Archive for April, 2015

Another Swap Meet and the Smith Estate

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2015 by hocuspoc

Another Magic Castle swap meet down. And I’m glad to report that once again, we sold every single item we brought. Our $1, $5, $10 & $20 boxes definitely do the trick and were stuffed to the gills with goodies galore.

After the dealers ravage our boxes, (because on one can resist a good deal), the doors finally opened. We were amazed to see that people were literally running to get to our table! It looked like a mild stampede.

Falling-Prices-Magic

After the swap meet, we had our customary lunch with the kids at The Grove. We ate at Maggiano’s Little Italy, which was really great. In fact, I cannot recommend it enough if you get the chance.

Looks like Max is becoming an old-pro at the Swap Meet business.

Looks like Max is becoming an old-pro at the Swap Meet business.

 

A panoramic shot of the swap meet.

A panoramic shot of the swap meet.

 

There are deals to be had for the serious bargain-hunter.

There are deals to be had for the serious bargain-hunter.

 

Better hurry and decide before someone snatches it out of your hand.

Better hurry and decide before someone snatches it out of your hand.

 

We've had such success that we now have REGULARS that come to every swap meet, just to shop with us!

We’ve had such success that we now have REGULARS that come to every swap meet, just to shop with us!

Les Smith Estate Launched

As you may well know, the Les Smith Estate was made available this last Tuesday. Luckily, our website did not crash thanks to expanded bandwidth (thanks for taking care of that Cole) and any untimely shut-down was averted.

Several weeks ago when the Dean Dill Estate went live our site crashed due to an overabundance of interested buyers.

Toy Soldier Illusion

This week a Toy Soldier Illusion made by Owen Magic was delivered. It always fun to see an illusion come into the shop. It’s new home is in the middle of the showroom floor. It’s anyone’s bet as to just how long this sentry will be here. I’m always surprised, so I’ve stopped guessing how fast or slow an illusion will be with us.

From the starting position.

From the starting position.

Here’s the effect:

The performer introduces a low platform upon which he rests four muskets in pyramid fashion. At the top of the muskets he places a large Toy Soldier Head.

Here's the large cloak that gets wrapped around the rifles.

Here’s the large cloak that gets wrapped around the rifles.

A large cloak is then warped around the muskets. At the magicians command the soldier comes to life and begins to march about the stage.

For the finale the magician removes the head, cloak etc. showing that there is nothing hidden within!

And suddenly, a lady appears when the cloak is whisked away!

And suddenly, a lady appears when the cloak is whisked away!

This is a startling Illusion that would please any audience. The best part is that the base can be used for other presentations due to its versatility. This can be performed COMPLETELY SURROUNDED!

We have spoken to Alan Zagorsky owner of Owen Magic Supreme about the origin of this Illusion. He thought that it might have been made by Owen Magic Supreme prior to their ownership in the mid 60’s but could not completely verify this. We can tell you that it was professionally built and is in excellent condition.

Baptism-Banner

Little Clark’s Baptism

Cole took today off to get the house ready for the after-party following the christening of Clark, our new grandson on Saturday.

Of course, it’s a family affair and the whole clan is descending upon Cole & Amanda’s house so he wanted to get everything set & ready to receive the onslaught of everyone. It will be good to see everyone and get the kid sworn in.

Have a great weekend my friends,

More news later,

Paul

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Castle Bound

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2015 by hocuspoc

Whew boy. What a week! Wish I had time to update you on all that’s been happening.

Needless to say, we’ve be busy getting ready for the Magic Castle Swap Meet this weekend as well making final preparations for the Les Smith Estate Sale.

As you can see, the truck is loaded and ready to go to the Magic Castle Swap Meet. See you there!

As you can see, the truck is loaded and ready to go to the Magic Castle Swap Meet. See you there!

Les Smith Estate Next Tuesday

The Les Smith Estate happens next Tuesday, beginning at 9:00am sharp — and that’s Pacific Standard Time. Get ready because there’s a boatload of great stuff for your consideration!

 

Won't be long and the Les Smith Estate Sale will be here.

Won’t be long and the Les Smith Estate Sale will be here.

If you’re NOT our mailing list, you won’t’ receive a reminder a day prior to the sale going live. Best to  sign-up now to ensure that you get advance notice of the extraordinary event.

Looking forward to another great swap meet at the Castle!

Gotta go! We’re off to the Castle for dinner with Mark & Nani Wilson and the kids.

More news later…have a great weekend,

Paul

 

Dancing Shoes & Remembering Ralph Adams

Posted in Uncategorized on April 10, 2015 by hocuspoc

This week we got a visit from Ralph Adams Jr. son of the late Ralph Adams, one of the last great American magicians of a bygone era.

Ralph drove down from Nevada to deliver an illusion that had been stored away for several decades, Diana’s Zimmerman’s Dancing Shoes. Originally built for Diana in late 1970’s by Eric Lewis, (another iconic name in magic), The Dancing Shoes was a unique illusion that was most assuredly off the beaten path. It was designed by Dick & Diana Zimmerman for Diana’s act, who is a truly rare commodity, a lady magician.

As you can see by the photos, it is was not a small endeavor to unload the illusion.

The unloading of The Dancing Shoes into the showroom.

The unloading of The Dancing Shoes into the showroom.

After a successful run on television and live performances, and being somewhat cumbersome, The Dancing Shoes was later sold for a Vegas Magic Show that never found a home. Sadly, the illusion was warehoused and has been packed away from the light of day for years. That is, until now.

The former owners contacted Ralph, who were quite familiar with him and his father’s work, wanting to find out a vendor for the sale of the illusion, and I’m glad to say that our name came up as a viable source of finding it a new home.

Diana Zimmerman with Channing Pollack.

Diana Zimmerman with Channing Pollack.

I would like to thank Diana Zimmerman for her quick return phone call and for providing us with valuable information and the back-story on this illusion. In fact, take a look at Diana performing her very well choreographed Dancing Shoes on television.

Of course, we are thrilled to have such a landmark illusion on our showroom. And even thought it may not live here long, it is indeed an honor to have it here.

One of My Heroes – RALPH ADAMS

For those not familiar with Ralph Adams work, let me take this opportunity to tell you his story.

Ralph Adams, the youngest of 12 children, was born April 18, 1910 in Ross Fork, Mont., a stage coach stop where travelers were fed in the Grandma Adams’ home, and came to Santa Maria by way of Oregon in 1922.

Always being somewhat interested in the illusion of magic, after buying a little pocket trick from a street vendor, he sent away for $2.65 worth of tricks.

He volunteered as a magician at the Main Street School, and although he didn’t know any tricks, he bought a book, gave the show and, as he said, “I was a big shot around the school for a few days.”

He wasn’t about to rest on his laurels, though. Working as a dishwasher at the France Café for $3.50 per week while attending school, and $7.50 during vacations, he saved $65 and sent away for the Tarbell Mail Order Course in Magic. The course, written in 1926 by Dr. Harlan Tarbell, is said to have been the greatest thing that has ever happened in the teaching of magic.

“A magician is not a magician because he knows tricks, but because he knows magic – its principles and fundamentals.”

Ralph Adams performing his Floating Lady Illusion.

Ralph Adams performing his Floating Lady Illusion.

It took years for Adams to develop his sleight-of-hand.

But he didn’t stop there. Adams was an accomplished lapidary artist (making polished tables that remain pieces of art), and operated the Ralph Adams Photography Studio for 35 years, first on West Main Street in Santa Maria, California.

During the 1930s, while running his photography studio, he was also busy performing magic at local lodges. Eventually, his hobby became his profession.

For many years he took school pictures and years later took these same children’s wedding pictures. People have often told of how he mesmerized the children, as they were lined up to have their pictures taken, with his magic tricks. The kids reverently spoke of him as “The Magic Man.”

After watching Ed Sullivan’s “Show of Shows” on television and seeing guest magicians doing the same old tricks, Adams began creating tricks of his own.

A Ralph Adams made Hindu Basket. This one didn't stay on the showroom floor very long.

A Ralph Adams made Hindu Basket. This one didn’t stay on the showroom floor very long.

When the nine Adams children were small, he included them in his act as “acting assistants,” curling into small spaces as parts of his acts.

After retiring from his photography business, he was able to devote more time to his magic act, and it wasn’t long before he received recognition from illusionists throughout the world as “the man who put entertainment into magic.”

Adams worked hundreds of stages throughout the country in such prestigious entertainment palaces as Radio City Musical Hall in New York, The Astrodome in Texas and Radio City in Ohio, where a one-night stint lasted FOUR years!

He pioneered the magic of illusion on television and created and built all of his own equipment, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Adams’ dancing handkerchiefs, probably his greatest achievement, is known all over the world of magic.

On his 85th birthday, Adams was honored by Lance Burton and David Copperfield during their show in Las Vegas.

After Ralph retired for good, he and wife Hilda put on magic shows for 65 people at a time in the garage of their home in Orcutt, California. Admission for the children was a note from their parents saying that they were “good kids,” while parents needed similar notes from their children.

There were two doorbells on their front porch, one for solicitors and salesmen, but it didn’t work. The one set below that bell was for friends and relatives. It was deliberately set low so that children could reach it.

The City of Santa Maria, in recognizing the achievements of the couple, designated May 7, 1997 as “Ralph and Hilda Adams Day.”

Only family members knew the magic secrets of Ralph Adams. When asked how he did his “dancing handkerchiefs,” he’d smile and reply, “very well.”

He was known to climb a free-standing rope and disappear in front of the audience only to reappear a few moments later. When asked how he did this trick, he’d smile and reply, “It’s magic.”

Later in life a local reporter was astounded to find that Mr. Adams was blind, since throughout her visit, he looked her straight in my eyes, with no indication that he couldn’t see. As she reported, with twinkling blue eyes and two snow white tufts of hair sticking out on both sides of his head, she expected handkerchiefs to start floating around the room.

Ralph Adams passed away on July 8, 1998.

Les Smith Estate on Horizon

My friend Steve Dick, who is a knowledgeable Owen collector himself, was nice enough to come up from Los Angeles to spend the week with us helping to write product descriptions for the coming Les Smith Estate sale. He and Cole have been focusing on the Owen listings while Tim finishes up with the remaining items from the Dean Dill Estate. Having Steve’s assistance and input has really helped expedite the process. Thank you  Steve!

Hopefully, next week we’ll have a better idea of the exact date as to when the Les Smith Estate will be occurring.

At-the-Workbench

Again, if you’re NOT our mailing list, you won’t’ receive a reminder a day prior to the sale going live. Best to  sign-up now to ensure that you get advance notice of this extraordinary event.

Looking forward to another great weekend enjoying our mild Spring weather.

Until next time,

Paul

 

The Crash aka The Dill Effect

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2015 by hocuspoc

I wish I could say that this last Monday’s Dean Dill Estate Sale all came off without a hitch, but I cannot.

After much anticipation, at 9am friends & admirers began hitting our website just minutes after receiving our email for Dean Dill’s Estate Sale. Everyone wanted to see what we’d listed of Dean’s personal and private belongings, magic props, books, collectibles & other magic paraphernalia.

Offering-Estate-Dean-Dill2

We’d spent the previous week feverishly organizing, photographing,  writing descriptions and listing as many of Dean’s things as we could. Our new strategy, which was not a bad one, was to make an announcement of the coming sale to create excitement and anticipation, and then to launch the sale on a designated date. Since the sale date was just a matter of days away, we figured it might bump up the traffic a bit. We were right, it did.

When the clock struck 9am, our site was flooded with over 20,000 visitors wanting to get a gander at the Dean Dill Estate, and as a result, brought the website to a screeching halt. We had never anticipated such an incredible amount of site traffic. We knew there would be interest, but never in my history of being in business, off or online, have I encountered such an outpouring of interest. So much so that it would bring my store to an abrupt halt. Guess you could call it the Dill Effect. Actually, the overabundance of traffic is a true testament of the love and admiration everyone had for Dean.

Needless to say, the phone started ringing off the hook with customers informing us that our site was down. Of course, we were painfully aware of that fact due to the fact the we ourselves couldn’t access our own site, even to take phone orders!

The crash of our website was actually a sign of success.

The crash of our website was actually a sign of success.

Our site administrator restarted the site, which meant that it knocked everyone off momentarily. It reminded me of the old Jerry Lewis movie, WHO’S MINDING THE STORE, when the store was overwhelmed with customers during a White Sale. The scene was pure chaos. And that’s the way it was here, at least for the first hour and a half.

I was reminded of this classic Jerry Lewis pic when I site went belly-up for a bit last Monday.

I was reminded of this classic Jerry Lewis pic when I site went belly-up for a bit last Monday.

However, I will say that after the initial hiccup, orders started rolling in and the traffic subsided enough for customers to gain access to our site and begin purchasing Dean’s items. It seems the restart made a difference.

I would be remiss if I didn’t’ tell you that we are expanding our bandwidth for the coming days. We learned our lesson the hard way, but we learned it.

Les Smith Estate

We’re very proud and honored to have been selected to offer Estate of Les Smith of Owen Magic Supreme fame.

Last Friday I went down to Azusa and met again with Alan Zagorsky to pick up some of the personal collection of his stepfather , Les Smith.

Look for updates regarding the Les Smith Estate coming very soon.

Look for updates regarding the Les Smith Estate coming very soon.

We’ll be sending out a detailed email as we finalize the date of the sale.

But, I will give you a tasty little hint — Les’ collection contains some original Thayer and Petrie-Lewis effects that haven’t seen the light of day since they were first fabricated. This is a sale that will most likely generate even MORE interest and traffic than Dean Dill’s estate did for us as there will be OVER 1,000 items offered.

Mailing List

If you’re NOT our mailing list, you won’t’ receive a reminder a day prior to the sale going live. Otherwise, sign-up now to ensure that you get advance notice of the extraordinary event.

Superhero Night

Tonight we’ll be attending Marvel Universe Live! with my grandson Zachary. Yes tonight is a grandparents/grandson Superhero Night for us. That is, AFTER we partake in a cheeseburger dinner at McDonalds.

We'll be sitting right down in front so Zachary can see EVERYTHING!

We’ll be sitting right down in front so Zachary can see EVERYTHING!

The weather’s cooled down, so I’ll be putting in some major time in the yard this weekend.

If you celebrate Easter, have a wonderful Easter with your family.

Until next time,

Paul