"Every April 26, we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day to learn about the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, among magicians, intellectual property rights have often been disrespected, much to the chagrin of magical inventors, innovators and manufacturers. I will not explore that serious problem here. In commemoration of this day, however, I thought I would highlight a few of the throwing cards which, though they may not technically violate intellectual property rights, certainly constitute bold imitations of the work of others.
|The Men Who Know: Shine and Alexander Face Off|
fairly modern ( I would guess 1990s or later) playing card as "The Man Who Knows." I have no idea who "Shine" is, as the absence of distinctive identifying information about this person -- presumably a mentalist -- has rendered research unavailing. But whoever he is (and I'd love to hear from anyone who knows), he is not the original "Man Who Knows." Indeed, as readers of this blog are probably well aware, the moniker and most of the artwork on this pasteboard is derived from a one-sheet lithographic poster, printed circa 1920, for Claude Alexander Conlin, a world-famous vaudeville era mentalist. The images are nearly identical, but close examination reveals that the facial details have been altered somewhat, presumably to look more like Shine, and some coloring has been added to enhance the piece. To be fair, the Alexander graphic is long in the public domain, and the Shine card is a very well done tribute to the original. But when I first came across this item (acquired from a playing card trader on eBay for $5), it made me laugh aloud because of its unabashed similarity.
The second card featured here is another favorite of mine, but for completely different reasons. As has been discussed elsewhere on this forum, Howard Thurston produced a profusion of throwout cards, arguably the most beautiful examples of this art form, including this, the Howard/Jane card. Enter France the Magician, for whom the good folks over at magictricks.com provide the following biography:
"France, Edwin D. (1906-1992) American magician from the Baltimore area who billed himself as the "Del-Mar-Va Magician" and "France the Magician". He performed some spectacular stunts such as driving a car blindfolded. Also ran a mailorder magic shop, specializing in inexpensive tricks, jokes and novelties. An energetic and enthusiastic self-promoter, France took one of Howard Thurston's scaling cards, pasted his own photo over the face of Thurston, and reprinted the cards with his own name on them."
|"....one of the worst paste-up jobs one|
"Creator and perfector of 'The Rocket' Playing Card, thrown from the stage into the balcony."
|Reverse of the France Card|
|Not Really Houdini|
But Jay Hunter, not content merely to provide me with an exemplar of the Houdini card, also took the time to dispel the Flosso creation myth. He provided me with a copy of an ad from M*U*M published in 1976 offering the Houdini cards for $10 each (at least I think that's the price, though the ad copy is far from clear) offered by none other than France the Magician!
Happy World Intellectual Property Day!