Friday, April 21, 2017

Karl or Carl? A Guest Post by Jay Hunter

Introductory Note: We're very happy to bring you this guest post authored by Jay Hunter, whose scholarly contributions were recognized on the Roterberg Stock Card post.  Jay is a noted magic collector who has invested a great deal of time and energy into assembling and curating an amazing collection.  His thoughtful contribution follows. - Judge Brown

This post features two throw-out cards for magician Howard Karl. Both cards took advantage of what appears to be a way to get your card made and to have someone else pay for it!  One card is on an early Bicycle red Cupid back and is part of the U.S. Playing Card Company promotion discussed elsewhere on this site.  The other card is an ad for Pluto Water, and the Bamberg Magic and Novelty Co. which Judge Brown has written about in his Triple-Promotion post.

Howard Karl with a Bicycle Cupid Back
In doing research on Howard Karl, it has been difficult turning up much. The Sphinx magazine in 1912 claimed he was “one of the leading attractions” in the town of Malden, MA.  But by 1915, we get a report that Karl is with the Chicago Stock Company, as mentioned in the inaugural post on E.J. Moore.  I found a few newspaper articles and it looks like Karl was with that theatrical troupe for many years working as their business manager.  As a side piece of trivia, the manager of the Chicago Stock Company was Charles H. Rosskam, a sometime manager of other magicians.  Rosskam’s son, Charles A. Rosskam was a former International President of the International  Brotherhood of Magicians.

Getting back to Howard Karl, The Sphinx in 1919, lets us know that Howard Karl is really Carl B. Sherred. Why he adopted a stage name is unknown, but it looks like he used his given name of Carl Sherred after he decided to explore other theatrical pursuits.

In 1941, The Billboard has a mention that Carl Sherred was working as an advance man for magician Will Rock.  In the biography of Will Rock written by Leo Behnke, there is a mention made for 1941 of a theatrical agent named Carl who mistakenly booked Rock in two places at the same time.  When Rock took the better paying date, he was then sued by the other venue for $25,000! I cannot say for certain that this Carl was Sherred, but the timeline fits.

I wish I could have found more on Karl/Carl’s career as a magician, but it looks like he performed as one just long enough to have these great throw-out cards made.

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