“Thumbcuffs – A Compilation” by Seth Howard
A review by Daniel “EvilDan” Terelmes
For full disclosure, I was sent a copy of this manuscript for review. I have no monetary interests in this publication or with Seth Howard at all.
Seth Howard wrote “Thumbcuffs – A Compilation” because he found thumbcuffs being sold without instructions. He was shown how to escape from them by the owner of a brick and mortar magic shop that he managed. So, back about 16 years ago he started putting together a resource that contained ‘routines, patents, history, ideas, etc.’ in a one stop resource for thumbcuffs. Life happens, the compilation got pushed aside and it took until now to see publication.
The manuscript contains the following sections: History, Overview, How to Escape, Routines & Ideas, Appendix I (patents) and Appendix II (pics and dates of various thumbcuffs).
History covers the evolution of the thumbcuff from the thumbscrew torture device to the style that we see most performers escaping from today. Don’t just blow over this section because there is information that you can use to flesh out the “why use thumbcuffs” part of your routine.
Overview goes into the details of the current thumbcuffs that performers use to escape from.
How to Escape gives you several methods on how to escape from ordinary handcuffs including how to gaff them so that they are no longer “ordinary” but appear to be to the casual audience member. Seth also gives ample warning on what not to do or how far not to go so you don’t ruin a pair.
I thought that Seth was missing something as there is no mention of using a pick to get out of thumbcuffs but in re-reading the manuscript he does mention why in the History portion.
The meat of the manuscript is the Routines & Ideas. There are seven offerings that are not all word for word but some with an overview with enough information to set you on your way. I’ve only used thumbcuffs as an escape using the same routine that everyone else was performing – this was back in the 1980s. I’ve since retired them to my drawer of unused magic apparatus. This chapter has breathed new life into dead metal for me. I’m looking forward to breaking them out and resurrecting them for a few interesting routines as these have already stirred a few other ideas in my mind.
Appendix I shows a copy of various patents for thumbcuffs over the years. In addition to being a very interesting resource in thumbcuff patents in one spot, it shows what a laborious task it is to write a patent and to include the necessary drawings for one.
Appendix II is a spreadsheet, thanks to Mr. Joseph Lauher, from a website that he maintains displaying the name of the cuff, a picture of the cuff, the date of patent or introduction and the country of origin. Although the pictures presented are relatively small they are photographs of ample size and resolution to get a good idea of what these thumbcuffs looked like.
All in all the manuscript comes in at 47 pages. If you perform with thumbcuffs but haven’t done much more than the standard routine, or if you’re just getting into thumbcuffs and are looking for some ideas – I’m sure there will be something you could use contained within the pages of this manuscript.