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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Flavors from the past... » » Jack Chanin's Little Shop in Philly (6 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Jim Sparx
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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.
Jim Sparx
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The current owner of Jack Chanin's now advertises and sells on the unmentionable auction site. Ran across some products a few days ago...
Dick Oslund
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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.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Jim Sparx
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Mensch

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
MJE
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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."
Dennis Michael
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Does anybody know what happened to Jack's Magic Collections?
Dennis Michael
Dick Oslund
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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!


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

Jack didn't make ANY EFFECTS. He made the PROPS.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
murray
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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.
Dick Oslund
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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".
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
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