A Short History of the
International Brotherhood of Magicians
Jack White, San Diego
The International Brotherhood of Magicians had very humble beginnings. It started as a letter writing exchange between three young men who shared a common interest, a love for the art of magic. M.J.G. McMullen of Canada and Gordon Avery of Buffalo, New York began writing to each other about magic in 1922. A few months later a third young man joined in the correspondence campaign, his name was Ernest Schieldge.
If those names sound unfamiliar to you, they should. It is because they all changed their names and became known, respectively, as Len Vintus, Gene Gordon and Don Rogers.
That trio became the nucleus of the fledgling I.B.M. Len Vintus took the Presidency and he became I.B.M. Member #1; Gene Gordon was Publicity Director with I.B.M. #2; and Don Rogers became Editor of the Linking Ring, the Brotherhood's official journal and he became I.B.M. Member #3. Werner Dornfield, better known to magicians as "Dorny", became involved and was given I.B.M. Number 4, though he claimed to be the first official member since the others were all officers!
Membership grew rapidly. There was a clamoring for the formation of more local groups they called "Rings." Gene Gordon established the first Ring in Rochester, New York. Additional Rings sprang up as members sought to meet and exchange ideas and interests in magic.
The objectives of the I.B.M. are simple. To organize individuals interested in the practice and promotion of the Art of Magic; to facilitate the exchange of magical ideas; and to promote harmony among those interested in magic. The first fully elected President was the legendary W.W. Durbin, who won the election during the first I.B.M. Convention that was held in Durbin's backyard in Kenton, Ohio in 1926. During that same convention the International Brotherhood of Magicians was incorporated and a Constitution and By-Laws were created. Since that time, regular elections are held each year and a business meeting is called to report on the state of the organization.
Now 86 years after its birth the I.B.M. continues to forge ahead in bringing magicians together from around the world in the interest of advancing the ethics of magic, and to oppose exposures, to encourage literature, to promote professionalism in magic, and to promote humane treatment of live animals and birds used in our Art.
Today, there are over 300 I.B.M Rings worldwide, boasting nearly 14,000 members. Those who have served the I.B.M. for 25 years are given the "Order of Merlin" and this year as usual many will receive their "Merlin Pins". Some of our members have served for more than 60 years and continue to remain active.
Through the years, those members whose dedication to magic has led them to the highest office have made contributions of time and talent that are immeasurable. All have felt honored and have continued to serve in various capacities.
As we move forward, the I.B.M. faces new technology and changes in attitudes but while we may have our ups and downs, the object and goals remain the same.
It is still the grandest magic organization in the world.