'Tique Talk ~ About Antique Collecting ~ by Marianne Dow

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The Magic of Blue Willow China

I just have to share this gorgeous MAGIC POSTER. It is so cool. First off, I love the Blue Willow China plates with the Magician's face on them. And then there's the tragic story of Chung Ling Soo's death.

Here's an article about the story behind the traditional Blue Willow China pattern. It's a great story, but pales next to Chung Ling Soo's story:

" ... "The Marvelous Chinese Conjurer" known as Chung Ling Soo was actually the stage name of an American stage magician: William Ellsworth Robinson (1861-1918), who appropriated his persona-as well as a number of famous tricks-with slight variation from a Chinese magician named Ching Ling Foo (1854-1922).

Robinson maintained his role scrupulously, never speaking onstage and always using an interpreter when he spoke to journalists. Only his friends and other magicians knew the truth.

Soo's most famous trick-primarily because he perished while performing it-was "Condemned to Death by the Boxers," in which his assistants-dressed as boxers-brought two guns to the stage.

After audience members marked a bullet, it was loaded into one of the guns and fired at Soo, who seemed to catch the bullets and drop them onto a plate. In truth, he had palmed the projectilesduring their examination and marking. The muzzle-loaded guns were rigged such that the gunpowder charge fired in the chamber and the bullet would drop into the barrel below, never really leaving the gun.

The trick went tragically wrong at the Wood Green Empire in London on March 23, 1918. Robinson had never cleaned the gun properly and over time, the gap that allowed the bullet to drop slowly clogged with gunpowder residue.

On that fateful night, the bullet remained in the barrel and was fired in the normal way, hitting Soo in the chest. His last words were spoken on stage: "Oh my God. Something's happened. Lower the curtain." It was the first-and last-time in nineteen years that William "Chung Ling Soo" Robinson had spoken English in public. "

This poster is currently up for auction at postersplease.com

'Tique Talk is published by msdowantiques.com

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