Magic on the Bowery

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

Postby Tom Klem » 02/10/12 07:10 PM

I am researching the history of the Bowery in NYC. Although I have a collection of material on Bowery I want to dig deeper placing people who performed there. I know about Otto Maurer's shop and have one of his catalogs and other material on him. I know Houdini performed at the Globe Dime Museum in 1894. Jolson at the Gaiety Museum.

What books or archives would anyone suggest to find more information on magicians on the Bowery? Not looking for Lenape medicine men.

Best,

Tom Klem
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Postby Joe Pecore » 02/10/12 10:36 PM

The Conjuring Arts Research Center library and Ask Alexander: http://conjuringarts.org/
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Postby Tom Klem » 02/11/12 09:29 AM

Thank you Joe Pecore:

The Conjurers Research Center is a good idea as I am a member of the center. I spoke to Bill Kalush about this before PA#1 Dean Ken Krenzel's funeral yesterday. I will go there. Any other ideas?

Here is a link to a project I supplied a lot of material for. It was a web mappimg of the Bowery called "Marking time on the Bowery". I wrote the pieces on Otto Maurers Magical Bazaaar, Dime Museum (The Globe) and Charles Eisenmann the photographer. In this project I wanted magic represented as a inportant part of history in a general history project. Magicians are artists and should be seen by the public in the best light.

Here is the link to that project

http://www.placematters.net/files/flash ... bowery.swf
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Postby Joe Pecore » 02/11/12 11:59 AM

That is very cool. If I stumble upon anything I'll let you know.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 02/11/12 12:45 PM

Do you have anything on Max Malini?

In The Sphinx, December 1939, NOTES ON MAX MALINI by S. Leo Horowitz it states that Professor Seiden (a magician, fire-eater and ventriloquist) operated a saloon on the Bowery and hired a young Max Malini.
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Postby Tom Klem » 02/12/12 01:21 AM

I have found in the magic sources I have found only that description of Sieden's Bar. George Burns in his biography said as a very young boy his first performance of his singing group was at Sieden's Theatre on the Lower Eastside. I do not think Sieden was his actual full name. Probably shortened as my name was and many others were to seem more american. But that is a guess. I will have to get proof.

I will be searching more on Malini, Fox, Jarrow, Krieger and young Al Flosso. Flosso married one of Pop Krieger's 6 daughters.
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Postby Tom Klem » 02/12/12 12:25 PM

Joe Pecore and forum members:

I have a question. In the Magicians Handbook by Selbit Thurston credits Otto Maurer in teaching the back palm to him, Houdini, T.Nelson Downs and others. Now this forum is part of the magic world and its members are part of the world.

I do projects for the public at large. Should I include in a project this information on the back palm. I am not suggest I would expose how it is done. I would never expose how magic is done. But is mentioning the back palm a bad thing? I somehow feel uncomfortable doing so. Even though it is part of the history of magic on the Bowery.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 02/12/12 01:34 PM

I think it would be fine. Some more info on the back palm: http://geniimagazine.com/magicpedia/Back_Palm
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Reason: less ambiguous
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Postby Tom Klem » 02/15/12 12:53 PM

Joe Pecore:

Thank you for the additional Genii Magazine historical info on the back palm.

Here is a link to the New York Clipper Annual from 1892 with an ad by Otto Maurer on the Bowery. I believe the same year Houdini performed on the Bowery. Mt focus right now is on the Bowery.

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/digital ... 00147.html

Best,

Tom
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/15/12 04:04 PM

The inventor of the back palm is M. Harmington, a performer at the Musee Grevin, as I recall (or perhaps the Theatre Robert-Houdin). The dates of his recorded appearances using the sleight predate everything else.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 02/15/12 04:30 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:The inventor of the back palm is M. Harmington, a performer at the Musee Grevin, as I recall (or perhaps the Theatre Robert-Houdin). The dates of his recorded appearances using the sleight predate everything else.

Gaultier, in the Fleming translation, says that the sleight was in use in France prior to 1895 by "M. Harmington (at the Theatre Robert-Houdin) and M. Emile Isola (at the Theatre des Capuchines)" but he does not credit either with its invention. Thurston dates the Mexican showing the sleight to Maurer to 1887. According to Max Dif, Harmington began performing at the Theatre Robert-Houdin in 1886, but it is not clear when he began performing this sleight there, so I'd say the provenance of the sleight is unclear. Harmington survived until 1947, does anyone know if he claimed its invention? (Hugard dates the Harmington and Isola performances in Paris to 1890, but it is not clear what his source for this is).
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/15/12 04:54 PM

I'll stick with Harmington, not some mysterious "Mexican."
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Postby Tom Klem » 02/16/12 11:38 AM

Richard:

Since my interest lies in the history of the Bowery I find it very interesting that Maurer according Thurston taught Thurston, T. Nelson Downs, Houdini and other the back palm. As to the origin of the move you have a deeper knowledge of this art than I will hope to have.

Evans wrote of visiting Maurers shop. In the two sources of the same article below Maurer speaks of visiting and performing Europe. Remember he died in 1900. It is a wonderful account of xisiting the shop in which Maurer performs a few effects and talk of how to perform. I like the bit about his dirty fingers.

Milwaukee Journal July 8, 1890 Paper Wizard Article Maurer

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=WY ... 9%2C415803

Kentucy New Era July 19, 1890

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2 ... 31,2758609

Best,

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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/17/12 02:46 AM

Otto Maurer's Obituary:

NY Herald 5/18/1900 p 15

WIZARD OF THE
BOWERY IS DEAD

Otto Maurer, Maker of Magical
Apparatus, Has Answered the
Eternal "Presto, Change!"

GRADUATE OF UNIVERSITY

For Twenty-Eight Years He Had Devised
Articles Used in Tricks
of Illusion.

SHOP LIKE ABODE OF GNOMES

For Otto Maurer, the magician of the Bowery, has come the eternal "Presto, change!" and this world knows him no more. He had for twenty-eight years made apparatus for magicians at No. 321 Bowery.

In his little shop, half of which was beneath the sidewalk, he devised all manner of quaint apparatus used in the tricks of illusion. He instructed the parlor entertainer who draws rabbits from silk hats, and gave the benefit of his knowledge to the more pretentious prestidigitateurs.

He was a graduate of a German university and came originally from Berlin. He started life as a magician here thirty years ago, but finally devoted his time to making magical apparatus for others. He fitted up his little shop in a picturesque fashion. By means of a group of colored lights he made the place look like an abode of gnomes


Among the pieces of apparatus which he invented were an improved fire swallowing device, and a gun which when loaded in the presence of the spectators, with apparently genuine bullets, did no harm when fired point blank at the demonstrator.

Maurer was fifty-three years old. He was attacked three years ago by cancer and constantly suffered severe pain. The small fortune which he had laid aside was spent for medical advice and hospital fees. He was in the Post-Graduate Hospital and was removed from there to Blackwell's Island where last Tuesday he died. He had a wife, two daughters and a son.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 02/17/12 09:19 AM

In Steinmeyer's "Hiding the Elephant" book he includes a story from P. T. Barnum 's 1866 book, "The Humbugs of the World", that the Davenport Brothers were brought to New York City in 1855 by John F. Coles, a Spiritualist, who organized spiritual "circles" with the Davenport boys in the afternoon and evening at 195 Bowery.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 02/17/12 09:24 AM

From the Conjuring Arts Research Center, Gibecire Vol. 01 No. 02 (Summer 2006) about Del Adelphia:

"The success he [Adelphia] achieved at Dalys led to other engagements in New York, including a booking at the Thelia Theatre in the Bowery, beginning February 25, 1915, and lasting at least two weeks."

It then includes a review of the show.
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Postby Tom Klem » 02/17/12 12:12 PM

Bill and Joe:

Thank you for your posts. I had not seen the Hearld 1900 Obit.

The Times ran its obit on May 18, 1900 that had this headine.
"KING OF MAGIC" DEAD A Master of Legerdermin on the Bowery Passes Away

The Mahatma ran one as well. If you have the Kaufman double Volume reprint it is in there.

I have "Hiding the Elephant" but I read it a while ago and did not remember the Davenport Brothers Bowery reference. 1855 was quite different on the Bowery than 1890 when Maurer ran his shop. In 1855 the Bowery was the rialto with fine theaters and shops. Riots and several bank crashes changed the face of the Bowery. Dime Museums and saloons popped up and were the haunts of many performers getting their start in this tough community.

Thank you both. I will post more as it comes.

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Postby Joe Pecore » 02/17/12 12:25 PM

Sydney W. Clarke's "Annals of Conjuring" has a poster promoting http://geniimagazine.com/magicpedia/Andrew_Macallister at the "Browery Theatre" in 1952.
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Postby Tom Klem » 02/17/12 05:53 PM

Joe

Thank you for the wonderful early Bowery info.

Here is a New York Times story about "The Sons of Rabbis"

Houdini, Al Jolson and Irving Berlin are in it.

They all performed as young men on the Bowery.

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-fr ... 5B888DF1D3
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