Magicol 191: Correction


Mike Caveney & Tina Lenert, photo courtesy of Bill Taylor, ASC

Michael Claxton’s review of the Fourteenth Los Angeles Conference on Magic History appeared in Magicol No. 191

Reader Peter Rodgers offered this correction regarding the provenance of the “Birth of a Pearl” illusion presented by Mike Caveney at the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History:

 My main interest was your revue of Mike Caveney’s presentation and performance of the Birth of a Pearl using an actual illusion built by Phil Davies and used by the Australian Illusionist Maurice Rooklyn in his tours of New Zealand and Australia from the mid 1940’s through to 1954. The illusion had been stored in the Sydney home of Steve Walker for about 6 years, when Steve died in December 2014. It was me that contacted Mike Caveney and arranged for the illusion to be shipped to him for his performance at the LA Conference.
Phil Davies came to Australia with the Chung Ling Soo show in 1909 but stayed in Australia as an illusion builder until his death in the early 1940’s ( Chung Ling Soo’s Mechanists, they Stayed Behind by Brian McCullagh 1998). He manufactured a Birth of a Pearl for the Australian Illusionist Jean Hugard (John Gerard Rodney Boyce) who performed it for the rest of his career.(Jean Hugard by James B. Alfredson 1997). Unfortunately Hugard left Australia, (and his family) for Fiji and then the USA in 1916 never to return. He took the Birth of a Pearl with him and performed it in the USA at I believe Coney Island in New York until 1929. Hugard’s Birth of a Pearl had an “inner shell of dainty pink” (A Lifetime in Magic by Percy Abbott). Hugard’s Birth of a Pearl could not have been the same equipment later used by Maurice Rooklyn as reported in your article because Hugards illusion never came back to Australia. (It would be interesting to know what happened to it.) The lining of Rooklyn’s, now Mike Caveney’s illusion is green not pink.
But Rooklyn’s illusion was also made by Phil Davies, this time for Australian magician Wong Toy Sunn (Claude Guest) who started performing a Chinese act in 2011 soon after the departure of Chung Ling Soo from Australia. Rooklyn acquired the illusion and toured with it for about ten years after World War Two. In the mid 1970’s he either gave or sold it to Sydney Magician John Bodnar. Who put it into storage. When John went into an aged home in 2008 his son, Stephen Bodnar contacted me and I got Steve Walker to come with me to check it out. It was in a sorry state, the timber packing case was rotting and rats had built nests throughout the illusion. We cleaned it up and shifted it to Steve Walkers garage until early 2015 when we gave it to Mike Caveney for him to perform at the LA Magic History Conference. The article in the January 2016 Genii magazine is basicly correct except that Mike did not buy the illusion. He paid for it to be shipped to Los Angeles but we gave it to him.


Magicol 191 is at the printers!


Magicol, No. 191

Cover features Dale Harney

The latest issue of Magicol, No. 191, with a feature on Dale Harney, is on its way to the printers! Here is a preview of what’s inside:

Dale Harney is a Canadian illusionist who is best known for his role on the Canadian television series, The Magic Palace. The show began in 1979 and featured great magic and magicians on an unprecedented scale. While the original episode recordings were lost—for reasons explained inside No. 191—David Ben discovered a number of episodes preserved on VHS in the collections of Allan Slaight, P. Howard Lyons and Sid Lorraine. He was able to locate Dale Harney, still actively involved in television and theatre (with behind-the-scenes roles) and we are pleased to present this profile to our subscribers.

To go along with this issue of Magicol, we are making Dale’s work on The Magic Palace the focus of a new free online exhibition. With Dale’s encouragement, all of the footage we have been able to gather will be digitized and shared online. We will release the exhibition soon, so stay tuned. There is a teaser clip for you to see here:

This issue also launches a new work by Leo Benhke, Magic and Literature, which will be serialized in the next several issues. The manuscript is divided into twelve chapters, the first two of which are featured in in this issue. We also have George Daily on a rare collectible associated with Horace Goldin, Michael Claxton’s review of the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History and Gabe Fajuri’s remembrance of Dan Waldron.

You will also find information and a registration form for the Magic Collectors Weekend 2017!

So many nice things in this next issue and we hope you enjoy!



Magicol goes to Italy

Magicol 190 Cover

Magicol No. 190

Take a trip – to Italy.

In the past we have dedicated issues to magic and collectibles in Chicago (No. 176), London (No. 178), Australia (No. 182) and Argentina (No. 186). We now turn our attention to Italy. With the immense help of Mauro Massironi, we have assembled a series of articles describing Italian magic collectibles, authors and performers.

William Kalush gives us a peek at some of his favourite Italian collectibles including rare manuscripts, a commemorative token and an early book test. As he points out, Italy was a very productive centre for magic around the sixteenth century and a large amount of our modern magic can be traced back to material published during that period.

Pietro Micheli investigates the life of the famous magician Pinetti. Some readers will recognize Pinetti from his mention in Robert-Houdin’s Memoirs. In the same vein as Houdini, he was a prolific self-promoter and, as you will read, he also had a knack for getting himself into trouble!

Mauro Massironi has conducted new research on Frizzo. This Italian performer is nearly forgotten today, but is said to have been comparable to Bosco, Robert-Houdin and Compars Herrmann as a performer. In this article, Massironi also sets the record straight about several misconceptions about Frizzo which come from earlier attempts at a biography.

Arguably the most famous Italian magician of the twentieth century is Chefalo. Marco Pusterla profiles this Italian-born prolific stage performer who emigrated to the United States and toured the world through the days of Vaudeville and the Second World War.

Gregorio Samà remembers Father Salvatore Cimò, whom one Italian publication referred to affectionately as the “Tarbell of Italian magic literature.” A Jesuit priest, Cimò published books containing hundreds, if not thousands, of tricks at a time when there were only a handful of titles in Italian.

Looking forward to more modern times, after the decline of Fascism in Italy, a group of dedicated close-up performers began importing foreign magic sources and developing their own style of close-up magic. This collaboration between Mauro Massironi, Tony Binarelli, Claudio Pizzuti and Diego Spinelli recounts the formation of an intimate group known as the “Roman Circle” in the 1960s and 70s.

Finally, historian Andrea Boccia extends an invitation to all of our readers to visit his “Museum of Great Dreamers” near Saint Peter’s in Rome.

As you can see, it is quite an issue and we are very pleased that after the American Thanksgiving holiday, it will be in the hopper and soon, in your mailboxes!



Dues are now due!

Magicana - Magicols
Subscribe or renew for No. 190, 191, 192, 193

NOTE that we print to meet subscriber demands only. Back issues will not be available so avoid holes in your collection and renew now!

Not sure if you are in good standing? Just email us and we will be happy to check for you.

We are hard at work on the the next issue of Magicol (No. 190) and wanted to remind you that dues, are in fact, due.


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Magical Magicol


Magicol No. 189

Time to renew subscriptions

Don’t fall off your chairs, but yes, the next issue of Magicol No. 189 has made its way to the printers!

It’s true. You are not hallucinating.

George Daily starts us off with a beautiful tribute to his (and our) dear friend, Jim Alfredson. George reminiscing about when he first met Jim, and the adventures the pair found themselves in during their long friendship. A great tribute to a great man.

Next up, Michael Claxton illustrates the immense number of collectibles for the one and only, Dell O’Dell. In his research for his biography, Don’t Fool Yourself, Michael came across a great number of items and gives us just a sampling of what is (and is not) out there.

We then turn to Ian Keable who gives us some insight about Charles Dickens and Dickens’ friendship with Cornelius Felton. Dickens met Felton in Boston during a trip to America, and first told Felton about taking up conjuring.

Peter Brunning  then gives us a slightly different kind of portrait on the great Charles Bertram, walking us through the trials and tribulations of Bertram’s varied career (not just as a magician) and his finances.

Leo Behnke of Book Group in Las Vegas, submitted a lovely piece giving us a peek of a day in the life of a bookbinder. Talk about before and after! The repair pieces that Leo shares and talks about are very interesting and maybe of keen interest to collectors!

Michael Claxton kindly rushed to give us not only a wonderful convention review of the Yankee Gathering in New England last November, but also one of the recent Midwest Magic History Weekend in Marshall, Michigan. He has given us two separate recaps of these terrific events. Thank you Wayne Wissner for providing convention photos for us, too!

Finally to wrap up this issue, Bjorn Hanson submitted an interesting piece on “Fact Checking John Scarne’s The Odds Against Me”. The perfect end to this latest issue.

Now, with that all said, it’s also important to mention this is the last issue for our current subscription and it is now time to renew! (And, we will post more news on that, too, soon!)


Special Issue on Paul Fox


Long Overdue

Not the issue, but the story.

We are pleased to announce that we’ve just sent the latest issue of Magicol, No. 188, to the printers. This one features the life and times of Paul Fox –  which has taken nearly forty years to come to fruition.

The long awaited story of Paul Fox unfolds within the 128 pages of Magicol No. 188 detailing the complex and textured life of this “Master of Mystery”. (Normally, our issues average 90 pages, so this is a particularly big one.)

David Ben explains in his “Words of Welcome” how this incredible story landed within Magicol’s covers and how he became the custodian and author of the story. This issue would not have been possible without the complete support of Paul Fox’s family. In particular, we extend our gratitude and thanks to his daughter, Margaret Grace Mandel, who opened her home and personal files so that her father’s story could emerge, whole and complete. And, indeed, it is a remarkable one. We hope you think so, too.



Signed, sealed … and almost delivered

You read right!

Our scheduled May issue, is actually being printed and mailed in the month of May!

We are very happy to report that we have just sent our latest issue of Magicol, No. 187 to the printers.

And it’s a beauty!

This issue is full of wonderful articles and gems about autographs and signatures and kicks off with a primer by Gabe Fajuri. As David Ben notes in his opening remarks, Gabe certainly has come across his fair share of autographs and signed ephemera — we figure enough to last at least three lifetimes! Gabe sets the mood by reminding us of how accessible, valuable and interesting collecting autographs can be.

But you know you have a great collectible when it is being copied, non? Enter Dustin Stinett. Dustin takes on the challenge of learning more about the automation, or rather automaton-ation of one of John Gaughn’s gorgeous mechanical creations, who can forge of one of the most famous signatures of magic history, Houdini’s.

Ever spend an afternoon figuring out how you should sign your name? Well, Larry Horowitz and Steve Schlanger go much further and trace the near-century long evolution of The Professor’s stylish signature in their wonderful tribute article to Dai Vernon.

When musing over the stylish signatures we were researching for this issue, the beautiful lines of penmanship found at every turn were breathtaking. Handwriting really has become a lost art. Well, a musing became a mystery and our friend Elaine Charal, a graphologist in Toronto, put on her deerstalking cap to learn more about a few famous names in magic from yesteryear – with all analysis drawn from the stokes of their quills. Thanks to Ken Trombly who furnished us with sumptuous samples of handwriting from Blackstone, Dunninger, Downs, Houdini, Germain and far more, Elaine gave us wonderful insight commenting on what “tall Ts and downstroke Ds” say about the character of the writer. In fact, we simply had too many to include in this issue, so as a bonus, we will release her analysis on a soon-to-be-released online exhibition. Stay tuned!

Thanks to Bruce Averbook, James Smith and Michael Claxton for their wonderful reviews of the past three magic history conferences: the Washington Symposium, the 5th European Magic History Conference and finally the XVII LA Conference on Magic History. It was quite a year!

And who said the book industry is shrinking? James Alan and Bill Mullins review no less than six titles for this issue in a wide range of subjects and fare. For review details, check out the latest issue title page here.

Finally, what is Magicol without a little anecdotal finish and this issue’s comes courtesy of Bob Farmer. Sometimes there are no words for Bob. So for this one, you’ll just have to wait and read.

What?! Not a subscriber? How can you pass all this goodness up? Better SUBSCRIBE now. BE WARNED: we only print enough for our subscription list, so if you are not a subscriber there are very few extras available. If you want to find out the status of your subscription, just send us a note at and we’ll be happy to look into it for you.

Until then, signing off…..



Almost there!

No. 186

Are you renewed? Do it here.

Yes! It’s true!

We are almost back on track and soon you will see the proof in your mailbox. That’s right, No. 186 – the long awaited kick off issue to our current subscription – is almost ready to hit the printers.

We are letting you know earlier than usual to remind you we only print to meet our current subscriber list. If you have not yet renewed, maybe do that now so you are included in this forthcoming mailing. If you are not sure about your subscription status, just ask us.

You won’t want to miss this next one.

Magicol No. 186 savours the magic of Argentina. 2010 MCW speaker and Argentinean native, Eduardo Sánchez has worked very hard to collect charming articles and beautiful images about this magical place. We start with a historical overview of the magic in Argentina and how it has evolved into an international magic stop today. Then, we explore two famous Argentine cities – Buenos Aires and Rosario – in a walking tour remembering exquisite theatres and magical Meccas (ok, magic shops) where they once stood.

The issue continues to peek at some of the magic sets, magic books, magic shops and magic clubs that have blossomed under Argentina’s sun. But, how could this be a complete edition without a visit with  some Argentina’s collectors?! Precious pieces from famed magicians of yesteryear reside in South America. Find out who and what is there! (Want to know more? Mr. Sánchez has even created a bibliography for reference for this issue.)

To stay in tune with our themed issue, we have kept the book reviews (by Pablo Zanatta and Roberto Mansilla) on all things Argentina…be it books or authors. The gentlemen review:  Historia de la Magia y el Ilusionismo en la Argentina: desde sus origenes hasta el siglo XIX inclusive (The History of Magic and Conjuring in Argentina: from its origins to the 19th Century), El Humor en la Magia (Comedy Magic); and Projecto Mara (Project Mara).

We finish with a reflective remembrance by Pierre Mayer of how his father, a Hungarian turned Frenchman comes to open a magic shop, Palacio de la Magian Moderna, in Buenos Aires from 1940 to 1946.

So that’s just a tease of this next issue.

Don’t miss it.

We only print for the current list so — get current! Sign up here: SUBSCRIBE. Not sure of your subscription status? Ask Ellise.


Magic Castle’s Houdini Séance

2013-10-28 14.58.41

E. Raymond Carlyle and the Magic Castle’s Houdini Séance

One of the wonderful things about a blog is that we can provide current comments right away. After receiving a note from Greg Edmonds when issue No. 185 was first mailed out, we posted his comments on the opening article missing a notable name, E. Raymond Carlyle.

We have since received a note from the Magic Castle Séance originator, Edward R. Fowler, aka E. Raymond Carlyle.

The author of the article in question, “Turning Fifty”, Dustin Stinett, has made a comment today about this issue, originally posted on the Genii Forum, which we share with you here:

In my article in issue Number 185 (September, 2013) of MAGICOL, I mistakenly imply that Sandy Spillman was the first “medium” to work in the Houdini Séance Room at the Magic Castle.

This is an error of immense proportion considering that for more than a decade, E. Raymond Carlyle (Ed Fowler) held that position. The information was there for me to find during my research, I just plain missed it.

While I do not write that Mr. Spillman was the “first medium,” by leaving Mr. Fowler’s name out of the article it is very easy for anyone to come away with that idea, and it is, of course, wrong and the fault is mine.

I also sincerely apologize to David Ben, Julie Eng, the rest of the staff, as well as the readers of MAGICOL whose trust in me and my work has been injured.

There have only been a few moments in my life where I honestly wish I could go back in time and fix something. This is one of them. 

Thanks for your time,

Dustin Stinett

You can learn more about E. Raymond Carlyle at his site. PLEASE be sure to visit the “ABOUT CARLYLE” link where you can learn more about him and his time as the FIRST medium in the Houdini Séance Room at the Magic Castle:




Séance Medium Carlyle

E. Raymond Carlyle

A comment about issue No. 185 featuring The Magic Castle:

While I enjoyed The Castle issue of Magicol [No. 185], conspicuously absent from the material on the Houdini séance is the name of the gentleman who conceived the séance, and performed as it’s “medium” for the first decade.

Well-known in mentalist circles, Ed Fowler performed as medium E. Raymond Carlyle, for many of Hollywood’s elite as well as Castle regulars.

Ed also shared his home with Charlie Miller while still living in the Los Angeles area, and was well known to the magic community there for the better part of 30 years. His father was tool and die maker to Houdini, and Ed grew up with many of magic’s most famous names, ranging from Blackstone to Dunninger, visiting his parents’ home.

Today, Ed and his lovely wife live in Virginia Beach, where he conducts private sessions with magicians from around the world on séance material, and he offers a line of unique products of his own making.

Greg Edmonds