Magic Collectors Expo 2024 Full Report by Lupe Nielsen


Magic Collectors Expo Aboard the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California – May 7 – 9, 2024

I had a blast attending the Magic Collector Expo 2024. This is a full report on the recent Magic Collectibles convention as reported by yours truly, Lupe Nielsen.

This time, the event took place in Long Beach, California, aboard the Queen Mary. This venue was so appropriate for a Magic Collectors Event.

Some History About The RMS Queen Mary

The RMS Queen Mary was built by the John Brown and Company shipyard in Scotland, and was launched on September 26, 1934. Its maiden voyage was in 1936 and at that time it was the world’s largest and fastest passenger ship. It won the “Blue Riband” several times for the speed in which she crossed the Atlantic.

During the Second World War, the ship was put into service transporting troops across the ocean. It was painted gray, and she was known as the “Gray Ghost”. This vessel was so fast, that it easily outran the German u-boats during the war.

After the war, the Queen Mary was put back into service as a luxury liner. Many celebrities traveled aboard this ship: Walt Disney, Jimmy Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock and more.

The ship was in service until 1967, and was purchased by the City of Long Beach, CA, which transformed it into a tourist attraction, hotel, museum and event facility.

Magic Collectors Expo – Dealers Room

The Magic Collectors Convention was held at the Windsor Salon Area on the R Deck of the ship.

The Dealers Room was small but mighty. The dealers were: Trick Supply, William Pearce, Bill Smith, Phil Schwartz, Mike Michaels, Potter and Potter, H&R Books, Nielsen Magic, Andy Greger, Mike Caveney, David Charvet, Lance Rich, Arthur Moses, Magic Collectibles and Todd Karr.

There were magic collectibles on hand to satisfy all the attendees.:

  • vintage magic posters
  • magicians props
  • books on magic both technique and historical magic books
  • Houdini memorabilia
  • ..etc…

    I even purchased a few vintage 19th century pieces for my magic woodturning collection.

One of the biggest treats as a magic dealer is that everyone comes by the booth at the convention, not only to see the fabulous vintage magic posters I sell, but just to say hi. It is great to see friends, both old and new!

Magic Collectors Convention Launch – Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Although the Dealers Room remained open throughout the event, the convention lecture sessions officially started on Tuesday, May 7, 2024 at 4:00 pm with the following lectures:

Afternoon session – 4:00 pm

  • Mike Caveney – He talked about the History of the Egyptian Hall Museum. In the year 2000, Mike Caveney and George Daily purchased what was probably the largest magic poster and memorabilia collection in North America: Egyptian Hall, previously owned by David Price, from Brentwood Tennessee. The vast collection was split between both gentlemen and a huge portion of it was sold by them amongst the collectors to help them defray the costs. The exhibit later in the week would be a display of a few treasures from the collection.
  • David Sandy – As host of the Magic Collector’s Corner group on Facebook, David conducted a fun little magic historical trivia quiz and gave away prices to the participants.

Evening lecture session – 7:00 pm

  • Tom Conley – Lectured about his father, Jim Conley. Jim was a prominent magician in Southern California who was the founding member of several magic clubs and organizations in the area. He was also the friend of great magicians from the past like Harry Blackstone Sr., Dante, The Great Leon, etc. 
  • Dana Daniels and Bill Smith – “The Magic of Disneyland”. Both gentlemen worked at Disneyland. Their lecture was about the history of magic and magicians at Disneyland and their experience at the venue. Dana’s experience is significant, because a huge part of his early career was in Disneyland. He started from being a character – like Tiger, Goofy and Captain Hook – to having a successful career as the magician in that park for years.
  • Lance Rich – “Neptune’s Sorcerers” was the name of his lecture about magicians who performed in the cruises from the olden days, starting with the first cruise ship in 1840 (Britannia – owned by the Cunard Line), to the late 1960s at the Queen Mary. Food, entertainment and particularly alcohol became very popular during Prohibition. “Why stay on land, when you can drink on ships…” was the motto. Most notably on this lecture was the story of Nicola whose vessel sank off the coast of Singapore in 1939. The entire show sank as well, and he never recovered from the tragedy. Magicians like Cardini and even Eddie and Amy Dawes performed at the Queen Mary.
  • The evening closed with a beautiful parlor / stage act by Guy Hollingworth from England, who IMHO is one of the best sleight of hand magicians in the world.
Magic Collector Expo 2024 Continues – Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Morning lecture session – 11:00 am

  • Todd Karr – “Magic Sets Unleashed” – The lecture was about the history of magic sets up to the present. The earliest magic sets are from circa 1830 – 1840 and they go on from there. He showed images of the “Kleine Zauberer” which was a very early set. He then placed more emphasis on American sets starting with Gilbert’s Mysto Magic Sets in 1909, and showing samples of sets made by SS Adams, Sherms, Whitman and Johnson Smith. He ended with more contemporary sets, which are used by magicians to promote themselves and their shows.
  • Chris Martin – Gave a full lecture about the origins and the history of John Rogers’ “The Traveling Magician” statue. The statue dates from 1877, and to make it accessible to the masses, Rogers made his pieces out of plaster using casts, clay and gelatin molds. There are quite a few “Traveling Magicians” around, and they are sought by many collectors worldwide.
  • David Charvet – Concluded with one of my favorite lectures of the event: “The Golden Age of Magic in Southern California” (1893 – 1963). At the turn of the century, California was a rural and sleepy state. All of a sudden people started discovering the mild weather and what this place had to offer. In sixty years this state became a beacon of show business. It all started with Martin Beck’s Grand Opera House in 1898. Magicians like Thurston and Houdini performed in the state. Harry Kellar retired here, and so did Dante and Blackstone; Bess Houdini was also in California and held the final Houdini Séance in 1936. Floyd Thayer opened his famous store and the Magic Castle opened in 1963. David also lectured about the many clubs and organizations in the area. 

Wednesday afternoon Exhibit

The Exhibit Room was open to the attendees, featuring treasures from Egyptian Hall, a collection of “Traveling Magicians”, and a couple of Thurston Illusions.

Evening lecture session – 7:00 pm

  • Don Greenberg – Don’s lecture was about his interest in collecting props from magician Del Ray. For instance, he obtained a couple of vintage bears – of the type Del Ray used in his act – and restored them to perfect working condition. I was fun to hear the stories of his father’s (Jack Greenberg – past president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians) close friendship with the magician.
  • Chuck Jones Interview – One of the most influential magicians in Southern California was Chuck Jones. He started his career in magic having Dell O’Dell as a mentor. Dell was one of the most successful magicians in the area and a shrewd business woman. Chuck followed on her footsteps by getting on television and becoming one of the best known magic celebrities in the area. He influenced others to pursue a career in magic. His most famous illusion was the “Mismade Lady”, where a woman is cut in fourths and shuffled around.
Magic Collector Expo 2024 – Thursday, May 9, 2024

Morning lecture session – 11:00 am

Interview of the Long Beach Mystics – This club came to existence in the 1960s and many of the top professional magicians of our day were members of this organization. There were no adults involved in the club. It was formed by a group of enthusiastic and very motivated teenagers who helped each other with their magic. Five past presidents were in the panel hosted by Lance Rich: Les Arnold, Stan Allen, Mike Caveney, Bill Smith and Dana Daniels.

Afternoon lecture session – 2:30 pm

  • Randy Pitchford – “Secret Pieces of Okito’s in Performance – Randy collects old apparatus, and in this session, he demonstrated The Blue Phantom, an Okito Checker Cabinet and Okito’s Penetration of Matter. His Blue Phantom performance was amazing. It has inspired me to finish restoring and repairing the one I have.
  • John Cox – “Houdini on the High Seas” – John always lectures about the various cities where Harry Houdini performed. Last year the convention was held in Cleveland, Ohio, which was a city huge with Houdini activity, where he performed shows and did various escapes. Unfortunately, Long Beach won’t share many honors, as Houdini never performed in this city. However, because the event is held on board of the Queen Mary, John went ahead and chronicled all the occasions and ships on which Houdini crossed the Atlantic. By the way, Houdini hated traveling by sea as he suffered from severe sea sickness.
  • Gabe Fajuri – “David Bamberg’s Illusion Show” – The “Illusion Show” book, written by David Bamberg (aka “Fu Manchu”) is a classic in the magic literature. This book, published by David Meyer, came out in the early 1990s. Currently, Gabe and his team at Squash Publishing, will be releasing an entire new version of the Bamberg manuscript.
  • Mini-auction – Gabe Fajuri concluded the session by auctioning off 12 lots of vintage magic to the delight of the attendees. I couldn’t resist, and purchased an Angelo Iafrate maple-burl ball vase.

Closing Event – Dinner and Show – 6:30 pm

The Magic Collector Expo concluded with a fine three course dinner accompanied by dancing and entertainment. 

Music was provided by the “Southside Jazz” band, and the evening concluded with a magic show presented by the Long Beach Mystics.

The show included: Mike Caveney as the MC and host, Les Arnold and Dazzle, Stan Allen and Dana Daniels. It was an excellent show and the attendees were all happy they came to this year’s Conference.

So there you have it… This is my report for this year’s Magic Collectors Expo convention. At the end of it all, the highlight for me was meeting all the friends I have made through the years. God has put so many kindred souls in the path with me and I have been blessed. I also had the opportunity to meet some new and amazing people as well. Life is a give and take and about all the love we give to each other. Let’s not forget that.

Next year should be amazing. The convention will be held once again in Las Vegas, Nevada, home of David Copperfield’s amazing Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts. See you then!