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Topic: P&L Table Bases
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Sep 1, 2016 11:45AM)
Does anyone know how many different styles of table bases P&L made? I've seen the dragon base, of course, and two styles of plain bases. I've also seen them with various tube heights, different "nuts" at the top and even some with casters. Any experts out there?
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Sep 1, 2016 01:02PM)
The makers of magic props are a "cottage industry!

The old P & L workshop was a large "room" with a huge motor at one end, connected to an overhead shaft. The various lathes, drill presses, etc. were connected to the shaft with belts. The operator of the machine would 'throw in' the clutch, and his machine would 'go to work'.

The '1930s" base had a smaller "spread" of the three legs. It would "tip" easier. I have one left of the later base.

P & L didn't make "basic" hardware like screws, bolts, etc. Some performers wanted casters, so the table could be rolled on. (Lots of acts worked floor shows in those days.)

Abbott's was building a doll house for a customer. All the 'pieces' were cut out. Recil sent one of the boys to the local hardware to buy 8 hinges!

Some props didn't get stamped with the "P&L"!
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Sep 2, 2016 07:47AM)
P&L also seemingly used what was readily available for some of their items. Point in case is the tray for the vanishing alarm clock. Look at 5 different ones and you might find no more than two trays that are the same.

Speaking of their tables, I have a couple of tables that are dead on ringers for P&L table bases (legs and bottom flange, not the post). These came from a friend of mine who had a handful of them made long after P&L was in the history books. He knew a guy who worked in one of the metal foundries in Birmingham. He took him a real P&L base, had him make molds and cast parts in aluminum. A little work later with a file to remove the "flash" and voila! A hundred years from now, watch the collectors having a field day trying to ID those!!
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Sep 2, 2016 09:50AM)
Hey! I got a kick out of that table base story, Michael!

In the late'40s or early '50s, Stan Payne, and, I THINK, Eddie McLaughlin had a company named "STAR MAGIC". They were located in the Seattle area. They made several very nice items, including "Oscar the air spring rabbit", rattle bars of metal, that involved air pressure, and STAR TABLES. The center table base was all of aluminum tubing, and, looked almost identical to P & L's table (curved legs) They also had a side table of the same pattern but with "straight" legs.

Over the years, I would pick them up at auctions and estate sales. They were inexpensive, light weight, and sturdy. I used one on the road, and liked it. I still have 3 or 4 of them.

Now, here's the "story". Speaking of P & L using "readily available material", so did STAR! I was on a school tour for Jack West in California, Oregon, and Washington, about thirty years ago. I was in Seattle, and was driving past one of the BIG airplane factories. I suddenly realized where Stan Payne had gotten his supply of aluminum tubing! It was conduit for wiring in the big planes!!! He probably bought scrap tubing, made a jig, and, bent the tubing (in his garage?) The plastic tips for the ends were standard hardware, but he had made a special flange which had a 'nipple' that was a "jam fit' in the top of the upright. So! Gen Grant wasn't the only one who would buy "things" in a dime store, and "re-manufacture! Grant copied a Merv Taylor 'Fil More". Grant made it out of a two cup tea pot that he found in F. W. Woolworth's!

Yup, it's a "cottage industry"!
Message: Posted by: StevieDee (Sep 8, 2016 04:06PM)
Thanks, gentlemen! That explains why all my P&L table bases are different.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Sep 14, 2016 04:05AM)
In the catalog I had of P&L magic, they had 3 table listed, that was in the 1960's.

Remember Thayer made cast metal tables as well.

You may have different assembly nuts and bolts, because the previous owners lost the originals. I have seen some nice P&L tables turned to junk because the owners just did not take care of their props or tables.

Most don't even bother to keep the tabletop flange with the bases.

It is a shame how many treat there props, then think they are still valuable when they see a nice piece being sold at a very nice price.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Sep 14, 2016 07:26PM)
Yeah! I remember watching Russ Charles (Zieske) pack up his show "with a shovel"