THIS TOKEN AND ALL OTHERS ARE FROM THE
EX- WALTER GRAHAM COLLECTION
Okito performing the floating ball.Tobias "Theo" Leendert Bamberg (1875 – 1963) was a professional magician. Born in Holland, Bamberg performed under the name Okito which was an anagram of Tokio (Tokyo). His father had been court magician to King William III of the Netherlands making Okito the sixth generation in a family of outstanding magicians known as the Bamberg Magical Dynasty.
As a young boy, Theo Bamberg nearly drowned while ice skating. The accident left him almost completely deaf and as a result he performed entirely in pantomime. As a young man, inspired by a performance of the great French magician, shadowist and mimic Felecien Trewey, Bamberg developed a shadowgraphy routine which he performed professionally, beginning in his early teens.
In 1893, Bamberg created his first Japanese-style act in Berlin at the age of eighteen. Success was virtually immediate, but he eventually abandoned the show to elope with the theater manager's daughter. Shortly after, his new wife convinced him to change his name from "Tobias/Toby" to "Theodore/Theo". When he returned to performing, Bamberg altered his Japanese act to become a Chinese-style act to better facilitate a new illusion he had designed. Unlike William Ellsworth Robinson who performed as Chung Ling Soo, Bamberg didn't make an attempt to hide his European identity.
February 1907 brought the birth of his son David Bamberg (who would later perform under the Stage name Fu Manchu) in England. Bamberg and his family eventually moved to The United States of America where, beginning in 1908, Okito worked as an off-stage assistant/advisor and on-stage feature in the shows of illusionist Howard Thurston. On the Thurston show, he was billed as "Europe's Greatest Shadowist.
In 1909 he sold his Okito act to a Brooklyn magician and plumbing contractor, W.J. "Doc" Nixon. It was in that year that Bamberg opened, with partner Joe Klein, the Bamberg Magic & Novelty Co. in New York City. The company was the primary representative of the German firm of Carl Willmann. While minding the store and toying with a pillbox, Bamberg invented his famous Okito box used to perform coin magic. Eventually, Bamberg returned to the road (playing vaudeville and variety theatres), selling his interest in the shop to Klein. Bamberg's skills were such that existing handmade props created by Bamberg are highly prized by collectors today.
Following a South American and European tour in 1932, Theo decided to settle down and he returned to Holland. Meanwhile, David had established himself in South America and persuaded his father to come and visit him. Okito did so just as the Nazis invaded Belgium and Holland. As a result, all of his possessions were either confiscated or destroyed. Theo Bamberg, known as Okito and frequently billed on posters as The Mystic ended his last years in Chicago where he won the friendship, respect and admiration of everyone interested in magic.
In 2009, Squash Publishing was scheduled to release an anthology of selected Okito tricks, illusions, reminisences and his never-before-published hand shadow routine.
Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques
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The Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques (FISM) (International Federation of Magic Societies) was founded in 1948, and is one of the most respected organizations in the magician community. It is an international body coordinating dozens of national and international clubs and federations around the world, representing approximately 50,000 Magicians from 32 countries. The organization hosts a self-named "FISM" conference every three years, where magicians compete for "Best of" categories. The last FISM was held in 2009 in Beijing, China.
The roots of the FISM began in Paris, France, in 1937, at a meeting of the 34-year-old ASAP, Association Syndicale des Artistes Prestigitaeurs (Association of prestidigitation artists), which had a monthly magazine Le Journal de la Prestidigitation. The group's vice-president, Dr. Jules Dhotel, wanted the ASAP to produce an international convention in Paris in October 1939, and then proceed to have the convention in a different country each year. Plans proceeded, but when the Nazis invaded Poland in September 1939, the convention was cancelled. After World War II, progress resumed. In 1946, a hotel in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, hosted an International Congress of Magicians, with over 300 registrants from around Europe. There were lectures, exhibits of antique books and apparatus, tours of Amsterdam, a public show, and a contest in which 20 magicians took part. There were no categories, so only one set of awards. First prize went to amateur French magician Jean Valton, for an exceptional routine of card juggling and manipulation; second went to Scotland's amateur magician John Ramsay, and third to a professional husband-wife duo, De Flezkis, who combined magic and dance.
The 1947 "Congrès Magique International" brought in 500 attendees from 18 countries, and 70 participants in the competition. Meetings at that convention were held to discuss the creation of a formal international organization, and that was where the FISM title was proposed. While details were worked out, the "Congrès" conventions continued annually.
FISM's stated aim is to create a centralized "voice" for the magic world, and to help develop, elevate, and promote the art of magic. It coordinates activities of member societies, and encourages communication between them, as well as exchange of services. It has a corporate identity and a team of professional marketers. It also serves a capacity in the realm of intellectual property, fighting against the copying or inappropriate release of magical inventions or routines.
The FISM is probably best known for conducting one of the premier magic conventions in the world, the triennial "World Championship of Magic". The 2006 convention was held in Stockholm, Sweden, where the Grand-Prix award in close-up magic was won by Rick Merrill from the USA, and the Grand Prix award in the stage magic division was won by Pilou from France. The 2009 convention was held in Beijing, China, where the Grand-Prix award in close-up magic was won by Shawn Farquhar from Canada, and the Grand Prix award in the stage magic division was won by Soma from Hungary.
Grand Prix (Stage): Soma (Hungary)
Grand Prix (Close-up): Shawn Farquhar (Canada)
Most Original Act: Charming Choi (Republic of Korea)
Invention: Jorge Luengo (Spain)
Manipulation (tie): Yo Kato (Japan) and Han Seoi-Hui (Republic of Korea)
Stage Illusions: Julius Frack (Germany)
Parlour Magic: Mark Oberon (England)
Grand Prix (Stage): Pilou (France)
Grand Prix (Close-up): Rick Merrill (USA)
Grand Prix (Stage): Norbert Ferré (France)
Grand Prix (Close-up): Jason Latimer (USA)
Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques (FISM)
FISM's World Championship of Magic
"A history of FISM", by Max Maven
Vienna 2009 Candidate City for the 24th FISM World Championships of Magic
Granada 2009 Candidate City for the 24th FISM World Championships of Magic
List of FISM World Championship winners
FISM 2009 World Championships of Magic
FISM 2009 World Championships of Magic Results