The Stocks of Zanzibar - Revisited
By Jim Gerrish

After taking us through a history of the effect, including excerpts from a 1977 article by John Novak on the flaws of doing an escape strictly for comedy, Jim shows us how he redesigned the stocks to get rid of some of the problematic structures and at the same time managed to restore some of the comedy, without sacrificing the mystery of the escape.

The original trick was invented by Percy Abbott, based on various stock escapes used by Harry Houdini and other escape artists, but this was a “trick escape” designed for the average magician who wanted to include an “escape illusion” in his act. Important to the average magician is the fact that it packs and travels easily. Most magicians who buy props want them to look all shiny and classy, not like something rescued from a dungeon. Jim's attitude is just the opposite. A stock should look like it could be hundreds of years old, dating back to the time when every town had one for deliquent students, or for the town drunkard. However, Jim's design can be interpreted by the individual builder to look shiny and new, or old and well-used. It is easily constructed from standard lumber pieces, hardware and bolts and wingnuts. The entire cost for parts at today's prices (2009) is under $50.00.

WJ18-11

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