Always Late, Always Great

April 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Magicol No. 182

Borrowing from Bill Larsen, Jr., we are pleased to announce that No. 182 is finally at the printers! We have another great issue lined up. Following John Mulholland’s lead from 1943 when he dedicated an entire issue of The Sphinx to the magic and magicians of Australia, in this issue of Magicol we, too, focus on articles and reviews (assembled primarily by Brian McCullagh) about magic in the land Oz.

To start off, Brian gives us a broad-stroke perspective on Australian collections in comparison to American and European ones. Next, we have a virtual tour of Sydney by Brian McCullagh as he explores the city through its magic emporiums from the past and present. Gerald Taylor and Lynda Holmes take us on a second city tour, this time, looking at the great Sights and Scenes of Melbourne.

We are then treated to an overview of the massive WG Alma Conjuring Collection as told by the collection’s caretaker, Dominique Dunstan, Librarian, Arts Team, State Library of Victoria. And WHAT a collection it is! The online resource alone, is quite astounding! We enjoy both a history of the collection and a biography about its former owner, Will Alma, and his history with magic. Here is a sample of what Ms. Dunstan’s article promises:

Keeping with our Aussie theme, Clay Shevlin contributes a special edition of his column, Librarium Magicum, and focuses on The Annals of Conjuring and the Aussie Connection. Next up, David Ben reviews the 12th Los Angeles Conference on Magic History (November 2011) for the Conference Corner. David also provides a sneak peek of our forthcoming convention, the 43rd Magic Collectors Weekend, May 10-12 (Chicago), by outlining the chocker-block schedule. (If you have not already done so, we encourage you to register for our Weekend and book your hotel at MCW rates before the discount expires on May 1). We have posted our Weekend schedule for your  review.

For No. 182’s  book reviews, we chose to include book reviews following the Down Under theme. Reviews include: Chung Ling Soo’s Mechanists – They Stayed Behind, reviewed by Peter Rodgers; Deception Downunder: A Look at Magic in Australia, reviewed by Steve Walker; Magical Nights at the Theatre, reviewed by Brian McCullagh; Magical Reminiscences, reviewed by Kent Blackmore; and Sydney’s Magic Heritage, reviewed by Peter Rodgers.

To close the issue, Gabe Fajuri shares a lovely reflection on a famous Aussie, Percy Abbott.

So, you can see why we have been so busy putting this issue together! We hope to have this new issue in the mail, early next week.

Stay tuned, another great offer for Magicol readers coming soon!

The Indian Rope Trick and Other Tall Tales

February 9, 2012 § 5 Comments

Indian Snake Charmer

It’s amazing what one hears when the ear is on the ground. It is easy to understand how myth, if repeated often enough, can masquerade as fact.

Although we have received some very positive comments about the state of Magicol, and the Magic Collectors Weekend, we have also heard from a variety of sources of some rumble in the jungle.

So, before we start outlining the programming for the forthcoming Magic Collectors Weekend – programming which we believe everyone will enjoy – let’s address a few of the rumors, most of which revolve around our announcement that we plan on staging the MCW as a biennial gathering, that is, every two years.

Even though we stated our reasons quite clearly in the last issue of Magicol, there seems to be some confusion. Let me clarify:

Yes, of course, we are having a conference this year!

First, it is surprising to hear some think we are not hosting a conference this year. Not only are we holding the conference, but we have also started advertising this news on channels outside the confines of Magicol and the website.

No, it’s not being held in Canada, this year or in future years.

Second, there is no secret or ulterior motive to move the Magic Collectors Weekend to Canada.

Although I am proudly Canadian, and pleased to be in the ranks of other Canadian magicians  –  including Dr. Saram Ellison (co-founder of the S.A.M.), Len Vintus (co-founder of the I.B.M.), Dai Vernon, Stewart James, Ross Bertram, Sid Lorraine, the Amazing Randi, and Doug Henning, to name just a few – I am pragmatic enough to know the difficulty for dealers who try to cross the border with undisclosed or documented goods. (It works, of course, both ways. It is difficult for Canadians to cross the border with their goods and services.) The logistical challenges are far too complicated to even entertain the notion. So in short, rest assured, there is no intention of staging the MCW in Canada at this time.

And, if people believe they impact the organization or the Weekend by “boycotting” it, I will not argue their beliefs. However, the major draw – for me, anyway – are the people who attend the conference, not the numbers, and we welcome all those who bring a positive energy to the event and the program.

Are you kidding?

Third, we have heard that others have approached us about holding the Magic Collectors Weekend in another city and that we have rejected their overture. This is simply not true.  Not a single individual nor organization has approached us about staging the Weekend in the “off year”, or for that matter, “any year.”

In the forthcoming issue of Magicol, I have specifically stated that those who are interested in doing so (those who really believe that they would like to stage the Weekend in another city) are welcome to contact us. In fact, if someone strongly believes that they would like to take over the entire initiative, we are open to suggestion. None of us are here for the money, and if someone has the passion, expertise and resources, we would welcome them into the fold.

At this point in time, however, there has not been a single inquiry.

Day Pass Policy

Finally, there is the issue of day passes to the Weekend.

One year we tried to offer day passes. The next year, we made it quite clear that we were not offering day passes. The day passes created much more work, and the economic cost of issuing the day pass was, in our mind, unfairly subsidized by those who attended the entire conference.

Conferences cost money to stage, and they are paid for by a combination of user fees and room rentals. If you or your group does not spend a pre-determined amount with the hotel in the way of meeting rooms, room rental and food and beverage, you or the organization has to make up the shortfall. This would mean significantly higher registration fees to cover the risk.

So, we have elected to encourage people to attend the entire event. It is better for everyone. Not only does it motivate us to design a program that should appeal to delegates throughout the conference, it is better for the dealers who want business and, more importantly, it provides the time and opportunity to renew or build more lasting relationships with those who share our love of magic and collecting.

And now, back to our regular programming….

— David Ben

Thank you, Gabe!

December 15, 2011 § 3 Comments

He said it couldn’t be done. In fact, he even put money on it – he was so sure we would never get Magicol No. 181 out by the end of the year. Well, we are pleased to say that our team came together, accepted the challenge, and now, the issue is at the printers.

And, what an issue it has turned out to be.

Magicol No. 181

Tom Ewing starts us off on our international journey walking us through the incredible career of Indian magician, Sorcar. Next, Michael Claxton recounts Douglas Beaufort’s “quasi-diplomatic mission” to Morocco in 1892 – quite a different tale from Beaufort’s original telling in his article for Pearson’s Magazine.

Continuing our tour of the globe, Arthur Moses shares his research on Houdini (as the subject) in foreign titled books. This nine-page database pain-stakingly details titles on or about Houdini in over twenty languages! You will find an incredible table of information with Houdini titles organized in alphabetical order of their language; first listing the title, language, author, publisher, publication date, and the original (English) translated title of the book. Whew!

John Carney and Clay Shevlin also return to present their wares in this issue. No. 181 marks John Carney’s final instalment of Gimmicks, Gadgets and Gizmos, and we thank John for his excellent contributions and for bringing these lovely treasures to light. In his column, Clay Shevlin examines Dr. Trevor H. Hall’s very limited and rare publication, Twelve Friends, which was privately published in 1981. Clay gives us a rich look at this exceedingly rare title.

The Conference Corner also returns: Joe Culpepper and Dr. Gene Matsuura both review, respectively, the 42nd Magic Collectors Weekend (honouring Dr. Gene Matsuura and Ray & Ann Goulet) held in Chicago; and the European Conference on Magic History held in London this year.

For book lovers, there are seven – yes, count them, SEVEN – books reviewed in this issue: The Lives of Showman; Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic; Gibecière (Summer 2011); Memoirs of an Elusive Moth; Rameses, The Forgotten Star; Magical Mathematics and a German-langauge title, Wunder-Herrliches!.

We close the issue with a charming reminder by Richard Cohn about finding magic in the most unexpected places!

We could not have done this issue with our the tireless effort of our talented designer, Michael Albright, who burnt the midnight oil to see this one through so we could have a very happy holiday – which will be especially so, when Gabe hands over our winnings!

But, don’t forget…

As the year comes to a close, it is also time to renew your subscriptions for Magicol. You can easily renew online, or download the renewal form here. Save time and register now for the forthcoming 43rd Magic Collectors Weekend May 10-12, 2012.

Finally, Happy Holidays from all of us at Magicana!

MCW – Gninrom Yadrutas

April 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Expert at the Card Table (stolen from the Potter & Potter site)

The Expert at the Card Table (image stolen from Potter & Potter)

For many sleight-of-hand magicians, particularly for the new generation, the book most coveted is a first edition of S.W. Erdnase’s The Expert At The Card Table.  Even though the book is not particularly rare, it is probably the most sought-after magic book published in the 20th century.  Recent auction prices have seen copies sell for $5,000.

As the book was published originally in Chicago in 1902, and its illustrator, Marshall D. Smith was from the Second City, and made an appearance at the 1947 SAM Convention in the city, we thought it is now time to focus our attention at the MCW on this perennial favourite. To that end, we have invited several of the world’s foremost authorities on Erdnase to Chicago to discuss the book at the 42nd Annual Magic Collectors Weekend.

Our first presenter Saturday morning (May 21) will be Jason England. In addition to being one of the world’s foremost authorities on advantage play, Jason is also obsessed with Erdnase.  He has collected almost every edition of the book, and he will be bringing them with him to Chicago to show – as a display in the Dealers Room – and tell, with a keynote presentation in our theatre.

We are also pleased announce a new name on the Erdnase-scene:  Hurt McDermott. A writer/director by trade, Hurt has many new and interesting ideas about the book and its author. His focus at the MCW will be on why the book was published in Chicago. It is a fascinating story, and one that will shed new light on a host of other publications.

For many, the seminal question regarding the book is the identity of the author. Seasoned history conference attendees will recall the spirited debate on this subject at the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History some ten years ago. Although David Alexander is no longer with us – he had been scheduled to present an update for us at the 42nd MCW – we are pleased to have Richard Hatch and Todd Karr on hand to provide both an overview of the candidates and their considerable insight on the subject. A lot has changed in the past ten years as technology has given Erdnase-scholars the opportunity to access an unparalleled amount of records and data. These sessions will bring us up-to-date.

The morning session will conclude with a panel discussion and Q & A session with our presenters on this most elusive subject.

You won’t want to miss this special session!

The 42 MCW is scheduled for May 19-21, 2011. To register, click here.

MCW: Full House

April 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Well, registration for the Magic Collectors Weekend is picking and so are room reservations. If you are thinking about booking your hotel room now would be a good time.

We have just been informed by the Westin OHare that we have filled up our “block” of reserved rooms. This means that while there are a few rooms available, the MCW rate will no longer apply to dates outside of our event. As our dates fill up, convention room rates will vanish.

Also, there is a big convention in Chicago in and around the same time as our Weekend which is putting a lot of pressure on the demand on rooms. Consequently, room rates are going up to $159 per night plus 13% tax.

There only a few days and rooms left at the $125 rate. So if you were thinking about, it, stop thinking and book now!

DIRECT LINK to reserve at the Westin O’Hare:

MCW 2011 Registration

MCW 2011 Hotel Information


March 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

As we mentioned in our previous post, we have a jam-packed schedule of events.  The focus on Friday morning will be Advertising Magic.  We have invited several speakers with expertise in this area to address the subject in novel ways.

ThayerWe were inspired to explore this theme at the MCW after reading The Ultimate Thayer, the magnum opus by Phil Schwartz and the late Dr. Robert Albo. As Phil has a background in marketing and communications, it should come as no surprise that he would touch upon how magic dealers – in this case Thayer – cultivated a ‘brand name’.  We have asked Phil to elaborate on this concept: How dealers have – or have not – created a brand in their advertising, catalogues and wares.

We have also asked Adam Rubin – a frequent contributor to the pages of MAGIC magazine, and one of those ‘creative guys’ who has worked in the advertising industry – to come up with modern day advertising campaigns for magic props from a by-gone era.  It is always a curse to say that someone is funny in advance.  Well, Adam has just been cursed.  He’s a funny guy.

Most of us have heard of “The Trick That Cannot Be Explained”.  How about “The Prop That Cannot Be Explained”?!  Readers of Magicol will know of John Carney’s quest to ferret out and photograph exactly that: props that cannot be explained.  John will be joining us Friday morning to showcase some of the Gimmicks, Gadgets and Gizmos that defy description, and that he has culled from various collectors throughout the world.

Have you registered yet? Have you booked your hotel? Hop to it – space is running out!

Next up:  Friday afternoon programming.

MCW 42: Chicago Goes Coastal

March 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

We are pleased to report that we have finalized the roster of presenters for the 42nd Annual Magic Collectors Weekend to be held at the Westin Hotel in Chicago from May 19th to 21st.

The Westin offers our conference superb facilities with an amphitheater for our formal presentations, a dealers’ room right across the hall, and plenty of other amenities. We can accommodate 200 delegates, and at present, two months from the opening event, we have over 130 registrants.

With over twenty presentations scheduled over the three days, there is something for everyone with an interest in magic and its history.  We will be releasing details about the presentations over the next few posts here.

Although the MCW doesn’t start officially until Thursday, May 19th, many delegates arrive on the Wednesday to relax at the hotel, see some sights in Chicago, or visit the Knights of Sleights28th Annual Flea Market to find a bargain or two. Every year a few stories circulate around the MCW about the treasures unearthed at this magical flea market.


Opening Day Line Up

Registration for the MCW will open Thursday morning at 11:00 am.  The Dealers’ Room will open around 12:30. We are pleased to have several new faces in the Dealers’ Room this year, as well as those we’ve come to expect and whom we all appreciate. We’ll do a separate blog entry about the various dealers further down the line. We can say, however, that we will also have a couple of mini-exhibitions in the room, as well as the tables where attendees can converse, and that were such a hit last year.

We will also stage both a Dealers’ Show and  TOSS (Tricks Old & Seldom Seen) on Thursday afternoon. Both will be under the capable direction of MCW stalwart Tom Ewing.  If you have something that is old and seldom seen – and who doesn’t – and would be willing to share it with the group, please send Tom a note so that he can add you – and the prop – to the program. TOSS is not meant to be a formal show, but rather a fun gathering of collectors who walk through the demonstration of apparatus to inform and amuse.

On Thursday evening, we will fete and hear from our Guests of Honor:  Ray and Ann Goulet, and Dr. Gene Matsuura. It’s the East Coast (Boston) meeting the West Coast (San Francisco) in Chicago, providing insight and stories from in front of and behind the scenes, garnered from a lifetime of collecting magic. A mix and mingle reception will follow the presentation by our Guests of Honor. You don’t want to stay up too late, however, as we have a jam-packed day to follow.

If you haven’t yet registered for the event, now’s the time. Here are some handy links:

Stay tuned to this blog! We will release more Weekend news soon.

42nd Annual Collectors Weekend

September 10, 2010 § Leave a comment


Walter Zaney Blaney performing his Ladder Levitation for the last time at the 41st MCW

Magicana will be hosting the 42nd installment of the Collectors Weekend in Chicago, May 19 to 21, 2011, where we are delighted to be honoring guests Ray & Ann Goulet and Dr. Gene Matsuura.

We have now opened registration to this limited-capacity event and offer Magicol subscribers and spouses the same discounted rate of $210 USD per registration. Non-subscriber’s rate is $225 USD. REGISTER NOW

Dealers: if you are interested to showcase your wares, please contact James Alan ( for more information.

The Weekend will be hosted at  The Westin O’Hare. Delegates are offered discounted room rates of $125 per night for May 19 and 21. Book your reservations online. The hotel also offers a free airport shuttle service and is providing discounted parking of $10 per day for Weekend participants.

We will release information about the 42nd MCW program here on our Mystery & History blog.  If you do not already subscribe to this blog, we encourage you to do so. That way,  you will be the first to hear how the schedule unfolds.

What happened last year?

Visit our summary page from last year and read all about it!

Saturday Programming

April 20, 2010 § 1 Comment

It’s hard to believe that the 41st MCA Weekend is about a month away. Here are some programming notes about our Saturday schedule.

The morning will focus on “Finding Your Man”. We’ve invited three indefatigable magic collectors and historians – Gary Hunt, Diego Domingo, and Jim Maloney – to discuss and demonstrate the tricks they use to uncover new information about persons of interest. In addition to a live demonstration of how to access an astonishing amount of information in the public domain -information that can answer many of the questions you may have about a performer or period of magic – there will be a panel discussion with these three experts.

In the afternoon, Rev. Robert Olson will take the stage and provide his reflections on a lifetime of magic. Jim Alfredson, the Honorary Lifetime President of the MCA, will then speak about “Periodicals and Publishers”, and how the personalities of the publishers are reflected in the pages of their publications.

David Charvet will also be joining us. David is one of the most prolific authors and presenters when it comes to magic history. He will be discussing a blast from the past: Stoppard’s Phantom Ray.

Fu Manchu

Fu Manchu

The afternoon programming concludes with a special presentation by Eduardo Sanchez from Argentina. Eduardo is huge fan of David Bamberg (Fu Manchu). The focus of his presentation is on Bamberg in Argentina. Eduardo has assembled an impressive array of visual material including some rare film footage for our gathering.

There is still more to come.

We have a great show lined up for the Saturday evening, and lots of dealers to cater to your every need. In the interim, don’t forget that April 22nd is the cut-off date for our special rate with the hotel. So, even if you aren’t sure whether you can attend, it might be a good idea to reserve a hotel room just in case.

Another special offer!

April 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

The MCA Weekend is approaching fast.  We’ll be releasing some more details about the schedule of events shortly. Here are some more updates:


A top priority is booking your hotel room.

The Westin O’Hare is booking up very quickly. Click here to book your hotel room at the discounted rate. Please note that the special MCA Weekend rates of $115/night (plus tax) are only eligible for May 13, 14 and 15, 2010 due to high hotel occupancy. Also, note that this special rate is only available until April 22.  After that, you have to pay the full rate.


We now have a fifth option for you for Friday (May 15) night.

Neil Tobin invites MCA members to get a taste of Chicago paranormal history that evening by visiting a performance of what he describes as the longest-running theatrical magic show in Chicago history, Supernatural Chicago. (It’s currently in its seventh straight year of weekly performances!)

Well, for Friday May 15, Neil is pleased to offer a special MCA discount. For just $20, MCA members will receive two drinks, admittance to the show, and enjoyment of the landmark Excalibur nightclub. The show and nightclub are housed in a historic (and reputedly haunted) building located in the heart of downtown Chicago.

The performance begins at 7:30PM and runs 90 minutes. You can see the preview video and obtain further details on the Supernatural Chicago website. Neil indicates that only 50 guests can be admitted for this performance. If interested, to ensure your place, please order your ticket in advance by calling 1-800-979-3370 and request the MCA discount.

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