It used to cost $200 per hour to have someone conduct a patent search. Now, with the internet and thanks to Google you can search them free of charge. Just go over to http://www.google.com/patents
and type in something like "Tenyo" and you'll bring up everything Tenyo has ever patented and learn the complete secrets to the tricks. Note: Tenyo only patented a small number of their tricks, but they did patent more than any other magic manufacturer, I think I found two or three dozen of their tricks in the patent files.
Here are some handy tips that will save you some time when searching through the patent files for magic tricks:
1. Only a fraction of all magic tricks are patented. It costs a lot of money to hire a patent attorney and patent a trick, several thousands of dollars. Most tricks don't even come close to recooping that kind of money.
2. Almost no trick that is patented is listed by the name of the trick you see it advertised under. This can make it extremely difficult to find the patent. It's best to find out the name of the inventor and run his name through the patent search engine.
3. Let's say you run the words "stage illusion" or "levitation" through the search engine. You'll pull up a list with several hits (not all will have anything to do with magic). You find one that looks interesting and IS a magic effect. After you've viewed it make sure you scroll all the way down and you'll come to a list of patent numbers that this illusion was based on. You're likely to get ten or twenty more patented levitations, maybe a lot more.
4. Here's an example, I ran the word "levitation" and one of the hits was David Copperfield's Flying Illusion. He didn't invent it but the guy who did patented it (after all, it costs over a million dollars to build). Here's the patent number: 5,354,238 And here's the patent number for Jim Steinmeyer's Origami Illusion, also performed by Copperfield: US D345595 S
I have the patent numbers to several hundred magic tricks and illusions. I'm not sure Penguin would allow me to post them as it would lead directly to the secrets behind them.
I also enjoy looking up devices used by escape artists, handcuffs, leg irons, straight jackets, and even execution equipment.
Whatever your interest you could spend hours and practically make a hobby out of searching through the US Patent files.http://www.google.com/patents