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mota
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Robert Nelson used to do quite a bit of business with this pitch but details are hard to find. Eddie Fields and George Martz used to do a code act in conjunction with this. As this is the pitch forum I thought I would ask here first (then I will check with Robert Nelson collectors).

Does anyone have any specifics on this pitch?
julieannjohnson
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Nelson not only sold pitch books for folks who did this, he also sold a great horocscope pitch poster. You can see the poster here:

http://www.mevproshop.com/nelson-zodiac-poster.html

and read my review of mevpro's recent colour reporduction of it here:

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......orum=113

I collect all things Nelson. I do have a couple of his astrology pitch books and a few booklets and flyers he printed for other scope workers, such as the Ushers' "House of Usher" at Venice Beach, California -- but I have not been lucky enough yet to acquire a copy of a Nelson astrology pitch script per se.

The Zancigs, a famous code act, also had a scope pitch. After Agnes Zancig died, Julius and his second wife Ada ran the "Zancigs' Zodiac Shop" in Philadelphia for a while. They later relocated to Ocean park, probably only a few blocks from Venice Beach where the Ushers later set up.

The Ushers were mentioned by "Charles Garner" in "Secrets of a Psychic Reader" as being in Venice Beach during the early 1950s, and I believe that, like the Zancigs, they had a 2-prson code act in addition to their scope work.

Also, in "Carnie, Pitchman, Indian Chief" by Carl Herron, there is information on Herron's father's friend, the New York City scope pitchwoman Irene Roth (?) (my book is not here at the moment or I would check the accuracy of that name). There are photos of an old newspaper article about her in the book. I used a magnifying glass to read the article, which was very interesting. Also, note her "astrological man" (a.k.a. zodiacal man") sign in the photos. It looks gorgeous, and since she went out with a keister and tripes, it was probably a painted canvas, which leads me toward wishing to create a reproduction of it.

I got some information via Fred Crouter describing a CT used by a scope worker who set up in department stores during the 1920s - 30s. He burned the billets in a glass, and gave the clients his name and number on a tick sheet, but he brilliantly took the CT centers home and pasted them onto file cards with the dates of collection, so that if people called for a personal reading, he could look them up and read their original question back, after weeks, months, or years. Since reading that, I have kept all my digital files on everyone for whom I have ever read. "Oh, Mrs. D. -- how nice to hear from you. You know, I was so worried when you told me about [XYZ] that I've kept you on my mind ever since. How did that work out for you? Are you and [ABC] doing better now?"

I also hve an old German book of the 1930s, "Das Duetche Volk", in which an astrological pitchman is shown at a German county fair or market, with his banner behind him. The article conains explanatory captioning and a sample of his hand-out material. Unfortunately, I cannot read old German fraktur lettering, or I would try to get the page into English. I wonder if this is something that would interest Bill Palmer, as he does translate old German mentalism material into English. It's only a copule of pages long.

I hope this helps. I will direct a notice toward this thread in the "Magicians of Old" topic area, and see if anyone there can add to this.
julieannjohnson
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Here is a list of books Nelson wrote. I have identified the general content of some of them, and others are obvious by titles. I don;t have even half of them, but I see none that -- by the title, at least -- purport to teach anyone to do the scope pitch. Can anyone state with authority that any of them deal specifically with the scope pitch?:

Sensational Effects (1928), -- Q&A
Super Mentality (1929),
Psychic Mysteries (1929),
Confessions of a Medium (1930),
Psychic Mysteries (1931)
More Effective Answers to Questions (1932), -- Q&A
Stage Hypnotism Course (1935), -- Hypnotim
Hellstromism (1936), -- muscle reading
Technique of the Private Reader (1936), -- office reading, CR
Making Mindreading Pay (1936),
Nelson's Super Code (1937), -- 2-person code act
Visions of Tomorrow (1941),
Man and Wife Mindreading Act (1942), -- 2-person code act
Nelson's Super Code (1937), -- 2-person code act
The Miracle Deck (1942),
Encyclopedia of Mentalism (1944), -- Effects
Sensational Answers (1944), -- Q&A
Musical Thoughts (1944),
Dante's System of Life Span Reading (1944), -- CR
Miracles in Mentalism and Psychic Experimentation (1945),
Hotel and Nite Club Mindreading (1947), -- 2-person code act
Super Prediction Tricks (with E.J. Moore) (1947),
The Ghost Book of Dark Secrets (1948), -- Spook Show
Manual of Publicity and Exploitation (1948), T
he New Dr. Q. Book (1948), -- Reprint of Alexander's book of effects
How To Book your Attraction (1951),
The Art of Cold Reading (1951), -- CR
Secret Methods of Private Reader (1953), --private reading CR, office work
The Mentalist's Manual (1953),
TV Mentalism (1955), Hypno-Trix (1956),
Projected Answers (1956),
Miracles of the Mind (1956),
Sensational Effects (revised) (1958), -- Q&A
Master Course in Hypnotism (1958), - -hypnotism
New Dr. Q. Slate Routines (1958), -- slate effects
E.S.P. Brain Busters (1958),
Mentalism and its Presentation (1959),
More Miracles in Mentalism (1959),
The Master Code (reprint) (1959),
Mental Exploits (1960),
Encyclopedia of Mentalism (3rd edition) (1960),
Club and Party Mentalism (1961),
Still More Miracles in Mentalism (1961),
Comedy Mentalism, Vol. 1 (1962),
Comedy Mentalism, Vol. 2,
Phantom Mindreader (1964),
Comedy Mentalism, Vol. 3 (1964),
Sensational Mentalism (1965),
The Horoscope Party Manual (1968),
Sensational Mentalism, Vol. 2 (1968),
The Last Book of Nelson : An Autobiography, Plus (1970),
A Sequel to the Art of Cold Reading (1971), -- CR, modernized
Sensational Mentalism, Vol. 3 (1972),
Commercial Mentalism (1972),
Sensational Mentalism, Vol. 4 (1977- published posthumously)

The Nelson books written under the Dr. Korda RaMayne name are all pitch books. I have a number of these: palmistry, crystal gazing, numerology, and "lucky stars." the latter is a modified astrological system. I say "modified," because the calculations do not result in the creation of a true natal hooroscope.

In addition to supplying the books for workers who did the "lucky stars" pitch, Nelson also offered a three-day-turnaround service for actual natal horoscope charts with a "canned reading." These were marketed to office workers who didn't want to do the math or assemble their own canned readings.

I'd love to hear more from other collectors of Nelsoniana.
julieannjohnson
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Aha. I found something online:

Chapter XVIII (that's Chapter 18) of Nelson's "Encyclopedia of Mentalism" (1944. 1948, etc.) is titled "The Horoscope Pitch."

Well, that must be the 1948 edition, because I have the 1944 edition, and Chapter XV is "Astrology Thumb-nail Sketches", while Chapter XVI is "the Horoscope Pitch." For the record, in my copy, Chapter XVIII is titled "Recommended Books for Study."

Stay tuned for a brief overview.
julieannjohnson
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Okay, here you go, Mota:

Five versions of the horoscope pitch are given in Nelson's "Encyclopedia of Mentalism":

1) The regular outdoor pitch or 2 person act: If the female scope worker on stage fails to guess your sign, the scope is free; if she can guess your sign, the scope costs you 25 or 50 cents. Standard 2-person methods are utilized.

2) The outdoor high pitch: This is a one-person lecture and pitch. It is illustrated in the book by a pitchman in a swami turban waving a scope above a crowd, with a Nelson zodiac poster on a frame behind him.

3) Horoscope sale by mail through magazines.

4) Resort hotel and lecture hall tours: This is the one-person pitch of "the 'yearly' readings" held indoors during the winter months.

5) Display rack horoscope sales: The scopes are in sealed into "attractively printed envelopes" and are racked in candy stores and similar venues. The operator splits 60/40 with the store owner. (Although it is unmentioned by Nelson, I can vouch for the fact that when I was young, this was called "running the routes" and those who did it also either sold dream books and ran the numbers, or they racked other items, such as joke books and machine-dispensed bathroom novelties like the Pecker Stretcher.)

I hope that's the information you were looking for.
mota
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That tells me much more than I knew. Thank you!

This reminds me...a long time ago I had a Stan Kramien booklet about the horoscope pitch but don't remember any details. I wonder if this was based on the Nelson work. Does anyone have this book who could elaborate?
sethb
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Quote:
On 2009-11-30, julieannjohnson wrote: Nelson not only sold pitch books for folks who did this, he also sold a great horocscope pitch poster. You can see the poster here:

http://www.mevproshop.com/nelson-zodiac-poster.html

Julieann, this Nelson poster looks very much like a larger display that I remember seeing on the Steel Pier in Atlantic City as a teenager in the early 1960's. It was part of a two-person scope pitch that was done by an elderly couple, whose names I cannot recall.

The display probably about 5-6 feet in diameter, and it was done on dark maroon velvet, with the names of the Zodiac signs and their logos done in glittery silvery script. It was raised about 2-3 feet off the floor, and leaned back at perhaps a 15-degree angle, to better catch the two spotlights that shined on it. Very flashy and impressive, it always drew big crowds.

I didn't pay much attention to it at the time (I spent all of my time watching the Svengali Pitch next door!), but now I wish I had. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
julieannjohnson
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Thanks, Sethb, for that glimpse into the past. I would have loved to have seen it. Although Loren doesn't mention it on his Nelson Tribute Poster page, Nelson offered the same design in even larger versions that were hand-painted on canvas.

Having reviewed the material I wrote above, I now think it is fair to speculate that the pitchwoman referred to by Carl Herron (his godmother) may have been working the 2-person "guess your sign" act as described by Nelson, because she is shown with her male partner as they carry the keister and tripes. Surely she did not need him just to carry the keister... or did she?

Also, while I mentioned the Ushers having a 2-person code act in addition to pitching scopes at Venice Beach, I think it is more accurate to say that since the 2-person or low pitch scope set-up can be designed as a code act (if other methods, such as wireless or hand-signs, are not used), they actually had both acts in one. I know that they also worked out of an office and sold via mail order, because I have a mini-catalogue of theirs, printed by Nelson, offering assorted Nelson-supplied curios and talismans, plus horoscopes by mail.

With the department store CT worker listed above, but not described by Nelson, we actually have six versions of the scope pitch of the 1920s -190s. Some might say that the mail-order sales don't count as part of a pitch, but when operated as an adjunct to a public pitch, the way the Ushers did it, mail order sales, especially during the winter months, would have been a legitimate portion of the pitching enterprise.
julieannjohnson
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Re: Irene Roth, the scope worker who was the godmother of Carl Herron (Brother Shadow), mentioned above:

According to the news article published in PM in 1940, which was reproduced in Herron's book "Carney, Pitchman, Indian Chief," she was 58 years old in 1940, had been a scope worker for 15 years (since 1925, when she was 43 years old), and had only arrived in New York City a few years earlier. This would accord fairly well with the following Social Security Death Index record:

Name IRENE ROTH
Birth 25 Mar 1883
Death Dec 1975
Last Residence 17701 (Williamsport, Lycoming, PA)
Last Benefit (none specified)
SSN 172-50-1406
Issued Pennsylvania

Again, according to the article, her assistant / partner / shill was Willie Owens, a "veteran of the World War" (that'd be WWI). This name is simply too common to look up in the SSDI: There were 3 men named Willie Owens born in 1883 alone, and counting all of the men named William Owens and Willie Owens who were born between 1880 and 1899, I could uselessly fill a small book.
julieannjohnson
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Mota wrote: "a long time ago I had a Stan Kramien booklet about the horoscope pitch"

Do you recall the name of the book? I would like to acquire it and a title and approoximate date of publication would help.
julieannjohnson
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Ah, could it have been "Big Money in Horoscopes and Lucky Numbers" by Stan Kramien, 1987?

If so, it is available as an ebook at lybary.com.

And I am in the market for an actual paper copy of the first edition, not being much of an ebook collector.
mota
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I went to lybrary.com . That is the book I was asking about.
julieannjohnson
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Thanks. A kind soul PM'd me with Stan Kramien's email and I contacted him in an attempt to locate a paper copy for my collection.

No one has responded about the contents of this book vis-a-vis the Nelson materials. If I cannot locate a hard copy, I may buy the ebook version as a place-holder. Either way, I'll report back eventually, if no one else answers the question.
julieannjohnson
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Wow! Thanks to a kind PM, I got in touch with Stan Kramien by telephone. He does not have any paper copies of his old scope pitch book left in print, but he told me some wonderful and funny stories about the scope pitch workers of old.

A man and wife act in New York who "spoke Yiddish fluently," and when their code skills failed, resorted to "mumbling in Yiddish" to pass the information.

Harry and Frances Usher pitching in Long Beach.

A couple in New York, coming in from a day of pitching and Stan went to their hotel room to say hello, "and the bed was completely covered with money and they were counting the money."

Two men who pitched scopes together in New York, perhaps the only two MAN version of this pitch.

What a great guy Stan is, and so generous with his time. He is 85 years old and sharp as a tack. It was great to be able to talk with him.
Docc Hilford
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I successfully worked the Fred Crouter pitch for quite awhile in the 1990s.
monkeycat
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Years and years and years and years ago a most magnificent lady grafter by the name of Sandra Starr once said to me, "Ronnie, (one of my many names) you should have seen the old horoscope workers. They got execution pitches (translation: massive crowds) and took in fortunes. They aren't around any more" I think Sandra herself worked it at one time but am not sure. I am not sure what happened to her. I expect she must be in the spirit world by now.

I only saw one guy do it and he was fantastic. He worked it in Petticoat Lane single handed and I have no idea how he did it. He took in a lot of money too. The nearest thing to it that I ever saw was a Chinese guy in the Dandelion Market in Dublin who got big crowds by reading the bumps in the head. I think it is called phrenology. He would get someone sitting down, gather a crowd and read the bumps in the guys head in front of the crowd. The guy would pay him and he would get someone else from the crowd to sit down and he would do it all over again!
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