Sunday, July 9, 2017

FISM - Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques

Exactly one year from today, the 2018 FISM World Championships of Magic will begin in Busan, South Korea on July 9. 2018.  And while FISM's 50,000 members can look forward to that event, this seems a fine time to look back at the history of this important magic organization, including a fine early keepsake of its beginnings.

After years of false starts, in early 1939, a group of magicians in France announced plans for the first International Congress of Magic, to commence on October 7, 1939.  However, darkness descended over Europe as the clouds of war rolled in, forcing the nascent organization to cancel its plans.  

Yet the vision of an international magic organization, suspended during the years of the Second World War, did not perish.  In 1947, nearly 500 magicians from 18 countries attended the Congrès Magique International in Paris.  At a series of meetings held during the convention, representatives from a group of magic societies hammered out a plan to form the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques or FISM, a true international magic group. 

The marvelous card pictured above is from a deck issued as part of the 1947 event.  It has a playing card face and charming two-color graphics featuring a wand, rabbit and top hat superimposed against the Eiffel Tower.  

For those interested in getting a sense of this event, below is a brief video from Dutch TV which features John Ramsay (who won second place at the 1947 Congres), among others. I suspect that this film documents scenes from the 1946 Congres, which was a much smaller event.

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