A featured effect in the second half of my act for years has been The Mummy’s Journey, as I call it. Magicians know this close-up trick as The Wandering Mummy. I do not know the origin of the effect - perhaps an ostensible reader of this diary will write to me with the answer.
In any event, when I was thinking about performing some sort of Egyptian-themed illusion, The Wandering Mummy came onto my radar. I liked the premise - a mummy figure mysteriously moves from one sarcophagus to another - and I thought it would fit in nicely with the rest of my program. When I started researching the effect, I quickly came to the conclusion that I would not need to build my own as there were several high-quality pieces already for sale commercially. I should mention here that I, Smallini, consider myself in the mold of that great Golden Age of Magic magician, Harry Kellar. He was not known for inventing magical methods, rather he bought or acquired illusions from others and made them his own as part of his unique performing style. I do sometimes craft my own apparatuses, but I will just as often acquire other’s work and make it my own, so to speak.
As it turns out, The Wandering Mummy is a favorite of micro-magic collectors, and the beautifully crafted examples sell for hundreds of dollars on the collectors’ market.
This brings me to a slight digression (of which I have addressed in a past entry of this diary, but bears repeating), which is that in almost all cases, these high-quality pieces of micro-magic, like the Wandering Mummy, are created, sold to collectors, and then sit displayed in a cabinet for years in their home, until they are sold again to another collector, etc. They are periodically taken out of their cases to be admired for their craftsmanship and cleverness, and perhaps even performed for a guest from time to time. These informal “performances” will take the form of the trick being shown on a desk or table, maybe on top of a close-up mat of some sort. The magician/collector will utilize some patter (probably included in the instructions sheet) while fumbling through a routine (also most likely taken from an instructions sheet).
I do not mean to disparage collectors of these pieces, but as a stage performer of micro-magic, I, Smallini, just see it as a sad waste for all these wonderful examples of high-quality magic to simply be “collected” as it were.
Allow me to illustrate an alternative life for The Wandering Mummy, one that is included as a feature illusion in the Suitcase of Wonders magic show. After perusing several fine examples of this trick, all of which, as I mentioned, sold for high collectors’ market prices, I settled on Alan Warner’s Mummy II. Mr. Warner’s hand-crafted pieces fetch top dollar in collectors’ circles, and this example was no exception. It is made from the finest materials (solid teak wood, polished gemstone) and the mechanisms are reliable and smooth-working. But it was not the quality of the piece alone that made me choose this model. Mr. Warner added a clever addition to the routine whereby the mummy levitates briefly before being placed into the second sarcophagus. To me, this little levitation added a nice touch to what is, honestly, a pretty pedestrian transposition effect on its own.
From what I have seen, when The Wandering Mummy is performed (with or without Mr. Warner’s levitation), the effect is just not strong enough to withstand the lack of presentational ability of a collector, or even, in the case of the otherwise excellent magician Wayne Dobson, a professional attempt on television. Much of the problem (for this trick and other pieces of “stage-quality” micro-magic) is the lack of an appropriate stage on which to perform the effect. That is where the Suitcase of Wonders comes in. Just by giving the effect a proper theater (with a proscenium, lighting, music, and I would add, most importantly, myself, Smallini, for scale), the effect can be brought to life. Indeed, that is what I believe I have done with The Mummy’s Journey in my show. There is no patter - just music, lighting, two ancient Egyptian guards standing upstage, and me directing all the action. The curtain rises at the start, and falls at the end. It is a mystifying three minutes of stage magic presented in the proper context it deserves, not a kitchen table in the home of a collector.
I have wondered from time to time why I have not seen other examples of the Suitcase of Wonders, that is, a stage theater constructed for the performances of micro-magic. Mr. Widdle maintains that there could indeed be a market, albeit a niche one, for the manufacture of this type of theater for collectors of all these fine pieces of miniature magic. Perhaps there is already a collector or two who has indeed fashioned a theater of sorts, but who has chosen not to make its existence known to the wider public via the internet. If there is, I have not yet seen it. But of course, in addition to the theater, there is I, Smallini, of whom there can only be one.