Saturday, December 17, 2016

Happy Holidays from Propelled Pasteboards and Bill Wagner!

With the holidays upon us, I thought it might be nice to share this lovely card, featuring William "Bill" Wagner on a beautifully-executed color throwout card.  This wonderful keepsake has several fine features not often seen on a scaling card.  First is the holiday theme, which is rare, if not unique. Second, the face of the card bears a date -- 1930 -- providing true holiday joy for the researcher interested in the history of these items.

Wagner also demonstrates another interesting phenomenon.  I first posted this card shortly before the demise of, planning to list Wagner as yet another "Man of Mystery," about whom I could discern nothing.  I  had even planned to offer a bounty (specifically, a free postcard) to the first intrepid reader who could tackle the challenge of finding out about Wagner.  However, with increased digitization of books and magazines, the efforts of historians and writers on various sites, and the rise of the Ask Alexander search engine, the task of tracking down obscure performers has grown increasingly easier.

Make no mistake, there remain challenging problems in the world of magic history.  To learn about these fascinating mysteries, and perhaps solve one, visit, a fascinating site run by my friend Dean Carnegie.  Dean, who has been of great assistance in the creation of Propelled Pasteboards, is a tenacious gumshoe who takes on the most nettlesome issues with flair.

In this instance, the crowd-sourced magic history resource known as Magicpedia, hosted at,citing several issues of The Linking Ring,  provides the following biographical summary:

Inspired at the age of six after seeing Kellar performing at the Opera House in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Wagner gave his first public performance in 1912, when he was 20, after training with Keen, a contemporary of Kellar's.
Wagner was one of the three organizers of I. B. M. Ring No. 20 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1928.
While still an industrial engineer, in 1927-28 he took time out to present a full evening show on a lyceum circuit.
Magicpedia also advises that Wagner, in addition to crafting this fine throwout card, also invented a number of award-winning effects, including a spirit painting effect that took "Grand Prize" at the I.B.M. Convention in 1927, and a three card prediction that won the Caryl Fleming medal (see ad below).

So in memory of compeer Bill Wagner, and on behalf of all of the contributors of Propelled Pasteboards, may we wish all of you happy and healthy holidays, and a magical new year!

And for those of you interested in Thayer's Studio of Magic, or in the history of magic more generally, you should join the  Thayer Magic site.  Membership is by invitation only but if you would like to be invited, use the contact form below and one of our contributors will be pleased to sponsor you. The site is

I was looking through an album of Christmas cards that were sent to S.A.M. PNP and Thurston patent attorney Jim Wobensmith and came upon these two additional promotion items from Wagner that he sent out in 1930. One even has a small piece of string through the card. Quite a promoter. 

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