February 29, 2012

Jim Holdaway and The Vanishing Lady

This treasure came to me from John Henley, a magician who once commissioned Jim Holdaway to illustrate a puzzle for him.

"Back in the 1960s/1970s, I owned and ran a magic shop in London, England, and was a keen follower of the Modesty Blaise cartoons, not just for the stories but also the style of artwork. When I was going to update a puzzle that we were going to reissue, I contacted Jim Holdaway to see if he would illustrate it, and was delighted when he agreed to come to my magic shop to discuss it. He was a nice guy, and occasionally I spoke to his wife too, but she had a nickname which escapes me... I think it was ‘Chip’. Anyway, after a long, long wait (artists always seem to be under the gun for their work), Jim provided me with the artwork, from which we had the plates made. If you check the picture, you will see Jim's signature and the 1969 copyright — not long before he died.

There are three parts that make up the full picture which relates to a puzzle called The Vanishing Lady. I was always appreciative of Jim's effort to produce this puzzle, and his artwork was first rate (I still have the original drawings).

The puzzle is, in fact, extremely clever, and Jim worked from an old-fashioned model that I used to sell in the early 1960s. There are three pieces of card: one long and two short. The two short pieces, when placed side by side, are the same length as the long piece. The three pieces are assembled with the long strip at the bottom and the two shorter pieces on top. With the pieces thus assembled, you see pictures of 15 pin-up girls. If you swap the positions of the two short pieces, the picture size is the same as before, but now you can see only 14 girls. One has disappeared. Which one, and where did she go?"

You can enlarge the images below to see the puzzle in the two different formats: one with 15 girls, one with 14.

John Henley is the international copyright holder of the illustrated puzzle; many thanks to him for sharing his story, as well as this beautiful Holdaway artwork that most of the world has never before seen!