Smith
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The man who killed Soapy will be revealed with all the evidence when the biography is published in 2008.

Alexander never verbally said he killed Soapy. It was only an interpretation of his reaction to a question. Worth about as much as the dollar below, Smile

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gaddy
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Interesting that the alluring info is presented to us in the form of a pitch...

It must be genetic...
*due to the editorial policies here, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
Soapy Smith
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Hey, it's in my blood...it just has not reached my finger-tips yet.

Posted: Jun 7, 2007 1:40pm
The Soapy Smith Wake (party) is upon us once again. Anyone care to join in the fun? You can read more on my website HERE Let me know if you are coming I would love to meet you.
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