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Edward M. Massey

Edward Massey

Edward M. Massey was a prolific magical inventor of the 1940's. Most magicians would be surprised to learn that he was the inventor of the Finger Chopper trick. Soon after its invention, he sold the rights to Holden's Magic Shop and they had it patented.

I have been involved in a project to write a book about Mr. Massey and his many remarkable magical inventions. There has been no critical examination or explanation of Massey's prodigious output (he even designed two illusions for the Thurston show). I have been collecting information, ad cuts, original instructions, photos of the apparatus, articles and other items of interest about Massey's tricks.

My book will contain information about all of the commercial releases of Massey's tricks. Each will be accompanied by a photo or photos of the apparatus, ad cuts, instructions and commentary. A brief history of his magic life and information on the many tricks he contributed to the magic journals of his time will also be a part of the book.

I am still on the look-out for information on Massey and his tricks. I need to find a few of the pieces of apparatus to be photographed. I am especially interested in finding one of the original finger choppers (they were red and black plastic and had a locking blade). Should you have any information about Massey, his tricks or his life - I encourage you to send E_Mail, call or write me right away. I welcome any information you might be able to supply.

To whet your appetite concerning Massey's magic, I include here a sample of one of his tricks....


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Finger Chopper

The Finger Guillotine

The ubiquitous finger chopper can probably be found in almost every boy magician's magic collection. Surely almost every magician has at one time used one of these props. Yet few, if any, magicians know who invented this prop.

The Finger Guillotine was invented by Edward Massey and the rights for manufacture sold to Max Holden, who held the copyright in 1941. This is the only Massey trick that was explicitly protected in this manner. History has shown us that EVERYBODY has put out a finger chopper. There have been countless variations over the years.

Massey's original, with its distinctive half-moon lower hole and key-hole finger hole was made from red and black plastic. Holdens also made them from natural finished mahogany wood. The original had a feature found on virtually none of the imitators, a locking blade. By turning a screw head in the plunger, the magician could lock the blade so that the secret could not be discovered in examination.

The original selling price was $4.00. While finger choppers could be bought today at less than half that price, most are not made nearly so well as the original.

The impetus for writing this book was in part the desire to have the magic public made aware of the unheralded inventor of some of the classic effects in magic. The Finger Guillotine is certainly an effect that all magicians know. It's inventor has, until now, been unknown to them.




Hair-raising is but a mild description of this dandy pocket illusion. A blade sharp as a razor works up and down in a flat tube. A cigarette placed where the finger is in the illustration may be sheared off as clean as a whistle. Yet your finger - or the finger of anybody brave enough to risk it - is perfectly safe when the blade apparently passes right thru it, showing in the hole at the bottom.

Edward Massey again is the originator of the best pocket trick of the year - THE FINGER GUILLOTINE.

Pull out the slide part of the guillotine A. Then close it. You will notice the small blade moving back and forth. Place the tip of a cigar in opening B and see the blade cut the tip of the cigar off.Now place your finger in the hole when slide is closed and pull slide open. Now if the blade is unlocked the real blade will tip over and another blade will come up in its place. Now place the cigar in hole - if no cigar place a finger in and close slide easy. The blade will trip and real blade will come up in place. To all appearance the blade goes right thru the finger. Should you want to pass it for examination first of all with thumb nail give small screw a three quarter turn towards you or in other words to the left. This locks the blade. To again unlock give small screw a three quarter turn to right.

It is very careful that you do not pull the slide out with any force and impress person examining it on this point as it will wreck the guillotine. BE SURE THE BLADE IS TRIPPED BEFORE PLACING FINGER IN FOR THE PASSING THROUGH.


Invented by Edward Massey

Protected by Copyright

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Bryson's Magic Page
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Contact Rhett with information about Edward Massey:
Send Rhett USPS Mail:
Rhett Bryson
10 Devonshire Lane
Greenville, SC 29617
(864) 246-3107