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Magic Collectors Expo: August 19 – 21, 2021 – Part 1 of 2
Magic Collectors Expo 2021 was my first LIVE Convention of the year
Magic Collectors Expo 2021
Whew! For the most part, life and other priorities have gotten in the way, and it has been a long time since I have written in this blog.
As you know, Las Vegas was practically closed for over a year from March 2020 – June 2021 due to the worldwide pandemic.
As the world reopens I attended the Magic Collectors Expo on August 19th through the 21st, 2021, at the Orleans Hotel and Casino here in Las Vegas.
This was the first magic convention, I have attended live since January 2020.
Although venues are starting to open in town, I am still cautious. For this convention I made a calculated risk, since attendance was limited to 200 people and we were in large ballrooms. Also knowing the median age of magic collectors is over fifty, that this is not the type of group that would be partying all night or going wild during their attendance to the event. (You know, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. Lol!) I felt this will be a good event to reconnect with everyone and to set up my dealers booth to do some magic business.
Enjoying the Magic Collectors Expo
My perspective is that of a magic dealer. I not only come to these events to have fun, see old friends and to meet new magic friends, but I do have a magic dealers booth at the venue which gives me the opportunity to promote my business and sell my “magical” wares: vintage magic posters, rare magic posters, Norm Nielsen magic tricks and effects, and other magical apparatus. It’s events like these that allow me to showcase my products and participate in keeping our magic community thriving, which is what we need more than ever now during the times of this pandemic.
What you will read below is a summary of my participation in the Magic Collectors Expo 2021.
First Day – Thursday, August 19, 2021 – Setup and Magic Lectures
The dealer setup was in the morning of August 19 at 8:00 am. I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and had the help of my friends Denny and Alberto to have the Nielsen Magic Booth set up for the event. Can you believe it? I forgot to take a picture of my booth! But I did photograph a few others.
Some of the other magic dealers participating in the expo were:
- BJW Jewelers
- Andy Greguet
- Magic Collectbles
- Fantasma Magic
- William Pearce
- Hughes Magic
…and several others.
After setting up our booth, the rest of the event was quite laid back, everything was on time, and very well organized.
The first lectures started on Thursday, promptly at 4:00 pm
Bill Smith welcomed us to the event and announced the convention’s highlight: The following day’s visit to the David Copperfield Museum.
Paul Stone was next, and talked about Siegfried and Roy and the show he produced at the London Palladium in 2008, in honor of these Las Vegas iconic performers. As a personal note, I did enjoy the lecture because this was Norm’s last official show before he retired, and I was there. 😉 Also, we are selling a Collector’s Package with all the memorabilia from the show.
Mike Caveney followed to tell us about the history of the David Copperfield Museum and what we could expect the following day.
The first session was over at 5:00 pm, and there was a dinner break until 7:00 pm, when the next block of lectures started.
David Charvet – Presented “Alexander – Before he Knew” – The story of Alexander Conlin as a young man before he became the performer we all know. The lecture was based on a diary written by Alexander that the author found a few years ago. The diary was about Alexander’s life in Alaska between 1898 – 1900.
Charles Greene – Spoke about “Ionia – Goddess of Magic”. Charles has been researching this performer for years, and has even written a book, which will be hopefully ready in 2022. Ionia’s real name was Clementine de Vere, and she was the daughter of Charles and Julia de Vere. Her magic career was short, it spanned (from what I recall) three or four years in the 1910s. But the rest of her life was fascinating, as she married a Russian prince prior to the Russian Revolution. She eventually went to Monaco, and lived the rest of her life in the south coast of France.
David Sandy and Lance Rich came onstage to present a magic trick invented by Andre Kole, called “The Helicopter Cups”. Andre invented this effect decades ago and was a favorite of his and his son, Tim Kole.
Mike Caveney – His lecture was titled: “The Corrected History of the Sawing in Half”. As a preamble to his upcoming book on the subject, Mike told us several stories of who really originated the various versions of the illusion. For example P.T. Selbit got his idea for his initial sawing from an illusion of Val Walker. Another story was about Zati Sungur, who was the real inventor of the thin sawing in half. He traded the illusion to Tihany for another effect, and in 1954 Robert Towner photographed and “stole” the illusion from Tihany, and brought it to the United States. This is how John Daniel made the first sawing in the country. Another piece of trivia was that Wakeling’s Sawing was originally Virgil’s, etc.
The Magic Collectors Expo Dealers room opened between 9:00 pm – midnight.
I had a blast conversing and seeing people I had not seen in a very long time.
Second Day – Friday, August 20, 2021 – The Big Tour of David Copperfield’s Museum
Day 2 and I was very excited about what was coming up next that I got up bright and early in anticipation!
The dealers were the first ones to go through the highlight of the convention: A Tour of David Copperfield’s International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts.
All I can say about the experience is “WOW”. David Copperfield probably has the largest museum in the world dedicated to the art of magic. The artifacts are beautifully displayed and lit. The attention to detail is palpable throughout the entire magical exhibit.
A Breakdown of David Copperfield’s Magic Museum
The museum has several areas.
The entire tour started in a replica of David’s father’s haberdashery store, followed by a recreation of Tannen’s Magic Shop as it looked like in the late 1960s. This was the shop that inspired David to pursue his career in magic.
We went from the front to “the back of the shop”, which was an enormous room that contained every magic trick and collectible prop imaginable. We saw nearly complete collections of props by Thayer, Abbotts, P&L, Marshall, Conradi, Okito, and many more…
The above was followed by a recreation of the Martinka small theater as it looked at the turn of the 20th century.
The “Hall of the Masters” came in next. It featured exhibits of many of the contemporary magicians from the second half of the 20th century: Doug Henning, Orson Welles, Marvyn Roy, Johnny Thompson, Walter Blaney, Fantasio, Richiardi, etc. This hall was followed by the centerpiece of the museum: “The Golden Age of Magic”, which was filled with wonders from 1870 – 1930. Hermann, Germain, Jansen/Dante, Kellar, Thurston, Chung Ling Soo, Carter and many other were represented here. Their major props were on display along with their representative posters.
We then were guided upstairs to an entire section dedicated to Harry Houdini. David currently owns the entire Houdini / Kellar correspondence, the remnants of the original Water Torture Cell, a Milk Can, the tub in which the performer used to practice for his underwater escapes, books from his library, etc.
The next section was the Robert Houdin Collection, which was part of the Christian Fechner Estate. This section is a display of Houdin’s effects, automata, and curiosities (like his famous clocks). There is also a section on Melies. It is a wonderful tribute to 19th century French magic.
The poster display comes next, with hundreds of lithographs from the Golden Age of Magic. Racks filled with posters allow us to page through them and easily view them.
And as you think you are done visiting, the most impressive section of the museum comes next: The Research Center.
This is where all the items that were not on display are neatly kept and stored. The organization is flawless. Pieces of memorabilia, letters, and relevant items, are kept alphabetically, in binders and boxes. If one ever needs to find about a particular performer, all one has to do is search his name on the files, and voila! Everything the museum has on the performer can be found!
And last but not least, we then were taken to the main library itself for the conclusion of the tour.
Thank you Magic Collectors Expo!
A huge debt of gratitude goes to all the collectors and convention team members that made the tour possible.
Bill Smith, and David Copperfield himself were responsible for the experience. But each room was also curated by a “tour guide” for the occasion:
- David Copperfield was at the Tannen’s area
- Jim Rawlins, Lance Rich and David Sandy were at the props section
- Stan Allen was at the Hall of the Masters
- Mike Caveney at the Golden Age of Magic
- Gabe Fajuri was in the Houdini section
- Chris Kenner at the Robert Houdin area and Research Center areas
- Charles Greene at the poster section.
If I forget others, please forgive me, it was truly an overwhelming experience.
Nielsen Magic is carrying a poster with the full map of the Museum available for sale.
Everyone at the event was delighted with the tour. This was indeed a once in a lifetime experience for all of us. David’s museum is a treasure.
We got in the bus to go back to the hotel. I had to open my dealer’s booth from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. I had more people to see and things to do during the rest of the day.
Here are a few of the pictures I was able to take of the David Copperfield Museum. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed (which it is understandable as there were 200 attendees). The only area from which we could take pictures was from the balcony overlooking the Golden Age of Magic section. I took a few views. This museum is huge!
I know I have probably overwhelmed you with this summary of the Magic Collectors Expo, but guess what… THERE’S MORE! 😉
Stay tuned for the second part of my Magic Collectors Expo report next week.
As always, stay well my magic friends.
– Lupe Nielsen
(September 19, 2021)
p.s. You can follow the Magic Collectors Expo Facebook page here.