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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Everything old is new again » » Origins of the TT (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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James Luff
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Okay, I'll get things rolling. We all know about and probably use regularly the greatest gimmick of all time (IMO), the T T. But does anyone know who actually created and used the very first tt? Who is credited with devising this ingenious little item that has been in use for so many years and in so many variations?

Regards,
James Luff
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Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.

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Threee
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Hmm. That's a good question. On magic forums everyone always insist that all tricks are credited to their creators. However, I have never come across a credit to the tt's creator in any forum or book.
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Bill Hallahan
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William Humpage, also known as "Professor Herwin" (1861-1946) invented the TT sometime around 1885.

I got part of that information from The Magic Lineage Project.

From that site:

Craig Matsuoka, Bart Whaley, Edwin Dawes researched this, and it was in "Whaley's Who's Who in Magic - 2nd edition".
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Julie
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The real originator of the TT was Big Harold Thumb; an avid amateur Magician hitch hiking from New York to the Magic Castle to visit "the Professor". Smile
ursusminor
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Julie,
You're pulling my thumb, right?
Bjørn
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sniper1
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In the Tarbell course, he is mentioned if I'm not wrong and the tt was primaraly invented to aid in a cut and restored ribon trick.
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Harry Murphy
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From my notes:

The thumb tip has been a standard "gimmick" or magical prop for almost a hundred years. Developed around the turn of the last century by William "Professor Herwin" Humpage (1861-1946), the thumb tip is useful for vanishing all sorts of things.

It is not known exactly why the good Professor Herwin invented the thing. It is known that he did perform coin vanishes, cut and restored ribbon and rope using it.
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Bill Palmer
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Hartz has also been credited with the invention of this marvelous device. There is an interesting "folk version" of the TT. A friend of mine told me that his grandfather used a pecan shell that he had hollowed out as a "kind of fake thumb" to do some of his magic.
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Woofledust
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Just to muddy the waters, The Encyclopedia of Magic and Magicians by T. A. Waters thumb tip entry includes the statement, "One performer suggested as a possible inventor of the thumb tip is Joseph Hartz; this is, however, only speculation." Joseph Hartz lived from 1836 - 1903. Perhaps the Magic Lineage Project researchers have reason to discount this theory, I just add it to the discussion for what it is worth.
Partizan
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Early Civilizations

Before the Greek, Roman and Egyptian civilizations emerged, prosthesis were made out of leather and wood. These early devices were developed for aesthetic purposes and weren’t functional.

[so I guess if you was a dude with a leather/wood thumb you might get around to putting things into it, or your mates might play around with it until someone cries, eureka!]

Finger and partial-finger amputations are some of the most frequently encountered forms of partial-hand losses (1). Although the most common causes of these amputations are traumatic injuries, congenital absences or malformations may present similar clinical challenges (2). Because any of the fingers may be affected in whole or in part, prosthetic restoration is often difficult. This is particularly true when multiple fingers are involved
----------------------------------

So we know lots of people loose fingers/thumb, We know the ancients used prosthetic fingers/thumb. My conclusion would be that it is a very old and well kept secret.
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Bill Palmer
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The question is this: if the TT goes back that far, why isn't it mentioned in Scot or Hocus Pocus, Jr.?

It's not even mentioned in the first two Hoffmann books; however, on page 214 of the first American edition of Later Magic, it is credited to Hartz. The statement is that it had been in use by him for a long time, even preceeding the false finger.

The first American edition was printed in 1904. The third edition combined the text of some of the subsequent volumes of the series with this material, but even the version on Lybrary.com has this reference on p 214.

I'm not sure what the reference for "Professor Herwin" Humpage is, but if Hartz was using it several years before the 1904 publication date, he is certainly a close contender for simultaneous invention.
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Scott Penrose
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Greetings everyone!

It is interesting that a thread has started up about Hartz and thumb tips! I am researching Hartz and would like to throw my hat in to the ring...

According to Hoffmann’s writings in Later Magic, Hartz invented an appliance for the production of a handkerchief, described as a type of thimble made of thin copper and arranged to fit over the thumb, which is modelled and coloured to resemble exactly. Of course, the item that Hoffmann referred to as Hartz Thumb is now known by magicians all over the world as the Thumb Tip. Meanwhile, Hoffmann argued that history had repeated itself and at a later period Messrs. Hamley independently invented a similar gimmick at a later date that was intended to fit over the forefinger.

Many different magicians are credited with having invented the thumb tip and the individual that most historians credit for its invention is William Humpage. Indeed exhibited in The Magic Circle museum in London is what is argued to be the very first thumb tip, the one owned by William Humpage himself. William Humpage performed under the name of Professor Herwin and coincidently was a friend of Joseph Hartz. Meanwhile, it seems that The Magic Circle may only have Herwin’s own word that he is the inventor of the Thumb tip. The editor of The Magic Wand in December 1934 edition of his magazine wrote the following article:

"THE ORIGINAL THUMB TIP
A recent visit from Prof. Herwin, of Bristol, recalls the fact that he is the inventor of the useful gadget the thumb-tip. Some time prior to 1885, Prof. Herwin, attaching a scrap of silk to the inside of a false finger, devised the well-known “proof” that a silk in the hand is still there when the mouchoir has really disappeared. Then he thought of the thumb tip and it was one of the earliest models, if not the earliest, which was shown to us on its way to the museum of the Magic Circle, where that fake, which has helped to make many a magical reputation, now reposes."

Hoffmann credited Hartz for its invention, meanwhile Hartz and Herwin were good friends and no doubt exchanged ideas. Furthermore a number of items of Hartz’ conjuring apparatus came into Herwin’s possession after Hartz's death in 1903. Maybe Hoffmann was mistaken by crediting Hartz with its invention (Hoffmann did make some mistakes). Nonetheless, the mystery of the Thumb Tip may never be solved, but subject to further evidence emerging, the magical community may just have to take Herwin’s word for it.

All the best

Scott
James Luff
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Thanks to everyone who replied to this post. I thought it might be quite a stimulating topic to get us started with. I was aware of the vague nature of who actually invented the TT, but it has provided far more interesting information than I had hoped for.

As Scott said, it's unlikely we will ever know for sure who it was. What is certain however, is whoever it was had a brilliant mind for magic and we owe that person a lot.

There are many unsung hero's in magic, those who have had ideas stolen, wrongly creditied to a different person or just lost in the mists of time. We should all keep this in mind when passing on our knowledge to others. It is important for historical purposes that we try to keep the correct people credited to their ideas. Hopefully this forum will go some way to achieveing this aim.

Regards,
James Luff
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

- Arthur C. Clarke



Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.

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Review King
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Mike Ammar, in his bill switch video, credits it to a Russian Cossack performer.
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the saddest are, "It might have been"

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Harry Murphy
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Actually Michael credits the un-nammed Cossack with the invention of the "$100.00 Bill Switch" not the thumb tip.
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Reis O'Brien
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This is not important. What is important is the fact that I have single-handedly created the fake earlobe. Now admit it... you have all been wanting one of these!

In all seriousness, this thread has been great. Thanks to all you bibliophiles for sharing the info!
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full circle
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I always thought the (TT) was invented by Tom Thumb? What did he do?

My grandfather invented the false finger, I know `cause he was always saying "pull my finger". It never did come off, but something odd always happened.

Firedice27, after you have created the whole ear sign me up for an order. I`ve always wanted to pull an ear from a coin.

John
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Peter Marucci
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FireDice27 writes: "I have single-handedly created the fake earlobe."

Well, I'll keep an eye out for it, then.

LOL! Smile
Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2004-06-21 20:25, Harry Murphy wrote:
Actually Michael credits the un-nammed Cossack with the invention of the "$100.00 Bill Switch" not the thumb tip.


And Roger Klause gives the name of the "unnamed Cossack" both in his book and in his notes about the switch. The name of the Cossack is Vlado. A not-to-be-named American magician published a version of it without Vlado's permission or credit to him. Vladlo did not teach this to anyone, but several people did figure it out. Klause's handling is probably the best.
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The Mighty Fool
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Look at it this way: We're all familiar with the famous 'Pythagorean theorem' right? (a2 + b2 = c2) And who invented that? Everyone! You name it, the Babylonians, Chinese, Persians, Aryans, Dravidians, and possibly even the Bantu all discovered this formula at some point in their history. Who discovered it first is debatable (most think it was the Babylonians), but the fact that the other discoveries came later, doesn't diminish them because they hadn't heard of the theory yet.

Got all that? Then consider this: A trick so powerful and useful as the TT was probably 'discovered & invented' several times by many different people. Sure, one or two of them might get most of the press, but it's likely that the TT has numerous fathers (or mothers!)
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