Martin Breese has Passed

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby pduffie » 02/23/12 04:36 AM

I am saddened to report that my friend and business associate, Martin Breese, passed away today in Brighton. Martin had been fighting Leukemia for the past 14 months. At one stage I really thought he had it beat. But, now the fight is over. My heart goes out to his wife, Pang, and to his family.

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Postby Marco Pusterla » 02/23/12 04:45 AM

Very sad news: there was no one else like Martin and I was always looking forward to his emails and the wealth of knowledge he had and was willing to pass on. May he rest in peace: my thoughts are with his family.
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Postby Daniel » 02/23/12 05:09 AM

Sad news indeed. He was an exceptional dealer and will be missed. Thoughts with his family.
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Postby Potty the Pirate » 02/23/12 05:54 AM

I'm sorry to hear this sad news. Martin was a nice chap, I always enjoyed his newsletters.
My condolences go to his family.
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Postby Matthew Field » 02/23/12 08:10 AM

I became friendly with Martin when I moved over to England. He had a tremendous love of magic, and published some important books and videos. Although he was quite ill the last year or so, his marriage to Pang was a great joy to him.

He was very supportive of the Patrick Page book project I worked on.

He never lost his enthusiasm for life, and he will be missed.

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Postby luigimar » 02/23/12 11:04 AM

Sorry to read this. In one of his last newsletters he said something about being sick but the way he said it made me think he had already recovered. My thoughts are with him and his family.

Another broken wand. Too many already and it's just the beginning of the year... :-(
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Postby David Britland » 02/23/12 11:34 AM

Martin Breese was one of most enthusiastic magicians you could ever hope to meet. I worked with him when he had his magic business in London. First a basement studio under a grocers shop in Shepherds Bush and later the top floor of a fine house that once belonged to Biba fashion founder Barbara Hulanicki. Both played host to many magicians who are no longer with us: Pat Page, Eric Mason, Terri Rogers, Val Andrews, Basil Horwitz, Tommy Cooper and many others.

A career as a magic dealer was perfectly suited to Martin. Every day was like Christmas as he opened the parcels of tricks that arrived at his office. He would stop everything to play with the latest items, raving about their possibilities before hed even opened the instructions.

His customers loved the exuberance of his newsletters as he extolled the virtues of each new trick, gadget or book. He had been a copywriter in advertising and knew how to spin a phrase but his passion for magic was utterly genuine as anyone who knew him can confirm.

Martin was also something of a pioneer. His Magicassette range of recordings was a wonderful attempt to document some of the history and personalities in magic. One of those cassettes contained the first recording of the Berglas Effect and helped promote its legendary status.

Abracassetta was a monthly audio magazine put together by Martin for Goodliffe Neale, the publisher of Abracadabra. Goodliffe Neale had taken Martin under his wing and was really the reason that he became a magic dealer in the first place, encouraging and financing various projects. Martin was also one of the first to produce magic videos in the UK. He made an early entry into desktop publishing, working on a Tandy TRS-80 and operating his own print machinery in a basement studio. The books improved with time and technology and Martin later anticipated the digital publishing age and began buying up rights to old magic magazines and scanning them for republication as searchable CDs. He leaves behind an amazing legacy dedicated to the art and craft, hobby and business that he loved.

Every day in magic was a joy for Martin. His enthusiasm and passion will be greatly missed.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 02/23/12 11:45 AM

I am saddened by this news. I'd been chatting via email with Martin about Billy McComb, but the emails stopped. I was worried, but then there was an update on his Graham Jolly DVD project (performing Al Koran material), so I figured he was just very busy. Like Mr. Duffie and Luigimar, I thought he was past the crisis. My sincere condolences to his family and many friends.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 02/23/12 01:56 PM

I first met Martin in 1975 when I supposed to be attending LSE and he was supposed to be working in an ad agency. The problem was that Davenport's Magic Shop happened to be on my route to LSE and Martin's route to work. So, irresistibly drawn into the shop as we tried to walk by, we'd both end up in Davenport's for a few minutes, that would turn into several hours, that would turn into a long lunch, and I'd never get to LSE and Martin would never make it back to work. It didn't help that Pat Page was behind the counter.

Martin had had a previous career as a photographer and I remember him showing me a picture he'd taken of Bill Brandt that Brandt had said was one of his favourites.

Martin was one of the most enthusiastic people I've ever met. Too bad he's gone.
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Postby Paul Gordon » 02/23/12 03:59 PM

I last spoke to Martin last week and he seemed in good spirits. It makes it even sadder. I first met him in the 70's and stayed in good contact for over 30 years. I was honoured that he had me entertain at most of his private parties in the last ten years or so when he moved close to my home. My god; he knew how to throw a party. At one, Terry Seabrooke and I entertained after what felt like ten vats of pure vodka. Phew! I'm gonna miss Martin and also our publishing and photographic ventures. God bless him :(

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/23/12 05:08 PM

Just received this:

Dear Magicians,

You will be aware that Martin Breese has been ill for some time, and it is with great sorrow that I tell you he died peacefully and comfortably with his family around him early this morning. I am aware of various notices and tributes that are already appearing in the magical world so shall not attempt to match those. I know that he saw many of you as his personal friends, and was always delighted to hear from you and really appreciated the support that he received over the last year or so.

Martins Magic business interests pass to Chris Wasshuber ( For the time being at least I will continue to take orders via the web site or by email in the usual way and to deal with any queries you may have.

I pass on the words of his son James below.
John Hinchliffe
Martin Breese International

James Breese writes:

I wanted to seize this opportunity to communicate with and thank Martins customers as, I know, the magic community is a very special one and was an extremely important part of our fathers life. I was, as so many have been Im sure, inspired by this kind and talented man.

Martin started contributing to the advancement of Magic at a very young age.

I had the enormous privilege of being Martins son. I was able to list his achievements as he began to pass away and we knew he could hear. He contributed over 60 years of work towards Magic. He supported others at every opportunity. He published a long list of fiction and non-fiction titles and was even a well-respected authority on Modern First Edition books. He also contributed with many other creative endeavours of note.

I am proud, in a way, to say that, when realising that Martin had just a few days left, one of Doctors cried and so did many of the hospital nurses. When we thanked a nurse (many of whom had been caring for him for over a year), she said No I am grateful to him. She went on to explain that he had recently written letters on her behalf regarding her accommodation issues, contacted solicitors and made phone calls.

In the last hours, Martin remained playful and cheeky! When attending to his mouth, he bit one of the nurses finger she called him a cheeky monkey and he grinned the widest grin you could imagine. All this from a man who wasnt able to speak or hardly breathe at this point. To my memory, the last word I heard him say, when his loving wife Pang asked how he was feeling was a simple and amazing good.

No doubt Martins life will continue to inspire and amaze. Only yesterday did I hear from his former wife Jill (they remained close friends) that Martin survived a bomb blast in London during the Blitz of World War Two - to the point that the windows in his room blew out.

This brings me to the last point - he never, ever not once complained in his whole life, and certainly not during over a year of intense, near non-stop chemotherapy.

Our whole family is indebted to the amazing team at the Royal Sussex its easy to say, but we cannot tell you how lucky he was to have this breath-taking care. One of the senior consultants, when breaking the news of Martins very grave outlook a few days ago stated what a character Martin was. He then repeated his exact words in a deeply sincere and affectionate manner. He was indeed a character. What a magical life he had, and a life so well lived.

If you would like to offer your reflections on Martins life, in particular with reference to those to the world Magic community, we would love to hear these maybe even if his work or products had a hand in inspiring you. We may even later ask permission to include a few of these in tribute to him. Please send these messages to Johns email address.

James Breese, Martins proud and loving son.
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Postby Levent » 02/23/12 06:44 PM

Saddened to hear about the passing of my friend. It's interesting that even though we are both magicians, virtually every conversation I had with Martin was about our other passion: The art of photography.

In fact, last month he told me that he wanted to print a picture book with his favorite images.

As was mentioned above, Martin was a very fine photographer. His most well-known image was the 1969 portrait of the famous photographer Bill Brandt. Martin was very proud of the fact that the original print of that shot is in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. If anyone would like to see this image, I've posted a little thumbnail of it here:!/LeventMagic/stat ... 35/photo/1

Farewell my dear friend, may you rest in peace,

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Postby Donal Chayce » 02/23/12 07:59 PM

While this outcome was not entirely unexpected, it's nevertheless such sad news.

Martin was the epitome of nobility and kept a stiff upper lip until the very end.

My condolences to his family and many friends.
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Postby F.Amílcar » 02/24/12 03:45 AM

Dear friend Dustin,

As you can understand we would like to tell you that in Spain also give them our condolences for his family and especially too for you.


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Postby Pete Biro » 02/24/12 12:49 PM

Martin and I were long-time, long distance-friends. I still remember the great day when he was in Los Angeles on holiday and we took him to the beach, and he got terribly sun burned. We have collaborated on material of his that he allowed me, at no cost, to use in my writings.
He was one of the "good guys" in the magic business and will be missed.
My condolences to his family. R.I.P.
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Postby Wolfgang » 02/25/12 01:40 AM

I met Martin a couple times during my times with the magic hands at European conventions and when he talked you just really wanted to listen....the amount of his knowledge was vast but was more impressive were the stories about magicians from the past he could share......
Great loss for the community but through his many excellent publications he is sure to stay a part of our magic world.
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Postby Paul Gordon » 02/26/12 03:12 AM

I first met Martin in London sometime in the 1970's. He frightened the life out of me because he was so direct and I was quite young. Some years passed and we then met again in the 90's when I had some publishing queries. This time I was older and not so frightened. We really hit it off. Since that time, we 'collaborated' on a few ventures and I was the "hands" on a few of his reprints; notably his reprint of the Cy Endfield book. Martin also gave me permission to reprint the UK Marlo output, Eddie Joseph's Dumbfounders duo and more. When Martin had a party, I was often both guest and entertainer. I recall the time both Terry Seabrooke and I worked at a MB party and triumphed even though many vats of alcohol were thrown our way. Fun times. Often Martin and I would go for a meal and Martin would tell other diners what I did and then he'd produce a pack of cards as if to say, "Show them!". I'm honoured Martin liked my style as he could be a tough judge. He once wrote, "I have known Paul Gordon for some 30 years and still believe him to be one of the best entertainers with cards there is. He is engaging, slick, pacy, magical and very funny." Kind words. Martin was also very generous with his gifts to me. We laughed, dined, chatted and now I miss him. My big regret is not seeing him in hospital when he called me two weeks before he died. Sorry, Martin. Xx Paul Gordon
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Postby Q. Kumber » 02/26/12 02:16 PM

Curious as the why the title of this thread has changed three times. It wouldn't surprise me if Martin were playing tricks from beyond.

Martin, I miss you, your love of life, your charm and your sense of fun. And you always had the best gossip. :) Thank you for all the happy times.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/26/12 02:23 PM

The title of the thread has changed because when someone replies, they can title the reply and thus change the title that appears in Active Topics.
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Postby Bill McFadden » 02/26/12 07:44 PM

Mr. Breese was extraordinarily helpful and patient when I contacted him for guidance on Al Koran (the magician, that is). This, in light of the fact he was in the midst of moving from London to Brighton. My deepest condolences . . .
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Postby Dale Shrimpton » 02/27/12 09:07 AM

Martin, was one of teh finest human beings it had been my pleasure to meet. Such a gentle man, as well as a gentleman.
I loved him for his knack of greeting you , and always making you feel that you had always been friends.
I recall comming across his stall in the Portabello road, in London , many years ago. By coincidence i had also visited Juliana's stand just before.
He had very little magic on display. However after a very brief converstaion, he let me round the back to browse his hidden stock of treasures.He then, gave me a masterclass in spotting magical items on stands the full length of the road. His advice has found me many little things that i would of passed by.
Also, i remember him because of his magicassetes. One in particular being his tape on Alexander Cannon. Martin very generously Gave me a copy, FOC, because i think i was about the olny person ever to ask about it. Also by strange coincidence, he had just returned from a trip to the Isle of Mann, and the enchanted hall.
I will miss :)
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Postby AnthonyBrahams » 02/28/12 01:57 PM

Very sad news. Martin and I were friends for many years. His West London studio was near my office and we often chatted as I enjoyed his knowledge and humour, not all confined to magic for he was an expert in books. There he had the last three Georges Simenon Maigret novels I needed for my collection and he insisted on giving them to me. An example of his kindnessone of his many virtues. My condolences to his family and recent close friends.
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Postby Paul Gordon » 03/02/12 02:30 PM

Funeral and wake on Wednesday where I've been asked to say a few words on behalf of Peter Duffie who can't make it; plus a few memories of my own. A tough job to do when emotional. May see some of you there...

So sad...

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Postby Paul Gordon » 03/07/12 10:47 PM

Well, the funeral went well. Lovely service. Not many magicians attended; which surprised me. Martin's children (Sophie and James) led the tributes which moved all. Martin was an amazing man and very inspirational. An entrepreneur. A kind man. Much loved. At the wake, I said a few words and then read those of Peter Duffie. Magic followed. Graham P. Jolley topped the bill. Sad day. Hard to believe it's 33 years since I first met Martin and contributed a card trick to his Abracasetta. RIP Martin. Much love - Paul Gordon
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