Russ Delmar’s Magic Center

I have written about my Journey Into Magic, in which I mentioned my love of hanging around the Magic Center on 8th Avenue. Sadly, no photos of this shop seem to exist around the net, so I was delighted to find an old New York City tax photo from the 1940s which clearly shows the Magic Center at 741 8th Avenue (I believe Russ later moved his shop next door to 739).

Click the image to enlarge it; the Magic Center is clearly visible on the right.

Edit: According to Richard Cohn (see comment), the Magic Center was owned at this time by Al Cohn, the “Spongeball King,” whose caricature you can see on the King Tut advertisement below.

Russ used to advertise various tricks in magazines of the day, including Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and the New Yorker:

The next thing I need is for someone out there in the wide world of the Internet to come up with a good photo of Russ himself.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

5 responses to “Russ Delmar’s Magic Center

  1. Glad to see someone writing about this place. While in 7th grade (1971) my friends and I would walk there from our school on 54th and 6th avenue. What a treat it was to watch up close, perhaps because it was so up close and small, it fueled my love for magic even more than Tannen’s.

  2. Hi Richard Cohn here.
    The store depicted was owned by Al COHN (not from DC) “The Sponge Ball King” before Russ owned it. Yes, it later moved south on the same block.
    A caricature of Al is the man on the magic carpet with a turban and cigar in the ads.

    • That’s some fascinating information, Richard. Thanks for adding it to the history. I love knowing the provenance of the caricature. Thanks again!

      PS: for what it’s worth, Al Stevenson was a dear friend, and I had a number of his sponge balls which I used until they disintegrated with age. I enjoyed the article about sponge balls at Magicpedia, which I was led to by your comment.

  3. Pingback: Kick the chair and gamble a stamp | Playing in the World Game

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