Friday, March 21, 2008

Ah, The Good Ol' Days...

It's certainly no secret to any of you who know me how much I enjoy older antique magic. I attribute my early exposure to the late Marvin (Buma) Burger from San Francisco's old House of Magic. As a young man in my early teens, I remember the first piece of antique magic I ever bought from him, and I still have it to this day. Little did I know that this part of the magic world would become such a huge part of my life today... As my personal collection grows, I'm happy that I have a large enough space in which to display it. The history of our craft is most interesting to me, more than just books on tricks, I specifically enjoy historical and biographical books on the subject. Enter the recent Pleasant Nightmares Book by William Rauscher. This is just that -- a historical and biographical look at the career of Bill Neff. Neff was a master of the Spook Show, and his career spanned from the 1930s well into the 1960s. I found this book both extremely fascinating and hard to put down. Within two nights, I read the entire book and cannot recommend it highly enough. It is filled with great information and fantastic, vintage photographs.

The interesting coincidence is that I recently acquired several original Bill Neff comic books from the 1940s. Walter B Gibson was instrumental in bringing these to life starting in September, 1948 through February of 1953. I purchased these from the original purchaser, who bought them in his youth and kept them in immaculate condition -- as new as they day they came off the presses!

The Red Dragon issue is one of the rarest and sought after by both comic collectors and magicians. Below are the others, Ghostbreaker, published in September of 1948 and Racket Squad in February of 1953.

In addition to these comics, from the same collector, I acquired this extremely rare McElroy Talking Skull from 1937! The McElroy Brothers were well-renown ventriloquist figure makers, and their figures and craftsmanship so unique, they are sought after with vigor by collectors today. Any McElroy products are extremely rare, and I cannot tell you how excited I was to add this piece to my collection. Considering this skull is 71 years-old and in mint, perfect condition makes it an even more rare find! Included with the skull is the original manuscript, written by Lester Lake for the McElroy Brothers. Ah, the good ol' days. If there were only a time machine and we could go back again.

The McElroy Talking Skull and original manuscript

Greetings from Argentina!

Our good friend, Noberto Jansenson, came from Argentina, via Los Angeles to visit for a couple of days. We always enjoy Noberto's visits, almost as much as he enjoys our city of Fresno, which is quite different from that of Buenos Aires. While here, he told us about a recent television special that he has filmed in his home country that will feature interviews with the biggest and brightest stars coupled with his very own magic. This venture is completely different from what is typically presented in the evenings, and the television company has given Jansenson creative freedom from the interview questions to the type of magic he wishes to present. He is very excited about this new venture, and we are sure that it will be a huge success.

Jansenson sees a magic prop he likes

And I left him locked in it (but not for too long)

Tomorrow evening, my son, Max returns from his 2 week-long vacation from France. He's called Betty and me to report in, and it sounds like he's had a great time! His only complaint is that he wants us to take him to Burger King for a bacon cheeseburger and fries when he gets home.

Have a good Easter weekend.

Until next time,


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