As a regular magic addict it is virtually impossible for me to visit a new place without checking out the local magic shop. I’ve recently spent an extended time in the United States and have managed to clock up three shops in the time. Magic Etc. in Fort Worth (Texas) was well worth the visit, but I’m going to focus on two we visited in New York which are conveniently only a short walk apart.
The first we visited was Fantasma magic. The initial challenge was finding it – neither shop have any frontage on the street – so you need to find the right number, then go inside and take a lift (sorry, elevator) up to the appropriate floor. Fantasma is a newer shop/manufacturer (who started out making watches for Disney!) who do their own range of children’s magic (available in several UK magic shops) as well as stocking a wide range of conventional magic. Couldn’t resist a picture of their beautiful cups and balls cabinet, given my current interests.
It is a fascinating magic shop to visit since it also houses an impressive museum of Houdini memorabilia. There are some interesting props, photos, padlocks and picks – and an entertaining ‘automaton’ (for want of a better word) in which a model of Houdini descends from a packing case in a straight-jacket and proceeds to escape.
John, whom I met, was friendly – showing my girls some tricks and talking knowledgeably about the exhibits. They had a good range of magic and a comfortable showroom and an area for teaching and I presume lectures. I was interested to note that they had recently had a UK magician lecturing and another one coming soon.
Next we walked around the corner for about 5 minutes to get to (the current location for) the legendary Tannens Magic. Since I started reading about magic in the 80s Tannens has been an object of mystery for me – so many famous magicians have had links with the store over the years and so to get the chance to visit was really another realisation of a childhood ambition.
The shop we visited wasn’t, of course, the original – it has moved 2 or 3 times I believe. As with Fantasma you have to enter an unmarked building and take a lift to reach this magical mecca. The shop was well stocked with a table for visiting magicians to chat and jam. Rather bizarrely one of the first things that catches your eye is the elephant in the room. Literally. Which does allow the staff a great line which I’m not going to spoil for you here…
They’ve got a great range as you’d expect – a particularly fine book selection and all the latest stuff tastefully arranged. One of the two staff in view gladly did some magic for my little girls – who were particularly taken by the magic bubble which became solid.
If you’re in New York any time you’ve got to make the visit. Soak up the atmosphere and enjoy, in different ways, the sense of history.
For those of you who are really only interested in playing cards, I’ll show you my USA acquisitions in a later post…