One of the advantages of having divorced parents – aside from the traditional Christmas-time, who-is-the-best-parent competition that can prove very lucrative for savvy kids – is that you don’t have to buy them wedding anniversary gifts unless you’re feeling mean. But props to magician Manmeet Singh, who’s not only figured out how to wish his mum and dad a happy anniversary without spending a dime, but also managed to throw a little self promotion in there as well.
It’s a cute trick with a heartfelt message at the end. It’s also a very good ad for Singh’s Facebook page, which features cool tricks and card deck reviews. Good stuff. That reminds me. Mother’s day is coming up and I need a way to promote my Twitter account. Hmmm.
If you’re like us, you’re probably up to your eyeballs in playing cards already. But ask yourself this question: do you have any playing cards with adorable fat penguins fishing for fish-like spades with candy cane bait on them? If not, this deck from Art of Play is just for you.
Featuring 52 pieces of original art from Natalia Silvia, the Christmas Deck adds a whimsical holiday touch to your close-up routines or pick-up poker games. It’s printed by the US Playing Card Company, it’s a limited edition, and it’s only $10. You know you want it, and you can snag it from Art of Play.
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like magic, but what do you get someone who loves magic? We’ve compiled a few of our favorite gift ideas from some of the most interesting corners of the internet for magic fans of any interest or skill level, whether they know how to do a proper Faro shuffle or simply appreciate the art of illusion. These gifts go beyond your standard grocery store magic kit, offering a bounty of DVDs, books, tricks, playing cards, and much more. Give the gift of magic this holiday season with our suggestions below.
Price: $35 for digital only or $58 for print and digital
We admit, we’re a bit biased, but you’d be hardpressed to find a better monthly magazine out there covering magicians and their craft. Each issue is loaded with articles, tricks, interviews, reviews, and so much more, and features columns by some of the greatest magicians who have ever lived. Your subscription doesn’t just get you new content, either; you’ll gain access to over 80 years of back issues, and all digital issues from 2011 onward contain exclusive audio and visual supplements. It’s nearly a century of magic history, right at your fingertips.
Magic kits come in all shapes and sizes and often range wildly in quality. Not wanting to recommend any old box full of plastic, we’ve picked out the Facinatrix Kit from Fantasma Magic. It contains a bunch of tricks—over 200, the box boasts—and many of them the kind you don’t typically find in your run of the mill magic kit, including linking rings, bitten-and-restored cookies, a mirror box, and even a trick to perform with your smartphone. It’s a bit pricier than the average magic kit, but the Fantasma line is the only one endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Magicians, so you know it’s legit. Perfect for kids or kids-at-heart.
If you’re looking for a magic kit that’s a little less flashy, a little more professional, this is the one to go with. The heart of the set are two DVDs filled with tons of great instruction, ramping up in difficulty from easy, virtually self-working tricks to more difficult, mind-boggling fare. The kit itself is customizable, too—purchase either DVD separately, or combine them and a box of gimmicks to save money on the whole set.
Looking for a quick bundle of goodies but aren’t sure what to get? Grab a Christmas stocking from Ellusionist filled to the brim with playing cards, including Black Tiger, Blood Kings V2 (or Black Rounders if sold out), Blue Keepers, Rockets, and Roadhouse. Act fast because once they’re gone, they’re gone, and Ellusionist has already sold out of its Magic Christmas Stocking bundle.
Price: $9.95 for the deck of cards, or $149.95 for the Lockbox
What’s in the box? Well, they’re playing cards, but each deck is individually wrapped and sealed to give it some added mystique. The Mystery Box deck is designed in conjunction with J.J. Abrams’ production house Bad Robot, with art direction by Abrams and Theory11 CEO Jonathan Bayme. Grab a deck, or spring for the Lockbox, which includes 12 decks of cards inside a handcrafted box made out of 100-year-old reclaimed wood and sealed with an alpha-numeric lock.
Sure, you could just hand someone a deck of cards, but why not make them work for it? The Outlaws Vault is a fiendishly challenging puzzle box, built out of Raintree wood and covered in all kinds of mysterious locks and symbols. It’ll take all the logic at your disposal to crack it open, but once you solve it, you’ll be rewarded with two decks of Outlaws playing cards—the original and the crimson variant—as well as a challenge coin to show off how smart you are.
If the mentalist in your life is looking for an upgrade to their standard impression pad, look no further than Parapad. Its slick design looks classy without appearing obvious, and more importantly, it just works. The $69.95 price tag gives you enough paper to perform this routine over a hundred times, and even includes an instructional video to teach you everything you need to know to perform this trick flawlessly.
Price: $120 (currently on sale for $99)
Buy it from Shin Lim’s website
Shin Lim’s 52 Shades of Red is a stunning work of magic and performance art, and with this starter kit, you can learn how to do it yourself. The kit includes the full second version of Lim’s signature act, twice as many Shim magnets (each one the thickness of a single playing card), as well as the vanish/reappear trick Gone Deck. Stocks are running low, but if it sells out, don’t worry—version three of 52 Shades of Red is arriving on December 8.
This is perhaps the weirdest, most gorgeously off-kilter deck of playing cards we’ve ever seen at GeniiOnline. Developed in conjunction with Stranger & Stranger, the Ultimate Deck features 54 playing cards, each one featuring wholly unique artwork. The three of spades incorporates a charcoal drawing of a skull into the card; the ace of spades features a drawing of a massive, trimmed hedge with the roots exposed. There’s no other deck of cards quite like this one.
The first part in a planned trilogy from actor and magician Neil Patrick Harris, The Magic Misfits isn’t just a whimsical tale of a young runaway illusionist finding adventure with a gang of, well, misfits. It’s also filled with games, secret codes, and even instructions to make and perform your own magic tricks. Perfect for middle graders, but no judgements from us if you decide to sneak in some reading when your kids aren’t looking.
Another ingenious book combining storytelling and puzzle-solving, The Maze of Games is a massive tome filled with crosswords, riddles, logic puzzles, and of course, mazes. It tells the story of two teenagers living in Victorian England, trapped in a menacing, puzzle-filled labyrinth. Each page of the book has a different conundrum that must be conquered before the kids can continue their journey. What makes The Maze of Games so great is that the writing is approachable for youngsters but the puzzles remain vexing enough to challenge even the most ardent sleuth.
The Expert at the Card Table by S.W. Erdnase has been one of the foremost authorities on card manipulation for over a century, and it’s old enough that cheap paperback versions of it abound at bookstores and on the internet. Why not give this classic the appreciation it deserves with this special, faux-leather pocket edition from Dan & Dave? It’s called the Erdnase Bible for a reason: it’s printed on thin gilt edged pages, contains line numbers for easy reference, and even features a ribbon for keeping your place.
Jim Steinmeyer is one of the foremost experts on magic history and the craft of illusion design, and his book explores the life and legacy of Howard Thurston—a man who during his time achieved greater heights of fame than Houdini but has since lived in his shadow. A book as much about the history of two great magicians as it is the psychological battle waged between them, The Last Greatest Magician in the World is vital for anyone wanting to learn more about the Golden Age of Magic.
One thing is certain: the Golden Age of Magic from the late 19th to early 20th century had the best posters. The McCord Museum in Quebec compiled hundreds of broadsheets and documents of the era in an exhibit called the Illusions: The Art of Magic. If you weren’t able to make it up to Canada (or simply love old-timey artwork), Abrams Books has reproduced more than 250 illustrations from the full exhibit in a lovely coffee table book.
Max Maven has been wowing audiences for decades with his brand of mentalism, and now, he’s finally revealing the methods to many of his signature routines. Kayfabe is a four-DVD box set filled with nine hours of videos, with detailed instructions and performance advice, as well as interviews and documentaries about one of magic’s most enduring performers.
Price: $15 ($20 signed)
Our Magic is a documentary made by magicians, for magicians and anyone else who appreciates magic as a serious art form. The two-disc DVD set contains the documentary, filmed over the course of 18 months with conjurers from all over the world, as well as bonus extra features that include interviews cut from the final film. Pick up a signed copy for that extra-special touch.
Price: $175 ($200 for custom wands)
There are magic wands and then there are magic wands, and the Levit Wand is definitely the latter. Each signature wand is hand-crafted over two days with blackwood, faux ivory, and cocobolo, or can be custom ordered and fashioned with a variety of high-quality woods and acrylics.
Price: £30 (about $40USD)
Buy it now from the British Library
The Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibit is in full swing at the British Library, but if you can’t make it to the UK by Christmas, you can do the next best thing and order the official exhibit book instead. Filled with write-ups and images of ancient historical artifacts, as well as concept art and sample manuscripts from J.K. Rowling’s seminal fantasy, Harry Potter: A History of Magic is a perfect gift for Potterheads and magic fans alike. (Sidenote: There is another, very similar edition of this book also curated by the British Library more readily available in the United States called Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic, but it’s about 30 pages shorter and only available in paperback. I have no idea whether that’s because content has been removed or just formatted differently, so buyer beware.)
Lev Grossman’s hit fantasy series The Magicians tells the story of Quentin Coldwater, a young genius who discovers that magic is real and Fillory, the magical realm from books he loved as a child, is an actual place. It may take place at a school for magicians, but this is no Harry Potter wannabe; the stakes are very high and nobody’s chugging butterbeer. Grab all three entries in the trilogy in this swanky box set of trade paperbacks (or pick up the hardcover editions here for a little more cash).
The world’s first comic book hero is having his magical exploits from the 1930s reprinted in a series of wonderful hardcover editions. This one contains Mandrake’s first Sunday story, but there are a variety of other compilations available from different eras of Mandrake’s legacy.
Everyone likes a nice surprise—well, at least as far as Christmas presents are concerned, anyway. Dan & Dave is more than willing to oblige with its Mystery Deck, available now while supplies last.
Each Mystery Deck is wrapped and sealed with wax, and contains one pack of cards chosen at random. The Mystery Deck costs $12, and its contents are guaranteed to retail for at least that much—but if you’re lucky, the deck of cards you find inside could be worth much more. Dan & Dave have been crafting exclusive cards and hunting down out-of-print decks to use for their Mystery Deck, so you could wind up with any sort of unique or rare treasure.
Dan & Dave doesn’t list which decks are potentially a part of the random pool chosen for the Mystery Deck, though a few images down near the bottom of the store page show off a few. We won’t list them here to avoid spoiling the surprise, but we won’t blame you if curiosity gets the better of you.
If you’re looking for holiday gifts for the family, this week is the time to do it. Black Friday means tons of discounts, and Scam Stuff is getting in on the action early with a huge sale that’s starting right now.
Some of the highlights include 30% off the new Outlaws Vault puzzle box (normally $150, now available for $104.97), lockpick trainers for $89.97 (normally $119.99), and the Brian Bushwood Book Test (normally $1199.97 due to its extremely limited run, now slashed by 55% to $549.97).
There’s a bunch of other stuff on sale for all price ranges, including a Scam School book and DVD bundle for $19.97. The sale lasts until Sunday, November 26, so get to shopping.
UPDATE: The $50-off presale pricing on the new Outlaws Vault is scheduled to end Saturday at midnight… so you’ve got just over 48 hours if you want in on that. Tick, tock, people!
Scam Stuff has been making tricky, hand-crafted puzzle boxes for years, and this one might be their most diabolical yet.
Made of ornate raintree wood, the Outlaws Vault is designed to vex and confound even the most clever of puzzle-solvers. The box itself is covered in symbols and secret codes etched into the box, along with two combination dials on its side. There’s even a little story built into to the puzzle box that you’ll follow along with as you solve it. But be careful—the box has actually been designed to become harder to unlock if you fiddle with it too much.
Once you actually solve the box, you’ll be treated with your reward: Outlaws Crimson, an all-new deck from Scam Stuff. It’s a special, red-colored variant on the original Outlaws deck (which is also included inside the box). People who figure out how to open the box will also receive an exclusive numbered token, which not only signifies you as a member of an elite club of master logicians—if you flash your token at Brian Brushwood in the wild, he’ll buy you a drink on the spot.
The Outlaws Vault normally retails for $149.99, but Scam Stuff is currently hosting a special pre-order price of $99.99, with an expected ship date of November 24—which means it should arrive just in time for the holidays. Scam Stuff is expecting them to sell out, however, and they will be shipped on a first come, first served basis. You can also try your hand at winning one of five boxes being given away. Of course, if you just want the cards, you can buy either the original or Crimson variant by themselves for $9.99.