Monday, February 20, 2017

Frank Ducrot

Ducrot's card sports National Playing Card Company's Rambler no. 23 Blue Hindoo Back
Frank Ducrot was born Theodore Francis Fritz on May 7, 1872 in Brooklyn, New York. His interest in magic started as a lad growing up just a ferry ride away from Manhattan where the famed Palace of Magic where Francis J. Martinka’s magic shop was just waiting to entice him. As a performer, he toured the Chautauqua and Vaudeville circuits. His billing as “The Boy Magician” lasted into his 50’s.
In his performance, the audience would not only enjoy magic, but also juggling, hand shadows, chalk talk, chapeaugraphy, Punch and Judy shows, acrobatic performances, and even a few select songs using musical glasses. In Ducrot’s tenure, he performed on stage, in tents, in circuses, and nearly every venue where an audience would gather.

He returned home and started selling magic out of his home that he made himself as well as locating commercial outside magic sources. Frank became the editor and publisher of this first magazine of magic to be published in America called “Mahatma”. He continued his involvement with the magic magazine until 1906 when it suspended publication. Always chasing a dream to be more involved with magic, Frank purchased the business and stock of H. J. Burlingame of Chicago who manufactured apparatus and illusions. Shortly after this, he purchased the magic business from Otto Maurer, Jr. Maurer’s father died in 1900 and he carried on his the family business creating magic props. 

By the time Frank had completed his quest, he had purchased the a total of thirty-eight magic supply houses including the firms of H. L. Judd, Charles Milton Chase, Otto Hornmann, and Martinka and Company. With the complete inventory, Frank finally had all that he had dreamed of for his magic shop. When you purchased a trick in Frank’s shop, you would not only receive a piece of magic that you wanted, but you also got a complete personal instruction presentation by Frank on how to perform the effect and all that you could do with this new acquisition. 

Facing left to right: Frank Ducrot, Frederick Powell, Harry Houdini, and T. Nelson Downs

Frank was one of the organizers of the Society of American Magicians and held card number fifteen. He continued to perform, invent, sell, and teach magic for the remainder of his life. One of the many effects that scores of magicians through the decades will continue to tip their magician’s hat in thanking Frank for creating would be the classic silk effect “Twentieth Century Silks”.
The editor of The Sphinx, A.M. Wilson, attempted to define his friendship with Frank, “…To know Frank personally is to know one of the most genial, lovable and unselfish men on earth; to see him perform and to hear his patter is to enjoy a rare treat indeed. There is none other like him nor will there ever be another of his kind. Magic in all its branches is the richer for his connection therewith. I pray that relation may not cease until the call into the ‘Great Adventure’ is heard, and may that be many, many long years in the future.” Frank Ducrot passed away on May 24, 1939.

1 comment:

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