When I was a child I loved magic tricks. At birthday parties, while all the other kids ate cake, I was instead transfixed by the man with the top hat. I watched him as he performed his practised-to-perfection tricks and sleight of hand. I wasn’t into the Houdini-style of magic: fire, swords and chains were not my thing. What captivated me were simple deceptions, when a trick relied on manipulation, persuasion, agility and a few simple props rather than elaborate mechanisms.
It wasn’t long until I started to learn some tricks myself. At any opportunity I would make my parents stand and watch me attempt them over and over – trying to make a coin disappear. Parents truly are sources of unconditional love.
Recently I visited the famous London toy shop Hamleys to find a Christmas gift for my newborn nephew. Walking among the stuffed animals, flying helicopters, music, laughter and noise, I stumbled upon a familiar but thrilling sight: Marvin’s Magic.
The brand makes magic kits for children and standing by the stacked Marvin’s Magic boxes in Hamleys was that familiar figure: a man in a black suit and white shirt entertaining passers by. He had the essential magician’s expression on his face: at once gentle and yet slightly suspicious. He started out by guessing my chosen card from a shuffled deck and then moved on to more elaborate tricks in which coins would be covered with golden cups, disappear and then reappear in different locations. Finally he rolled up his sleeves and performed his pièce de résistance that involved coins, cards, banknotes, handkerchiefs and even water. The act was so amusing that I couldn’t look away. I must have stayed there a while because by the time he was finished most people had left the store.
Leaving the shop I was back on Regent Street but my mind was somewhere back in the 1990s in my childhood; I felt that same sense of excitement and enthusiasm. It is not that I believe in magic but perhaps it is simply that at this point in my life, when most of my decisions are based on pragmatism and in this digital age when answers tend to come so easily, it was liberating to have a fleeting moment of bewilderment, surprise and mystery.
I left the shop with my first ever present for my new nephew: Marvin’s Magic Dynamic Coins. Well, what else could it be?
Gaia Lutz is a researcher for Monocle 24.