The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Gallery of Fake Viral Images
Old-Time Photo Fakery, 1900 to 1919
Baby Yoga, aka Swinging Your Kid Around Your Head
The Diaphote, a television hoax, 1880
Cursed by Allah
The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, 1959
The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
The Stone-Age Tasaday Hoax, 1971
Princess Caraboo, servant girl who became a princess, 1817
Taco Bells buys the Liberty Bell, 1996
Status: It's a kind of magic trick (though it really will hold up your books)
image is offering a product called the magicSHELF. Kathy Johnston emailed me to ask: "Is this for real? I can't tell how it works." Unfortunately, I don't yet have a definitive answer. The magicSHELF has stumped me.

Pictures of the magicSHELF show books floating against a wall as if by magic, with no visible means of support. As the site says, "magicSHELF floats your books in the air, docking to any wall you wish." When I first saw it I figured it had to be a joke. This is linkydinky, after all, the creators of the infamous Lovenstein Institute email. Plus, the pictures of the magicSHELF in action could easily have been photoshopped, and statements such as "How does magicSHELF work? It works like magic!" seem tongue-in-cheek. But then I noticed that they're taking money for these things, which put a dent in my skepticism. After all, if you send them $18, you better get something in return... and not just an empty box. I don't think linkydinky would invite people to send them money for a nonexistent product. So now I'm thinking that the magicSHELF must be real, although I have no explanation for how it works.

Update: Greg Cason ordered a magicSHELF and emailed me the flyer that explains how it works. So what's the secret? Well, now that I know, I think I need to invoke the magician's creed (don't spoil the trick) and stay mum. However, I will say that it is real, and it definitely does work.

Update 2: I received my very own magicshelf in the mail, sent by Uncle Url of linkydinky to help me verify that it is, indeed, real. Perhaps it was just a trick of the light, but I could swear that the package it arrived in was floating, ever so slightly, off the ground. wink

Anyway, it didn't take me long to get it installed. Maybe ten minutes total. You can see the results below.

image image image

When you get the magicSHELF your first thought might be, "This is so simple. Why didn't I think of this?" But, speaking for myself, I had never thought of it before, so I've got to give Uncle Url credit for the idea. And it definitely looks cool to have books magically floating on the wall. It's a surreal effect. You kind of have to blink twice to make sure your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. It really looks like there should be something supporting the books. Great conversation starter. I know I'm going to be showing it off to every guest that comes over.

So how sturdy is it? Well, I wouldn't stack a lot of books on it. Six or seven seems about right. Also, I wouldn't lean on it or let kids hang on it (unless you want a hole in your wall). But if it's by your bedside, it'll support some books and a glass of water, no problem.

If you're handy with making stuff on your own, you could probably jerry-rig something similar to the magicSHELF for less money. (But if you can't imagine how this might be done, then you're probably not handy enough to take on such a project.) However, the challenge would be to find the right parts. When I was at Home Depot this morning, I quickly checked to see how easy it would be to find similar parts. I found a few things that could work, if I had the tools to bend them into the right shape. But I don't have those kind of tools. However, I'm pretty sure that if one were to drive around to a few different hardware stores, you could eventually find something roughly equivalent. But how much effort are you willing to expend? It's a lot easier just to order it from Uncle Url. And it is his idea, after all.

Disclaimer: I don't have any kind of financial arrangement with linkydinky, but I have agreed to let Uncle Url quote me as saying that the magicSHELF is real. In return, whenever he uses my testimonial, he mentions that I have a book coming out soon, Hippo Eats Dwarf. So I do derive some benefit from that.
Categories: Literature/Language, Magic, Technology
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 19, 2006
Comments (38)
well... see this↓
Posted by ret  on  Sun Jan 22, 2006  at  10:24 AM
I have one now. I too was curious and decided to take the plunge. It is a real product.

It is an L-shaped bracket. The bottom book (you supply) is placed over the bracket. They supply a two-sided piece of tape to hold the book cover in place. Dunno if that damages the book or not.

The whole setup could be purchased at a hardware store for 3-4 dollars. ~$18 is way too high.

I sent The Museum of Hoaxes a diagram of the setup.
Posted by gcason  on  Tue Jan 24, 2006  at  03:28 PM
Maybe all of you are thinking "inside the box" on this. How about the use of a general purpose suction cup with an attached bracket. The suction cup I am speaking of here is the type you see in hardware store which allows you to move a lever on a suction device which creates instant suction for picking up things like drywall and plywood, etc.
Posted by Frontal Mystic  on  Sun Jan 29, 2006  at  03:40 AM
rightchious brother!
Posted by Frank_Harr  in  Florida  on  Fri Feb 03, 2006  at  01:16 AM
I say that there is a tiny prong of metal that goes inside the hard cover of the book and holds in shut, as well as holding up everything ontop of it, I'm still interested in getting my own too...
Posted by Blood For Nothing  in  Somewhere in the Arctic  on  Sat Feb 04, 2006  at  09:17 AM
Video of MagicSHELF box contents
Posted by VIDEO  in  USA  on  Tue Apr 25, 2006  at  11:23 AM
the product it's self is not bad. I would not poststuff like this if they didn't lie about the MagicSHELF

Video of MagicSHELF box contents
and many other text like this

This is the orignal post from

magicSHELF Mystery Solved


Status: The magicSHELVES are real

Greg Cason broke down and ordered one of those LinkyDinky magicSHELVES that I posted about last week (I was tempted to do the same), thereby learning the secret of how they work. It turns out it's not a photoshop trick, nor are the books glued to the wall. Actually, they work almost exactly as I theorized. A shelf is anchored into the dry wall, and then the shelf itself is concealed by covering it with a book and gluing the book shut. Greg notes: "It's nothing but an L bracket with some sticky stuff. Cute idea, but not worth ~$18. You should be able buy the parts yourself for about 3 or 4 dollars at any hardware store."

Update: Uncle Url himself (of Linky Dinky) sent me an email in response to the Museum of Hoaxes's ongoing magicSHELF investigation. Here's how it begins:

Alex -- You spilled my beans!

Well, all I've got to say is that I'm glad you concluded the story by allowing that our MagicShelf is, in fact, a "real" product and that it does exactly what it says it does. However... don't think so fast that the parts can be had at any local hardware store for 3 or 4 dollars.

For the full email click here. (It was a bit too long to post in its entirety on the front page.) Well, I hope Uncle Url doesn't harbor any bad feelings towards me for revealing the secret of the magicSHELF. It would kind of suck to get on Linky Dinky's blacklist. (There are many people whose blacklist I would be proud to be on, but I actually like Linky Dinky. They did come up with the Lovenstein Institute, after all.) But what can I say? The mystery of the magicSHELF was too tempting a puzzle not to try and solve. Anyway, I'm sure there are many products that can be constructed by do-it-yourselfers for a fraction of the cost, but since most of us aren't do-it-yourselfers, I doubt the market for the magicSHELF will be threatened by people buying the parts at the hardware store and making their own. Actually, I'm still tempted to buy one, since it would be an interesting conversation piece to have in my office.
Posted by I would not mind so much...  in  asdf  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  01:41 PM
my friend has one! its just an L shaped bracket that screws into the wall, with a little lip, and the hard cover of the bottom of your book slips into it and the weight of the book keeps it in place. you can put up to 6 or 7 books on there.
there's no magic involved. geez.
Posted by rachel  on  Wed Aug 08, 2007  at  02:14 PM
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