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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Flavors from the past... » » Palmer House Magic Shop (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of TexasJoe
Does anyone recall the name of the magic shop located in the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago ? During the mid fifties I spent part of my Saturday afternoons watching various magicians perform at the Treasure Chest on Randolph near State Street and the shop in the Plamer House. I was attending the Art Institute Junior School at the time or should have been.
Michael Baker
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Near a river in the Midwest
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Profile of Michael Baker
I recalled my uncle once mentioning this shop, so I emailed him and got the following reply:

"I'm not registered in the Magic Café, but I'll let you pass
along this info to Texas Joe on the Palmer House if you

Much of my first show equipment as a teenage performer
in the 50s came from the shop high up in the Palmer
House in Chicago. My recollection is that it was
maintained or sponsored by Abbot, because it
specialized in Abbot illusions which is mainly what
I bought. I'd dutifully save up $30 and $40 from
my lawnmowing and bowling alley pin-setting
in Indianapolis, and invest in Hippety-Hop Rabbits,
the Wolf Pack, a Hank Cabby box, Daisy Duck,
an early version of what would become Luna,
the Vampire Block, 20th Century Silks, an
early set of Linking Rings, a red velvet change bag,
and the ABC Blocks.

I was advised in my purchases by my trainer and
mentor, the beloved Duke Stern, who was Abbot's
midwest representative in the 1950s. Duke demo'd
parttime at the Novelty Shop off the circle in
downtown Indianapolis, and had a
5:00-5:30 weekly magic show on television sponsored
by a local milk company. It was the first show of the
day when the station signed on at 5:00 p.m., and thus
very popular, and I made my televison debut on it
at age 14, working a change bag, the cabby box and
a larger Fall-Apart Box.

I have most of this equipment and still do the occasional
children's birthday party, which is now targeted down
to about age 4 and really is a child's first introduction
to live magic. Parents are charmed by the beautiful
lacquered Abbot finish on the equipment and by the
simplicity of the routines. When I was performing
through college and for part of my adult life, I
could work these Abbot illusions to 6 and even 7-year-olds,
but children today have a much, much higher
sophistication and knowledge level, and I've slowly
brought the age range down. It's about a 30 minute
show and parents tell me this is the longest their
son or daughter has ever watched anything--a sure
indication of how television has wrecked attention
spans at a very early age. As info. Kurt Brokaw

You can include my email if you wish. Thanks, Michael.
--Kurt "
~michael baker
The Magic Company
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Profile of SpellbinderEntertainment
I remember the Palmer House Magic Shop too, but I was very young!

And the Treasure Chest (magic in the back, dirty old men in front).
And the Milford Magic Shop on Pulaski (such old dreck).
And Ireland's Magic Company on Dearborn around the corner from the Chest
(before Jay and Fran moved as Magic, Inc. to Lincoln Avenue).

What a legacy, those days in Chicago were gold, well some brass, but gold too!

P.T. Murphy
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Profile of P.T. Murphy
I do believe it was called National Magic, I could be mistaken. There were so many down in that area. If I am not wrong the red cases that today, populate the Magic, Inc. showroom once stood in National Magic.
P.T. Murphy
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Profile of gfajuri
Abbott's operated a shop in Chicago for a number of years, but not at the Palmer House. Tom Rainey and George Coon managed the Abbott shop, which was on the second floor of an office building in the Chicago Loop (at one time, in the Woods Building, if I'm not mistaken). The shop in the Palmer House was National Magic, as PT Murphy suggested.
Sid Mayer
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Santa Fe, NM
656 Posts

Profile of Sid Mayer
The magic shop located on the third floor of the Palmer House was called The National Magic Company. It was owned by Jim Sherman and managed by Vic Torsberg.

Among the demonstrators, although not all at the same time, were Lee Phillips (Phil Lipsky), Raleigh Tozer, George Boston and Marshall Brodien. I still have a few items that I purchased there in my early teens.

P.T. Murphy is correct about the NMC display cases winding up at Magic, Inc. Kurt Brokaw, via Michael Baker, is mistaken about the Abbott conection.

All the world's a stage ... and everybody on it is overacting.
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