Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Even Wildor

This dramatic throwout card features "Wildor" on an Ace of Spades design.   Once a complete man of mystery, I have been able to unearth some information about this relatively obscure performer and magic book author.   In 1924, the Sphinx explained that "Wildor," was the the stage name for Wilfrid O.J. Morel:

"who resides at  22 Avenue Mozart, Paris, France, is one of the cleverest as well as busiest club entertainers in that beautiful city. Mr. Morel requests all magicians to please mail him their photos as he intends to open a picture gallery of conjurers in the near future."

Other sources advised that Morel (sometimes spelled Merel) was the author of Créations Magiques d'un Prestidigitateur Moderne published that same year.  The Magical Bulletin reviewed an early copy of the book in 1924, noting 
"The tricks described and explained are thoroughly up-to-date and the illustrations are particularly fine. The book, of course, is in French,and for that reason will not have a ready appeal to performers in this country, but to those who can read French much that is of interest will be found. There are over 40 pages, nicely printed and illustrated."

Wildor Steamboat back
The card has an unusual plaid "steamboat" back.   Rampant cheating during the Mississippi riverboat
era led to the development of "steamboats" -- an inexpensive line of playing cards. These unglazed cards were intended to be discarded daily, purportedly assuring players a fresh supply of unmarked cards.  Like most safeguards designed to protect gamblers, however, the advent of steamboats did little to thwart inventive cheats, who were soon selling marked decks of steamboats.

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