I first became aware of Alan Warner (sort of) just before Christmas of 1999. I was looking at a Viking Magic catalog, and I saw Red Chinese Puzzle advertised. It sounded like a cool effect, so I asked my wife if she would get it for me for Christmas. She tried, but to no avail. As we all know, Alan’s stuff is in such great demand that one normally has to wait some time for a piece, and retailers can’t keep a stock. Viking was out, with no known restocking date. So, I moved on to other things.
Then, in the summer of 2003, I stumbled across Andy Martin’s web site, where I found this magnificent collection of Alan Warner Mini Magic. There among the pieces was the Red Chinese Puzzle, and it was then that I understood who Alan Warner was. I poured over Andy’s Warner site by the hour, and finally decided to order a piece from Alan. Before I did, I approached Andy about coming to see his collection, since he lives only about 90 miles from me. He was most gracious in allowing me to come to his home and closely examine his collection. When I finally did order, I pulled no punches…I went for Cairo Con right out of the blocks! Alan was most gracious in filling my order, and when our e-mails were not connecting, he actually telephoned me from England to insure he had things right for shipping, etc. Talk about customer service!
My next acquisition was Sign of the Snake, which Alan graciously modified to my request (see Presentation Enhancements, below). Shortly thereafter, I added Matched and the Pharaoh’s Cartouche. I received all three effects in the same parcel in the spring of 2004.
In the late summer of 2004, I contracted cancer in my tongue and underwent serious surgery. When I came through that experience in good shape, I decided to reward myself with three more Warner pieces. I ordered Jack the Lad, Maverick, and Scarab^Scarab in September of 2004. Not long after that, I had one of those “lucky finds.” While going through the magic of a deceased local club member, I came upon…you guessed it…Red Chinese Puzzle! Although loose in the bottom of a rather large cardboard box, all pieces were there and the condition was quite good. I bought it on the spot and was thrilled to have the piece that started it all for me!
In the summer of 2005, Warner collector Bill Trotter of Des Moines, Iowa, decided to sell his collection of Warner pieces. I was fortunate enough to acquire three of those pieces: Do-mini-o, Voo-Doo, and Twister. These represent my latest, though hopefully not my last, acquisitions.
Future Acquisitions: Although I have no intention of trying to acquire a complete Warner collection, I do have my eye out for several additional pieces. Highest on my wish list is Mummy II, followed closely by Eye of Isis. I would also like to acquire the Tablets of Ra and Horos-Scope, but these are of a lower priority. And of course, who knows what Alan will come up with in the future? We can only hope that he lives forever!
Performance Enhancements: Although I love collecting Warner pieces, I love even more performing the effects. To that end, I have developed some performance enhancements for a few of Alan’s effects. These are visible in the photos that accompany this article, but I will explain them here.
The first such enhancement goes with Cairo Con. To help introduce the story I tell when performing this effect (which is essentially the story Alan provides in the instructions), I begin by toying with a small figurine of Neffertiti which I acquired from Harmony Kingdom, a producer of figurines and other collectibles. In the story, when the shop owner sees my interest in Neffertiti, he suggests I might want to see something REALLY special. And so begins the routine.
For Scarab^Scarab, I store the prop in a burgundy velvet bag, which doubles as a place to put the extra yellow scarab before handing it to the spectator to hold. The bag provides great cover for the “move,” without having to carry a separate handkerchief. I find it makes this effect very easy to perform.
Sign of the Snake had one shortcoming, in my opinion. It could not be repeated for the same audience. I devised a way to do so, but it required a second plaque with a different colored snake on its reverse side. Alan accommodated my special request, hence the second plaque in the photo. I simply begin to put away the plaque at the conclusion of the routine, then, making a switch, bring the plaque back out and offer to repeat the effect. It works beautifully.
Finally, for Voo-Doo, I was afraid of losing the small pegs and the extra mannequin if I left them loosely lying about. A box to keep them in seemed a logical solution. I decided to make the box part of the presentation, and so I fashioned a miniature coffin (out of teak, of course) in which I keep the mannequin and pegs and from which I produce them at the appropriate point in the routine.
I would certainly be interested in hearing others’ enhancements and presentation ideas…for me, performance is what it’s all about.
Well, that’s my Alan Warner story. I’m a new collector, but an enthusiastic one, and I look forward to interacting with other Warner aficionados. And of course, for all of us, we will have to keep watching for the rest of the story.
Doug Gorman, August 2005