First magic shop

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 08/24/06 08:06 AM

Yesterday my son ,Eli, was wondering what was the first magic shop . I told him I don't know .
Any ideas?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/24/06 08:17 AM

In what country?
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Postby Guest » 08/24/06 08:32 AM

Originally posted by andrew martin:
Yesterday my son ,Eli, was wondering what was the first magic shop . I told him I don't know .
Any ideas?
Place where the Magii got their equipment? That would be a long time ago and far away (from the US)
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Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 08/24/06 09:01 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
In what country?
Here in the states.Thanks.
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Postby Matthew Field » 08/24/06 09:09 AM

Martinka's in New York City would be my guess, but it's just a guess.

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Postby Guest » 08/24/06 09:42 AM

Reginald Scot's DISCOVERIE OF WITCHCRAFT (1584) mentions that flick or blow books (precursor of today's magic coloring books) could be purchased "for a small value... at the shop of W. Brome in Pauls-Churchyard." Brome was a stationer and publisher of Scot's book, so this would likely have merely been a sideline for him...
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Postby Tom Klem » 08/24/06 10:39 AM

The Martinka is often called the oldest magic shop in the United States. It had several locations in lower Manhattan before it settled at 493 Sixth Avenue which at that time was 30th Street. At one point they were on Bleecker street not far from Otto Maurer's shop on the Bowery which was right accross the street from the Globe Dime Museum. Houdini played the Globe in the late 1890s.

The date of 1869 is often used as the opening of the Martinka's Shop. This was used by Frank Ducrot when he purchased the shop and later in 1939 when Al Flosso purchased the shop after Ducrot's passing. The Martinka is now open in New Jersey as an actual magic shop. I guess a case could be made that it is the oldest magic shop still in operation in the USA.

That is my two cents.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/24/06 10:53 AM

The earliest magic shop was in New York City, I think, and was run by Hartz. The dates would be around 1860.
Just a guess.
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Postby Guest » 08/24/06 10:59 AM

Whaley's WHO'S WHO dates Martinka's shop to 1873, but says Otto Hornmann started his shop by buying out a New York magic shop that dated back to 1856. Whaley says Otto Maurer opened his Magical Bazaar in New York in 1868 (citing Max Dif on the latter date). Whaley says Hartz was a dealer in New York "by 1870" and sold his business to W. J. Judd in 1876. Whaley's entry for Judd says he became the 2nd "pro magic dealer ine New York City" and issued his firt catalog in 1875. So who was the first (according to Whaley)? The unnamed fellow Hornmann bought out (1856), Maurer (1868) or Hartz (circa 1870)? Albo's volume 11 should have some information on these places and I'll check a shop copy later today...
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Postby Tom Klem » 08/24/06 11:11 AM

Richard

You may be right Hartz was very early. You had Chase and others as well. It is much easlier to place a magician at a place like a theater by programs and poster at a certain date. This is less possible to be exact on. One would have to go search the city's business directories year by year to actual track this down in NYC.

Although I have catalogs of many of these shops the owners would often bend the truth about this information. God love them.
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Postby Tom Klem » 08/24/06 11:31 AM

In our archive we have book called the President's book with Houdini had many of his friends sign in 1918.

One of the signatures is by Francis J. Martinka and it reads as follows.

Francis J. Martinka
32 years at 493 6th Avenue
Magic Palace
Dec. 11,1918

This is a good indication of the shops time at this location.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 08/24/06 11:56 AM

The August 1961 Genii contains an article by David Price, talking about the Egyptian Hall Museum. Specfically, he's discussing the items from Professor Martine. The article includes this snippet:
The Hartz catalogue is signed and dated, "Prof. Martine, 1870."
That's not a definite statement of exactly how early Hartz was in business, but it does confirm what Whaley stated about him being in business by 1870.

-Jim
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 08/24/06 12:02 PM

Even better: the June 1980 Genii contains an article by Richard J. Weibel entitled "Emporiums of Miracles". It starts like this:

'This series will be a history of past and present suppliers of miracles to miracle men. We shall tour thru time in each of the major cities and meet the men who manufactured and sold to magicians the wherewith-all to fool the public. Let's start with New York City. While we have record of Robert-Houdin buying magic at M. Roujol's shop in the Rue Richelieu, Paris, during the reign of Louis Philippe, our history of New York City only goes back to a few years after the Civil War when Joseph M. Hartz opened up a shop on Broadway near Union Square.
He then goes on to state:

Otto Maurer from about 1872 to 1900 heldforth at 321 Bowery, in the cellar of a grimy old house.
Weibel appears to be giving the nod to Hartz as the first magic shop in the U.S. (or at least NY)

-Jim
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 08/24/06 12:13 PM

Sydney Clarke, in his Annals of Conjuring column in The Magic Wand, had this to say:
In the autumn of 1866 Hartz went to America, accompanied by his younger brother Augustus. They opened a magical store in New York, where they acquired a reputation for turning out reliable apparatus.
This definitely places him as the earliest named shop. The only question left would be the unnamed guy that Hornmann bought from.

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 08/24/06 12:50 PM

Dr. Albo, in the AMERICAN LABORATORIES OF LEGERDEMAIN section of vol. XI of his series, cites an 1873 catalog of C. Milton Chase as having written across the face of it "Established 1851 by N. E. Chase," the latter being Milton's father, Nathaniel E. Chase, a New Hampshire tinsmith. They relocated to Boston in 1857, according to Albo. If accurate, that would seem to predate the New York claims. He also cites another Boston shop, Adams and Company, as established in 1857. This company was later absorbed by Chase.
In the same volume, Jacques Voignier gives 1769 as the date of the earliest French price list of apparatus (printed in the back of each of the four volumes of Guyot and available from Guoyot). Ruediger Deutsch gives Hermann Davini of Dresden in about 1850 as the earliest documented manufacturer of apparatus in Germany, soon followed by the Basch brothers in 1853. Dr. Dawes cites the previously mentioned William Brome (Scot, 1584) as a source of Blow Books, and Henry Dean as the second known British dealer (1722).
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Postby Tom Klem » 08/24/06 02:25 PM

What wonderful history by all of you.

It is true that Chase in their 1873 Catalog stated their were established in 1851 in New Hampshire. It is also true that the Peck and Snyder company on 126 Nassau Street put out a catalog in 1866 in NYC. I have a Flosso Hornmann Catalog from the 1960s that on its cover states "America's Oldest Magic House 1856". Inside the catalog Flosso calls the shop the Martinka-Hornmann-Flosso "Palace of Magic" This claim was based on Frank Ducrot buying up Yost, Hornmann and a dozen other shops and rolling it into one shop. When Ducrot died in 1939 Flosso bought the shop and claimed the 1856 date.

Was Otto Maurer hammering tin in his home at 1 second Street making things before opening up his Magical Bazaar at 321 Bowery hee in NYC before 1870.

Perhaps Chase should be the answer. I for one believe it is a question or perhaps a mystery yet to be solved but you are the magic historians. i am just a historian interested magic.

Wonderful string. Thank you.
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Postby Guest » 08/24/06 02:36 PM

That was fun! Just a quick note , in the current Perennnial Mystics, some of you that have been writing here and many others remember your first visit to a magic shop. This a fun trip dowm memory lane. Any of you that would like to get a copy email us at perennialmystics@comcast.net.also aviable on ebay.
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Postby Guest » 08/24/06 02:38 PM

From an ad in the 12/2/1888 Brooklyn Eagle, the H. Battermann store in Brooklyn was selling "magic toys".
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Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 08/24/06 06:50 PM

WOW ! Fantastic ! You folks here at the Genii Forum are the best.
Thank you for all the info.
I told Eli he's very excited.
Thanks again!
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Postby Guest » 08/24/06 09:28 PM

Another great source, and a VERY interesting history of early magic shops is the chapter Laboratories of Legerdemain in Henry Ridgley Evans book History of Conjuring and Magic (1928). The chapter is about 12 pages long.

Evans points to Joseph Michael Hartz, along with his brother Augustus as being the first in New York to opening its shop (Hartz Magical Repository) a few years after the Civil War (1870 according to Whaley). Another brother, George Hartz, along with a Mr. John Levy opened a rival establishment, Hartz & Levy a year later, but it was very short lived.

According to Whaleys Whos Who in Magic, Nathaniel E. Chase opened the first magic shop in America in Boston in 1851, the second, also of Boston being Adams and Company in 1857. I wonder if Chase's was truly a storefront shop at that time?

Whaley references a great article in the June 1997 issue of The Linking Ring (by Bill Weldon) titled, The Hartz Brothers and Americas First Magic Shop. I just pulled the issue and read it, and it is filled with much interesting information.

Back to the original question, what was the first magic shop in America? Depends on what source you believe. Albo states in his Vol. XI Laboratories of Legerdemain that in an 1873 Chase catalog, it says, established 1851. My vote is for Chase based on that.

Cheers, Mark Damon

P.S. The Albo book (vol XI) is a must if you are interested in the history of magic shops. It covers America, Germany, England and France. They are also available as single soft bounds volumes on the used market, as they are now long out of print.
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Postby Tom Klem » 08/25/06 07:17 AM

Mark Damon

"The History of Conjuring and Magic" by Henry Ridgley Evans is one of my favorites in my collection. Albo's Vol.XI also is wonderful in its detail and others as well.

I think what I have been getting at in my posts are the other tools historians can use to have more than one source to hang your hat on.

Before there were "The Yellow Pages" cities had Business Directories listing all the businesses in a city. These could be searched. Newspapers , as you and Bill Mullins have pointed out in your posts, can be another source. I have found the map room at the 42nd Street Library very useful. There are many others.

Today if you went to 493 Sixth Avenue you would be standing near 13th Street here in NYC. What you may not know is that they extended Sixth Avenue in the early 1900s and all the street numbers changed. Maps from the late 1800s would show 493 Sixth Avenue very near 30th Street when the Martinka was at that location.

Magic Books and Magic Pulications like Genii are great and wonderful sources of Magic History. One of my favorites is the reprinted complete run of the Mahatma by the author of this site. Magicians are the best of all at keeping their history.

What I am saying their are other helpful sources as well that are not magic based.

Perhaps Richard Hatch will write one of his wonderful articles about the first magic shop in the United States.

I am researching the history of the Bowery up to 1900. As I search i will add magic shops to my search and see if I can add anything to this dialogue. Perhaps something will come up in the city directories.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/17/12 02:50 AM

From William Hilliar's column in The Billboard, 12/15/1917 p 9

The first known magical dealers in New York City were the Lubin Brothers. They came before Hartz and Levy, Judd and Harry Stone, not forgetting Otto Maurer, who presided so many years on the Bowery.
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