(Close Window)
Topic: Jack Chanin's Little Shop in Philly
Message: Posted by: stephenbanning (Jan 3, 2004 12:35AM)
Does anyone else have memories of going to Jack Chanin's shop? I recieved some of my first props there 25 years ago. He had this little study where you would walk past doves and sit on a couch where he would demonstrate his egg bag, miser's dream, dye tube, etc. He was wonderful. Earlier this year at a workshop with Cellini, I learned Cellini had been good friends with Jack and that Jack was actually a gypsy. He was so kind and quiet, I never knew he was considered a magical great until years later.
Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Mar 6, 2004 06:13AM)
Jack was a member of the now defunct Houdini Magic Club in Philadelphia. Yes I remember Jack well and he always carried a railroad spike!

His store intrigued me in that it was not organized but he knew where everything was!

In 1974, I sold most of my magic to Jack. I am now kicking myself because, I know now the value of those items.
Message: Posted by: stephenbanning (Jul 20, 2004 03:38PM)
That's interesting. What did the rail road spike do? A friend of mine said he used to visit Jack as well and that Jack would sometimes make the magic effect while the customer waited!
Message: Posted by: magiccarpet (Sep 16, 2005 06:22PM)
I remember going up the stairs to his shop. I think it was on Walnut Street.
He made me up a special set of rice bowls using his own version.
Message: Posted by: magicHart (Dec 24, 2005 09:30AM)
Yep, the actual address was 1212 Walnut St. I first went to Chanin's Studio in the late 50's. Took the Reading Railroad into town from my home in Mt. Airy. What an experience, nothing was packaged, nothing seemed too organized, yet Jack knew where everthing was in a multitude of old chest of drawers.
He was a master at slight of hand, and would work wonders with his drawers of props.
I bought 5 tricks that first visit, a vanishing cigarette, sponge balls, flying saucers, a rope trick, and a color changing silk. He charged me $1.00 a trick.
You were taught by Jack, much of what he sold had no instructions.....other items were typwritten and mimeographed...they always contained the header...."from the private files of Chanin."

God rest his soul!
Message: Posted by: JesterMan (May 26, 2006 03:14PM)
I kick myself for not going there more often, although he was closed more often than not by the time I was able to get into Philly on my own. I went a time or two, and recalled the same 'atmosphere'. In fact, I liked it so much that I often have the same 'atmosphere' chez moi.

I think I still have an old catalog from his store; older than me, I think.
Message: Posted by: Steven Conner (Oct 24, 2007 05:19PM)
On 2004-03-06 07:13, Dennis Michael wrote:
Jack was a member of the now defunct Houdini Magic Club in Philadelphia. Yes I remember Jack well and he always carried a railroad spike!

His store intrigued me in that it was not organized but he knew where everything was!

In 1974, I sold most of my magic to Jack. I am now kicking myself because, I know now the value of those items.

Dennis, I nearly bought Jack's Shop in 1976 when I got married. The only reason I didn't was at the time, I thought Jack was probably the only one who could sell his stuff. I wish I had went ahead and bought the place. $17,000 was his asking price. When you think about U3F and then saw Jack do the same thing with huge 3" saucers was really neat.
Message: Posted by: MerlH (Dec 20, 2007 06:22AM)
When Jack would lecture, he did many things with a thumb tip. When he wnt to the explaination, the thumb tip was chrome plated! He made the point that a thumb tip never had to be seen so it didn't matter if the flesh color was not "correct"
Message: Posted by: Magicray69 (Aug 14, 2008 03:15AM)
Jack was probably the best 'sleever' ever. He made those cigars vanish and reappear and was always 3 steps ahead of you. Right when you thought you knew where the cigar was, he would drop that railroad spike onto the floor with a loud KLANG! Quite a character and he had a great oriental stage show. A magician's magician for sure.
Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Jul 17, 2010 04:13AM)
He loved to mystify Magicians!
Message: Posted by: Mowee (Oct 25, 2010 01:04PM)
I was fortunate enough to work for Jack in the early 60s. My father had been a loyal customer and when he died, Jack offered to help me. So of course I worked for free. LOL. It was a great time and I learned a great deal. Like when he would give me a couple of bucks and say kid, I need a few more miser's dreams...go to woolworths and get me cups that look like this. I think the last time I saw him perform was at a Magic Convention in the early 80s.
Message: Posted by: J Christensen (Oct 28, 2010 03:28PM)
In 1969 I took two friends up those stairs off Walnut. We took one look at the incredible disarray in his store and thinking it was a storage room, we turned around to start down the stairs. Just then we heard Jack call out and we were ushered to the sofa (after stacks of papers and some boxes were removed). Jack proceeded to offer an amazing performance. My friends were thunderstruck. I bought several items from him, but the only one I remember is his impromptu torn-and-restored dollar bill. He was certainly one of a kind!
Message: Posted by: squando (Dec 11, 2010 09:25PM)
I visited in the 70's. I bought a plastic walnut set for the three shell game. Didn't do it like the saleman, still don't.
Message: Posted by: Pasquale (Nov 7, 2011 02:52PM)
Made many trips to Chanin's in the 70's - Kanters too. Still have the devil's hank I bought from Jack......
Message: Posted by: egyptianhallmysteries (Jan 30, 2012 08:39PM)
Great memories of Jack and taking lessons in his Market Street shop in 50's when my brother and I were doing every school, birthday party, cub scout banquet booking we could get. In the early 70's we talked about doing his book...but his wife became ill and my travel schedule was hectic...we lost touch, and as you know someone else did the book with him. I beleive we still have several "Big Tens" around.
Message: Posted by: fredm (Mar 22, 2012 08:11PM)
Their is a hardcover book called "Chanin"by Dave Haversat. book cotaines stories and pictures of Jack.Also reprints of some of Jack's small booklets.

Message: Posted by: Jim Sparx (May 12, 2012 10:05AM)
Never been there but I do have an Abbott's catalog with his signature in it as previous owner.
Message: Posted by: bigcheese (Oct 27, 2012 11:50PM)
Considering how vital the 'late greats' were to so many contemporary successful magicians I live in hope there are still such people providing inspiration, along with the equipment needed.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jan 11, 2013 10:50AM)
YES! I certainly remember Jack! WE WERE FELLOW MEMBERS OF THE S E C R E T S I X !!!
I'll write up the 'story' of the SECRET SIX and it will be a part of my upcoming book(working title: "EVERYTHING I OWN HAS A HANDLE ON TOP OR WHEELS UNDERNEATH".
I first saw Jack "working" at an MAES convention in Lancaster PA in 1953. (What a sleever!!!!!) We got acquainted at the Norfolk MAES a year later. I was 22,and trying to do a "swayve and deboner" act. --Which endeavor was "forgotten" shortly after Jack and I spent an hour in the green room. He shared bits and ideas that have stayed with me and have been used by me in professional work, ever since.
I didn't see him again until 1965 at a MAGI FEST in Columbus OH. He was pitching a "trick" for $5.00, and I think it cost him at least $.25!!! He had a "hernia". (it was a roll of bils that created a huge bulge in his side pocket!) As soon as I can find a few more free minutes,I'll describe the trick!!!
I think the next time we met was at an Abbott GTG in Colon. He was on one of the shows, I think, so Recil gave him dealer space. He always had a big tip in front of his joint. He took an afternoon off and visited a Jewish childrens' summer camp, where he did a little show. When he returned he had a beautiful framed picture of a SHAMUS WITH A CHOFAR. (I hope I spelled that fairly correctly--otherwise June Horowitz will disown me) I said: "Jack! a Shamus with a Chofar!" He looked surprised and asked: "You a "Hebe", too?"
I said: "No, old friend, just a shagitz-goy!" We both had a good laugh.
When I find some more free minutes, I'll also tell about Jay Marshall taking me to see the Walnut St. shop in 1976 (SAM "LEGIONAIRES' DISEASE CONVENTION)

That's enough for now! (My fingers are gettin tired)
Message: Posted by: Steven Conner (Jan 18, 2013 03:09PM)
I nearly bought his business in 1977. Spent a lot of time with Jack, still have his flying saucers, shells, as well as other items. His Chinese Act was incredible.
Message: Posted by: Jim Sparx (Jan 19, 2013 02:56PM)
Ha, I just acquired a Thayers #4 catalog with Jack Chanin's signature in it. That is the third catalog I have with his name in it.
Message: Posted by: Jim Sparx (Feb 13, 2013 04:39PM)
The current owner of Jack Chanin's now advertises and sells on the unmentionable auction site. Ran across some products a few days ago...
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Apr 16, 2013 05:36PM)
OK, I promised (see post above on January 11)to find a few minutes to tell the story of Jack's "FIVE DOLLAR FIRE TRICK.

The Magi-Fest in 1965 was in a downtown hotel. There was no 'dealer room'. The dealers set up shop in the rooms they were 'living in' for the weekend. As I walked down the corridor, I heard uproarious laughing from a room a bit further down. When I entered (difficult because it was crowded)Jack was demonstrating (in his inimitable way!)a trick of his own "invention--?". He had a pile of cocktail napkins ('borrowed' from the hotel bar)and pail half full of water on the floor. He would pick up a napkin, unfold it, and grasping the center with one hand, he would stroke the rest of the napkin with the other hand, so the center stuck 'up'. He held the napkin 'cupped' in both hands, and with two fingers he bent the tip of the napkin toward himself. I seem to remember that he would breathe on the napkin, and the NAPKIN WAS ON FIRE! He waited a moment so that the group could see it was real fire. Then he crumpled it and dropped it into the pail of water.

"How much, Jack?" "Five dollars!" Five dollar bills 'rained down' on Jack, who handed each 'donor' a small cardboard box. I don't remember if any instructions were provided. Yes! (As the old Svengali pitch line goes: I nearly tore my underwear, grabbing for my wallet!)

As I mentioned in my previous post, The price was $5, and I'm sure that the gimmick cost Jack at least $.25!

So, (come in close, I don't want the whole world to hear this.)
Popular among pipe smokers then (maybe it still is, I don't know, I don't smoke.)was a pipe lighter which was especially practical if one wanted to light his pipe outside in the wind. It was cylindrical, about 1" in diameter and about 3" long.If held with one end against the heel of the hand, and the other end against the second joints of the middle and ring fingers, it could be sqeezed and when squeezed it opened at the center and a wheel inside rotated against a flint. Cotton wool, soaked in lighter fluid, burst into flame. Of course, the napkin just above caught fire. The fire provided misdirection as Jack's left hand held the burning napkin up to about eye level, while sleeving (he was a master at the art that Emil Jarrow had practiced with a handful of loose tobacco.)the (CHROME PLATED) gimmick. His hernia (caused by the roll of $5 bills became more acute as the day wore on. Jack was the quintessential itinerant mountebank. Not only that, he was a real mentch and a real maven. June Horowitz is going to disown me! --I know I haven't spelled mentch correctly!

A few years later, Dick Jarrow was the founder of a 'nefarious lodge' and Jack, Karrell Fox, Doc Mossey, Duke Stern, and Jay Marshall became the
charter members. A few years later, I had the honor(?)LOL, of being 'initiated' as the first new member. If you haven't heard of it, it was the SECRET SIX! When I joined, it remained the Secret SIX. I was given the membership number: 6 7/8!

The Secret Six? --I'll tell (as Paul Harvey used to say)the 'rest of the story' in my upcoming book.
Message: Posted by: Jim Sparx (Apr 18, 2013 08:14PM)

I was a pipe smoker when I was younger and I remember that little lighter. will try to find one on ...

and yes, similar little gadgets are available...called the nim rod
Message: Posted by: MJE (Mar 6, 2014 11:13AM)
Many years ago, I was hired for a show in Philly. Also on the bill was a band with dancers and Jack Chanin. At the time, I had no idea who he was. I had been into magic for only a few years at that point. Like myself, Jack believed in getting to a venue early. We checked the stage, our angles, our sound, the light guy, the stage access for audience participants....the works. With over an hour to kill, we sat down in the seats of this high school auditorum to hang out.

That's when it got weird. This guy knew EVERYTHING! I thought I was looking at a fairly broken-down old man, but he came to life while sitting there. Besides his tremendous knowledge of magic and sharpness of wit, the guy had an earring. Keep in mind....the only guys who wore earrings back then were pirates! But even better than that, he was going through his collection of fake moustaches to determine which one he would wear that night. Sheeeesh!

As far as the show goes, I thought I did pretty well as the opener doing mentalism. But Jack, second on the bill, just blew me away. He was hilarious with jokes I had heard years earlier. The audience LOVED him!

I couldn't wait to get back to NY to tell my two mentors about this amazing old guy I met. The response was something like, "Oh, Jack? We've been friends for about forty years."
Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Jun 15, 2014 11:09AM)
Does anybody know what happened to Jack's Magic Collections?
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Feb 17, 2015 06:08PM)
[quote]On Jul 20, 2004, stephenbanning wrote:
That's interesting. What did the rail road spike do? A friend of mine said he used to visit Jack as well and that Jack would sometimes make the magic effect while the customer waited! [/quote]

Jack was a "master "sleever"! Now you know what the spike was for!

Jack didn't make ANY EFFECTS. He made the PROPS.
Message: Posted by: murray (Aug 1, 2015 11:34AM)
Jack Chanin's shop had several locations. The one I most vividly remember was upstairs in the historic Witherspoon Building, 1319 Walnut Street. I remember cabinets stretching high up toward the ceiling, their shelves filled with cigar boxes of apparatus.

As a teen, I took weekly lessons from Jack. He was a patient and helpful teacher.

Whether doing a demo in his shop or performing publicly, Jack was highly entertaining and supremely skilled. I saw him perform in and MC a couple of the annual IBM Ring public shows held in the New Century Club building.

Among the items I bought from him that are still in my possession 60-plus years later are a set of walnut shells with just-so-right plastic wood filling; a mesh egg bag; and a "perfect-bounce" plastic cup for Miser's Dream. Not sure whether I finally disposed of the decks of cards he cut down to fit my still-small hands. And I have a bunch of purple-inked instructions sheets, the kind duplicated on a gelatin pad; I managed to scan many of them before they nearly faded away completely.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Mar 6, 2016 07:48AM)
Murray! That 'gelatin pad' was a "hektograph". They were common when I was in grade school. I remember buying a Devil Hank from Jack. (I had never seen a "no sag"DH.) Jack included an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of hektographed instructions. I used that DH until it was a "rag".

When I did lectures, years ago, I had my "bag lady" (she made egg bags, etc. for me)make up DHs for me. I used one to produce a brandy snifter (with brandy) and sold LOTS of DHs!

I remember sitting with Jack, in the "green room" at an MAES convention in Norfolk, VA, in '54. He shared with me some of the "real work" with C&R rope. I wrote them up in my book, "Dick Oslund - Road Scholar". I've used them for over 50 years, and, I didn't want Jack's "real work" to be forgotten. Jack was a mensch, a maven, a real friend, AND, a fellow member of the "SECRET SIX".
Message: Posted by: KatherineRunkGuest (Jul 3, 2021 05:14PM)
Hello! I am a 19 year old college student from central PA. I've been collecting antiques for a long time, and many years ago I came upon a book called 'Modern Magic' by PProfessor Hoffman from Apple Antiques in State College. I recently picked it up and noticed a little sticker on the cover that said "Chanin's Studio of Magic" and Chanin's signature in the inside of the cover! I fell into a rabbit hole of trying to figure out the background of this man, and have been delighted researching his life and hearing about all his stories on this forum. The sticker is black and white with a rabbit shape and a swirl inside that resembles a face, a black bowtie below it, and the address Philadelphia 7. PA. Chanin's signature also has a little swirl in the C of his name, and a seven is written below it.
I feel fortunate to have a small unlikely connection to this lovely man, and will explore this book with him in mind.