Martinka & Co. catalogue, 1899


More conjuring. The Internet Archive has a number of catalogues published by suppliers to stage magicians but I’ve yet to see one as large or as heavily illustrated as this. Martinka and Co. was a magic supplier whose premises in New York distributed tricks and illusions manufactured in Germany. To judge by the size of their catalogue they must have been one of the largest (maybe the largest) distributors of conjuring props in the entire USA. If you’re interested in stage magic then reading these pages is like being shown the menu of a feast you never got to attend. I’d love to see some of their hand-made items, which range from pocket-size tricks to a life-size chess-playing automaton. The catalogue runs to over 200 pages, and is illustrated on almost every page with vignettes of just the type that Ricky Jay liked to use in his books. According to the uploader, the scans were originally intended for a crowd-funded reprint but the present owners of the Martinka name objected. Browse a world of magic here.















Previously on { feuilleton }
Learned Pigs and other moveables of wonder

3 thoughts on “Martinka & Co. catalogue, 1899”

  1. Are you familiar with Charles Cameron, the godfather of ”bizarre magic”? He was quite a character; being born on Hallowe’en, he had a fascination with magic and the supernatural all his life, wrote books on such subjects, narrated horror stories for radio, ran the short-lived Edinburgh Wax Museum, frequently adopted a Count Dracula persona (complete with coffin and cloak), and performed seances. An interesting maverick in Edinburgh’s history.

  2. I can’t say I am, the only magicians I know outside the popular TV people are those from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Magic often seems to attract oddballs and mavericks; Orson Welles must have been one of the few film directors capable of staging a full-blown magic performance, something he did many times to entertain troops during the Second World War.

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