A Lifetime in Magic
Percy Abbott
The Abbott Manufacturing Co., (1960)
In Collection
Magician - Biography
USA  eng
Abbott, Percy: A Lifetime in Magic, 1886 - 1960
©1960, 2002 The Abbott Magic Manufacturing Co., MI
Paper, perfect-bound, 188 pages

Comments: An wonderful autobiography by Percy Abbott of the Abbott Manufacturing Co and his start in Australia. It only covers up to 1960, so does not cover much of the Abbott Manufacturing Company's prime days, however! The updated 2002 version of this book also includes the full text of Percy's "Magic for Magician's". Illustrated with B&W photos and drawings.

Contents: As this is a two-in-one book, each section is page numbered separately.

Part 1: A Lifetime In Magic

1 B&W Photo of Percy Abbott: likely around 1960
2 Memories: Intro by Greg Bordner
4 Dedication: to Gladys (his wife)
5 Foreword: by Sid Lorraine
12 Contents
13 The Chrystal Lantern: Percy's start and some memories of Chung Ling Soo and some famous stage illusions
23 Comedy Snake Basket: Abbott's Snake Basket and some discussion of the presentation of magic
28 Lost in the Bush - Australia: Early years away from Sydney and performing in small towns
36 Ventriloquism in Java: for people who have never seen a vent-doll before!
40 Clock Dial and Gambling: Provides some insight into the challenges of selling a show, and how Percy was able to take advantage of the situations before him (not always to great success!)
44 My Last Escape Dive: the dangers of not having adequate preparation time!
48 Magic in the Cockpits: no not planes, but Rooster-Fighting pits! Also, dealing with illness as one of the hazards of travel.
57 Phantasma: putting on an equisite Ghost Show
60 Japanese Repeats: doing the same show for the same "assistants"
61 Horace Goldin in Shanghai: Percy meets Goldin
64 Jensen In Australia Stage Thermometer: The Great Jensen's (later known as Dante) shows and a comedy prop Percy made for him
70 De Biere's Thumb Tip: Percy's "cocky" approach vents some magic competition; a bit on repetition of the same effects
74 Oswald Williams "Box of Tricks": how a magician cleverly modified old tricks, but they look all the same to the layman
76 Chinese Egg Act: an act that Mr. Abbott could not duplicate
77 The Lifting of the Steel Spikes: some discussion on the "stealing" of ideas in the magic circles
81 The Nicola Show: one of the greats
83 Fooling the Bookers: Nicola getting what he wanted
86 Inside Siberia: Percy's stint in Russia, and a dangerous one at that!
89 Sawing a Woman: everyone wanted this illusion
99 Carnival & Jensen: some time in New York
102 Magic in Japan: tough work!
103 The Silver Mines of Korea: more rewarding, though gruelling
107 Arrested in Cochin China: passport troubles and a unique Chinese act
111 The Walking Ball Trick: brief explanation of a trick by the Magicians of Ceylon
111 Stranded: in the USA of all places
114 Harry Thurston Show: Harry and Howard contrasted, and Percy's experience "helping" Harry's show as long as he could bear it!
126 Magic in Schools: easier fare in Indiana
128 The Family Arives: Harry Blackstone, Percy's wife Gladys, and more family. Autobiography concludes in part with the admission that Percy has "said little about the years of The Abbott Magic Co."; and this would have been great to hear about!

Part 2: Abbott's Magic for Magicians, Occidental and Oriental Mysteries

1 B&W Photo
4 Foreword by W.W. Durbin, President of I.B.M.
5 A Few Words from the Author: Percy Abbott
9 Finger Tip Card Production: from a palm
9 It Hasn't Started Yet: a comedy card effect
10 Mental Masterpiece: cards pass from one packet of cards to another, with a mentalism effect in the middle!
13 Double-Over Card Steal: bring selection to top of deck
14 Testing Strength: Magician magically removes selection from deck although held tightly by spectator
15 The Game of Thirty-One: a gambling game
17 Thirty Cards: cards from pocket to pocket with comedy
19 The Twitching Muscle: card revealed by a muscle twitch
20 Two to Four Ball Move: move for multiplying billard balls
20 Novel Four Ball Production: another move
21 Mouth Ball Move: a false swallow for the multiplying balls
21 The Last Ball Move: a vanish
22 Closed Fist Ball Move: another billiard ball vanish
22 Four Thimble Vanish: four thimbles placed in left hand from right hand fingertips vanish
23 Passing Thimbles: four thimbles pass one at a time from right to left hand fingertips
23 Body Load: to produce object from spectator's coat
24 Disappearing and Reappearing Coin Stand: coins vanish as removed from stand, then reappear after showing both sides
25 The Hairy Match: a "hair" pulls the end off a burnt match
26 Comedy Penetration: wand through glass illusion
26 The Repeat Candle: candle and silk trick
27 Vanish of Grains of Rice: grains of rice vanish as thrown in the air
28 An Egg Bag Move: spectator stomps on bag to show it empty
28 Chinese Pagodas: for stage
37 The Lung-Tester: red handkerchief changes to green in boy's mouth
38 Dry Wine: Wine poured into container turns to handkerchief and container is dry
39 A Novel Load: to produce a small object from a hat or newspaper
40 Wine and Water: Wine to Sherry to Water in two passes
40 Clink Coins: a second coin joins a first held by a spectator inside a handkerchief
41 Double Effect Silk Transposition: for the stage
42 Flash Cigarette: a gag with flash paper
42 Handkerchief Box: snappy production of multiple handkerchiefs
43 The Haunted House: stage illusion
45 Strait-Jacket Fake: to help get out of the jacket
45 The A.B.C. of Ventriloquism: a few basic tips provided
46 Chapeaugraphy: hat folding

46 Oriental Section
46 Chinese Double Bowl Production and Five Trays: large production from the Oriental robe
49 Chinese Bowl Effects: introduction
49 - Chinese Rice Bowls: briefly described
50 - Water Effect: Water poured from bowl to bowl, but then dry (briefly explained)
50 - Seed Bowls: overflow of seeds produced
50 - Frog to Fish Bowl: Frog turns into fish
51 - Egg to Frog Bowl: egg placed on floor is covered with bowl and lifted to reveal frog
51 Colored Powders: Any color can be removed even though powders are mixed in water
52 Single Chinese Bowl Production: a smaller variation
52 Seed Vase Vanish: seeds vanish and reappear in vase
53 Double Lighted Lamp Production: another production
53 Chinese Release: a load for a stack of bowls
53 Chinese Stack of Bowls Production: another production
55 Large Fish Bowl and Plate Production: yet another
55 Suspended Vase: vasae suspended by a cord
56 Chinese Plate Spinning: how it is done
Product Details
Dewey 793.8
No. of Pages 132
Personal Details
Read It Yes
Location Magic Library (Home) Shelf A
Condition Very Fine
Owner Bryan-Keith Taylor
Percy Abbott

From MagicPedia

Born: May 3, 1886 Sydney, Australia
Died: August 26, 1960 (age 74) Colon, Michigan
Nationality: Australian
Known for: Abbott Magic & Novelty Co.

Percy Abbott (1886-1960) was an Australian magician and magic dealer who founded Abbott's Magic Novelty Company in Colon, Michigan. In his prime, Abbott's business was the largest manufacturer and retailer of magic tricks and stage illusions in the world.

1 Biography
2 Awards and Honors
3 Bibliography
3.1 Books
3.1.1 Written or contributed to
3.1.2 Published
4 References

Abbott was born in Sydney, Australia in 1886 as one of four children. Orphaned as a youngster, Abbott and his siblings moved in with an aunt who charged the children for room and board.

Early interests included theatre and magic; Abbott took part in amateur theatrical productions as a boy, and soon thereafter, discovered magic; it was the latter pursuit, along with its allied art, ventriloquism, to which he would devote the balance of his life. In his early 20s, Abbott found himself performing regularly in Sydney and other Australian towns, eventually taking a position with the New York Novelty Co., a firm that supplied magicians with the tricks of their trade. Abbott eventually broke away from the firm to open his own supply house for conjurers, called Abbott's Magic Novelty Co., located on Pitt St. in downtown Sydney. He continued performing locally and through the Pacific, and was reportedly one of the first magicians to perform the Sawing a Woman in Halves illusion in Australia.

After a short time, Abbott turned the reins of his magic shop over to his brother Frank and left Australia permanently. He toured the Orient, and eventually landed in America, in 1926, and attended the first annual conventions of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. It was at one of these affairs that Abbott met Harry Blackstone, Sr. The two men agreed to form a partnership and thereby established the Blackstone Magic Co. in the small village of Colon, Michigan.

The Blackstone Magic Co. lasted for only 18 months, closing its doors in 1929. Four years later, after working on Coney Island with Jean Hugard, playing school shows throughout the Midwest, and marrying a girl from Colon named Gladys Goodrich, Abbott opened another magic shop in the small Michigan town, this one bearing his name. The Abbott Magic Novelty Company began advertising in trade journals in 1933, and by 1934, was a going concern, having introduced a successful magic trick to the fraternity that sold well enough to keep the small business solvent. The effect, suggested to Abbott by a dentist from Saginaw, Michigan, Dr. Boris Zola, was the barehanded vanish of a shot glass full of whiskey, and was called "Squash."

1934 also marked the introduction of a new partner into the firm. Recil Bordner, a magic enthusiast, mentalist, sometime pupil of Percy Abbott, and son of successful farmers from Edon, Ohio, bought into the company with a $1000 investment that year. Together, Abbott and Bordner moved the shop into larger premises in Colon, at 124 St. Joseph St., and celebrated the event by hosting the first annual Abbott Magic Get-Together that fall. The event would become an annual tradition for the company -- one that continues to this day.

Percy Abbott's reputation as a demonstrator and salesman grew as he established his firm in Colon, and his natural ability to showcase the wooden, metal, printed, and plastic products his craftsmen made rewarded him amply. He was an able copywriter, and founded the Abbott Magic Co.'s magazine, Tops, in January 1936. He edited it for several years, finally turning the reins over to an employee and the Abbott company's staff artist, Howard "Mel" Melson, who ran Tops from 1936 to 1957.

Abbott's catalogs -- for which he wrote most of the text -- were also integral to the success of the business. Distributed free of charge, the description of each trick was tantalizing, original, and illustrated with artwork rendered specifically for Abbott's, by Melson and Sid Lorraine, another staff artist. The catalogs advertised another main selling point in the Abbott marketing scheme: all tricks were sold post paid. There was no need to include an extra fee for shipping the item, as every Abbott advertisement stated the company slogan clearly: "We pay the postage." It was a catch phrase that many an Abbott customer would come to count on.

By the end of 1945, Percy Abbott managed a small empire in southern Michigan. His magic business was spread over the small town in some seven buildings, and employed 54 or more workers. Facilities to transform nearly any raw material into a magic trick were at hand, and Abbott branch stores were established in Detroit, Indianapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Percy Abbott enlisted well-known magicians to manage these outlets, and often appeared at the stores himself. He also became a fixture at magic conventions in the USA, putting his abilities as an outstanding demonstrator of Abbott-made tricks to good use.

In addition to producing new magic tricks monthly, by the mid-1940s, the Abbott Get-Togethers were drawing in excess of 800 magicians annually, and the firm expanded its publishing operations by releasing classic instructional textbooks including Abbott's Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks, How to Pick Pockets by Eddie Joseph, and The Encyclopedia of Stage Hypnotism by Ormond McGill. In 1947, Abbott's issued the largest magic catalog of all time, some 832 pages long, and featuring over 1800 different products, most of which were manufactured at the Abbott factories.

The post-war years were some of the firm's most profitable. It manufactured stage-filling illusions for touring shows as well as movies (among them the Houdini film starring Tony Curtis). Unfortunately, a lawsuit filed against the firm in 1953 dealt Abbott and Bordner a crippling blow. A young dancer in California had been injured by one of Abbott's products - a flash pot - procured at Abbott's branch store in Hollywood. She was badly burned by it. The settlement was a great setback for the firm and ostensibly caused the closing of the various branch stores.

The 1950s also marked a change for the Abbott company's Get-Togethers, which were held outside of Colon from 1953 to 1959. The circus tent in which the Get-Together performances were held for a number of years was lost in a fire in 1952, forcing the company to find other venues in which to hold the annual convention. For that reason (among others, including a reported feud between Abbott and the townspeople of Colon), in those years, the Get-Together was staged in neaby Michigan towns including Coldwater, Three Rivers, Niles, Battle Creek and Sturgis.

Percy Abbott maintained an active interest in the magic business he founded until his retirement in 1959. At that time, he sold his share of the company to his long time partner, Recil Bordner. It was in 1959 that Abbott wrote a memoir, A Lifetime of Magic. It was published in 1960, just months before he died, on August 26, 1960, from a heart attack. He was 74 years old. He was survived by his wife, Gladys, and four children, Marilyn, Sydney, Jules and Linda.

The Abbott Magic Co. is still operating today, manufacturing magic from its 124 St. Joseph St. address in Colon, and hosting its annual Get-Togethers. It its owned and operated by Recil Bordner's youngest son, Greg, who has been president of the firm since 1981.

Awards and Honors
Cover of The Linking Ring, May 1959
Cover of The Linking Ring, October 1959
Written or contributed to
Abbott's Magic for Magicians, Secrets of Occidental and Oriental Magic (1934).[1]
Abbott's Practical Patter (1935)
Comedy Magic (Abbott) (1937)
Magic Card System (c. 1940)
A Lifetime in Magic (1960)
Abbott's Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks, Vol. 1 (1941) compiled by Stewart James
Rice's Encyclopedia of Silks, Vol. 1, (1948) by Harold Rice
Abbott's Cigarette Magic compiled by Tom Zeno (1936)
Hat Loading Methods, compiled by U. F. Grant and Stewart James (1941)
Illusions! Illusions! (n.d.)

↑ http://books.google.com/books?id=MAFwtgAACAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=editions:ISBN1428621539
Wikipedia-logo.png This page incorporated content from Percy Abbott (magician),
a page hosted on Wikipedia. Please consult the history of the original page to see a list of its authors. Therefor, this article is also available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Magicol, February 2012, "From Whence He Came" by Gabe Fajuri, page 76
Brief Biography at The Magic Nook
Programmes of Famous Magicians, 1937.
The Sphinx, Vol. 40, No 1, March 1941, Percy Abbott, page 83
Genii Magazine, Vol. 13, No. 10, June 1949, Cover, Percy Abbott, page 306
M-U-M, Vol. 46. No. 2, July 1956, Percy Abbott, magician-of-the-month, by Leslie Guest, page 74
The Linking Ring, Vol. 39, No. 8, October 1959, Abbott's Farewell Get-Together John Braun, page 30
The Linking Ring, Vol. 40, No. 8, October 1960, In Memoriam (Picture), page 20, This Was Your Life, Percy Abbott, by Monk Watson, page 21
M-U-M, Vol. 50, No. 5, October 1960, Broken Wands, Percy Abbott, page 224
The New Tops, Vol. 1, No. 1, January 1961, In Memoriam, Percy Abbott, page 5
The New Tops, Vol. 4, No. 12, December 1964, Percy Abbott “The Caliph of Colon” 1886-1960 By Neil Foster, page 6
Bio-bibliographisches Lexikon der Zauberkünstler Edition Volker Huber, April 2002, Abbott, Percy austral. Zauberkünstler (*03.05.1886 Sydney, Australien; †28.08.1960 Colon, USA), page 13
All About Magicians/Percy Abbott