- See also: Linking Ring Magazine .
The Linking Rings or Chinese Linking Rings is considered to be a classic of illusion magic. In the traditional effect, solid metal rings appear to link and unlink, pass through each other, form chains and other complex patterns and configurations.
Ching Ling Foo was one of the early performers of the Linking Rings in the form we know today. Speculation about their origin has been made to Turkey, Egypt and the Middle East and as far back as the first century. A painting by Giacomo Mantegazza in 1876 shows a harem girl holding a set of rings above her head.
The number of rings used can vary from two to as many as ten or more. A standard set of commercially available rings typically includes eight rings.
In 1988, Japanese magician Masahiro Yanagida performed his miniature linking rings routine, the Ninja Rings, using four rings that were four and a half inches (or 11.43 cm) in diameter. Since then, the Chinese Linking Rings have also become a favorite performance item for close-up magicians.
A quality set of eight linking rings can be obtained from a supplier of magic props. Most consider eight (8)-inch diameter rings to be the smallest size suited for stage performance, while twelve (12)-inch rings are common; 15" rings are also available, but rarely seen in use. Larger sizes are often constructed from stainless steel tubing for the best combination of durability and weight. Professionals may wish to have a set of larger-diameter rings for use on a stage, or a 'close-up' set of rings in the 4-5 inch (10-13 cm) range.
Many magicians look for rings that make a nice ring tone when they strike each other.
- Linking Coat Hangers (created by Mike Caveney)
- Linking Barbed Wire
- Linking Hula Hoops (created by Dick Zimmerman)
- Linking Ropes
- ANDERSON, Harry - Linking Rings, published in Harry Anderson, Wise Guy (Caveney, 1993). A brief overview of the seven-ring routine Harry Anderson used in the streets, focusing more on philosophy than execution (e.g., from pg 50, "Once you've linked two rings you better think about wrapping things up. You've done it. Make a few pretty passes and get home early.").
- BLAKE, George - Perverse Chinese Rings, a now-famous comedy linking-ring routine using four rings, wherein the rings refuse to link where and when the magician wants, but somehow manage to become linked at the most awkward times, and in all the wrong places, including a button-hole on the magician's coat, and to the handle of a pair of scissors as he tries to separate coat from rings. The routine was published in Blake's book, Comedy Magic (Mickey Hades International, 1974).
- CAPEHART, Chris - Chris Capehart's 3-Ring Routine, published in the New Stars of Magic series (Vol. 1, #13; 1981). A practical, interactive three-ring routine designed to draw a crowd on the streets, at trade shows, etc.
- CELLINI - Lord and Master of the Rings (2003), a two-ring routine performed to music and released on an instructional DVD of the same name.
- COLOMBINI, Aldo - Three Ring Circus (1993), a comedy three-ring routine first released as a one-trick video (VHS) by the Camirand Academy of Magic.
- IRELAND, Laurie - Ireland's Linking Ring Routine (1937), a four-minute, nine-ring routine that includes interaction with two audience volunteers. Originally published as a one-trick manuscript, illustrated by Nelson Hahne.
- SEABROOKE, Terry - Those Linking Rings, a seven-ring routine by comedy magician Terry Seabrooke that, in his words (from Seabrooke's Book, pg 29), is "not an original routine but is assembled with bits and pieces from many people and many places..." The routine was published in Seabrooke's Book (Magical Publications, 1986)
- TAKAGI, Shigeo - New Era Linking Rings, a six-ring routine published in The Amazing Miracles Of Shigeo Takagi (Kaufman, 1990).
- VERNON, Dai - Dai Vernon's Symphony of the Rings (1958), a seminal six-ring routine, published by Supreme Magic as a photo-illustrated instruction booklet written by Lewis Ganson. The booklet was reprinted in 1997 by L&L Publishing, and Dai Vernon can be seen performing the routine on Dai Vernon: Revelations, Volumes 3 & 4 (VHS 1982 or one DVD).
- VERNON, Dai - The Twirl Link, published in More Lost Inner Secrets (Minch, 1988). A ring is placed upright on the floor and given a vigorous spin, then a second ring is brought sharply down upon it, causing them to link.
- VERNON, Dai - The Threadborne Link, published in More Lost Inner Secrets (Minch, 1988). Two rings are linked together, then unlinked, whereupon they can be handed out for examination.
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