Propelled Pasteboards


For the past month, a new blog has been sharing examples of magicians’ throwing cards. Performers in large theatres would propel promontional cards into the audience:

Capitalizing on the popularity of card scaling, magicians commissioned custom printed playing cards — called throwing cards, throwouts, scaling cards and souvenir cards — which, like business cards, feature drawings, photographs and slogans of the performers who tossed them.  It proved an inexpensive and sensational method to advertise magic shows.

Contributors to the blog include Gary Brown, Tom Ewing and Gary Frank. Those interested in this kind of magical ephemera can visit for more.



Larcom Theatre has been sold

Larcom Theatre

Larcom Theatre Sold

Here is an update on our last post from April about the sale of the Larcom Theatre from Rick Heath:

As of 11:00 am on Friday, September 9, the historic Larcom Theatre in Beverly, MA was official sold. The 1912 560-seat jewelbox that the Le Grand David company purchased in 1984 now is under a new ownership committed to keeping it as a vibrant performing arts venue.

The sale “officially” marks the end of 40 years for us in Beverly. In August 1976, we became the new owners of the 1920 Cabot Street Cinema Theatre. Hard to believe that on February 20, 1977, we took to the Cabot stage and began a run of 35 consecutive years that ended in May 2012, just two months after Cesareo’s death. As many already know, the Cabot was sold in October 2014 after a major auction of Le Grand David illusions, posters and memorabilia. In a similar fashion, after a final auction this April 10, the Larcom was offered for sale.

We are delighted, thanks to Bill Kalush, that a significant portion of the correspondence, historical material, photographs, etc. that we had amassed is now permanently housed at the Conjuring Arts Research Center in New York City. It will take some time, but it will be archived and digitally preserved for historians and researchers for generations to come.

it makes me very happy to know that so many of our original posters, illusions and even backdrops are now in good hands and have good homes with magicians and collectors from coast to coast and beyond. And, we managed to save two irreplaceable “treasures” from the wrecking-ball and pass them on to owners who are dedicated to keeping them alive and well. It has been a good run, and I’m grateful it has all worked out so well.

Thank you to Rick Heath for this update and for sharing this journey with us.


Sale of Larcom Theatre

Larcom Theatre

Larcom Theatre for sale

Larcom Theatre for Sale

On Thursday, March 31, the Larcom Theatre, 13 Wallis Street, in downtown Beverly, Massachusetts was publicly offered for sale. Sotheby’s International Realty has been engaged to market and sell the Larcom. 

The 1912, 564-seat playhouse was purchased by Le Grand David and his own Spectacular Magic Company in February 1984. After extensive renovations, in October 1985 the Larcom became the home for the company’s new two-hour show, “An Anthology of Stage Magic” that ran in tandem with their original production that opened eight years earlier at the Cabot Street Theatre, also in downtown Beverly. As respected stage magic historian, Dr. John Booth, wrote in Wonders of Magic, “Two different luxurious magic productions of Broadway calibre playing in tandem theatres in one small city constitutes a miracle no other era in time has witnessed.”

The Larcom, known as “The Jewel of the North Shore” at the time of its opening, was named for the beloved Beverly-born poet, Lucy Larcom. The theatre still retains its turn-of-the-past-century elegance and many original features, including antique pressed tin ceilings, a light bulb-studded proscenium arch, silk wall coverings, and horseshoe-shaped balcony. It also is equipped with a new digital projection system, a retractable movie screen, sound system, and extensive lighting equipment. Since the Le Grand David troupe’s last Larcom performance in February 2012, the theatre has served as a desirable venue for nationally renowned entertainers, regional talent, and corporate events. 

The decision to sell the Larcom came after many months of deliberation and preparation, and marks the end of an era in stage magic history. Kenneth Leva is the listing agent for Sotheby’s. To view the Multiple Listing Service entry, and for more details, visit

Auction of Le Grand David Collectibles

Coinciding with the Larcom Theatre sale, a special auction of Le Grand David illusions, original works of art, backdrops, curtains, costumes and memorabilia, as well as fine quality furnishings and decorations, will be conducted by Kaminski Auctions of Beverly. Kaminski Auctions conducted the previous Le Grand David auction on Feb 23, 2014 that attracted bidding by magicians and collectors worldwide, many of whom now proudly display pieces in their museums and collections.

The auction will be held on Sunday, April 10, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, at the Kaminski Auctions Gallery, 117 Elliott Street, Route 62, Beverly, MA 01915.

Previews will take place at the Larcom Theatre, 13 Wallis Street, Beverly, MA on Thursday, April 7 through Saturday, April 9 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on the day of the auction beginning at 8:00 a.m.

Absentee, phone bids, and live Internet bidding are available by registering with KaminskiLIVE at For further information please call (978) 927-2223


Allan Slaight Awards


Do you know someone who should be nominated?

Allan Slaight Awards for Magic Achievement are open for nominations.

Nominations are now being accepted and we want to leave no double un-turned-over in our search for the most deserving recipients.

So we ask all of you to rack your brains and consider nominating a worthy individual for this year.

There are five categories and you can nominate one person per category. The categories are:

Sharing Wonder – This is awarded for performances for the public completed during 2015. This could be live performances or televised. It could be work which was widely received or work of exceptional quality (or preferably both!) The inaugural award, presented last year, went to Penn & Teller.

Sharing Secrets – This is for work for the magic community released in 2015. This can be anything instructional or historical from books to DVDs to downloadable content. Again we are looking for material which has been widely received and has had a meaningful impact. The first award in this category went to Mike Caveney.

The other three awards aren’t 2015-specific and look at work spanning the individual’s whole career: Lifetime Achievement, Rising Star – Canadian, and Rising Star – International. Inaugural winners were: Johnny Thompson for Lifetime Achievement; Mahdi Gilbert for Canadian Rising Star; and Henry Vargas of Brazil for International Rising Star.

Nominations are made online at (scroll down to the Nominations link). After a submission is made, we reach out to the nominee so they have a chance to supplement whatever was said about them.

YES! You can nominate yourself and there is absolutely no penalty for doing so.

Now, we all know people who are deserving but are too modest to nominate themselves or ask someone else to do it for them, so this is your chance to do so for them! You can also make your nomination anonymously. Nominations need to be in by March 31.

Lastly, we’d greatly appreciate your help in spreading the word. Tweets, Facebook posts, personal messages, or email announcements are all a tremendous help. The page to direct people to is


#NoHairSelfie Update

It’s Gone!

David Ben’s hair has vanished thanks to your support.

David Ben No Hair Selfie

David Ben’s #NoHairSelfie campaign concluded yesterday, February 4, 2016 with a public shaving at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. With some last-minute donations arriving by mail, the total has now passed $214,000 raised for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

As promised earlier, donors who requested our Unusual Collectible your hair will be in the mail very soon. We’ve also learned that the cards will be signed by Pat Lyons, the artists who designed them.

For those wishing to verify the authenticity of the hair, you can watch it being severed below. The shaver is Gary Slaight, son of Allan Slaight.

For those that still want to get their hands on one of the collectibles, we will be happy to extend you the opportunity to donate. Send us a note ( and we will make arrangements.

We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to the campaign and offer our encouragement to David as he endeavours to expand his collection of hats to help cope with the Canadian winter; something a hairless Conjuror was clearly not designed for.


Rare collectibles for charity

A Most Unusual and Rare Collectible

Offered in support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

You’re not going to believe this.

David Ben

Hairticipant, David Ben

Greetings collectors!

Anyone who has seen or met David Ben, and noticed that crazy, tangled mop of hair must have thought, “What’s up with that?” While many great magicians develop a signature coiffe that makes them instantly recognizable — whether it’s the Mephistophelian whiskers of Herrmann or Doug Henning’s moustache — it’s unclear whether David’s wild locks are a product of artistic genius or a deep-seeded irrational fear of combs. The world may never know.

But all of that will change on February 4!

David has pledged to completely shave his head to raise money and awareness for The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. His goal is a quarter of a million dollars! Between Canadian and US donations, he recently passed $150,000.

With just over a week to go, we are looking for your support. Donations are now being accepted online at Donations from Canada and the United States are eligible for a tax receipt.

But what is the collectible?

Max Maven (who wins our magic hair award any day of the week) has argued that David’s hair may actually be the source of his magical prowess.

So for magic enthusiasts and collectors, we are offering you the chance to own a lock of The Conjuror’s mane. For donations of $1,000 or more, we will send you a lock of detached hair attached to a playing card. (We are joking, of course, but will be happy to provide said locks for any size donation, by mail to those who indicate their desire in the “message to the hairticipant” part of the donation process.) The size of the lock will be proportional to your donation. If you have already donated and would like a collectible, send us a note.

You will also receive a playing card from David’s personal stash from The Conjuror’s Suite, designed by Canadian artist, Pat Lyons, of Ibidem fame. Cards will be signed and numbered by David.

This is your chance to own one of the most unique collectibles in all of magic. So please consider contributing today.


– You can blame or thank Richard Hatch for suggesting this scheme.


Final performance of the Houdini/Hardeen Milk Can Escape


Bob Lund 1979 with the famed Milk Can.

The final performance of the Houdini/Hardeen Milk Can Escape – using the original apparatus in the collection of the American Museum of Magic – will be presented by escapologist Joseph Patire on Saturday evening, May 30th as a part of the Midwest Magic History Weekend.

“This is an unbelievable turn of events,” said David Charvet, Producer of the History Weekend. “I have been negotiating with the Museum board for months. They are rightfully very protective of the apparatus, which has not been filled with water in many years.”

Houdini debuted the escape at the Columbia Theater in St. Louis on January 27, 1908 after the manager of the theater told the Handcuff King that his manacle escapes were becoming old hat. The galvanized steel can, resembling an oversized milk can, was examined by a committee from the audience and filled with water. Houdini folded himself into the tight confines of the can and ducked his head below the water as the lid was quickly slammed in place and secured with six padlocks.

The can – with Houdini submerged inside – was surrounded by a cloth cabinet as the seconds ticked by. After three minutes a gasping, dripping Houdini appeared from the enclosure, revealing the can still securely locked with no indication of how he had made his escape.

The feat became the feature of Houdini’s act through 1911 when he developed his famous “Water Torture Cell” that he performed up until his death in 1926.

Houdini’s brother, Theo Hardeen first performed the escape in about 1914 but retired from the stage several years later to head Houdini’s Film Development Company. Following Houdini’s death, all of his props were willed to Hardeen, who returned to vaudeville and again began performing the Milk Can escape.

For the next 18 years Hardeen presented the Milk Can as the closing feature of his show, actually performing it more times than Houdini. He had several close calls where he had to be released from the can before he made his escape.

Hardeen’s final performance was on May 30th, 1945 at the RKO Madison Theater in Brooklyn. He featured the Milk Can in that last show. 13 days later, on June 12, 1945, Theo Hardeen died at age 69.

Following Hardeen’s passing two of his Milk Cans were acquired from his estate by magician, Martin Sunshine. The cans were stored in a truck in Three Lakes, Wisconsin for thirty years until one was purchased by Robert Lund, founder of the American Museum of Magic, where it has been the centerpiece of the museum from its opening in 1978.

The performance on May 30th marks the 70th anniversary – to the day – of Hardeen’s final show in 1945. “Bob Lund allowed several people to attempt the escape over the years, but the can was never filled with water,” said Charvet. For the first time since Hardeen’s time, the can will be filled with water on the upcoming show. “There is a real element of danger presenting a water escape with equipment this old. The museum has assured me that they will never allow the Milk Can to be filled with water or performed again after this show on May 30th.”

Chosen for the honor of the final performance is magician and escape artist, Joseph Patire. No stranger to water escapes, he has presented variations of the Milk Can in the past. “But to perform it with an original Houdini-Hardeen can – and knowing I will be the last person ever to do so with this can – is a real honor,” Patire said.

The escape attempt will be the climax of the Magic History Weekend, a three-day gathering of magic historians and collectors from around the world. The show will be held at the Franke Center for the Arts, 214 E. Mansion Street, in Marshall, Michigan on Saturday, May 30th at 7:30pm. Limited tickets are available to the public by contacting Susan Collins at the American Museum of Magic: 269-781-7570.

Details about the Magic History Weekend are at:


David Charvet


A girl with grit, dreams

Arkansas Gazette features Michael Claxton’s book on Dell O’Dell

Author of Don’t Fool Yourself, The Magical Life of Dell O’Dell, Michael Claxton talks about his book and magicienne, Dell O’Dell with Ron Wolfe from the Arkansas Gazette.

Michael explains his desire to chase the story about the “Queen of Magic” and her connection to Arkansas. From the article:

“Dell toured Arkansas with her circus, the Della O’Dell Society Circus,” Claxton says. The rarity of a woman’s name on a wagon show would have made people look in 1926.

Her arrival “came in the midst of a drought,” the author says. Hard times “hit the strawberry farmers badly, so business was sometimes slow.” O’Dell — born Odella Newton — was circus man “Lucky Bill” Newton’s daughter, and the show went on.



A Secret No More

Houdini Presents His Own Original Invention The Greatest Sensational Mystery Ever Attempted in This or Any Other Age The Strobridge Litho Co., 1916 213 x 102 cm © Musée McCord/McCord Museum

Houdini Presents His Own Original Invention
The Greatest Sensational Mystery Ever Attempted in This or Any Other Age
The Strobridge Litho Co., 1916
213 x 102 cm
© Musée McCord/McCord Museum

The McCord Museum has just announced the extraordinary acquisition of one of the world’s foremost private collections of stone lithographs from magic’s Golden Age. And, just as significant, the acquisition of a superb Houdiniana collection of posters, playbills, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks and ephemera of Houdini.

Emmanuelle Gattuso, through her philanthropic foundation – La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso – donated the funds to acquire the collection and placed it in her husband’s name, media mogul Allan Slaight, with the McCord Museum.

The Slaight name is synonymous with philanthropy with a focus on health care, youth and the arts. In addition to their landmark donations to (among other things) cancer research, the Slaights are major supports of the arts in Canada. One of those arts is magic, and their support for it, through Magicana and all of our programs, has been unwavering. Quite simply, we could not do what we do without their support.

Their magic interest, of course, stems from Allan Slaight’s lifelong love of magic. He started performing magic a youth, toured across Western Canada as a mentalist, and moonlighted as a magician while he was in the formative stages of building an empire based initially on rock’n’roll radio. Somehow, while assembling this billion dollar business, Allan found the time to host magic conferences, and write and produce 3,000 pages on his magical mentor, the great Canadian inventor, Stewart James.

So magic has been a big part of Allan’s life for well over seventy years, and the Slaight-Gatusso household’s for over twenty-five.

While the news of this donation is big, for those who know Gattusso and Slaight, it is not the least bit surprising.


Press Release

Media Links


Save a Magic Landmark!

We received a note from Neil Tobin on behalf of David Parr about a historical landmark in Chicago being earmarked for demolition. From Mr. Tobin’s note you can see it is an important one and you are invited to take action to help preserve this site.

From Neil Tobin….

There’s a magic landmark in Chicago that’s in danger of demolition, and local magicians are trying to get a letter-writing campaign off the ground to help save it. It’s the building at 1800 Halsted that once housed the original Schulien’s.

You know the name: for over four decades, Matt Schulien held court at its bar and pioneered what would be known as Chicago-style close-up bar magic. Magicians like Doc Eason and Bill Malone would eventually carry his legacy to audiences throughout the world.

Currently, the building is on the official list of Most Endangered Historic Sites in Illinois. Local performer David Parr has been working with a grassroots preservation group to save it, but they can’t do it alone. Even though Alderman Michele Smith is on the side of preservation, she needs more ammunition to help persuade the developer of the site’s significance.

Could you please invite your members to send emails to Alderman Smith informing her as to why saving this historic site is important to the magic community? She can be reached via her assistant, Matthew Allee:

For further information, here’s a recent article—

Many thanks,
Neil Tobin
(April 22, 2014)