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Topic: The Top Hat Magic Co.
Message: Posted by: George50 (Sep 18, 2004 06:35PM)
Do any of you folks know where I could get one of there old catalogs? Ah the memories that would bring.
Thanks George
Message: Posted by: Tom G (Oct 16, 2004 06:08PM)
Top Hat was one of the first "higher-level" magic shops I mail ordered from. Moving up from Vic Lawstons
House of a Thousand Mysteries. Who was that guy picuted inside the catalog? They were in Evanston???
Message: Posted by: Rob Johnston (Oct 20, 2004 12:21PM)
Ebay has many catalogs of magic for sale. Check there, you may get lucky.
Message: Posted by: newman1066 (Oct 20, 2004 05:07PM)
Top Hat Magic was in Evanston, Illinois.

That unsmiling fellow, wearing a bow tie and a SAM pin on his lapel if I recall correctly, was the proprietor.

Despite the many hard earned childhood bucks that I sealed in a white envelope along with my order blank and trustingly launched via the U.S. Mail to Evanston, a mysterious destination that I equated with the Emerald City, I cannot recall the man's name.

His dour appearance to the contrary, he always delivered the goods as advertised and, although a kid's concept of fast delivery was something on the order of instant delivery, the agony of anticipating the arrival of his brown paper wrapped box full of secrets was usually worth the wait.

I say usually while recalling my disappointment with the secret of one of my first large capital investments ($3.75) in magic, The Producto Box.

That first psyche twisting experience with the artistic licence seen in magic dealers' descriptions of effects probably formed the basis for the minutiae specific professions that I practice today.

As a footnote I add that Top Hat also trusted kids enough to ship them their purchase C.O.D. A practice that I doubt would survive long today.

I hope that the above ramblings, penned in my dotage, prove helpful.
Message: Posted by: newman1066 (Oct 20, 2004 06:30PM)
George50:

Every once in a while I am granted a brief instant of lucidity.

This named flashed through my mind while engaged in a pursuit that was as far distant from things magic as Colon, Michigan is from the Sea of Tranquillity.

That name was... Gene Tracy.

I believe that this is the name of the bow tie wearing monolith of magic retailing pictured in the old Top Hat Magic catalogues.

Of course, with full knowledge of all of the great repositories of magic history that pace these halls, I will gladly stand corrected on this matter.
Message: Posted by: newman1066 (Oct 21, 2004 12:32AM)
Erratum.

The more that I think about it I believe that Top Hat Magic owner's Christian name was Robert rather than Gene.

Robert (Bob) Tracy.

Or not..
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Oct 23, 2004 01:38PM)
Yes, it was Robert Tracey.

I still have my catalog and the first purchases mail order of magic I made from them. A set of multiplying balls ( Adams marble sized), Street Faker deck (basic aviator brand stuff), and spring flowers (pretty good with plastic leaves).

Bill Smelck did a whole talk (3 times) on the mail order business of Vic Lawton and how we all were disappointed with what we received in mail. Great talks or another era.
Message: Posted by: newman1066 (Oct 24, 2004 01:52AM)
Thank you for providing corroboration on the man's name Mr. Hughes.
It's comforting to know that my recall, although subject to the occasional false start and misspelling of proper nouns, is still operating on all three cylinders.

Didn't Top Hat also carry those enameled rabbit in the hat tie clips and lapel pins that were de rigueur for the well dressed magician of the day?

The perfect fashion statement in the pre-clip on necktie era.
Message: Posted by: marc pearl (Apr 22, 2005 09:25AM)
Bumping this up, 'cause I just registered today.
I discovered this forum and reading threads like this got my memory cells firing like crazy!

I first visited Top Hat Magic Co around 1962 or so. I was 10 years old. It wasn't far from where I grew up, and was my introduction to an amazing world. I was a very quiet, bookish kid....but buying my first magic tricks opened up my hidden extrovert and soon I was doing shows for my friends!

My first trick from Top Hat was the 'shrinking die' and I still have it and once in awhile remember to bring it out and it's still a great effect!

I remember very well the huge wall display of Halloween Masks. Every year I would go there and buy a new one....the mummy, the caveman, wolfman....The shop was half magic store and half joke/costume shop.

I still have an old catalog, with its checkmarks for tricks I had, and for those I wanted to buy.....

Marc
Message: Posted by: B.W. McCarron (Mar 23, 2019 10:07AM)
[quote]On Oct 24, 2004, newman1066 wrote:
Didn't Top Hat also carry those enameled rabbit in the hat tie clips and lapel pins that were de rigueur for the well dressed magician of the day?

The perfect fashion statement in the pre-clip on necktie era. [/quote]


Yes, indeed. I still have mine. I did most of my magic ordering from Top Hat (with some from Elbee and Johnson-Smith for the novelties) as a youngster and early teen. The Magic Milk Pitcher, Short 'n Long Rope Mystery and Light 'n Heavy Glass even made it into my routine back then.

I enjoyed Top Hat's liberal policy on giving an extra 10% back in the form of a bonus, which is how I obtained the Short 'n Long Rope Mystery from Harold Sterling. I performed that trick on many a theatre stage and it brought even more applause than the Zig Zag, French Guillotine or Flying Carpet illusions that I also used. "Short ;n Long" is my favorite "in one" effect, albeit with my own patter.

Thanks for the memories!

--Brett